Category Archives: Tips

How To Ask For Feedback

[Editors Note: This article was written by JP Remillard and was originally featured on the LANDR Blog. JP is a mastering engineer with over ten years of experience, a musician, and a label owner. Polish the sound of your next release using LANDR Instant Mastering!]

Feedback: you need it. Especially if you’re trying to get better at producing music.

Feedback will make you a better producer. Critiques mean learning and growing. It’s a must for anyone looking to take their music to the next level.

So how do you get the feedback you need and use if effectively?

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ASK

It’s simple. If you’re not getting feedback, just ask.

Ask someone you trust. Get feedback from people you respect, artists you can learn from and creators who’ve been in your shoes.

It’s a win-win. They get better from teaching and you get better from learning.

WHAT TYPES OF FEEDBACK TO EXPECT

Knowing what kind of feedback you’re getting helps you to apply it in the best way possible. So know ’em.

Three types of common critiques are:

  1. Technical – Technical feedback is specific. Like “your reverb is too loud” or “your EQ’ing in this part could use a little work.” It’s the most practical and useful kind of feedback. If you’re wondering about a certain part then ask about it! 
  2. Directional – Direction deals with your artistic vision as a whole. If you’re putting your guitars away and picking up an 808 get some directional feedback first. Making drastic career moves is serious. Ask before you act.
  3. Opinion – Opinion feedback is someone telling you if it’s good or bad. It’s the hardest type of feedback to apply. But it’s also the most common. If someone thinks your music is good, then make more. If they think it’s bad, then make more anyways and continue to get better.

Andy Warhol put it best when he said:

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad. While they’re deciding, make more art.”

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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF CRITIQUES

  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions – Don’t interrupt and try to explain why you did something a certain way. Take everything in before discussing it. Let your mentor flow through their feedback. It helps them get to the core of what they’re trying to say.
  • Encourage Honesty – No feedback is good unless it’s honest. Some blunt feedback might sting a little at first, but it’ll make you a better producer in the long run. Put your pride aside and strive to the get the most honest responses you can.
  • Make a Wrong a Right – If you’re told that something isn’t sounding right, or you did something incorrectly, ask how to fix it. Doing this turns negative feedback into constructive feedback and gives you something concrete to work on.
  • Relax and Take Notes – It’s a fact: writing ideas down helps you remember the stuff that counts. If you just listen, things go in one ear and out the other (you know it’s true). Having notes allows you to reference your feedback later.
  • Follow Up – Once you fix something based on feedback, go back to the source and make sure you did it right. You’ll never know if something is fixed until you ask the person who told you it was broken.
  • Build a Feedback Network – Surround yourself in producers. Having a network of creative people is the best way to be be constantly stimulated and critiqued. There are no solo geniuses. Brian Eno suggests that all great art comes from the Scenius.

GIVE TO GET

If you want feedback, give feedback to others. Be constructive, positive, compassionate. Use ‘liking’ and comment spaces to support and interact.

Everything is an exchange. People remember all the little things you’ve done for them. When you ask for feedback on your own music, they’ll be more willing to help.

CUT THE CRAP

“Check out my SoundCloud bro” is the worst thing you can do. People can sense shameless self promotion. Not only will you not get the feedback you need, you’ll lose a listener forever.

Make it a private, human-to-human interaction. Call them by their real name. A specific approach triggers curiosity and avoids ‘the bullshit radar.’ Plus it makes the discussion more elevated and personable.

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APPLY, APPLY, APPLY

Don’t go to all the trouble of getting quality feedback and then do nothing with it. If you never change, nothing will get better. Sure, some feedback won’t work. But at least try it before you trash it.

Being a better producer means small changes. And small changes mean growth. So get feedback, apply it, and become a better musician.

How To Mix Bass Properly

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog by JP Remillard, and it originally appeared on the LANDR Blog. We’ll continue to share awesome content from LANDR in order to help educate TuneCore Artists who are producing, recording, and engineering their tracks!]

After seeing millions of tracks come through LANDR, I’ve found a trending problem — Mixes that lack low-end.

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Think of your mix like a human pyramid. The lows are the sturdy bottom. They keep everything from falling apart.

If there’s no bass, then your mix has no base.

How does a track sound when it lacks low end?

  • Aggressive – Lacking lows makes everything else stand out. If your mids get pushed to the front, your track can sound good at first, but quickly becomes tiresome to the ear.
  • Cold – When the bass isn’t there everything in your mix gets a bit chilly. Bass adds roundness and warmth that nurtures the rest of your sound.
  • Weak – Flat lows stops the rest of your track from doing its thing. A well balanced mix pushes everything equally for that A+ champion sound.

So are your mixes coming out aggressive, cold and weak? Don’t worry. I can help.

HOW TO MIX BASS PROPERLY

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The knee-jerk reaction is to go back to the mix, get fader crazy and push the lows. Don’t do it. The problem lies deeper.

Heres what you do in the DAW:

  1. Make your low-end mono – Pan your low-end to the center.
  2. Mix in the lows first – Turn down all channels except the lows (bass, kicks). You can now solo your lows at any time as a reference.
  3. Bring back the rest of the mix – Use your lows as a reference. You should hear the low-end just as loud as the other parts.
  4. Compress – Now it’s now time to use compression to glue your bottom end together and get it pumping in the mix. When it’s finally sitting right, compression will enhance all the essential parts.

Test some loops in LANDR before you make your final bounce. Adjust until perfected.


Snoop Dogg’s personal engineer, Frank Vasquez, uses LANDR to turn up the volume on his mixes. Check out LANDR’s “Behind The Board” interview with Frank below!

6 Tips For Selling Your CDs at Gigs

By Dwight Brown

Selling CDs at gigs can be a cash cow.

You’ve got a wide profit margin because the cost of CD Duplication is minimal compared to the price fans will pay for them. And, selling CDs gets your music out there to fans who will recommend your music.

Tempt audiences at your performances, keep these 6 tips in mind, and you’ll sell CDs and make money:  

  1. Pricing. Charge $10 for an album and $5 for a single and most fans won’t think twice about buying one or more CDs. Selling two CDs for a bargain price is irresistible. Keep prices at $5 increments, and you won’t have to mess with small change. 
  2. Giveaways. Consider rolling the price of a CD into the admission charge. It’s like you’re giving them away, but you’re not. Or hand out a few as door prizes—and watch the rest of the audience have CD envy. 
  3. Special CDs.  Selling CDs that are live recordings, impromptu sessions or feature songs that are not on an official release makes fans feel like they’re buying something special. These “quasi-bootleg” CDs become collectors’ items. 
  4. Concession stands. Mark the title, price clearly and keep CDs at eye level. If you’re selling more than one CD, put them in groups. Concession stand helpers who are personable and/or attractive entice fans to buy more. 
  5. Easy payments:  Take cash, checks and credit cards, which are easy to process thanks to smart phone/tablet mobile apps and dongles (hardware that offers a secure connection). 
  6. Strong shows = strong sales. Connect with you your fans on stage, win them over with a memorable performance and they’ll want a CD to take home that recreates that cool experience. It’s that easy.

Selling CDs at gigs can help you finance your next recording session or tour. If CDs aren’t your thing, USB flash drives work too. You can get started with TuneCore’s CD Duplication service.

Music Review Services: What’s Their Place in an Artist’s Strategy?

By Alex Horowitz

As many musicians know, there’s no shortage of services out there offering artists feedback on their music from unbiased sources.  Of course, that begs the question — just how useful are these services, and what role can they play in your development as an artist?

To better understand the potential value of music review services, we had two TuneCore employees, both part-time musicians in their own right, anonymously submit their music to TuneCore’s own Track Smarts service for review.  We’ll refer to them as Nick and Chris.

Let’s take a look at what our TuneCore friends learned from their reports.

Subjective Or Objective?

The reports Nick and Chris received were robust, containing metrics, charts, and, of course, individual fan reviews of their selected song.  Surprisingly, despite the increasingly important role data plays in the life of a music marketer, both our test subjects felt it was actually the completely subjective, individual reviews written by a random sampling of real music fans that offered them both the most value.

While at first glance this might be surprising — after all, we live in an age where data is king — it actually makes a lot of sense.

The data offered by their respective reports was largely designed to compile and quantify what the reviews were saying.  For example, Track Smarts utilizes what it calls a Passion Rating to quantify not just how favorably your music was reviewed, but how much fervor there was about your song by those that reviewed it positively.  The measurement provided a great way for Nick and Chris to quickly digest an aggregate of what the reviews were saying overall, but actually reading individual reviews actually offered an even deeper and more insightful understanding of how an average music fan was likely to react to their music.

Context Is King

I actually sat next to Chris as he poured over his Track Smarts report for the first time.  The comment I heard him mumble to himself the most?  Something along the lines of, “Well, yeah, ok, I knew that already.”

Chris makes a somewhat niche sub-genre of EDM which, though it enjoys a large and passionate following of devoted fans, would not be likely to find a home on the popular music charts in 2015.  Unsurprisingly, Chris’ music received a larger quantity of low marks than Nick’s from average music fans that just didn’t get it.

However, those that enjoyed his music seemed to enjoy it immensely.  In fact, those that liked his music the most even compared his work to, without knowing it, his favorite musician and biggest personal influence.  So, while the numbers that attempted to “grade” his music were lowered by his receiving fewer favorable reactions than he might have hoped for, what he actually learned from individual reviews offered him some measure of validation regarding the value of his music, as well as useful insights from those that are actually fans of his genre.

The takeaway here is that, as with any set of data, context is important.  If you’re trying to reach the top of the pop charts, the quantity of fans that find something agreeable about your music is likely a metric to which you’ll want to pay close attention.  If you’re dabbling in a more niche genre, be prepared for less people to understand your music’s value, and instead pay close attention to the comments you receive from those that get it.  The top-level numbers are important, but as with any set of data, the key is to contextualize what the data means for you in particular.

So, What Now?

The nicest thing a working musician could say about a tool in their marketing toolbox is, ‘Because I have this, I can tangibly improve my art or my career by taking this specific action.’  By that measure, in our little experiment, music review services have earned high marks, as both Nick and Chris were very impressed by the extent to which their reports offered specific points of feedback that will actually impact their artistic decision in the future.

For example, Nick learned from his report that for those that liked his song, his guitar riffs stood out as a key selling point of his music.  Nick had actually never made his guitar riffs his main focus, and is now likely to feature them more prominently in his live shows and recordings.

In Conclusion (A.K.A. “The Short Version”)

Didn’t read the whole article?  No sweat, here’s the gist: from the experience Nick and Chris had with these reports, our conclusion is that music review services can certainly have a place in a serious artist’s toolbox, especially artists still looking to hone their craft, so long as the artist is smart about keeping the findings from their report in proper context.  Be sure to not just look for scores and ratings and leave it at that.  Think about what your feedback means for your career in particular, and take some time to dive into individual reviews and look to trends or common reactions for specific useful tips that can improve your work.

With the right set of eyes, an objective opinion can go a long way in helping you grow as an artist.


Next Steps for TuneCore Artists

If you’re interested in TuneCore’s music review service, Track Smarts, you can learn more by clicking here, or view a sample report.

 

SEO for Musicians: 3 Tips To Optimize Your Website Content

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Melanie Kealey and was originally featured on the Bandzoogle Blog. If you’re looking to increase your online presence, Bandzoogle is THE place to go to build your artist website!]

Making your website rank well in search engines can seem like a daunting task. Now more than ever, people look to Google to find out information, and it’s important for your music website to work in search engines.

Not sure where to begin? Even starting with a few small things can help with the search engine optimization (also called SEO) for your website. Let’s look at a few quick ways to update the text on your website to help it rank better in search results!

Content Update 1: Page title

Writing a descriptive page title tells Google what your website’s pages are about, and improves the chances of matching a search query.

Let’s look at Bandzoogle members Gladstone Ave, a new band just starting out. They have a generic band name and no custom Page title yet.

Changing their page title from the default “Gladstone Ave – Home” to “Gladstone Ave – Acoustic-folk duo in Toronto” gives a bit more information about them right off the bat. It makes the page more likely to return in search results that include “acoustic-folk” and “Toronto,” and a user is more likely to click on it because they know what they are clicking on (that IS the band website I was looking for!)

Band website in Google

To do this with your Bandzoogle music website, click the Pages tab and choose Edit Title and Settings. Look down the page to the ‘Meta tags for this page’ area, and click Custom.

This will open up a Page Title field and that’s where you’ll write out your text. Try to keep it under 55 characters so that it will show up in Google without being cut off.

Content update 2: Page Description

Similarly in the Edit Title and Settings area, you’ll see a spot to add a custom meta description. This tells the search engine what that specific page is about in more detail, and helps match the page to search results.

You can set a page description in your Pages tab, again by clicking Edit Title and Settings, then looking for Meta tags for this page: custom: Page Description.

By default this is set to ‘Automatically generated from your page content’ which can work well. But it’s nice to have a bit more control, especially for your pages that don’t have much text, or if the text that you do have is not very descriptive or keyword friendly.

For your Home page, describe your band in detail. For your Music page, you’ll talk more about your sound or your latest CD. With your Events page’s description, you might mention that you play at a certain venue regularly, or an important upcoming show. Write these details in paragraph form, using around 155 characters.

SEO music website page description

Another reason to add a great page description? Social sharing sites like Facebook tend to use a page’s description when that page is shared.

Content update 3: Homepage text

Remember, Google is a machine, not a human, and can only match what people type into the search engine to your website if you provide the words. So adding a short paragraph to your Homepage that includes words that describe yourself and your music (called keywords) will help your website come up more easily in search.

To do this, write your bio and make sure to include your band name, your genre, your location – things that you think people would type into Google to find you – and put it right on your Homepage (need help writing this? Here are a few tips on creating a perfect pitch).

Search engines are also very smart, using complex algorithms to determine what is relevant on your pages, and can penalize you for stuffing many keywords that make no sense in context onto your page. So keep it simple, relevant, and human-readable.

Updates complete? Submit to Google!

Once you’ve done these updates, you can re-submit your website for Google to crawl here: Submit Url to Google

I hope that these tips give you a bit of insight into how to make your website more search engine friendly! Have fun adding or updating your page title, page description, and homepage text.