Many musicians dedicate large amounts of time and money to recording their music, but very few capitalize on the music they produce. It has never been easier for a musician to release their music globally across multiple platforms and start to generate revenue from the music they produce.
The choice of digital services to sell your music on is vast. Some services take a big commission but market their websites heavily, while others take a small commission and leave the marketing to the artists that use them.
If you are a new artist, the marketing spend for the platform you use to sell your music is not important. What is important is the amount of commission you receive. Selling your music on iTunes might sound impressive. But, how impressive is it when you receive a low commission for your music?
One platform that established with musicians in mind is Bandcamp.
Bandcamp Takes a Small Commission
Created with artists in mind, Bandcamp is free and easy to add your music to, and the commission is one of the lowest at just 15%. There are also some cool features that help you market your music. In my opinion, this is the best service available for new artists, though not without its challenges.
Avoid high PayPal fees on Bandcamp
You need to set up your Bandcamp and PayPal payments as micro-payments. Don't sell your music as a complete album, but rather, sell each track individually. But, give the customer the option to buy the individual tracks as a full album. Make sure your account is set to micro-payments, and you will pay just 5%, not 30%.
Give Away Free Music on Bandcamp
The coolest feature on Bandcamp is the ability to give away free music. This is a great way to introduce new people to your music. When you give songs away on Bandcamp, you are rewarded with the e-mail address of the person who accepts your free download. This is a great way of building a fan base and a mailing list.
A personal e-mail address is the greatest marketing gift you can receive. That e-mail address is a constant point of contact and the gateway to the owner's social media accounts. Artists that use Bandcamp effectively give away free music and build big lists of people for when they have music for sale.
Bandcamp is Just a Shop
Bandcamp is retail space; it is a giant digital music store. Your music will be there with thousands of other artists and albums. It is up to you to market your music. Give away free tracks, link your Bandcamp page to every social media account you have, have your Bandcamp page as the signature on every forum you post on. The more your name and page are in the public eye, the more traffic you will generate. If anybody wants to buy your music, send them to the place where you receive the highest commission.
Bandcamp is a very good service and the perfect starting point if you are looking to sell your music. As with anything, you need to promote your music through social media and music streaming services such as SoundCloud.
With low commission and no upfront costs, Bandcamp is the perfect way to start selling your music online. Music fans do spend a great deal of time looking for new music on this website and are happy to buy music from Bandcamp, knowing the vast majority of the money is going to the artists and not a corporation.
The music of the east and of the global south is taught very little in the west – and more's the pity, for beautiful musical traditions, instruments, and playing techniques are found everywhere in the world. Whether you're interested in the music of Ghana or India, Japan or Ecuador, studying non-western music can broaden the horizons of any musician and deepen their appreciation for this universal art. Here are five reasons to study non-western music.
Studying non-western music can help the musician discover commonalities across ethnic and regional traditions – from instruments to rhythms to vocal styles. Musicians who study global music will deepen their understanding of how different musical traditions from around the world relate to and even influence each other.
Learning About New Instruments
As you listen to music traditions from around the world, you'll hear a lot of new-to-you instrumentation – and that in turn may spark your interest in studying new instruments. You might hear Chinese traditional music and be inspired to study the pipa, or Middle Eastern music and want to learn the oud or the sitar. Learning about instruments unfamiliar to you can be a great boon professionally as well.
Connecting Global Traditions
Globalism has connected the entire world, and where people go, they bring their traditions with them. You may listen to West African music and hear an echo of Middle Eastern folk, or to Ecuadorean music and hear a lilt of Castilian Spanish classical. Music is one of the many ways in which people of all walks of life connect, and it's not at all uncommon to hear the influence of one global music tradition on another.
Discovering New Favorites
Even if you've never been to Puerto Rico, you may discover that you really love salsa, or that you are moved by the strains of traditional Japanese koto playing even if you have never set foot in Japan. Music as a universal art is capable of moving people to great joy and passion – and studying global traditions may introduce you to music traditions that truly move you.
Broadening Career Prospects
From a purely practical standpoint, studying non-western music and instrumentation can certainly boost a musician's career. It opens up opportunities to perform and compose for these traditions, even if you're not of the background that the tradition comes from. It can also help to broaden and enhance your own work by experimenting with diversity of sound, helping you to more fully realize your musical vision.
Whether for personal enjoyment or professional fulfillment, studying non-western music can be life-changing, and can serve as every musician's personal auditory adventure around the world.
Email marketing is hands-down one of the most effective tools for turning audience members into buying customers. Music is no exception – a band is also a brand, and email marketing can help you develop that brand while delivering higher earnings from your music. Here are just a few benefits of email marketing for bands.
Email marketing is very often cheap or even free – MailChimp, for example, offers a superbly flexible pricing plan ranging from zero for total beginners all the way up to two hundred per month for highly successful companies or outfits. Some music sites also offer free email marketing tools for those who sign up as a fan and opt in to your mailing list.
It's Targeted Marketing
Because email marketing almost always involves opting in on the part of the recipient, you're guaranteed that whoever opts in wants to see whatever you're putting out. With non-targeted marketing, you'll be reaching part of your audience but not necessarily all of them, and it can be harder to build dedicated audiences; but using targeted marketing in tandem with non-targeted can help to build a more loyal audience, generate sales, and encourage greater sharing of your music.
All email marketing platforms will track how many emails you send out, and either a percentage or explicit number of how many people have actually opened your email. While looking at these measurements can be discouraging (a lot of people will delete those kinds of emails without even looking at them), over time, if you're consistent and effective with your marketing efforts, you'll start to see that number increase – letting you know that your audience is engaged and interested.
It Keeps Your Fans Updated
Your fans want to know what you're up to and when they can expect new albums or tour dates. Email marketing is one of the best ways to accomplish this, especially if you have a lot of fans – not everyone will see Facebook or Twitter posts, but a well-named and organized email will update a huge part of your audience at once on when they can expect to see you live or when your next album will drop. Email marketing contributes to album pre-orders and direct sales, either online or at shows.
These are just a few of the reasons your band or act should be using email marketing as part of your marketing platform. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways of turning an audience into income – so no matter what platform you choose, consistently reaching out to your fans will result in greater financial success for your band for years to come.
Very often, doing a general music degree can open lots of doors career-wise. But sometimes, specializing a degree in music can help to not only demonstrate to potential employers where your real passion lies, but may even be required for specific jobs in the music industry. Here are five specializations for music degrees.
A specialization in composition is often a necessity for some of the higher-paid jobs in composing, like film and game scoring. This specialization requires strong music theory skills, intensive piano study, and a high theory class in either composition or orchestration. Composition can also be an excellent specialization for musicians who want to write music for performers and entertainers.
The music theory specialization is not to be confused with the composition specialization, though oftentimes the requirements are similar. A specialization in music theory is excellent for musicians who might want to pursue a purely academic route in music, such as teaching or textbook planning and writing. Sometimes, a specialization in music theory can lead to some of the same jobs as a composition specialization might, though this is not always the case.
The performance specialization is more complex than many musicians realize – this spec requires extensive classes in not only applied music, but master classes, recital organization and participation, and, for singers, classes in diction and language. In addition to the standard music degree studies in music theory, music history, and aural skills, the musician who chooses a performance specialization will find opportunities to perform in everything from operas to global music recitals.
If your idea of a wonderful career is teaching music to children or adolescents, music education is the specialization for you. Advanced degrees in music education can also lead to university or college teaching, as well as opportunities to plan and lead master classes in your instrument of specialization. In addition to classes, music education majors must be prepared to spend at least one semester of practicum teaching alongside a certified teacher in a public or private school setting.
Liturgical music is a newly emerging specialization aimed at those who wish to become cantors or choirmasters at churches, synagogues, and mosques. Often, this is a highly demanding specialization that requires not only the standard music degree curriculum, but classes in world religions, languages, and specialty classes in particular forms of sacred music.
Regardless of where your passion lies, one of these music degree specializations – among others you may come across – can open up your path into some of the best-paid jobs in the music industry.
If you think classical music is boring, think again. Neo and avant-garde classical music is coming around in a big way, blending Romantic-era emotionality with modern pop sensibility. If you love the sound of classical instrumentation but aren't looking to be lulled to sleep with chamber music, here are five unique neo-classical acts for you to check out.
A classically trained cellist, Zoe Keating is among the most well-known neo-classical performers of the twenty-first century. In what she lovingly refers to as her “cello cave,” Zoe writes and records beautiful, sweeping, and often stimulating melodies with layer upon layer of harmony. Zoe's husband died of cancer in 2015, and in addition to her career in music, she has become a tireless advocate for cancer patients and their families. Born in Canada, the San Francisco-based musician tours regularly and is currently at work on a new album.
An old-school gothic act as well as a neo-classical one, Rasputina is best described as a cellorock band that utilizes cello and percussion to create a wholly unique and diverse array of music. They've toured with Marilyn Manson, Cheap Trick, The Goo Goo Dolls, and many others. Rasputina is unique in that they incorporate both visuals and sound that represent and reflect women in history that were important but overlooked, as well as cultures often ignored by the west. Immensely popular among classical music lovers, their most recent EP's presale has sold out.
Founded by violist and violinist Laura Welch, this avant-garde classical music act incorporates elements of Romantic-era classical music, metal, and grunge. Her haunting music frequently explores deeply personal topics, like mental illness, as well as subjects of global concern, like antifascism and socialism. Laura is presently at work on Blood Moon's debut album, and plays shows routinely in New York's Capital Region.
Based in Germany, Qntal combines world classical musical sound with post-gothic electronica. Qntal represents one of the longest-standing neo-classical acts around, having been founded in 1991. With vocals in multiple languages and a seamless blending of multiple genres of music, Qntal's heavily medieval vibe is comfortably modified by modern music sensibilities. They have appeared at some of the world's largest music festivals, include Wave Gotik Treffen and M'era Luna.
Faun is a German medieval music act that focuses centrally on Pagan and Neo-Pagan themes in their music. They tour routinely throughout Germany, and bring together beautiful vocals and unique instrumentation – such as the hurdy-gurdy and the nyckelharpa – to create a mystical and yet driven neo-classical sound. Faun has become a great favorite in the worldwide Pagan community, as well as lovers of early and medieval music. Putting a new twist on an ancient tradition, Faun was founded in 1998, and recently completed a support tour for their most recent album, Midgard.
Each of these five acts has innovated on historic classical style in a unique way – so if you're looking for a brilliant classical sound that won't make you feel as though you need a nap, all of them are well worth your listen.
When you're looking for an audio producer to record and mix your next album, the choices can be overwhelming if you haven't worked with the same producer for years on end. But if you're in the market for a producer, there are a few traits that you should be looking for. Here are five things to look for in an audio producer.
No matter what their studio setup looks like, professionalism is a key quality in a good audio producer. They should make you feel welcome in their studio, ask you lots of questions about what you're producing, and work carefully with you to choose appropriate equipment and recording techniques to best capture your vision. Overall, the producer should work with you to create a positive and communicative rapport.
Time is money, and that is especially true of the music industry. You should expect your audio producer to be on time for each and every session you have scheduled with them, barring emergencies or other unexpected circumstances. If your audio producer is consistently late – or simply doesn't turn up to a session – it's time to look for someone else.
Even if an audio producer has a particular specialty when it comes to genre or style, a good audio producer should be able to adapt to any style, equipment set, or number of instruments in an act or band. The producer should work with you to ensure the best in-studio setup for your particular musical style, whether you're a solo act or a ten-piece band. They should also be able to adjust on the fly during recording sessions, especially if something goes wrong.
Before definitively choosing to work with a particular audio producer, ask around or look online for positive reviews from other musicians who have worked with them. If there are more positive reviews than negative ones, you've almost certainly landed on a keeper – but if most of what you hear is mediocre or is even downright awful, keep looking.
Creativity is a vital quality in an audio producer, particularly when it comes to problem-solving. Audio producers are part of the creative process of creating an album, and should be adept at coming up with creative ways to bring out your best sound in each and every session. Whether it's suggesting alternative instrument techniques or the use of a different piece of equipment, creativity – thinking outside the box – is a must.
Looking for each of these five qualities in your audio producer will help you decide on a professional that will work well with you and the rest of your act – and can help you build a years-long professional.
Acoustic guitars need to sound alive in the mix! The acoustic guitar will need to either cut through another more dominant sound in the mix, such as electric guitars and drums, or the acoustic guitar will need to sound clean enough to dominate the track on its own.
Acoustic guitars sound fantastic, but they are one of the hardest instruments to record. The secret behind getting the most from an acoustic guitar lies is the microphone used. If the acoustic guitar is a regular feature in your music, it is well worth investing in a good quality microphone.
Great Acoustic Guitar Microphones For under $200
Costing a little under $200, the Shure SM94 is almost perfect in every way. This microphone is specifically used for string instruments, cymbals, and woodwind instruments. This is a condenser microphone with low-frequency roll off.
This is a very sensitive microphone with a low and wide frequency response, meaning it will pick up all of the subtleties an acoustic guitar has to offer. The microphone offers a very clean sound and will give your guitar new life. These microphones are small, making it feel unobtrusive while playing.
Unless you have deep pockets, it is important to buy studio microphones that can perform a number of tasks. The Sennheiser e906 is one of those microphones. The Sennheiser e906 is a guitar microphone that is primarily used for guitar cabs, but the e906 comes with a switchable sound character feature.
This means you have a choice of three settings: dark, moderate and bright. If you switch the Sennheiser e906 to bright and have a play with your microphone positioning, you will discover a bright and vibrant acoustic guitar sound. This microphone also sounds incredible when guitars are played through an amp.
The SM57 has been around forever. They are a fantastic microphone for acoustic guitars, drums, and just about everything. With a price of under $100, they are also budget-friendly.
The SM57 has a much brighter and warmer sound than the SM58. The SM57 has a much wider frequency response, giving it a much brighter sound. If the SM58 is the ultimate all-rounder for live performance, the SM57 is the ultimate all-rounder for the studio.
This microphone gives acoustic guitars life and soul. The SM57 is also great for vocals, amplified guitars and snare drums. If you are on a budget and need a good quality studio microphone, then the SM57 is a perfect choice.
If you are a singer-songwriter looking for a microphone that will give a bright, crisp acoustic guitar sound, but also be able to give rich vocal performance then he MXL 770 is a good place to start.
The MXL 770 costs under $100 and delivers excellent quality and value. The MXL 770 is primarily a vocal microphone, but it offers excellent performance on string instruments. Thanks to its built-in pre-amp it offers a very wide dynamic range with an excellent bass roll off and a very upfront high-end response. This microphone will make your acoustic guitars and vocals sound rich and full. If you are a singer-songwriter on a budget, this is an excellent choice.
Positioning The Microphone
As with all microphone techniques, there is an element of trial and error involved. A positioning technique called "The Vanilla Position" is widely used by studio engineers worldwide. This involves positioning the microphone pointing where the neck meets the body of the guitar.
The distance the microphone is from the guitar depends on how heavy the acoustic is being played. You can also alter the distance depending on how dominant you would like the guitar to sound in the mix.
Even with a degree in music, obtaining work with precisely the role you want can be hard. However, with a properly-chosen minor along with your music degree, you can dramatically increase your chances of doing something within the music industry that still fits your interests and professional goals. Here are five lucrative minors for music majors.
A minor in psychology opens up several opportunities both academically and professionally. A music major who minors in psychology may work as an activities director for children or the elderly, work in arts management or marketing, and later may apply for master's degree programs in music therapy. Many music majors with psych minors wind up in music therapy, which is one of the best-paying professions for musicians to date (and as a field, is growing significantly beyond most other music-focused professions).
A music degree with a marketing minor can help the degree holder obtain work in the fields of arts management and marketing, much like a psychology minor can. Music majors who complete minors in marketing may find themselves managing bands, serving as social media and digital marketing coordinators for record companies, music shops and music schools, and a host of other jobs where the arts and advertisement meet. Marketing can be an extremely lucrative field, making a marketing minor one of the best for money-minded music majors.
A minor in history may not seem the most immediate choice for income potential, but a music degree holder with a minor in history may find work opportunities in a variety of fields from archival preservation to museum curation. Music majors with history minors may also serve in academic capacities, from research to instruction in music history – and those who wish to teach may go on to complete advanced degrees in music history, which – due to its uncommonality – can result in well-paid work in the music history arena.
Business and Entrepreneurship
For music majors intent on being their own boss, a business minor grants a fantastic opportunity to not only be hired at independent music shops and companies, but the expertise to found their own music-focused business later on. A minor in entrepreneurship is particularly helpful to the musician who wants to spend their working years self-employed – and can help their companies to be more successful later on.
For music majors that love technology, a computer science minor can lead them to professional opportunities creating music-related apps, writing music-based software, or helping to troubleshoot and maintain technological resources in every environment from recording studios to application design companies. Computer science and music might seem at odds with one another at first glance, but as the link between music and technology grows increasingly stronger, computer science presents many lucrative opportunities to the music major.
No matter where your interests lie, one of these minors can help you shape a career in music that reflects your passion – and keeps your bank account happy.
If you're just starting out with a woodwind instrument, you already know there's a lot to remember. Between good posture and proper embouchure, some woodwinds are among the most challenging instruments to master on a technical level. But a few tips can help you along the way, and make learning the instrument a lot easier. Here are ten tips for beginning woodwind players.
Take Your Time
If you're picking up a woodwind for the first time, the most important thing to remember is to take your time. Don't rush through your scales or any beginning repertoire you're assigned – take the time to familiarize yourself with how the instrument feels in your hands, how your breath feels moving through it, and how each individual note feels. Play everything largo or andante starting out – it will help you gain that familiarity and help you play more accurately.
Scales, Scales, Scales
Even if you don't work on repertoire every day, take a little bit of time each day to run scales in various keys. In particular, make it a point to run the scales of each key your repertoire represents – it will help to acquaint you intimately with the individual feel of each key signature and help you to play notes more accurately. Scales will also help you perfect your fingering technique and embouchure, so you can play repertoire more effectively.
Many beginning woodwind players are tempted to tense up their muscles, particularly around the neck and shoulders, when they play. While your posture should be straight and erect to promote better breathing, your neck and shoulders should be relatively relaxed. If you keep this area tense while you play, it will interfere with your breathing and, after awhile, make you sore – making it harder to focus on playing accurately and beautifully. Standing while you play rather than sitting may help if you tend to focus tension in your neck and shoulder area – just mind you don't wind up tensing your lower back, too!
Anticipate Your Breath
Every instrument has a different “resistance” - essentially, the time it takes for the breath to produce the sound. Don't wait until you're out of breath to start sounding the next note, and play close attention to how long it takes between you blowing into your instrument and it making a sound. Some woodwinds are very breath-intensive – such as the oboe or the clarinet – and anticipating your breath will help you to sustain a clear, dynamically stable sound every time.
Remember Bare Lips
Rule number one: no lipstick, no lip gloss, no lip balm, no nothing! If you're about to play, don't put anything on your lips, as lip products can interfere with your embouchure, ruin your reed or mouthpiece, and can just plain feel messy and gross on your instrument. If you suffer from chapped lips, utilize a moisturizing lip scrub (especially during the winter) and make sure you're hydrating regularly. Vitamin E may also help to alleviate chapped lips. You can put lip balm or another skin protectant on when you go to bed at night – but never, ever put anything on your lips when you'll be playing your instrument.
Whether you play tin whistle or recordari, these tips will help you master your instrument – and lessen the stress of learning a new and complex instrument.
For the non-affluent musician, producing music while still sticking to the budget can be a tremendous challenge. From the cost of instrument maintenance to lessons, it all adds up – and for the first few years, a lot of musicians will spend more than they make. But don't despair – there are lots of ways to produce music without spending too much of your hard-earned bank. Here are five ways to produce music on a budget.
For your recording and audio production needs, consider using freeware programs. Garageband, Rosegarden, Giada, and Acid Pro Express are all great examples of platforms that you can use for in-home audio production. Some companies also offer free trials of their pro-grade software, so keep a sharp eye out for these. If you really want to use a big-name platform, pick up a somewhat older version of one of the audio production giants – like ProTools and Logic – for a much sweeter price.
Whether you're looking for mics or a new guitar, browse online for sales of used instruments, garage and yard sales, and the refurbished sections of your local music shops. Most used instruments, especially those sold by music shops, are in excellent quality condition and can be spruced up with a decent cleaning or a new set of strings. Be wary, however, of purchasing instruments that have simply sat around a closet or basement for years at a time – they might do in a pinch or for a short period of time, but don't spend serious cash on an instrument that hasn't been decently maintained, and never purchase a used instrument you haven't personally looked at.
One way to get equipment or instruments is to ask around. Make a Facebook post, ask your neighbors, or mass email your friends and ask if they might have what you're looking for or if they know someone who might. This is a great way to get a good price on what you're looking for – and sometimes your friends might just be looking to pass on something useful for free to a person who can get use out of it!
Keep It Minimal
If you have a small budget, make a list of the things you really need to have in order to produce music. Keep a separate list of niceties if you want, to purchase when you can – but keep your setup simple until you can afford to buy more bells and whistles. A lot of musicians make the mistake of spending a lot of their budget money on the frills rather than the workhorses of their endeavor, so start with the essentials and work your way up.
Instrumentalists might consider student-grade instruments. Student-grade offers decent tone and quality in most instruments, and many music shops offer excellent prices on them in comparison with the semi-pro or pro-grade instruments. Some student-grade models are good enough to qualify as semi-pro in and of themselves, so don't hesitate to try out a few if you're not ready to plunk down large sums of money.
No matter what kind of music you produce, there's always a way to get what you need on the cheap – so you can start sharing your musical wonders with the world.