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Getting listeners to listen to your own music can be a tough job, especially when you're starting out and therefore we have to try to make use of all the tools that are at our disposal to get our music listened to. One of those tools we have to make use of is YouTube and all the other video sharing sites around the internet.

If you have some video footage of your latest gig or some other great footage then you should be all set and ready to upload some great videos but many of us don't have any video to hand. Not to worry though as we can easily and quickly put together a video containing a collection of pictures or photos instead for the eye candy and your music for the sound.

Here are a few ideas of the sort of images you could use to make your own videos to go with your music...
  • Album/single covers.
  • Photo's of you/your band.
  • Photo's from your latest gig.
  • Your or your band's logo.
  • Photo's from free stock photo web sites which fit your music.
Once you have your photos and of course your track it is very simple to make a video that you can upload to these sites. If you are using Windows you can use the freely available Windows Movie Maker which should already be in your Start Menu. You could also try out VideoSpin from Pinnacle which is free to download and use. If you are on a Mac or using Linux then I am not sure of any alternatives but I am sure there is something similar out there which will work in the same way.

For my videos I used Windows Movie Maker as it is very simple and quick to use. All we do is import our chosen pictures and music and then arrange them on the storyboard at the bottom. We can also add some simple transitions between the images if we want by choosing Tools > Transitions and dragging the transition we want to the join in the storyboard between the images.

Once we are happy with the result in the preview video we can save the movie (which saves as a .wmv files in Windows Movie Maker) and upload it to our video sharing site account.

This method is not only quick and easy but also quite effective in getting extra listeners to find your music. Make sure you add an extra picture which has the URL of your web site or MySpace page so that viewers of the video can find out more about your music and that you also add the URL in the description of the video.

If you give some tracks away for free as I do, you could even put something along the lines of "If you like this track, download it for free from this website" to encourage them to get MP3 versions of the tracks. For the small amount of work I am sure you will find it worth it.

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Every now and again on Rhythm Creation I feature a web site which is of great use to us musicians. This time is a great little site which I have personally started to use called Jamendo.

Jamendo is a site which allows visitors to discover, listen to and download Creative Commons licensed music thanks to the large number of extremely generous musicians who place their personally made music on there for you to listen to and download for free.

At the current time of writing there are over 7000 albums waiting to be discovered and over the past few weeks I have been discovering new musicians and have also been impressed with the quality of some of the music I have heard. I have even taken the trouble to upload some of my own tracks. As a musician you will find that they offer some great tools and services to help you get your music out there and get people listening. You will get some honest feedback on your music from the enthusiastic Jamendo community, can see stats on how many people have downloaded or starred your album and listeners can even support your music with a optional donation if they want to.

Jamendo is a breath of fresh air compared to most sites and provides a good service for both listeners and musicians. I’ve enjoyed listening to peoples music knowing it’s legal and that they want me to as well as knowing people might be enjoying my music. It is certainly a site I will be regularly visiting, listening and reviewing other peoples music on as well as uploading my own stuff to.

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Releasing your music on the bit torrent network for people to download can help get you some free publicity and I have a few tips for those who are starting to upload their own music through the torrent networks and sites such as The Pirate Bay that can help distribution and get people downloading your tracks.
  • 1. Write a readme file and include information about any of your releases and where you can get them from, include web addresses, myspace accounts and any other way in which they can find out more about your music. Save this as a txt file so everyone can open it just by clicking on it.
  • 2. Place a good track as the first one in the torrent by numbering them in the order you want them in. I’ve noticed that most people download the first track to see whether they like your music before downloading the rest of torrent, so make it a good one that shows off the style and quality of your music that you produce.
  • 3. Make sure you can seed the torrent well and ask friends to help you seed it. Also encourage other people to seed for as long as possible in your descriptions and readme file. If you don’t want to leave your computer on over night, make sure you upload the torrents to these sites early in the day, so some other people can seed through the night to other locations around the world.
  • 4. Describe your music to people by telling them the closest style of your music in the readme file and the descriptions on the torrent sites and even in the title of your torrent, try to go as broad a style as possible to get the most people downloading it. For example I used Electronica as my category. Also maybe give a few bands that your music sounds like, for example some of your musical influences.
  • 5. Encourage people to distribute your tracks, tell people they can use your tracks for podcasts, youtube videos, radio stations etc as long as they credit you as the artist. Tell them that it’s legal to distribute for any free and uncommercial projects. You never know you might just get someone who wants to use your tracks on their popular podcast or radio station. It’s free exposure for your music.
Hopefully these quick tips I have learnt and thought about may go some way to helping you make the most of using torrents for promotion. If anyone has any other tips they think will be useful to others that should belong here, please add them to the comments of this post.

Article written for Rhythm Creation by Edward Cufaude

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This is a question I have been asking myself recently, mainly due to me releasing some of my own music independently without a label behind me and also because there seems to still be a high percentage of musicians and bands that still want to be signed even though there are some great facilities in place which effectively make record companies obsolete by providing services to independent musicians.

I constantly see more articles on the internet that deal with getting a record deal rather than trying to go it alone. Articles such as preparing your demo, getting A&R people to notice you are flooding the internet etc. I also see musicians on message boards saying things like “if I ever get signed blah blah blah” and yet they’ve never attempted or even thought about going independent.

What Are The Benefits of Being Signed?
Obviously this answer varies a lot from label to label and depends on the contract that is signed but the main benefits are as follows…
  • Distribution: Labels will have the ability to mass manufacture CDs and distribute your music in all the big stores.
  • Promotion: Labels will have employees who are experts at promoting bands, these experts will have numerous contacts which can get you into magazines, web sites and also radio or television broadcasting time amongst other promotion tools.
  • Financing: Lots of money behind them, they can pay for the manufacturing of CDs and promotion as well as possibly paying you up front.
  • Tour Booking: They have the contacts and name behind them to get you gigs in the top venues.
  • Help & Support: They will help you to develop your skills and provide knowledgeable people who can help to record and produce your music.
All sounds rather nice, doesn’t it. I mean who wouldn’t like to have all that done for them by the nice record company who wants to help you with your music. I believe that these points are what that high percentage of musicians who want to get signed see.

Back Down To Earth With A Bump
The reality of it… (Obviously depending on the sort of contract signed, this is a worse case scenario).
  • Distribution: The label owns your recordings and takes a huge percentage of any profits, oh yes you will see your CD on sale in all the big stores but won’t see many royalties for your work. They will own any new music you write too.
  • Promotion: To promote effectively they may require you to fit in. They could even make you change the style of your music to get you to fit into a genre they want you in and be marketable to a larger proportion of customers. They may require you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, all in the aim of selling more CDs to make the record company more money. They may even require you if you are in a band to drop members who don’t fit into their visions.
  • Financing: Yes it’s their money therefore they are wanting good returns for their investment. They might pay you upfront but should your band in their eyes fail, you may actually end up owing the recording company money for all the promotion and the thousands of drinks coasters they produced if your music isn’t a hit.
  • Tour Booking: They may also want a cut of any profits here for getting you the gig and owning the music your playing. More contracts are having this written into them. They may want you to play venues you don’t want to or too often with tours lasting months and playing every night.
  • Help & Support: Will you get this if it all goes wrong, No. Who will they blame, You. You could end up no longer owning your music or any music you make in the future. You could end up owing the record company money and paying it off yourself. Where’s the help and support now?
As you can see not all is so sweet. Note to everyone thinking of signing on the dotted line: Record companies are mainly interested in you making them money, they are just like any other business and want to see returns for their money.

Record Labels/Companies Are Obsolete
There are loads of products and services available that can help you to achieve becoming an independent musicians or band. There’s one major difference - You are employing them to work for you not the other way round. I don’t want to make out that going independent is the solution to all the problems, I just want to point out that all the jobs a record label does can be achieved yourself and may be a better option for you and your music.
  • Distribution: You can use companies like TuneCore to distribute your tracks to all the major digital stores such as iTunes and Napster official site, anyone around the world will be able to buy your music in digital format and you’ll receive all the royalties. You can also manufacture CDs yourself and sell them around the world via your own web site or in on-line stores which have facilities in place to sell independent music. You may not be able to get your tracks into the major stores on the high street, but you can certainly distribute them to your local smaller record stores and you can sell CDs after any live performances you do. There are distribution companies which will distribute for you to the larger stores, but many of these stores won’t stock you on if they don’t believe your album will sell, but realistically this method of selling music is starting to slow down as more people are going for MP3 files. The main benefits of independent distribution are that firstly you keep ownership of all your music and secondly you will get to keep all or most of your royalties, distributing your music has never been easier than it is today.
  • Promotion: This I believe is the hardest part of going independent as you won’t have the necessary contacts or the upfront financing to promote like a record label can. But you do have some very good tools at your disposal. The internet can be a great tool to do things like set up your own site, use social networks like MySpace, get radio play on independent on-line radio stations and in podcasts or get your music reviewed by on-line magazines and music review blogs. The internet is a world wide tool that you can use for promotion and a lot of the time it can be free promotion too. To promote yourself in the real world can be a lot harder, your main way will be through getting gigs at venues.
  • Financing: This will depend on your or your bands current financial situations and yes you will need some sort of financing to get started. You started music because you enjoyed doing it? So enjoy doing it and put any money earned through any gigs or other income sources from your music back in as investments for the first 6 months or however long it takes until you have earned enough to pay for services yourself. Today it is cheaper than ever to get started as basic home recording equipment is cheaper and a lot of these services available like digital distribution can be extremely cheap. You may not earn much money straight away but at least you won’t owe a record label money.
  • Tour Booking: Concentrate on building a local fan base up. Once you have done this you can begin to play larger and larger venues as you can guarantee better that you will can fill the venue. You may not be playing at a well known festival straight away but it is possible to build up to that.
  • Help & Support: The feeling you will get when you achieve things yourself such as seeing your music available in on-line stores will give you a great sense of achievement. If you feel you need the support of say a sound engineer to help you record your music then go and hire one, there are loads out there who may not be famous but certainly know their stuff and are looking for work.
So Why Are Musicians Still Wanting To Get Signed
Even though you can do all these things yourself or hire people to do them for you, why are musicians still chasing that elusive signing deal?
  • Musicians are good at music and the realisation that they may have to learn to be good good at more than just music such as business skills can be a major psychological barrier.
  • They lack the knowledge that they can do it themselves due to all of these articles and info dealing with getting signed and not explaining all the alternatives of going independent.
  • Musicians believe that music listeners don’t want to listen to unsigned bands and that these listeners want to be told by TV and radio what to listen to. The reality is that these listeners just don’t know about your music yet.
  • The current music industry in place makes it hard for unsigned bands to make it. For example radio stations will only play signed artists.
Hopefully this article has given you a bit of a insight into how it is possible to achieve going it alone and why record labels are starting to become obsolete. In the not so distant future I believe that we will start to see more and more services and promotional tools start to become available to musicians wishing to go the independent route, I think we will start to see bands becoming little businesses in their own right.

Why did you start writing and producing music? because it was fun and exciting? Going independent is fun and exciting too, doing work for a record label is like any other job, your working to line someone else’s pockets who believes you can make money for them. If your music is good enough and you’ve got the determination, why not line your own pockets?

Article written by Edward Cufaude for Rhythm Creation

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