Latest Articles


The Independent Musician’s Guide to Not Going Broke

Musicians, producers and engineers often face tough career propositions. Here’s how to avoid losing your shirt – in good times and in bad. With a little bit of intelligent planning, you might even come out ahead. If you’re anything like the average American, chances are that you have a credit card with about $7,000 in unpaid debt, and if you’re lucky, you might have about $6,000 in your savings account. There’s also a 76% chance that you’re currently living paycheck-to-paycheck...

How To Get Joan Jett’s Bone Crunching Rhythm Guitar Sound

If there’s a king and a queen of six-string rhythm crunch, they are AC/DC’s Malcolm Young and, of course, Joan Jett. On Sunday, September 22, Jett celebrated her 55th birthday. And what better way for guitar players to celebrate than to take a shot at recreating her bone shattering Melody Maker-fired sound. Maybe If all of us hit one of the Godzilla-sized E chords she deploys in “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” at midnight on the 22nd, we’d actually be able to tilt the world on its axis. That’s how powerful...

A Birthday Tribute to B.B King

For B.B. King the thrill is far from gone. On Monday, September 16, Lucille's pappy and the most influential figure in electric blues will celebrate his 88th birthday during a rare gap in touring, which he’ll start up again on October 4 with a concert in Prior Lake, Minnesota. At this point King is, for many people, the living definition of blues, and he’s certainly a walking encyclopedia of licks and lore going way back to his days as a poor orphan on a Mississippi farm in the 1930s.

Are You Getting Paid To Play?

Let's face it, it’s hard to make money in the music business, so it pays to know about every income source available to you. As a songwriter you should already know about the performance rights organizations: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. And if you are a performing songwriter, I want to make sure you know about ASCAP OnStage and BMI Live. It used to be that, (according to their websites) ASCAP and BMI only monitored, “all songs performed in the 200 top-grossing...

10 Tips on Beating Stage Fright

Many top artists seem natural extroverts and supernatural performers, but severe stage fright is more common than you may think. Eddie Van Halen, David Bowie, John Lydon, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Rod Stewart, Adele, Ozzy Osbourne and Rihanna are just a few platinum artists who have confessed to debilitating stage fright. What is it? And how do you conquer it? What is “Stage Fright?” “To say that I suffer from pre-show nerves is like saying that when...

10 Classic Albums to Expand Your Musical Horizons

Serious artists don’t work in a vacuum. Inspiration for musical creativity can be found in movies, poetry, painting, a conversation, a great dinner, and, of course, especially in recorded masterpieces from the past. Here’s a list of 10 great albums that can fan the flames of your own creativity, each chosen for a specific approach that takes it outside the box and into the stratosphere. Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love (1967): The art of mixing is dead in the world of modern recordings...

The Musician’s Guide To Affordable Effective Websites

A common complaint among independent musicians is that building a customized website is very expensive; a few artists showed me quotes of $5,000 for a website. It’s not 1997 anymore, and those quotes are not OK. An effective website can be created for $20 or less a month with no upfront costs. So for those of you who need a template for how to create an effective and affordable website, this is the article for you. Many artists drive themselves crazy building...

Why Hire A Producer? — A Guide For Indie Musicians

For most indie musicians the idea of hiring a producer might seem high-falutin’, or at least expensive. But the truth is hiring someone to produce your demo or album might be smarter, more practical and cheaper than your think. A good producer makes songs, sounds and arrangements better, and can identify an artist’s or band’s strengths and weakness, then develop a strategy for embracing the former and triumphing over the latter. Smart producers also understand how to make an ...

It Takes Two: Great Metal Guitar Duos

Much of the early music that helped to either shape the dawn of or define the birth of heavy metal was driven by single-guitar bands. Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple. Cream. Jimi Hendrix. Each of these acts pushed the prologue of the heavy metal story forwards until it burst into its true first chapter in the form of Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi was — and remains — a one-man metal machine, dishing out punishing riffs and cutting solos with the same ferocity to this day. But eventually...

Social Media & Musicians: The Danger in Being Everywhere

Since the dawn of social media and time (ie Myspace),musicians have always been the unchallenged and unquestionable early-adopters of tech. With so many new platforms sprouting up all over the web every day, it’s no surprise that so many feel the need to be everywhere. Some of us are driven by the mentality that more profiles equals more chance of being discovered. Others cling to the fear of missing out on a chunk of potential fans by not being there.

Top Ten Kings of Leon Riffs

Kings of Leon are getting ready to release their sixth album on September 24. Judging from the two songs that have already been released from Mechanical Bull, “Supersoaker,” and “Wait For Me,” it sounds like the Followill’s won’t disappoint this time around either. Both songs continue down the same path as their last three albums, with big choruses and big guitars. Gibson guitars figure prominently on stage at Kings of Leon shows. Guitarist Matthew Followill often plays a Gibson ES-137...

What Do You Want?

I teach an elective music appreciation class at one of the local colleges. Since it's an elective,none of the students are music majors, and most of them don't even play an instrument but have an interest in music. It's a good representation of what we might call the average ear - aware of music but not educated about it. One of the exercises I assign frequently is to listen to a piece of music and have the class write about it. The goal is for them to learn to listen in an attentive,critical...

8 Ways to Make Your Next YouTube Video Better Than The Last

So you’ve made a video… Now what? Take into consideration these 8 tips to optimizing your video’s potential on YouTube. 1. Your TITLE is important! Believe it or not, your title can make or break your video– when people are searching for things to watch, you want your video to come up for them to view! Keep it focused! Try this format (as applicable): [Song Title] [Short Description] [Original Artist Name] [Your Band Name]. For example, if you have done...

Developing Your Artist Brand

When you hear slogans like “Finger lickin’ good,” “Just do it,” and “Eat fresh,” can you immediately picture the logo, the company, and the associated products? This is branding in action, and big businesses invest untold millions on it because they know it can mean success and longevity for their products. Developing your artist brand is an important step in your music marketing plan and in the ongoing development of your music career.
The Jesus and Mary Chain concert at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia

Why Musicians Should Care More About The Live Experience They Provide

In the 1970s, futurologist Alvin Toffler predicted that in the future, people would be chasing experiences more than they would purchase products. Marketing music events is tricky, because there is a paradox. You can't be successful if your product (the actual music) is bad, but it has been proven many times that people attend events primarily because of the experience it offers, more than the actual...