Month: September 2010

Reverbnation Widget Revelation

I signed up on Reverbnation ages ago and uploaded lots of music, acquired new fans, added old ones and then thought “now what?”. Then I just let it sit there and received my weekly stats and watched my popularity remain static in a declining wort of way.

I knew that Reverbnation was a useful thing but I knew I hadn’t worked out how to use it properly yet. I saw so many tweets about how great it was – although I am not a fan of automatically getting a website to tweet something generic like “Check out ……… on ……….”, which I see a lot of (although I think that is more a misunderstanding of how to make use of site, rather than problem with the site itself).

After a lot of thought and a few emails to the support people, I finally figured out how to get people to listen to me using Reverbnation while at the same time coming to my website, which is ultimately what I want.

I decided to use the customizable, embedable widget to play all my albums on my site. And I have to say they have the best music widgets. The choice of themes is tasteful but the best thing is that you can truly customize the size, which is great for me as I have some full length albums and a lot of EPS.

The reason for this blog is that after finally figuring how to use such a well thought of website, I got to meet the founder, Lou Plaia, this evening at the Dewey Beach Music Conference. I spoke to him about my issues and revelation and had a good conversation about the misconception of sites like Reverbnation. They are not fan sites but they really do serve a great purpose if you dig deep enough to make it work for you.

I am so happy with my new widgets and I hope that people visiting my site now find it easier to listen to my music.

www.helenaustin.com/music.html

I am going to try their gig widget next. So many widgets, so little time…

My Recording Set-Up

I have often been asked where I record and with what equipment. So I have decided to write a blog with some pics so that I can direct people to it when asked in the future.

I record at home. I recorded some of my first album with another producer/engineer and although I enjoyed the experience I found that I didn’t like the restriction that it put on time. I wanted to be able record when I felt like it and not match up two busy calendars to find some space.

To do this I had to have to move on from Garageband, an SM58 mic and crappy speakers.

So I invested some money in upgrading to Logic, buying 2 nice mics, a set of good speakers and a couple of preamps. I also moved on from my old Powerbook to an iMac desktop. Larger screens make for easier days!

The Interface

The interface that I bought was called Mackie Onyx Satellite, but I had problems with the main unit (which turned out to be a common problem with all the units) so now just use the pull-out section and it all works just fine. I am looking at getting a Mackie Onyx 820i which will also double up as a mixing board for live gigs.

Here’s a pic of my current Mackie with my 2 pre amps.

The Preamps

I have 2 mics so have 2 Joe Meek ThreeQ preamps which you can see in the pic above. It just gives me that bit more control over the sound that I am creating.

The Microphones

I have a Studio Projects B1 mic that at prefer to use for all my vocals, which is on the left below, and an Apex 460, on the right, which I use for recording guitar/uke either alone or with the SP mic if I want stereo guitar parts.

The Speakers

I have a lovely pair of Yorkville studio monitors. I don’t remember how much they were but I do remember that they were very good value for money!

The Software

I use Logic on an iMac desktop to record everything. I know that there is a divide between Protools users and Logic users. It was the program that worked with the Mackie interface so I chose it for that reason, but have really enjoyed learning to use it and think I will be sticking with it for a long time.

The Instruments

I have several guitars but the one I use for most stuff is my Taylor 314. It was a present from all my friends on my 40th and I love it!! I also use a Yamaha classical guitar and my newest baby, a Lanikai ukelele with DI.

So there you have it. That is my set up and I record almost everything at home. I get the occasional track produced by the lovely Scott Feldman when I think I don’t have enough equipment or midi skills for a larger production.

I am often asked what level of production publishers want to hear and I have come to the conclusion that it depends what genre of music you are producing. My initial limitations with the software, along with critiques telling me I had a compelling voice, led my to write and record lo-fi-ish style folk/pop with an emphasis on the vocals. Most of the time when I submit I am told that my stuff is broadcast quality, but the occasional listing which is looking for more top 40 type of stuff will return my music as not broadcast quality. So it really depends on who is listening.

Everyday I learn something new. It can be a new plug-in on the software or a mistake a I make in a setting which turns out to be a great new vocal or guitar sound that I like. I really like mistakes as they lead me to places I didn’t expect. Sometimes I can’t believe that I get to record this all at home and then it gets picked up for TV, Film etc.

After all the hard work I have put into this I found myself smiling when submitting my music to the Vancouver Island Music Awards and not omitting the ‘Producer’ category in my submission. It was a good feeling.

Blog Challenge Week 9 – continuing on…

Well, here I am at the last chapter of Ariel’s Music Success In Nine Weeks and the book has certainly challenged my marketing thinking!

I am one of those musicians that hates asking people to listen to my music, become my fan, join my list etc etc (which is why I like the Facebook ‘like’ page… people join freely!), but I realize that I can’t just wait for people to discover me. I have to be more proactive.

I am not doing this musician thing the usual way. I don’t gig much outside my local area (I spent 20 years touring as a comedian!) and my main goal is licensing, which I am having some success with. So I thought a lot of the marketing stuff didn’t apply to me. I was wrong. If I want to make a long term living as a musician and writer I still have to do all the usual marketing things… and maybe even start touring bit, something I swore I would never do again, but here I am in the UK doing my first non-comedy gig tomorrow!

So back to the last chapter… Creating a Continuum Program. There are a list of ideas for doing this and I am a big believer in keeping momentum going and not resting on your laurels (I didn’t even know I had laurels!). Here’s is where I am at..

I offer the free mp3 to join my email list, which is working especially well after one of my songs has been on an MTV show.

I am selling my albums and singles on itunes as shown by my Tunecore and CD Baby statements!

I have lovely business cards with my pitch, which match my website, press release and all my social networking sites.

I am very much affiliated with The Relay For Life Cancer walk. I wrote a song for them a few years ago, which is played at Relay’s all over the world now. I lost my Mum to cancer in June so this is a cause very close to me. I have also put songs on various fundraising albums the latest of which is ‘Up, Up, Up‘ for autism.

I regularly email my list with news, competitions and new albums/singles I am releasing.

I am attending conferences this year and getting to showcase at some so will be collecting lots of business cards and have my own at the ready… always!

Here is what I need to work on…

Fan club… I hate the word fan, but will have to get over it and set something up! 😉

More live gigs… I have been approached about doing house concerts so need to follow up on that and I have applied to the BC Touring Showcase. I keep getting asked about touring in the UK (where I am originally from) so I am going to look into that.

I have already spent a year writing, recording and uploading a new song every week for a year, which got a lot of people on my email list. So now I really like the idea of offering a custom written song. I love to write and I think that would be a fun thing to do for anyone that wants one. The suggestion of charging $1000 is appealing and not appealing all at the same time. It’s not that I don’t think one of my songs wouldn’t be worth $1000… I just have to get over myself! If anyone wanted to one, I would be happy to do it! (see, there’s my first step… I just put it out there!).

This has been a great exercise in both blogging and challenging one’s thought’s on marketing. I will be reading this book several times and maybe each time i will get more comfortable with some of the aspects I currently find uncomfortable with.

I have met some great people on the forums on the msi9w website, some of whom I shall hopefully meet at the Taxi Road Rally and where I will hopefully get to meet and chat with Ariel herself.

Onwards and upwards!