Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriting Tip: Creating Cool, Daily Content for Your Fans. Easily.

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, May 03, 2011 @04:58 PM

Creating Cool, Daily Content for Your Fans. Easily.
by Tess Cychosz

So you’re an emerging artist. That means by now, you probably feel like you’ve seen about a million articles from industry reps talking about how important it is for you have daily interaction with your fans. You need to be on Facebook getting “Likes,” Youtube getting hits, tweeting until your hands are raw, etc. etc. You get it. But unless your last name is Gaga, your life probably isn’t that fascinating on a daily basis.

So the question is, how can you create content that’s actually cool and interesting to your fans on a daily basis? Well, I’m here to try and help answer that. Here are a couple ideas and tools to capture your daily activities and make them look pretty nifty too. Added bonus: these apps and tools all allow you to immediately share via Twitter, Facebook and more.

Take “Vintage” Digital Photos. Typing “Making my morning coffee” on Twitter doesn’t sound that rad… when you say it like that. But using a photo is a fun and easy way to share something simple from your day. To make it even more exciting, there are a few fun “vintage photo” apps out there to make your morning coffee even look cool. See my super-awesome examples below. Voilà! An ordinary coffee cup is turned into a photo that could qualify for the wall of your local Starbucks (ok, that might be stretching it, but you get the idea). If you’re a Droid user, my favorite app is Retro Cam. iPhone users should check out Instagram.

From boring coffee to cool coffee

 

 

Mix Daily Video Clips with your Tunes. You’ve seen it a million times: A person sitting in front of their computer, the backdrop is a bedroom or basement, and it’s just another talking head. This is fine every once and a while to give several updates at once (a nice alternative to a newsletter) but it’s easy to expose daily activities in a more creative way. Check these out: Taking a ski trip? Pidgeon eat your lunch? Or maybe you’re really happy about a Snow Day? Putting together a few clips taken with your data phone and using some of your music as a soundtrack can be a clever way to showcase a new demo or bring back an old tune you released a few years ago. Apps with cool video effects: 8MM Vintage Camera app for iPhone and Videocam Illusion for Android. Edit clips together on your phone with apps like Reel Director or Qik.

 

Make Gig or Studio Photos into a Mini Production. Sonicbids Product Manager (and pal) Lou gave me this idea and I’m a fan. Once you’ve taken all of your cool content in the ways listed above, use it to create a quick and easy mini production. Play a gig last night? This is a great way to showcase your favorite photos from the evening in a snappier way than your average Facebook photo gallery. Animoto, lets you create quick 30 second productions (which you can throw together in minutes) for free and seems to hit it out of the park. But you can also check out Masher, too.

So there you have it. A few ideas to make that experience waiting in line at Guitar Center staving off the headache from the florescent lighting an opportunity to engage your fans. Don’t forget to show me a photo (@SonicbidsTess) when you do. This article is written by Tess Cychosz from Sonicbids

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, sonicbids, EPK, press kit, electronic press kit, Reverbnation, Rootmusic, Myspace

Songwriting Tip: 5 Tips to Build a Kick Ass EPK

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Mar 01, 2011 @12:31 PM

5 Tips to Build a Kick Ass EPK (Press Kit) by Tess

EPK sonicbids

 

High fidelity audio is key. Long gone are the days where a cheaply recorded demo is fine to shop to promoters and music buyers. With high-quality studio equipment becoming more and more accessible and home studios beefing up, it’s hard to ask any music professional to ignore the fidelity of your recording anymore. Keep the demos as a fun thing to share with fans on your blog, while your EPK highlights your highest quality work.

 

Invest in a quality Main Photo. Picture an image of 4 flannel-wearing guys, one holding a fiddle, all with long beards standing in a grassy field. Now, picture an image of 3 girls, all dressed in purple with loads of pink lipstick and their hair taking up half of the frame. You can at least safely assume these two bands don’t make the same genre of music, even though you haven’t heard either of them play. What I’m trying to say here is that your image matters. I know that ideally your “music will speak for itself” …but I hate to say it… it doesn’t. The viewer of your EPK sees that before anything else and it sets an immediate expectation of who you are and what you’re about. You main photo is your first impression. So don’t skimp on investing in your promo photos and make sure it gives off the right image for your sound.

 

Write a descriptive Elevator Pitch. If you were riding in an elevator with a stranger, and you had 30 seconds to sell your band to that person, what would you say? Choose your words carefully on your EPK elevator pitch, because this is your chance to grab the reader’s attention. The most important thing to remember is that the pitch should describe the music, because music is what the reader is looking for. The second thing to remember is that arrogance, triteness, and vagueness don’t work well. Avoid saying things like: “You’ve never heard anything like this before!” or “My music defies all genre and comparisons.” If you want to talk quality, highlighting a single great quote from a blogger or a recent award is a good tactic to get the point across.

 

Display complete Calendar Dates. A complete and up-to-date Gig Calendar is one of the most important and useful things to have in your EPK. It’s pretty simple: your calendar is your line-item resume. Promoters, especially those for performance opportunities, want to know the types of venues you are playing, how often you are performing, and even what nights of the week you tend to play. A complete calendar that includes past performance dates gives viewers a great idea as to where you are in your career, and if you’re a good fit for their gig. Also, many promoters prefer to see bands live themselves before booking - without the where and when, no one will know where to go to see you play and they most likely won’t go to the extra effort to head to your Myspace to check it out.

 

List out your Press Reviews. It’s nice to tell everyone how great you are, but it’s even better if you can show how great other people say you are. Keep in mind that brevity isn’t just the soul of wit – it’s the soul of everything in the music world. Choose the best quotes from the best articles and include those. And when I say “Press” I don’t mean only the New York Times. Posting links to bloggers that gave you a shout is definitely something to include.

 

Sonicbids.com is a sponsor of the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. If you want some more tips, check out the Sonicbids Lounge – our blog dedicated to educational content – or find me on Twitter @SonicbidsTess and we can keep the conversation going.

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, sonicbids, EPK, press kit, electronic press kit, music production, music artist

Keeping Things Cheap As A Musician

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Mar 05, 2010 @04:03 PM

by Brandon, Sonicbids Member Relations Representative

I’m a pretty cheap guy. This doesn’t seem to help much in the dating scene, but can quite useful as a musician, instruments cost hundreds of dollars a piece and unless you’ve reached a certain level of success, it’s difficult to pay that back quickly, if at all. So, when starting out you’ll want to minimize your costs as much as possible while gradually increasing your presence both locally and (inter)nationally. I’ve found quite a few ways to do so, and thought I’d share them. Obviously the possibilities are endless, so feel free to comment here and share your ideas as well.

 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FRIENDS AND STUDENTS

Hiring big names for collaborations is great for quick exposure, but if you’re short on cash, there are alternatives. Friends, local contacts and students are great ones for several reasons:

 

1) They (in most cases) know you already, so you can form a personal relationship in addition to a professional one.

2) They may even be more motivated to help out (students in particular – see below).

3) They are less expensive to hire.

 

If you have a brother who’s a marketing genius, for instance, perhaps try to get him on board to help you with marketing your project and creating your brand.

 

I also mentioned this in my last post, but colleges are a cesspool of many things, including budding young talent. Aspiring art students are looking for their big break in graphic design, photography or illustration — hire a student who understands your branding goals to do your artwork for you. Since they’re just starting out, they won’t be as expensive to hire as a renowned artist, and may do equally great work.

 

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY WITH YOUR WEB PRESENCE

A couple of ideas here:

 

1) Email your Electronic Press Kit. It’s free to do with your Myspace or Sonicbids account, and you can track when the recipient actually opens the electronic press kit unlike in a normal email. This is a good way to save cash while getting that closure you need.

 

2) Build a cheap website. While sites like Sonicbids, MySpace, Facebook, etc. allow you to promote your band and its identity, you’ll want a home site on the internet, which helps secure that identity at an easy-to-find location (yourbandname.com, for instance). Building a website seems daunting at first, but there are tons of cheap/free services out there to help make this relatively painless, both on your brain and your wallet. I’ve personally found Wordpress, known for its blogging capabilities, to be an immensely powerful site-building tool as well, and it’s totally free to use. Check out a great example of a Wordpress-powered site for Sonicbids band Stereogrove here.

 

BE SMART ABOUT PROMOTIONS AND TOURING

When The Seedy Seeds came by the Sonicbids office recently, I had a good conversation with Brian, one of the masterminds behind the band, who mentioned their small, incremental touring method, rather than going all-out on a massive national tour. This is a smart way to approach touring: there’s no sense in blowing all your cash on a great tour and then not being able to afford another one after that, losing that expanded fanbase you just got in a matter of weeks. Try a shorter approach to touring, by doing short, frequent trips to very specific targeted regions. Also take some time to study the music scenes of those regions: there’s no sense in playing metal in a city where indie rock is all the rage.

 

Again, there’s a ton of possibilities here. This is just a start, so please comment away, or feel free to reach me and the Sonicbids Member Relations Team.

Tags: sonicbids, Myspace, cheap musician, indie musician, music promotion, twitter, facebook, purevolume, soundclick

Songwriting Critiques Week, An Exclusive Midsummer Opportunity

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sat, Jul 11, 2009 @11:52 AM

Songwriting Critiques Week - Exclusive Midsummer Week Promotion!

Sonicbids & 14th Annual USA Songwriting Competition are offering songwriting critiques. This is exclusively for the week of 7/10/09 to 7/17/09. Yes, only all songs submitted during this time period will each receive a songwriting critique.

Winning songs will receive radio airplay in United States and Canada along with great prizes such as a Top Prize of over $50,000. Past years winning songs went on to hit the charts as well as get placed with various recording artists. You could hit the Top 40 charts or have your song placed on TV, Film or various recording artists and receive execellent exposure!

Sponsors of the 14th Annual Competition are: Acoustic Guitar Magazine, New Music Weekly, Sony, Audio-Technica, Ibanez Guitars, D'Addario Strings, Cakewalk, Sam Ash Music Stores, Singer & Musician magazine, Mi7.com, Overloud, Sonoma Wireworks, Intellitouch Tuners, SongFrame Software, Indie Bible, Acoustic Café Radio Program, Livewire Contacts, AirplayAccess.com, Loggins Promotion, Superdups.com, Sirius XM Radio, Broadjam & Sonicbids.

Hurry, you must your songs enter no later than July 17, 2009:
http://www.sonicbids.com/usasong


Tags: how to write a song, sonicbids, tips on how to write a song, songwriting critique, songwriting evaluation, songwriting feedback