Is It Ever Acceptable To Gig For Free?

UnknownExposure, every musician’s least favorite word in the english dictionary. For those of you that don’t know what this means, allow me to explain: Exposure is the supposed “polite” way for venues and potential clients to tell you that they can’t pay you for a gig or performance – it’s more commonly used in the original music scene rather than the covers circuit because most original bands “just want to get their name out there.”

This word that venues seem to think is a currency does not pay the bills and is a nightmare for those people who have music as their sole source of income and if you ever post a gig listing in a “musician’s wanted” Facebook group with the line “THIS IS NOT PAID BUT”, prepare to get lynched for the foreseeable future.

However, I’ve always wondered something:  Is it every acceptable or beneficial to gig for free?

This is the part where every musician in the entire world is screaming at their screens, calling me deluded and  stupid whilst mixing the two with various combinations of expletives – but I implore you all to stop and think for a moment and allow me to list a few examples that many people miss:

  1. Wedding Fair’s

Pretty much every friend of mine who is gigging professionally appear at a few of these every year and nearly always come out with a few bookings a year which will amount to a substantial amount of their yearly earnings. Weddings pay extremely well and can also lead to more bookings from the wedding guests for other events, if you haven’t given a try, I’d recommend it – one of my friends has been performing at weddings all over the world all year round for the last few years!

2. Open mic’s / Jam Nights

I admit, the chances of getting work from events like this is very rare compared to wedding fair’s and showcases but you do never know who’s watching! I personally have picked up both performance and teaching work through these sorts of nights and had great fun whilst doing them so it was a win-win.

3. Doing a mate a favor

Again, I’ve done this a fair few times and it’s not only led to other work but it’s also helped me build relationships with fellow members of the industry both on and off stage. The way I see it we do this for a living primarily because we love it, the money is an added bonus and there is nothing wrong with doing the odd free stint for your mate! Clients are obviously different though, so make sure not to get the two confused!

There are three reasons as to why gigging for three isn’t too bad. It isn’t something I’d make a habit of but it also isn’t something I’m completely against. For those that are struggling to decide wether to take a free gig, always ask yourself what this person is doing for you – are they lining up future paid gigs that are set in stone and certain? Are there people in the audience that could get you paid work? and lastly, have they done you a favor in the past and simply deserve to be repaid?

It’s a complex and never-ending debate but there are positives to working for free sometimes, just don’t make it a habit, you’re going to want to earn a sustainable living!

 

Does Listening To Music Increase or Hinder Productivity?

This is a debate that’s been going on for as long as I can remember, especially in schools and in the workplace. Everybody has their own way of working of course, some prefer complete silence whereas others want a full on rock concert going on in their office.

There has been test after test to determine what the “right answer” is and it seems like there is never going to be anything completely definitive – the correct answer purely depends on the person and the situation.

For exmaple, I find that listening to music whilst I work helps me focus on the task at hand (like writing this post) and block out everything else around me – l’ve also used music to help my memory when it comes to subjects that I’m rubbish at like Maths. My Maths tutor at college was amazed at the affects music had on me, suddenly something  I couldn’t do 10 minutes ago was as simple as 1 2 3 (no pun intended but feel free to laugh.)

Now seems like the right time to introduce you to an infographic created by WebPageFx, an internet marketing company. I discovered it from an article on the Linkedin Business blog and was both pleased and blown away by the numbers, have a look:

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As you can see from the above, the overall concensus is that listening to music whilst you work is the best thing for you to do. Lately I’ve been making the effort to read up on music and the brain and am putting a lot of time into showcasing the importance of music therapy for those with mental illnesses. Music has incredibly positive affects on the human mind – the infographic shows that increased concentration and productivity is one of them.

Of couse there are people that can’t work with music in the background which is fine. Sometimes I have to turn it off because I’ll find my musician’s brain taking over and I’ll start analysing the song, it’s a habit of the job I suppose – but 9 times out of 10, I can’t survive those 2000 word Music Education essays without rocking out to my favourite aritsts!

What does your experience with music and productivity look like? Leave your thoughts and lets discuss!

Track Review: Dream On My Baby – Dom Louis

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Dom Louis is a singer-songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Having recently signed to Cartoon Records in London, he has released his debut single titled “Dream On My Baby.”

I am absolultely in love with this track, I can tell just from that one released that Dom has a really interetsing story to tell and a bright future ahead of him in this industry. He is like a new wave in the country-folk genre, mashing together the sounds of his influences whilst keeping the essence of what he is about as a songwriter and musician.

I honestly don’t think I have gushed about a track this much since I discovered Maggie Rogers three years ago and she went on to sign to a major label and shoot to the top of the music industry – I really hope the same happens to Dom!

“Dream On My Baby” tells brings so many images into my brain, I can imagine going on a summer roadtrip having this play out through the speakers, taking a long journey to happiness and peace. Dom’s voice coupled with the serenic sounds of acoustic guitar and violins brings me complete sollitude and I can imagine  it will do the same to the people that hear it.

Dom Louis may not be a wordwide sensation yet, but I can put money on the fact that he will be. Hopefully I’ll get to meet this fututre chart topper and see him live someday, I’ll definitely be looking out for more of his music.

Links to Dom:

E.P Review: Drakmah – Storyteller

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Drakmah are an Indie Alternative Electronic band, formed in 2016 in Naples, by Stefano “Learning Panda” Mattozzi (keyboard/lead vocals), David Rapicano (guitars/keyboards/backing vocals), Mario Manzoni (drums) and Gianmarco Angelone (bass). The band is now, partly, based in London.
Their debut single “Storyteller” was released in May 2017 so I’m a bit late to the Drakmah party but I figured I’d check them out either way and I was immediately drawn in by their whacky electronic, keys driven sound.
9.jpgLike a lot of unsigned bands I get asked to review on the site, these guys seem determined to stand out from the crowd. The vocals aren’t completely perfect and it did throw me off a little because it didn’t match the almost perfect instrumental production but it’s clear that Drakmah are wanting success and willing to work hard for it in the long term.
The second track “Ithaca” is filled with this infectious guitar riff that sits perfectly within the vocals smothered in reverb and various samples embedded in the track. Overall, the Napels natives seem to have created a unique world for the listener of their music, whilst at the same time keeping their work “normal” enough to be enjoyed by the average Joe.
Although this EP sounds slightly less polished than I was expecting, it’s clear that Drakmah are aiming for greatness within their music and I think if they work hard enough, they’ll get it.
“Storyteller” is definitely on my playlist, who else?
You can listen to “Storyteller” here: https://drakmah.hearnow.com

Album Review: Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life

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The album artwork for “Heard It In A Past Life”

Maggie Rogers came to fame after gaining the chance to have her  track “Alaska”  critiqued by Pharell Williams. He was so impressed he got emotional and declared “I don’t think there’s anything I can say about that to make it better.”

The video of their masterclass went viral and Maggie became  an accidental star, through the ranks of the industry and eventually getting signed by Capitol Records. Since her life changed forever, she has released her debut album titled “Heard It In The Past Life.”

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Maggie with “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams

 

The first thing I noticed about the album is that it is incredibly production heavy, although this wasn’t a surprise to me as this follows the trend of her previous releases. The opening track “Give A Little” sets the tone of the entire album with a really catchy chorus, great vocal production and solid instrumentation.

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Rogers at Capitol Records 75th Anniversary

Having not listened to Maggie for a while before this album, it took me a second to get used to her sound but I immediately fell in love with her music all over again. She is so unique and she’s never been scared to push the boundaries of the norm and express her creativity as she sees fit.

“Heard It In A Past Life” is the perfect blend of “over-produced” Pop and honest, emotive and grab-you-by-the-balls songwriting. Rogers has got a 50/50 balance of the innocence of your typical young, uncorrupted artist and the business sense of an industry yes girl, everything a label could ask for.

This album was long awaited and I was thinking that Maggie been one of the unfortunate cases that fell through the corporate cracks, how wrong I was! She has timed  this release just right, hopefully the first of many!

The debut release of student turned viral sensation screams one thing to me “I’m Maggie Rogers and I’m coming for stardom with everything I’ve got!” She doesn’t have to brag about how amazing she is, her music and work ethic speak for themselves.

I feel like I know Maggie personally after watching her shoot to the top and I couldn’t be prouder of who she is and the work she is putting out.

If you want something fresh but comfortable, go and listen to “Heard It In A Past Life.”

 

The Importance Of Having A Good Press Pack and How To Create One

UnknownA press pack is one of the oldest but relevant and useful promotional tools in the arsenal of any artist or band. Usually in a word document, it contains all of their information such as bios, pictures, important dates and links to their music – essentially everything a member of the music press needs in order to write a well informed article on a band or artist.

Despite the importance, some bands still don’t have their press pack or E.P.K (electronic press kit) figured out ready for use. From a music blogger’s point of view, it can be extremely frustrating requesting a press kit from a band wanting a review and receiving an email with little information about them, it can be so frustrating in fact, that I sometimes decide not to feature a band on the blog because of the poor quality of their press pack.

Equally, when I first started out and was trying to break out as a solo artist I had bloggers turn my work down because my press pack wasn’t up to scratch. I’m not trying to be a hyporcrite with this peice, I’m just hoping to help up and coming aritsts learn from my rookie mistakes.

Now I’ve given a rather lengthy introduction, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of  how to create the perfect package that all bloggers and music industry professionals will love!

  1. Bio’s – Be detailed but don’t waffle

The bio is the piece of text that gives bloggers a sense of what you as an artist or band are about. You don’t need to provide your life story, just enough info about you for the blogger to give their readers the low down on you! The most important thing for me when reading a bio is that it’s engaging and interesting, if I’m falling asleep whilst reading, my readers will too and this is an instant red mark.

2. A picture speaks a thousand words

If you look at most of my blog posts, you’ll see that there are at least two pictures in pretty much every one. A picture not only gives the reader a break from the text, it can give an even more detailed look into you as a band/artist, put a face to a name and even sometimes encourage readers to look into your music. With that said, you need to make sure that all of the images in your press pack are up to date and of high quality, if the images are of an old line up and/or grainy and pixilated, they won’t make the cut.

3. A broken link destroys the bridge

In this digital age, links to your sites and videos are mandatory – How else are bloggers meant to research more about you and listen to your music? Depsite the obvious importance of links, the amount of links I’m provided that don’t work is shocking. Before providing links to your sites, please make sure that they are correct and don’t take bloggers to a “Domain For Sale” page. This is a major no no and will  put you on the rejected pile instantly. Also, make sure that your sites and social media pages are kept up to date, attractive to look at and easy to naviagte. No blogger wants to spend their time working out where the various pages of your website are.

4. The sound of music

This one is the most obvious, if you’re going to submit your music for review please make sure it is of high audio quality. It goes without saying that you should never upload anything sub-par online and this is a especially true if you want something reviewed. Finally and just for the record, most bloggers will not except downloadable MP3’s, a Soundcloud or Youtube link is your best bet.

That’s that ladies and gents! Provided you follow all four of those points when creating or updating your press pack, getting reviews should be a doddle!

Know any bands or aritsts that need help with their press packs? Be sure to send them this article, they’ll thank you for it.

The Ex-Factor: Is Simon Cowell Losing His Grip Of The Music industry?

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Music industry mogul Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is one of the most influential and famous music industry moguls in the world. He has dedicated his life to building solid brands such as his label “Syco” and worldwide talent competitions like The X Factor,American Idol and two “Got Talent” programmes in the U.K. and U.S.

The success he has acheived in his career cannot be disputed. However, in recent years it has been no secret that rating on all of his shows have dropped significantly, it even looks like The X Factor UK is getting either axed completely or given a complete overhaul by Simon and his team.

THE X FACTOR: Logo.
THE X FACTOR: Logo.

Well, that looked like the plan anyway. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be gaining the backing that Mr Cowell had hoped for. This coupled with the ever dropping ratings and the recent shocking news of girlband “Little Mix” parting ways with Simon’s label “Syco” really has made me start to wonder if the music mogul is losing his touch and influence within the music scene.

Although he has been known to give stars the breakout they have been waiting for (Louisa Johnson, One Direction and Olly Murs are the top three examples), his shows have also been plauged with negative press, with accusations of fixing and many former contestants  openly speaking about the fact that they had no control over their song choice during the audition process and at other stages in the competition.

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Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium – Arrivals Featuring: Louisa Johnson Where: London, United Kingdom When: 11 Jun 2016 Credit: WENN.com

In my mind, there isn’t really any use for shows like X Factor and Got Talent anymore. The shows have become less about talent and more about commical acts gaining airtime to drum up ratings, Simon has lost sight of what the music industry is about and is ruining careers before they’ve even started in some cases.

Furthermore, musicians and artists are becoming increasingly aware of how easy it is to release their own music without the need for a contract with a big label. I think that this will be the ultimate cause for Cowell’s downfall.

 

He has created success stories I won’t deny that. Equally, he has used artist’s lack of knowledge to take advantage of them during the most crucial time in their career. Simon isn’t the only selfish big name in the industry, but I think he has made too many mistakes and that his time at the top is coming to an end.

I know he won’t give up without a fight, but a fight means doing desperate things and the first thing that’s going to happen is the increase in low-standard contestants being placed on TV for commical appeal to increase ratings. I for one, am not looking forward to the industry being turned into a circus for the benefit of one person.

Has the biggest industry name become an ex-factor in today’s modern music world? I guess we shall have to wait and see.