Your New Favourite Music Is Waiting

One of the best things about the modern music scene is how quickly it changes. There are always new singers, songwriters and bands waiting to be discovered – and for many people, there’s a certain quiet pride in finding an amazing unknown act, introducing your friends to their music and finding they love it as much as you do, all the while knowing that you heard it first. However, while the internet means you’ve never had as much access to budding stars, it also means that there’s an awful lot out there – so how do you find your new favourite music?

Local Gigs

Support your local music industry by turning out for local gigs – your home town could turn out the next big superstar next week, and you could be front row at their first gig. Live Music Finder allows you to search for upcoming gigs by town, making it easy to stay up to date. You can also check listings in your local newspaper, and keep an eye out for posters in venues close to you.

Global Radio

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the world has become a surprisingly small place – with internet radio you can now listen to music from all around the globe. It can be annoying, however, to hear adverts for events that are happening in New York when you’re in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. At the same time, you know that the stations need advertising income to keep going, so internet radio app UTuneMe offers you a wide range of global radio stations with advertising cleverly localised to you – making it easy to discover music from around the world without the annoyances.

Blogs

There’s a great range of music bloggers who will do the hard work for you and recommend fantastic new music. The Music Ninja highlights an eclectic mix of electronica, indie, folk, and hip hop and is a great source – and if your interest lies in other genres then a quick Google search is bound to lead you to a wide range of bloggers with similar tastes.

Related Artists

If you like Artist A then you’ll love Artist B – one of the easiest ways to discover new music that you’ll enjoy is to hear that they’re similar to something you already listen to. Once upon a time these kinds of recommendations came from your friends or maybe the clerk at the music shop, but now you can use apps like Discovr for iPad and iPhone to get them. Simply enter the name of an artist you like, and the app will show you a selection of similar artists.

By keeping your eyes and ears open locally, and by using the internet to get the best recommendations, you’ll be able to find fantastic new music – and your new favourite is just waiting for you to discover them.

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Band Help: Your Guide to Getting Gigs

You’ve been in a band for a while, you’ve had a few gigs in your local area and they’ve gone pretty well, right?  So, of course, now you feel ready to go on tour. As an indie band it can be hard to get gigs outside of your local area, because they won’t have heard of you. Think about it from their point of view, they will book you to get more people into their venue – music isn’t just an art, it is a business. To help you to break onto the national gig scene, here is your guide to getting gigs.

Make a Name for Yourself

No doubt you have already decided on your band name, but you need to ask yourself, is it relevant to your genre? For example you don’t want to be called Flaming Skulls if your music is soft rock and you play mostly love songs, that name would be more associated with heavy metal. It is true that people judge a book by its cover and that includes making assumptions about what music you play when they read your name. If you think you may need a name change and are short of ideas head to www.bandnamemaker.com, you’ll come up with many different ideas; always remember to ensure that it is relevant!

Getting Yourself Known

Ok so we’ve assessed that the problem with being booked farther afield is the fact that you are unknown – a music manager trusts you to bring in the business for the evening so will not like taking risks. A way to get your band known across the country is buy entering ‘battle of the bands’ competitions, you don’t have to win you, will find that you pick up fans naturally along the way. If you are serious about touring you should try out for the new battle of the bands hosted by the world famous Warped Tour, check out warpedeu.battleofthebands.com to sign up for a chance to win. You need to be memorable so make sure that you stand out, it is likely that there will be a lot of high quality acts there so you need to be able to bring something original to the table. You could do this through the outfits you wear or even the way you style your hair; remember image matters.

Marketing & Merchandise

Before being accepted to play a gig at a bigger venue you are required to provide them with an example of your music to do this you will obviously need to have a few tracks recorded. You should have around 5 tracks as a minimum to show your variety, sending CDs is still the way to get your music heard, however having examples of live shows on www.youtube.com will also help! To show that you are truly professional you must ensure that you have a quality CD that sounds and looks great. Its packaging is important and can even make you seem more popular than you are! To see how you can get your CDs mass produced head to www.keyproduction.co.uk/services. You will need to send your music to a lot of promoters and venue managers so make sure you that have a lot of copies. Don’t send them all keep a percentage of them to sell!

Never Give Up

To get gigs you need to be resilient, you will face a lot of rejection but you will also get your rewards with hard work, a fantastic image and marketing produce. Never give up and you will get your gigs and maybe even tour the world one day!

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DIY Album Launch

You’ve made it out of the studio alive, so now what? You’ve checked your band mates are all present and have retained their limbs (well, the drummer’s lost a finger but, hey, he’s a drummer) and you can, more or less, still look each other in the eye. You’ve lost your day job because you simply didn’t turn up over the six successive nights that you were hovelled away shouting at people ‘til you resembled an irate Arthur Lee as immortalised on the Forever Changes’ outtakes. So now what? Time to party right? Almost.

 

PRELIMINARIES

Get the CD made first of course. The DIY ethos will never die but like all great things, it has to be malleable and respond to the modern world. You can still labour at home, copy every disk one-by-one and design an individual collage for every cardboard slip sleeve but, let’s face, it, it probably won’t look great and they’re more likely to end up in the bin than on Tom Robinson’s 6music show.

Get it done properly: it’s cheap! Companies like VDC will make small numbers of CDs really cheaply and if it all kicks off, they can do large scale orders too. Design the sleeve art yourself by all means but get quality copies made. Here’s a tutorial about using Photoshop for your album art:

There are some legal and technical matters that you might want to take care of; Indie and Unsigned tell you how to sort out things like copyrighting, ISRC codes and how to register to collect royalties from your songs. Hopefully there’s a techie in the band so they can encode the tracks in WAV, AIFF and MP3 formats and then, if you want to get anywhere, you’ll need an online presence. Get a bandcamp page, experiment with a blog and a facebook page.

 

PLAN THEN PARTY!

Now you can think about the party! Don’t be shy! The launch is how you’re going to generate that first bit of interest and dare we say it – hype – about the band. Plus, think off all your mates who’ve put up with your self-involved wittering about the creative process – they could do with an awesome party as a thank you. Where do you normally hang out? Is there a bar or cafe that knows your name and might agree to host the launch? IdeasTap tells how Lee Denny started a festival in his parents’ back garden so remember that anything is possible.

You need to get flyers made and distribute them to the right places. It’s prudent to use a similar design to that of the album cover to make the whole event cohere. There are loads of copying companies out there, Soho Print will get your flyers printed quickly and offer bespoke shapes and sizes too. Get a Facebook event page up and pester people but stop before you drive them completely demented and they delete you altogether.

 

OUTDO THE COMPETITION

Think about what else is on the local area. London is saturated with artists and while getting lost in the swell might be what you want yourself from time to time, it’s certainly not what you want for your band. Great launch parties are often the kind of parties where there is a focus on more than just the album – think about getting some artist friends to exhibit or make an installation, have a paint party, or even better a holi party – from the traditional Hindi festival – get some coloured powders, throw them around with abandon and then wherever your colourful guests go next, people will be asking them where they’ve been, it’s great publicity. And make sure plenty of photos are taken on the night then make sure they’re shared around the web.

So you started with a big idea, you had a message, something to share with the world and maybe it seems like all this promotion is more like work than art but building the profile of the band is paramount to getting noticed, which ultimately leads to more people hearing what you’ve got to say and perhaps someone even paying you to say it. Then you can get cracking with that difficult second album!

 

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The Vintage Revolution

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In the last year, CD sales in the UK fell by just under 15% according to this article by The Guardian. Digital sales are definitely up reaching the £1bn mark as of January this year; but there’s another contender on the rise, a blast from the past. Vinyls have strangely survived the digital apocalypse and are more in demand now than ever. Many modern day DJs still use vinyl, and they have always been sought after by rare record hunters and enthusiasts alike, but why have their sales have increased so dramatically in the last few years? In order to explain this phenomenon, let’s look at the process of how vinyls are made and what makes them so special.

Pressing

Vinyl has been around since the early 1920s thanks to scientist Waldo Semon who discovered its useful properties. If you’ve ever seen videos on CD and DVD replication, the process for vinyl pressing isn’t too different. A master copy is made from the file information and the blank vinyls are pressed into the master creating multiple copies, in short. Polyvinyl chloride, the raw material used to make vinyl, is melted to over 250 degrees Celsius and then scored with a laser cutter to imprint the wave patterns into the lacquer. You can read more about the history of vinyls and its uses by visiting http://www.vinylinfo.org/vinyl-info/about-vinyl/. Fuse TV also have this useful video showing the process in action:

Just A Novelty?

I’ll be interested to know just how many of you reading this read the information, or whether you just skipped straight to the video. I feel this is a testament to the nature of the modern day consumer: we want easily digestible information and we want it now. Or at least, we did, up until the novelty of downloading died out. It’s true, you can’t hold your newly downloaded record, and the fact that it took 18 seconds to get it is a major contributor to why vinyls sales are on the rise again. Just take a look at these vinyl veterans; I think they sum up the ‘feeling’ of owning a vinyl record rather well:

Straight away the first guy identified it for me. It’s the artwork and the detail that goes into a proper vinyl that makes it so much more desirable.

Spin Me Right Round

Even writing about them is making me miss my old vinyls. I never had much of collection as a child, apart from my Fireman Sam vinyl complete with a musical German translation on the B-side, but it’s hardly Led Zeppelin I. Not the coolest kid in the world, but now at least I can be thanks to companies like Key Production who you can visit here: http://www.keyproduction.co.uk/services/vinyl-manufacture/. Now if I make a recording, I can send the file and get my very own vinyl pressed complete with customized artwork! For those of you wanting to break into the music industry, you can really make a good impression just by playing on a producer’s nostalgia and sending in a vinyl.

Yeah Yeah, Which Is Better?

That’s what you really want to know isn’t it? Which one is better. This article from Skeptoid I found extremely informative and honest: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4303. I particularly enjoyed the details behind how sound works in the opening paragraphs, give it a scan! In terms of which musical medium is better, I think I can answer this question better with an example. I went to my friend’s house the other day and found him playing Red Hot Chilli’s on vinyl. He told me he had paid £18 for the album. I’ve heard Blood Sugar Sex Magik a hundred times on my iPod, but we sat and listened to the whole vinyl together, watching it spin and crackle to the next track. The same album came on again a few days later on my housemate’s laptop: I barely noticed it playing.

Maybe just knowing it’s a vinyl triggers some over-protective nature in music lovers where they feel they have to jump to its defense against what we know is a superior way to access music. Saying this, downloading an entire discography in less than an hour does take away from the experience, in my opinion anyway.

If you’re going to enjoy music through and through it doesn’t really matter what you choose to play it on, but investing a little extra in something as profound as music can change everything about a song you’ve heard a million times.

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Throw the Best Night of Your Life

Turning 18 is one of the most important birthdays you will experience. Sure, 21 is an important birthday too, but 18 means adulthood: freedom to go where you like, buy what you like and take control of your life. You’re done being a teenager; your 18th birthday means you have joined that fantastic little category of ‘young adult’ – responsible enough to largely do what you want without the accountability of being a fully fledged adult. It’s perfect! And what better way to celebrate this new-found maturity with a good old-fashioned kid’s party?!

The great thing about kid’s parties when you’re older is that you can enjoy the nostalgia of your youth. Whatever decade you’re from, there’s opportunity to track down your favourite things from your childhood for your party. Your friends (presumably the same age as you) will appreciate this trip down memory lane as well. So what do you need to create a little kids party?

Food: This is, let’s face it, the best part of any party. Sure, turning 18 means you can now drink alcohol, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be more excited about the prospect of cake, ice cream, jelly and Space Invader crisps! If you really want you can add a little rum to the punch, but make sure you label it so people know it’s not innocent fruit juice! Little touches like cupcake trays, themed cupcake cases and moulded birthday candles will add an excitable aspect to your birthday party food. Click here to have a look at the range of birthday party food accessories on offer from Party Care.

Music: Compile a playlist of all the songs you loved when you were a kid. Any 18-year-old will love a good bit of 1990s pop. Think Spice Girls, Hanson and Boyzone to name a few. As well as this, why not opt for a good old karaoke machine?? Think back to the hours of fun that used to be had from a karaoke machine. You can sing along with your friends, having singing competitions and even just have a group sing-a-long with the whole party! One company that hires out up-to-date karaoke machines that are easy to use is London Disco Hire. Visit their website to browse your options.

Costume: Why not dress up as your favourite ‘90s character? You could wear the iconic Sporty Spice tracksuit or if you prefer, go as Britney Spears circa Hit me Baby One More Time. There’s such a wide variety, just have a look online. Some good costume shops that offer historical costume for grownups are Party Delights and Ace Fancy Dress. Enjoy your last chance to dress up in your favourite costume before you become a proper adult!

Once you have these things in place, it won’t take long before your guests are having a whale of a time! With karaoke, typical party food and good old fashioned fancy dress, you’ll have thrown the best little kid’s party for your 18th ever! The rest of your life is for cultured, sophisticated dinner parties; being 18 means you can celebrate being a kid one last time before entering into the beginning of the rest of your life.

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Bar None

Despite being the single most stressful week of my life, I have successfully managed and promoted two live music gigs this week, and wow did I learn the hard way. My task was to organise a live music event in an otherwise non-live music venue after the management agreed to let us the bar for the night. The event was a charity fundraiser for an arts movement in Lancaster and after finding a number of bands to play the event, as well as my own; I began to acquire everything else needed for the gig. I was told I would have two weeks to sort everything, but it was unexpectedly cut to five days: nightmare. As the week drew on, more and more interest was generated and the management at the bar started to see the growing potential. What started as a small time gig in a large pub soon became a hyped up event for half the town and my nerves began to crack under the pressure.

I had been running around like a headless chicken all week whilst managing work, but a few nights before the gig I paid a visit to the venue to finalize my plans with management. When I arrived, they told me they were expecting their event crowd barriers any day now, and also did I need a better PA system? I was still reeling from the crowd barriers comment, ‘barriers? How many people do you expect to come? And what do you mean a “better” PA? What’s wrong with yours?’ I asked nervously. ‘It’s just a bit iffy sometimes, you’ll be fine though’ was the response. I’m not entirely sure what my expression was at this news, but from the management’s reaction it was far from reassured. I had agreed to do this as a favour to the arts students, and to gain some experience, but this was fast snowballing into catastrophe unless I kept my head.

When throwing something as complicated as a live music event, you should always follow the gig rules for organising. In this case, I had not. Crowd barriers were disconcerting enough without crucial news like ‘no PA system’ and ‘this/that band have dropped out’. In short, it wasn’t looking good for the gig.

The night finally arrived, and to make things worse I had double booked myself to play in another pub, finishing half an hour before the start of the main event. By the time we had moved everything over, the place was packed and I was somewhat relieved to see the barriers in place: it was going to be a great crowd, if the PA would even start up.

In hindsight, I should have read up more on operating a PA system, but then again I should also have been given a lot more time, equipment, budget and permissions. As it was, the pub just wanted live music and hadn’t thought far ahead at all. I won’t describe the horrors of the first 45 minutes trying to get everything to work, but again, thank god for those barriers when it did finally click. The packed pub roared in unison at the first note struck, and we finally got the show underway. We pulled it back from disaster by the skin of our teeth, but it could have gone the other way very easily. I advise anyone thinking of organising a gig to learn from my mistakes; preparation is pivotal, improvisation is invaluable.

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Festival Survival Guide

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Going to a festival can be a great experience and is a rite of passage for most twenty somethings. But if you want to enjoy yourself make sure you are prepared for any eventuality,So here are some tips so that you can make the most of your weekend, safe in the knowledge that you have everything sorted.

Arriving early can be very useful, it means that you can pick the prime tent pitching location and get your bearings before the area gets too crowded. Try and pitch your tent near a recognisable landmark, or at the very least make your tent distinguishable from the sea of tents that will appear. When your tent is pitched claim some territory around it so that you don’t get squished between tents, a good idea is digging a little trench around your tent. If you have come with a group of friends then make a circle with the entrances to the centre that will give you a little territory and some social space in the middle. Once you are pitched find out where the toilets are and also where the medical centre is at the festival, hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do you don’t want to be wondering around looking for it.

There are certain items that you definitely need for a festival the first is money. Though there may be ATMs  around the queues will be huge so make sure you have enough money for the whole weekend, budget beforehand  so you don’t run out. Dry Clothes are another one that you can’t go without, it will probably rain and you don’t want to spend the weekend in damp clothes. Put them in a plastic waterproof bag so you can ensure their continued dryness. Bring your phone, ID and cash and keep them on you at all times so that you don’t lose them and you can use them in emergencies.

If you are in England then your festival is likely to get wet so bring a waterproof poncho or an anarak.  Do not wear flip flops, your feet will be wet all weekend and your feet will be stomped on. Wear some good waterproof (do you see a pattern emerging) wellies and bring spare socks, if you can, take your shoes and socks off at night so that your feet can breath. Once you get there, you will not have a decent wash so bring wet and antiseptic wipes, dry shampoo and deodorant so you can at least hide the fact. If you are a girl or a boy with long hair get it in a style that means there will be a minimum amount of fuss, like a plait. Bring water, there will be bottled water at the festival but it will be expensive so make sure you make room for it in your bag.

As long as you don’t forget any of this information and bring the essentials you are almost guranteed to have a great festival experience.

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