SkyeLab Music Group https://www.skyelabmusic.com Get Produced and Marketed by Music Industry Pros Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:09:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 How Do I Get a Record Deal? https://www.skyelabmusic.com/how-do-i-get-a-record-deal/ Sun, 07 Oct 2012 13:09:57 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7504 So every musician asks, How Do I Get A Record Deal? For the singer, band or musician looking to have an illustrious career in the music industry, to get a record deal or record contract often seems like the best way to go. While there is no absolute guarantee of getting a record deal by...

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So every musician asks, How Do I Get A Record Deal?how to get a record deal

For the singer, band or musician looking to have an illustrious career in the music industry, to get a record deal or record contract often seems like the best way to go. While there is no absolute guarantee of getting a record deal by following any set plan, there are things that you can do to increase your chances of landing that elusive record deal.

It must be understood that a record deal is only the first step, and many singers, bands and musicians find out that the real work begins only after landing that deal. Just getting a record deal is no guarantee of success in the music industry.

There are many record deals out there. Some are good and some are bad. Some good record deals can make the artist tens of millions of dollars and bring fortune and fame, while some bad record deals can tie the artist up for years, without ever getting a record or CD recorded or released.

The Music Demo

The first step towards landing a record deal is often the “music demo” or “demo tape”. This music demo is a representation of who you are and what you can do, what makes you special and why the record companies need to sign you to a record deal and invest millions of dollars.

The music demo is your product. When approaching record companies, management companies, music producers and talent agencies, your music demo will be the first thing that they ask for. If it’s hot stuff, they will consider working with you in some capacity or at least keeping their door open for future consideration. If your music demo sounds like crap, you can bet that their door will close to you and remain closed to you.

Give them what they want

So what do record companies look for when evaluating a music demo? While the details may vary from person to person, one thing that they all have in common is that the music needs to move them emotionally. They have to “feel it”. But with hundreds of music demos coming across their desk, they don’t have the time to wait until the second chorus to see if they like it or not.

About 95% or more of the music demos received by management companies, music production companies, music producers and record companies, are of such poor quality that often the music demo will be rejected within the first 10 seconds simply on that basis.

It’s often the job of the assistant to weed through the piles of music demos and separate the quality ones from the poorly produced, poorly recorded ones.

You have to be heard within the right context

If the sonic quality of your music demo or demo tape is acceptable, then the person you’re trying to impress may now be willing to listen to at least a verse and chorus. But you must sound legit.

If you’re an R&B singer, but you’re singing against a music track that’s country, your singing won’t be heard against the proper backdrop and most likely will be rejected before they reach the chorus. Another example might be a female Pop/R&B singer trying to sing against a big, loud hard rock band, or a country artist trying to sing against a dance track. While the singers might be good in each case, they will sound “wrong” to whomever might be listening.

The music MUST complement the vocals. The subtleties of each style of singing must be enhanced by the appropriate musical arrangement and production. That is often the job of the music producer or record producer.

Find out how you can work with a music producer with #1 billboard hits.

What about the song?

The song is as important as ever in today’s modern music. A song can make or break an artist, as is demonstrated every day on the radio. How many times do you hear a hit song on the radio with an average singer?

Every day many top recording stars may struggle with their careers trying in vain to find another hit song. As in the case of Michael Jackson’s last record, they spent about $50 million recording and promoting the record. But there were no hit songs and sales were WAY OFF their projected numbers. They lost big money on that one.

So what makes a hit song? No one can say with absolute certainty. But here’s what music mogul Clive Davis had to say about Diane Warren, one of the most successful songwriters in history: “Diane is able to combine tremendous feel for melody with lyrics that deal with genuine emotions, and she is able to do it time after time”. With over 50 Top 10 songs to her name, I’d say that’s a reasonable formula!

Hit songs are rare. Do your best to record a quality song that you feel has hit potential. Don’t record a bad song just because you happened to write it. Many singers may have exceptional voices but their songwriting skills haven’t caught up yet. If necessary , seek out songs from an established published songwriter or music producer.

Here’s how to work with published songwriters to ensure you have the best song to start with.

Self Produced Demos

Many music demos are self produced these days in home studios. With the technology more affordable, it’s possible for a talented, technically oriented musician to make an acceptable music demo in their home.

But all too often the home technology exceeds the skills of the operator and the music demo sounds flat and homemade, with too much reverb on the vocals, no punch in the bass and no clarity in the hi end.

The talent of the musician may not translate into talent as a music producer or recording engineer, and so the entire music demo suffers, even though the singer and the song may have been outstanding.

That’s where the skills of a talented music producer first come into play. The music producers experience in the recording studio can save countless costly mistakes and deliver to you a product that sounds professional and polished, which will increase your chances of getting that record deal.

The Music Producer

The role of the music producer varies, based on the style of music. For most styles, the music producer makes the technical decisions in the recording studio, helps choose songs and works to get the most out of the artist, showing off the strong points and burying the weak points.

It’s the role of the music producer or record producer to help create the vision for the artist and to make it into a reality.

For live rock bands, a music producers role can sometimes be more one of guidance and direction. With a good recording studio and engineer, bands can often achieve decent results on their own and may not need a music producer in the earlier stages, such as recording the music demo. Though for the recording of an entire album, it’s recommended.

For Pop, R&B and dance however, the music producers role is essential. Often, the music producer will help write the music, play some or all of the instruments and be responsible for every aspect of the musical production, from the sonic quality of the recording to keeping things within budget.

This allows the singer to focus and concentrate on giving their best vocal performance and doing what they do best-sing!

A good music producer should make you and your music demo sound polished, explosive and exciting. It should be appropriate for the style of music you’re singing and should sound close to a finished record.

If your music demo doesn’t sound professional, don’t send it out yet. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you want it to be good.

Hear professionally produced music from independent artists

Making Your Music Demo

The first thing that needs to be established before heading off to do your music demo, is why you are doing it. Bands often need a recording to give to a club before being able to play there. What’s required in that situation is much different than what’s required for a Pop or R&B singer looking to get a record deal.

Many artists first thought is to call a recording studio. While this may yield results, most recording studios make their money from selling time. The recording studio provides the space with all the equipment and an assistant and/or engineer to run it all. They charge a set fee by the hour and you’re free to do whatever you like during that time.

If you’re a band, this may be precisely what you need. But if you’re a singer and don’t have any music production skills, this kind of setup will be useless to you. You first need the music before you can record your vocals. Again, this is where the services of a experienced music producer are desired.

Making A Master Recording

So what exactly is the difference between a Master recording and a demo?

A MASTER is made for commercial release. You hear MASTERS on the radio and buy them in stores or download them from iTunes. A Master is a finished, full production. The quality is superior to a music “demo”.

The “demo” (which is short for “demonstration”) is intended to interest the Record label or publisher in investing the money to record a Music Master. Traditionally, the music demo was something as simple as a vocal and piano. But with the advances in technology it no longer pays to record a simple “music demo”. A Master quality music production is now affordable for those serious about their careers. Record labels are used to hearing finished music productions and that’s what they expect.

With internet distribution, a Music Master can be sold, placed in radio, licensed, etc. Though “music demo” is still a buzz word, any music productions worth doing should be of Master quality and radio ready.

Choosing a Music Producer

Like anything, you need to shop around to find the right music producer to produce your music demo. Ask a lot of questions. Precisely what qualifies this individual to call themselves a record producer? Ask about their experience. Do they have any album credits, have they worked with any famous recording artists, won any awards, worked on hit records, etc.?

Are they known in the industry and do they have a good reputation? Is this a part time job for them? Are they involved with the style of music you wish to pursue? Some other considerations would be location. What studio will you work at and with what engineer?

Meet or speak with them and hear their work. Are you impressed with the quality of their music production? Do you like them and vibe with them? Ask how they would treat your project.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you out, request a personal, one on one free consultation.

How Much is it?

Finally, ask about cost. A music demo can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars, to record company budgets of tens of thousands of dollars per song. Some producers may charge by the hour. While occasionally this might be appropriate, it has the potential of costing you many times more than you originally planned.

Ask about additional costs, such as musicians, studio costs , engineering fees, etc. A set fee for the music production demo is usually the best way to go and the way that most record companies work with music producers.

While you don’t want to mortgage your house for your music demo, you must realize that you get what you pay for.

The cheapest demo around will sound like the cheapest demo around. This isn’t how you want to portray yourself if you’re serious about pursuing a record deal. You want to go with the highest quality music demo from the best music producer that you can afford.

Music production packages which include basic marketing is a great and affordable way to go for a new artist.
Check out these music production packages. 

Choosing a Studio

Unless you’re technically proficient in the area of recording studio equipment, seeing an equipment list won’t help you much. But you should be interested in the clientele that the recording studio attracts.

If they regularly work with signed recording artists, record companies and publishing companies, chances are they have the necessary equipment and technical skill to give you a professional product. Check out a list of their clients.

The music producer will most likely have a recording studio that they’re comfortable working in and that has the necessary equipment to produce your demo. But while home studios may have come a long way in recent years, they still don’t match the environment, acoustics, sound, equipment and personnel of a commercial recording studio.

Alternatives to a Record Deal

So much has been said here about getting a record deal. But that is no longer the only option these days for aspiring artists to get their music to the people and be heard by the masses. No record deal does not mean no career in music.

The internet has changed everything, and many artists who have had record deals in the past are now looking towards the internet as a preferred method of selling their music. While an artist may sell 300,000 units, (CD’s) the amount of money spent on their behalf by the record company may exceed the amount brought in by sales.

The artist may only receive a small percentage of CD sales and end up owing the record company millions of dollars, which have to be “recouped” before the artist can begin to see any real dough.

In contrast, an artist who sells only 15,000 of their own CD’s on the internet and at live shows, can likely clear over $100,000 after expenses. Record companies are usually very interested in them after they hear about that. The major expense for the artist however is hiring a music producer and funding their own recording.

But this supports the idea of finding an experienced music producer and doing a great sounding music demo that has the quality of a record. It becomes a viable product that can be sold. The music demo can be released on a per song basis on the internet and more songs can be added as they’re recorded.

A poor sounding music demo is likely to damage your reputation, so keep it in the closet. Better yet, avoid getting stuck with a bad music demo in the first place.

One final note:

It’s important to get a great sounding music demo to help open up some doors and to eventually get a record deal. But be cautious.

After searching around the internet for music producers and recording studios to recommend, we came across many sites that appeared to be…less than honest about their intentions. For example, song contests that resulted in the winner having to spend money to get their song recorded by the company having the contest.

Home studios where the singer was forced to sing in a closet. Claims by so called producers with no music industry credits to back them up. Producers with no solid music industry contacts offering to shop your music demo. And a few more.

Just make sure they’re legit and that you’re comfortable talking and working with them.

At Skyelab Music, we work with many independent artists and guide them through the right steps towards achieving their goals. Our artists have signed record and publishing deals, had #1 Billboard hits and more.

Click here to request a free personal, one on one consultation.

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4 Reasons You Don’t Need A Record Deal https://www.skyelabmusic.com/dont-need-record-deal/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:59:41 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7545 There are many reasons you don’t need a record deal. We put this list together to help our clients understand why in many ways, you don’t need a record deal these days. Times have changed and the music industry no longer operates the way it used to. But the old mentality of “I NEED A...

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There are many reasons you don’t need a record deal.don't need a record deal

We put this list together to help our clients understand why in many ways, you don’t need a record deal these days.

Times have changed and the music industry no longer operates the way it used to. But the old mentality of “I NEED A RECORD DEAL” is still whirling around many artists heads and causing them to look in an area they may not be ready for…yet.

You don’t need a record deal to:

Get yourself & your music professionally produced.

With the advances in technology, it’s now possible to produce a professional, world class recording for a small fraction of what it would cost only 10 years ago. It’s no longer necessary or desirable to have a big record company budget, which has to be paid back to the record company from the artists tiny share anyway. (5-10% typically)

Artist development

This stopped being done by the major record labels many years ago. They expect artists to come to them already developed, with a sound, an image, songs, fans, etc.  The artist development must now be done by a qualified team at the music production company, like SkyeLab.

Manufacturing

For an artist, it’s no longer necessary to have the record label manufacture hundreds of thousands of records to service all the record stores across the country (and the world). This enormous expense was again, charged to the artist, whether the record sold or not. You don’t need it anymore.

Distribution

To get your music out there for the world to listen to and buy, you know longer need the major distributors. Online distribution via the internet has completely revolutionized the music industry.  Speak to us about the various options available now to all our SkyeLab Artists.

You don’t need a record deal to take the first step on the road to your dreams. So give us a call and start now!!!

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10 Tips to Choose a Music Producer https://www.skyelabmusic.com/choosing-music-producer/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:18:16 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7509 How to Choose a Music Producer Important things you need to know before you step into a recording studio. Use these tips to learn how to choose a music producer and what to watch out for.   Avoid these pitfalls and mistakes, because there could be some really scary ones out there. #1. Be careful...

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How to Choose a Music Producerhow to choose a music producer

Important things you need to know before you step into a recording studio. Use these tips to learn how to choose a music producer and what to watch out for.   Avoid these pitfalls and mistakes, because there could be some really scary ones out there.

#1. Be careful of music producers with no real music industry experience or credits.

Anyone can call themselves a music producer. To call yourself a music producer requires no experience, no degree, no credits and no skill. Do you want to trust your career with this person? Look for a music producer that has actually worked on records with signed artists and record labels. Valuable and necessary music production skills are acquired only through years of hard work on professional recording sessions. You need to put this type of experience to work for you.

See music producer Arty Skye’s bio, including #1 Billboard Hits and Gold/Platinum Records

#2. Beware of music producers who want to record your music demo in their “home studio.”

Although home recording equipment has gotten better through the years, there is still a vast difference between a home studio and a professional recording studio. Due to space constraints and budget concerns, a home studio will often make many compromises in sound quality and flexibility that will undoubtedly affect the final product. It’s difficult to get a clean sound from someones basement. A real full service recording studio has certain professional standards that they must adhere to and cannot make such compromises if they expect to stay in business. Thus, the sound quality must compete at a professional level, which is what you need to do.

#3. Watch out for music producers who want you to sing in their closet or bathroom.

This has become a major problem with many home studios. While this might be fine for the home studio owner, when you’re paying hard earned money for your music demo you shouldn’t be shoved into some guys cramped, unventilated closet. How safe would you feel? You need a studio with space to move around and you need to be comfortable when you sing if you really expect to perform your best. In addition, the poor acoustics of a closet will give you a very undesirable vocal sound. Don’t settle for this.

#4. Be skeptical of music producers who claim to specialize in 7 or 8 styles of music.

Specialize means to ‘devote oneself to a specific area of study.’ An experienced music producer may do a few related styles well, but beware when they claim to ‘specialize’ in Rap, Country, R&B, Folk, Rock, Club music, Blues, Polka, etc. This is like casting a net out to see who bites. Chances are they have no real specialty and will miss the subtle elements of each style. The result is a music demo that sounds stale, stereotypical and boring at best. If you want a producer that will make fantastic music for your specific style, find one who actually specializes in that certain sound.

#5. Use a professional recording engineer to record and mix your music demo, not an amateur.

Engineering is a skill and a talent that takes many years of hard work, study and long grueling hours to acquire. Professional engineers have worked with hundreds of artists and music producers and have learned individual techniques from each of them. They are paid hundreds and thousands of dollars for their technical and creative skill. Engineers are the ones responsible for the sonic quality of a recording. You can have the best producer in the best studio in the world, but with a bad engineer the music will end up sounding like garbage. Avoid this pitfall easily by making sure you have an experienced engineer working on your music demo.

#6. Be careful with music producers who want to charge you by the hour.

While occasionally an hourly rate can be appropriate, it is rarely done in the real music industry (where we make records, not demos). The music producer is paid a flat fee by the record label to give them a fully produced song for their artist. Where, how, when and who is left up to the music producer. The record label or artist doesn’t sit over his shoulder in the studio and dictate. That’s what they hired the music producer for in the first place.

When a music producer charges by the hour, you become the one producing your own track and the producer is reduced to the role of a keyboard player. They count on you making common mistakes and running up the clock because of your lack of experience producing. Everything always takes longer in the studio than you think it will, so why do you want the meter running while you’re trying to figure out why your vocals sound like you’re in a tunnel? You shouldn’t have to make those decisions. That’s why you want to choose an experienced music producer who charges you a flat rate with no hidden costs.

Take a look at SkyeLab’s music production packages including music marketing

#7. Watch out for music producers who claim they’ll shop your music demo.

Find out exactly what this means. Will they send it to their cousin in Georgia who has a wedding band? Did they meet a guy in the music store who has a cousin at some label in France? If they have any genuine music industry contacts that are really worthwhile, they could not possibly have them very long if they promise to shop every artist they produce before even hearing them. This will ruin their credibility. Do not fall for this one.

#8. Be cautious of music producers who emphasize equipment over credentials.

All too often people think that by just acquiring some gear they’ll get a great production. Don’t believe it. Buying a paintbrush doesn’t make you an artist. Buying a violin doesn’t make you a musician. Why do people think that buying a mixing board makes them an engineer or a music producer? It doesn’t. That only comes with hard work and experience. As an artist your only concern should be how your music sounds, not whether we’re using class A mic pre-amps , a tube compressor or Apogee A/D converters. Bonus points if you know what all that means.

#9. Listen to the music.

If you have followed all the above suggestions, congratulations, you should have severely reduced the number of possible producers for your project. You should now have a few professional music producers left from which to choose. You need to listen to examples of their work and see what moves you and which music producer you connect with. Does the music producer listen to you and share your vision? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you enjoy being in their studio? Do you trust them? If you do, that’s the right music producer for you to choose.

Listen to our music samples on our soundcloud playlists

#10. You get what you pay for.

Demos are NOT like McDonalds hamburgers. They are not massed produced and they are certainly not all alike. While cost is a concern when doing a music demo, you must realize that a bad demo is worse than no demo at all. A bad demo will close doors for you that you may never be able to open again. Like anything in life, garbage is cheap and you pay extra for superior quality. Do you want to be viewed like a cheap Hyundai or a Top of the line Mercedes Benz? For an experienced music professional, you may end up paying more than that with a bargain basement dirt cheap producer. But if you’re really serious about pursuing a record deal you must present yourself.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you with music production, music marketing and more.
Fill out this form for a Free Consultation

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Music Marketing: The Difference Between Success and Failure https://www.skyelabmusic.com/music-marketing-difference-success-failure/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:25:45 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7516 By Bret Caputo, Marketing Director for SkyeLab Music Group Do you have a great recording but do not know how to reach your fans? You are not alone – many artists have a professional album or single, however, without the right push they may fall short of their target market and ultimately their full potential. The...

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By Bret Caputo, Marketing Director for SkyeLab Music Groupmusic marketing and promotion

Do you have a great recording but do not know how to reach your fans? You are not alone – many artists have a professional album or single, however, without the right push they may fall short of their target market and ultimately their full potential. The difference between being successful or not often comes down to music marketing.

Many believe that if their music is good, or if they are a great singer that their product will essentially sell itself. It is another misconception that in order for an artist to be a success they only need to market their music on iTunes. Because of this thinking, it may surprise some to learn that this is not the case for a majority of artists, and, in fact, it is quite the opposite.

Popular digital distributors like iTunes are oversaturated with millions of songs and to generate a random hit on iTunes can be likened to that of winning the lottery. Like the lottery, it may be possible to get lucky—however not for the majority, especially without proper marketing and promotion to back the artist. Marketing may be the most often overlooked aspect of an emerging artist’s career and also the most important, perhaps even more so than the music itself.

It is no secret that the music industry is experiencing a shift in the way they conduct business and work with artists. Marketing can mean the difference between a lame duck and a breakout success and it is essential that your marketing is spot on, and at the relevant time.

Most musicians fail at marketing because they do not have the specific tools and resources to garner the exposure they need. Just as artists enlist the services of a professional studio to get the best recording possible, so too should these artists invest in proper marketing– an idea that is often overlooked by most and yet is critical to the artist’s success.

For those seeking a record deal, it is important to build your social networks and make sure they are up to snuff. Whether you like it or not, most industry professionals will be extensively examining your MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter artist pages to ensure an appropriate amount of support is backing the artist. Record labels hardly factor in artist development these days, and the sad fact of it is that if an artist wants to get noticed they have to first build themselves the proper fan base. Record label talent scouts will be searching for a set amount of support behind the artist before they even consider a record contract; therefore it is imperative for an artist to be actively involved in locating and recruiting new fans daily.

In addition, having a professional electronic press kit (EPK) and one-sheet prepared for blog, magazine, or any other kind of media outreach is a must. When reaching out for review or feature consideration, it is of absolute importance that you conduct yourself in a professional and sincere manner, yet at the same time not appearing too desperate. Having a professional electronic press kit to include along with your pitch will place you a notch above the countless artists that are also looking for free publicity. Having a solid album helps as well, and having it available for free download to these editors through online file hosting sites such as Mediafire can be a major bonus; and even better yet if you can send out a physical copy that can occupy space on their desk, ensuring you are not so easily forgotten.

Finally, proper follow-ups are paramount because without following-up your email will get lost in the mayhem most likely taking place in the editor’s inbox. Be courteous and professional, but at the same time be consistent and insistent. Make sure your previous emails are attached to your latest email so the editor can review your previous attempts at contacting them. Once they get the hint that you are unwilling to take no for an answer they will usually, at the very least, respond as to whether or not they are interested in checking out your material.

In closing, marketing can be a hefty task for any artists, especially if acting on their own behalf. Social networking can be a very time-consuming process and media outreach can seem daunting to any emerging artist. As marketing director for SkyeLab Music Group, I am more than happy to assist any artist and provide free information so that you have the knowledge to build their own fan base, yet the bottom line is that without the manpower and resources behind a proper campaign, as well as the know-how behind your marketing you may never reach your true target market. Give us a call today to see what you can do to gain the maximum exposure for your music and what SkyeLab can do to help!

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10 Music Career Mistakes Singers Must Avoid! https://www.skyelabmusic.com/10-music-career-mistakes-singers-must-avoid/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:23:37 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7514 We started out with 5 music career mistakes, but it quickly grew to 10!  These 10 avoidable music career mistakes are geared towards singers looking to have a career as a recording artist in any of the popular categories such as Pop, Rock, R&B, Country, Dance, etc.  If your field is Opera, Broadway, Vegas, and...

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We started out with 5 music career mistakes, but it quickly grew to 10! music career mistakes

These 10 avoidable music career mistakes are geared towards singers looking to have a career as a recording artist in any of the popular categories such as Pop, Rock, R&B, Country, Dance, etc.  If your field is Opera, Broadway, Vegas, and Wedding Singers, some of these “mistakes” don’t apply because of the different requirements in those fields.

Mistake #1. Just Because Picasso Published His “Sketches” Doesn’t Mean You Should Too. Avoid Permanent “Demos.”

Years ago, before the internet revolutionized the music industry, major labels were the only way for an artist to get exposure on a massive scale.  Independent record labels had a limited reach, but for an artist without a record deal, the doors were practically shut.  Recording costs were extremely high and to make a quality recording (a “master”) to compete on a professional level required tens of thousands of dollars. So the path for a new artist was to make a “demonstration recording” or “demo” as it’s commonly referred to and to shop that music demo to record labels.  The record labels did not expect an elaborate music production because of the expense required to do so. Plus, there was true “artist development” at the record company level and they would help shape an artist’s sound and image.  A basic demo was the norm and an acceptable standard in the industry.

Now, surprise! Technology comes marching along and changes everything. Recording costs are suddenly a mere fraction of what they used to be. Now a new artist can get their music heard by millions of people throughout the world, without any record label behind them! With the newfound capability to sell their music to the world as well as build up their fan base, getting exposure to music publishing companies and pitching their songs to movies and TV became much easier.

However, in order to do all this, will a basic, cheap demo do the job? In a word, NO! The “demo” still has it’s place as an audition tape for Broadway and wedding bands but If the quality isn’t sufficient for the TV/Film Industry, Broadcast or even for internet radio, what makes you think you’ll build up any fans?  You won’t. What happens if you don’t build up any fans? Record labels most likely won’t be interested in you at all! Because all the rules have changed, record labels no longer need to accept poor quality or basic demos when tens of thousands of artists have great sounding “masters” and they’ve already built up a sizable fan base.  It’s much easier for a record label to get involved with artists that have already achieved a certain level of success on their own, then to listen to thousands of demos that come across their desk each week, 95% of which are such poor quality they don’t even present the artist in a listenable state.

The demo might be a good way to try out a few ideas, like a sketch pad, but again, don’t try to market those “sketches”. If you’re serious as an artist, you’ll skip the “demo” stage altogether and record a MASTER, which will be broadcast quality and have the ability to be sold, licensed and published.

Mistake #2. Avoid Recording Covers. Seriously.

Again, times have changed and record labels are not just looking for a great voice.  Unless you are just so unbelievably talented that you just can’t be denied, (and I’m talking Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey talented) then recording covers only can bring you to the next stage, which is a company asking for something original.  We’ve had artists come to us saying their next door neighbor is a big record company exec (or something like that) and he wants to hear something.  So they record a few Karaoke covers and time and time again the reaction is the same. “Wow, you sound good. Now bring me some original material that shows who you are as an artist”.  Well, doesn’t that bring you right back to where you should have started?

Also, by recording covers, you can’t really sell or license them. The publishing company and the songwriters own the rights and you’ll have to pay them for every download, or risk getting sued.  Fun, right?

However, there are a few scenarios in which recording a cover makes sense.

For audition purposes.

To give to family, friends and pets.

If you really change up the music production and your interpretation as a singer is completely unique.  You’ll still need to deal with paying out publishing royalties and the amount of money derived from sales and licensing will be significantly diminished. But, if you can break the big time with it, it could still be worth it

Other than that, your best move is to present yourself in a totally original format to set YOU apart from the crowd and show who YOU are as an artist. Get em, tiger.

Mistake #3. Avoid the Belief That the Only Path to Success is Through a Major Record Label.

Major labels lose money on 95% of their artists! The business model that the record industry was built on is dead, deceased, no longer living, as in “it doesn’t work anymore!”  It worked for us at a time before the internet turned the music business world upside down and people discovered they can get any music they want right at their computer fingertips. They didn’t need to pay for overpriced CDs when they only wanted 1 song.

Originally, in order for it to make sense for record labels to manufacture a piece of vinyl (a “record” that played on a “turntable” for all you young folk) and place it on trucks and deliver it to thousands of record stores across the nation, (and the world) they needed to charge a certain price.  The record store took their cut, the distributor took their piece, and then the record company kept the rest, paying the artist a small fraction after all expenses incurred by the record company were recouped from the artist’s measly share. But still, when mega artists like Led Zeppilin or Michael Jackson sold tens of millions of records, everyone got rich, and the influx of cash to the record company covered all the losses they sustained for the artists that didn’t recoup the money laid out by the record label on their behalf.

Times have changed, but the business model of the major record labels really hasn’t.  So every year, there are more and more layoffs, artists cut from the rosters, smaller budgets for recording, and no label taking a chance on anything really new. Many Major artists are NOT re-signing with their record companies and instead, choosing to release their new CDs without them, through online downloads and distribution deals with major retailers like Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Target.   People no longer need record labels to dictate to them how and where to buy music. There is freedom now for the music listening and buying public.

So what’s a new artist to do if not go through a major record label? Go right to your fans! One great thing the internet has done is to bring together niche markets.  Find out where your niche is, what websites they frequent, what forums they use, etc. and let them know you’re there.  If your music is in the style that appeals to that crowd, chances are you will pick up some fans and sell some music.  Once you’ve developed your musical career to the point that it’s self sustaining and hopefully making money, you now have the basic ingredients in place that will attract a record company to you. There’s not enough room here to write about that subject, but there is a great book by my friend and colleague Daylle Schwartz, titled “I Don’t Need A Record Deal” which I suggest you pick up.

Mistake #4. Improperly Preparing for Your Vocal Recording Session.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen artists come into the recording studio and waste tens of thousands of dollars because they failed to properly prepare for their recording session.  You have to understand that the meter starts running from the start time of the session, whether or not you’re there. So first, make sure not to be late!  I worked with one famous Rap group that booked and paid for 60 hours worth of time, and actually used less than 10 hours of actual productive recording time.  The rest of the time was used to hang out, smoke, watch movies, eat, and play CDs. The group has since been dropped by the label.  So unless you have a home recording studio where the clock is not an issue…

Prepare for the recording studio:

Do’s

  1. Be on time
  2. Bring your lyrics
  3. Check with the studio beforehand to make sure your music files are compatable with their’s. Don’t assume.
  4. Bring your music and/or data files on Hardrive, CDs and/or DVDs.
  5. Bring backups, just in case.
  6. Practice hard FOR WEEKS beforehand and know your material inside and out. Be in the best vocal shape of your life!
  7. Bring payment. Most recording studios won’t release any material until they’re paid.(unless you’re an established label)

Don’ts

  1. Don’t stay up late clubbing and trying to talk over the music
  2. Don’t have a big meal for at least a few hours before your vocal session
  3. Don’t bring your guns to the session. We tend to frown on that.
  4. Don’t treat it as party time, unless you can really afford to!

 

Mistake #5. Trying to Show Everything You Can Do In One Song.

Ease up, cowboy.  Many singers feel that the first song they do has to encompass everything that the singer is capable of doing.  They want to show their full range, their power, all the intense riffs they copied from Mariah, whistle tones, scatting, ad-libbing, cooking and who know what else.  But sheesh, remember, it’s just a song! What’s appropriate for the song has to come first.  That’s another important reason to rely on a music producer you trust.  They will help bring out the best in your voice, while sometimes knowing when to keep you in check.

I remember seeing Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey a few years ago singing a holiday song duet.  It was soft and quiet, and Nick’s vocals matched the music and the feel beautifully.  Then Jessica came out belting and singing all out trying to do all these riffs, but the song was still mellow and soft, and her voice sounded completely out of place.  I shook my head and said “is she even listening to the music?”  To give you another analogy, just because a guitar player can shred, should it be all over a mellow ballad? (the guitar player in me says “damn right, always!”, but the producer part says “shut up with that guitar already!!!”)

So don’t force it.  A career isn’t built on one song, but it’s a process.  Sing what’s appropriate for that song, stretch a little where you can but let it be natural.

Mistake #6. Making Your CD or Demo Too Diverse.

Most people like a wide range of music.  When prompted with the question “What type of music do you like?” half the people respond with “everything”.  So it stands to reason that most artists will also like a few different styles of music, and when putting together songs for a CD, they will choose to showcase those different styles.  The artist feels that people will be impressed when they hear them sing Rock, Country, Pop, Dance, and R&B, but that’s not really the case, especially for a new artist.  The artist first needs to establish their ‘sound’; their brand if you will. They should have an identifiable sound and style, so that fans will know what to expect when they choose to listen to the artist. If you picked up a Bruce Springsteen album and heard instrumental new age music, you may be a little confused, and you don’t want to confuse your fans.  So pick one style, and you can do variations of that style and stretch out on a song or two, but don’t go too far and try to cram four completely different styles into one CD.  Stay focused and establish your sound.

Mistake #7. Getting Involved with Shady People.. Unless it’s Slim Shady.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Music Business does have more than it’s share of shady individuals that prey on the naive and ill-informed. Yes, there are a lot of scams out there. Yes, woman especially should be fearful about going into strange apartments to audition, to record, to have meetings, etc. The good thing is that there is Google, so that you can easily look up a person or company to see its background before committing to something you might regret.

While you can’t believe everything you hear on the internet, it still affords one the opportunity to see what people are saying.  And ladies, while a few known artists have “slept their way” into something, 99% have not. So if someone is telling you that’s the way it’s done, tell them to go to hell!

The most important thing is trust your gut.  Many shady people I’ve met through the years have not lasted more than a few years before everyone knew what they were about.

While there are exceptions, most professionals in the music industry and companies that have been in the industry for ten years or more, are honest and legitimate.  So, make sure to work with an established company, trust your instincts, and you should be fine.

Mistake #8. Getting Pressured Into Signing a Deal.

If you ever get to the point where a record company (or management company) says that they love you, can’t live without you, and they offer you an exclusive deal in their office, congratulations! But if they say that the deal has to be signed on the spot or it will be withdrawn, you have some tough decisions to make.  Nine times out of ten, the initial deal offered by a record company is completely one sided (even if they love you) and you’d have to be very naive to just sign it.  Most of the time the deal centers around the artist giving the record company everything and the record company promising nothing in return! If the label is sincere in their belief of you as an artist and they really do want to sign you, then they expect that you’ll hire an entertainment attorney and proceed with the normal negotiation process.

There are also countless accounts of boxing promoters using the same “sign it now or I take it away” tactics, and many have ended up in court. But don’t mistake a simple agreement that may be non-exclusive for a full fledged exclusive record deal.  A one or two page agreement outlining terms of a deal you’ve agreed on, should be fine to sign without an attorney.  A non-exclusive publishing deal for a song for a limited time is often just a one or two page deal.  Ultimately, use common sense.

Mistake #9. Avoid Believing Success is Just a Matter of Luck or Who You Know.

I heard that “it’s just a matter of luck” or “it’s who you know” many times when I was just starting out, and I flat out refused to believe it. I wasn’t going to devote my life to just a roll of the dice.  I was right. While you can look around and spot a few people that just got lucky, or who just knew the right people, this is by far the exception, not the rule.  Often when this happens, the artist may not have the real talent to actually sustain a career.  Now don’t get me wrong here, luck does play a part. Samuel Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”  It’s your job to put yourself in positions and situations where you can get yourself lucky, as it’s also your job to try and get to know the right people by networking, joining organizations like ASCAP, songwriters workshops, etc.  So work hard and be ready if a lucky opportunity comes your way, but don’t just sit back and think that because you don’t know anybody in the industry, you have no shot. The formula has always been the same for success.  Hard work, talent, hard work, perspective, and more hard work. Good luck!

Mistake #10. Believing Your Music Has to be 100% Perfect.

Here is where I will get some conflicting opinions, so you have to use your common sense and decide for yourself.  Many music business authors have stated that the artist should feel that their music is perfect before sending it out, but the grey area here is defining “perfect”.  I have spent days in the studio mixing records that have gone on to be #1 Billboard hits, and there are things about the mix I’m still dissatisfied with when I hear the song on the radio. It’s not “perfect”, but it has passed my threshold of “good enough”.  The problem here is where is your threshold set?

If it’s too low, you can be satisfied with putting out music that you’re not really happy with and probably no one else will be, either.  That’s the argument that many authors use and I agree with it.  But if your threshold is set too high, you may never release anything.  Assuming that you’re growing and developing as an artist, you will always be better than what you previously did. At a certain point, though, you’ll just have to say that this is the best that you can do right now and put it out there. It all comes down to the least understood virtue to achieve success, which is “perspective.”

 

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5 Vocal Tips https://www.skyelabmusic.com/5-vocal-tips/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:52:56 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7538 Pilar Cragan is founder and principle teacher of the New York Vocal Intensive. 5 Vocal Tips to keep in mind to help you be a better singer. Vocal TIP #1 A Vocal Tip about “Pushing” and Singing “Sensation” Many times during a live performance it is difficult to hear your voice, and a singer will...

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Pilar Cragan is founder and principle teacher of the New York Vocal Intensive.

5 Vocal Tips to keep in mind to help you be a better singer.

Vocal TIP #1vocal tips

A Vocal Tip about “Pushing” and Singing “Sensation”

Many times during a live performance it is difficult to hear your voice, and a singer will “push” the voice resulting in rapid fatigue.  In situations where it’s hard to hear your voice due to acoustics, you can also rely on the sensation of breathing and singing.  The understanding of physical sensation during singing is developed and memorized over time by learning about your individual voice and doing proper exercises.  Studying how your unique voice “feels” will give you the endurance you need to thrive.  When you have mastered the sensations of singing, you will be even more prepared to deliver a successful, energetic performance!

Vocal TIP #2

When you vocalize during a practice session make sure you are in a comfortable environment. Practice in a place where you have the freedom to sing out and release, and know that exploring your range will result in the occasional crack or squeak. Vocal exercises must be assigned to improve your specific vocal weaknesses. As an aspiring singer it is your job to make practice part of your everyday lifestyle; vocalizing properly for just 30 minutes a day will provide positive results! Vocal practice will give you the freedom to be confident and creative in your recording sessions.

Vocal TIP #3

Warming up the Voice: It is very important to warm-up the voice before a recording or a performance.  When a singer shocks the voice into producing sound by launching into a song without effectively warming the voice, it will only result in vocal fatigue.  Vocal warm-up should be slow and gradual. Humming, lip trills and breathing exercises are useful techniques to relax the jaw and neck muscles and to engage the breathing mechanism.  It is also essential to get the blood flowing through your body and to your vocal cords with some light physical exercise.  Warm-up time is individual and varies from person to person. Your voice teacher will advise you regarding useful warm-up exercises to ensure vocal health and longevity.

Vocal TIP #4

About Holiday Stress: The voice is directly affected when our body is stressed. During the winter months we are fighting to stay healthy due to holiday angst, fluctuating temperatures, tiredness and germs.   If you notice that your voice is feeling sluggish, hoarse, or you are coughing, allow for a few days of vocal rest.  Stay strong by keeping physically fit, eating well and getting enough rest. This holiday season be kind to your voice and don’t overindulge in alcohol, food or cigarettes.  Since you only have one voice, give yourself a gift this season by nurturing it. Happy Holidays!

Vocal TIP #5

Being “in the moment.” During a performance or a recording session it is important to stay both focused and “in the moment” of the song.  A student recently prepared a piece she had written for a live performance, using a background track prepared by the recording studio.  The student was having difficulty with the timing of the song which translated to nervousness and a weak performance.  She was not “in the moment,” and was struggling with  feeling and emotion during the performance.  Through repetition of the passage in a light voice, combined with focus on these elements, she was able to trust herself and be “in the moment” of her piece.  The end result was an incredible performance and a stellar recording!

Vocal TIP #5

Springtime Singing Recommendations. The arrival of Spring brings with it allergies and dryness.  For the Vocalist this can mean the difference between a successful and a frustrating recording session.  Many vocalists don’t even realize what is happening to them and they may experience an increase in phlegm or a raspiness that wasn’t there before.  They may also discover an annoying little tickle that continues throughout the day.  Well singers, welcome to spring.  The average person may not find this quite as disturbing as the singer because they don’t rely on their voice or depend upon it to perform at its absolute best at all times.   Besides allergies becoming heightened at this time, dehydration is almost an absolute risk and therefore must be attended to.  To cut back on mild allergies, keeping your home as dust free as possible and perhaps purchasing allergy free pillows, you should also consider a Neti pot.  A Neti pot is a small porcelain pot to help clean the sinus passages.  Used daily, (sometimes both morning and night if allergies worsen) it can alleviate some of the congestion and actually minimize discomfort.  It also supports clear passages in order to avoid the common cold or sinus infection which is almost always a risk especially during spring when our immune systems are compromised.  The other factor, hydration is also at risk at this time.  The constant fluctuation of the temperature and heating units in our home make it almost impossible to keep hydrated.  Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of room temperature water (room temperature water is absorbed into your body much more easily than cold water), coupled with a diet of water-rich foods can substantially enhance water absorption in the body therefore assuring re-hydration.  Water-rich vegetables such as mixed green salads with fresh veggies with an Olive Oil and lemon juice dressing (stay away from Vinegars – they are fermented and drying), as well as water rich fruits; watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, papaya, Asian pears, pears will not only increase your water intake but will allow the room temperature water to be absorbed more completely because water needs natural sugar molecules to be absorbed more fully.  Of course if allergies are impossible to handle you may need to take medications, remember these can be incredibly drying so it is up to you to protect and care for your instrument.

 

Sign up for an upcoming Intensive in New York. Space is limited. Email Pcrag4@aol.com or call 845-641-7301 for more information! Mention Skyelab and receive 10% off the cost of the Intensive.

 

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You want the truth about the music industry? Make sure you can handle it! https://www.skyelabmusic.com/want-truth-music-industry-make-sure-can-handle/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:05:59 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7502 Are you just a dreamer, or do you want to do something about it? If you’re just a dreamer, you’re probably not even reading this sentence. But if you’re the kind of person that REALLY wants to do something about it, you’ll take a minute and actually read through this report. First, if you want...

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Are you just a dreamer, or do you want to do something about it? If you’re just a dreamer, you’re probably not even reading this sentence. But if you’re the kind of person that REALLY wants to do something about it, you’ll take a minute and actually read through this report.music industry truths

First, if you want to get anywhere, you NEED, MUST, HAVE TO know the way the music industry really works. Not the way you think it works and not in the fantasy world in which it’s portrayed on TV.  If you’re really serious, you’ll learn the guidelines and do everything possible to increase your chances of success.

If you don’t read through this information, you might be one of the thousands of people who email companies saying “please give me a chance”, and then get confused and bitter when no one responds.

You must understand that the music industry has changed dramatically in the last 7 years alone, (it’s now 2011) and continues to change very rapidly as major labels scramble for ways to stop the losses.  The old business model of the music industry is dead.  It was built on principles and practices of vinyl manufacturing and distribution that no longer apply.  But this is GREAT news for you and all independent artists!  It’s now possible for an artist to make a career in the music industry without any help at all from the record labels. So let’s get into the MYTHS that surround the music industry and put an end to these limiting beliefs that are holding back thousands of talented artists.

Myths and untruths surrounding the music industry

Myth #1: Someone will discover you without a great recording.

Yes, we’ve all heard the stories of some waitress being discovered while waiting on a record label executive.  Or a singer being discovered in some small bar in Texas, or Oklahoma, etc. Yes, these things have happened and will continue to.  But if that’s what you’re waiting for, you have a much better chance of winning the lottery.  Good luck!  This way is fantasy land and is for dreamers only.

Myth #2: If you email and call enough people, someone will give you a chance…

Why should they?  What you don’t realize is that companies get literally thousands of emails every day with people telling their stories about how they love singing and it’s their dream.  Yet, they have no recording, no music up on the internet, no live performances and the only step they’ve taken in their musical careers is to email companies asking for a shot. Sorry, but that’s not the way it works. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in getting a good recording made, don’t expect anyone else to believe in you. Again, this road is for dreamers only.

Myth #3: You don’t need a great sounding music demo, any demo will be fine…

Wrong!!!  The music demo/master is how you portray yourself to the world. The internet is flooded with good music, so what’s makes you think that a poor recording will stand out against so many great recordings?  It won’t!  You want to constantly increase your chances of becoming successful, so if possible, get a great sounding music demo/master recording, produced by music industry pros. This will portray you in the best light possible and put your unique talent front and center.

Myth #4: If you have a computer, you can get a program and do you own music demos…

Do you really believe that a program is all there is to producing great sounding music?  Think of all the programs you have in your computer.  They are tools, just like a music program is.  Having a word processor doesn’t make you a writer, and having a drill doesn’t make you a carpenter. But really knowing how to use them properly is what makes the difference between a pro and an amateur. While this might be the right road for a very very small segment, most singers will find that their limited music production skills aren’t even close to the high quality level of their vocal talent that took years to develop.  Also, professional music producers will direct and guide the singer during the recording process to deliver her/his best vocal performance.  The music producer can come up with vocal harmonies, background vocal ideas, ad libs and whatever else is necessary, including voice processing and pro editing techniques. An experienced engineer in a professional studio with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and hi end microphones will give you the polished sound that will set you above the rest of the crowd. So, do you want a professionally produced recording or a home demo? Which one will help you build more fans?

Myth #5: You should send your music demo out to record companies in order to get signed.

This is a biggie, because a few short years ago, this was absolutely true. This was the way it was done, though the odds were still astronomical.(that’s a whole ‘nother article-too long to cover here)  But to understand this now, you have to understand how the internet has changed the music industry forever. Ask yourself this question.  If YOU were given a job as A&R over at Sony, and you had to sign an act and make them successful in 6 months or you would lose your job, what would you do?  You have 1000 CDs in 2 HUGE boxes in your office, and you know from past experience that at least 95% will be garbage (home recordings, lousy songs, can’t hear the vocals, etc).  Would you spend your time listening to those CDs, or would you head straight to the internet and see where the buzz is?  Which artists are winning contests and climbing the indy charts? Which artists have 5000 downloads of their songs and doing sold out shows? Which artists have 100,000 likes on Facebook and built up a huge fan base that constantly sings their praises on the forums?  Wouldn’t it be smarter and more profitable to sign an act like that, which already has so much going for them?  Absolutely, and that’s why it’s crucial  today to BRING YOURSELF TO THE MARKETPLACE AND MAKE SOME NOISE!

Myth #6: The record company will develop you as an artist

Record companies are looking for artists that have already developed themselves to a certain level, and this is now mostly done in the music production stage of the process.  When the artist finally gets into the Internet Marketplace, they should have already established a unique sound and image that represents who they are.  Again, that’s where having an experienced music producer and a team of music industry professionals working on your behalf can really benefit you.

Myth #7: If you get a record deal, you’ll be rich

Sorry to break it to you, but a record deal itself usually doesn’t mean you’ll get rich.  If you are fortunate enough to get signed by a major label, realize that this is only the beginning.  Many artists are signed but never record, some record but are never released, some are released with no real push or backing by the company and many flop and are dropped by the labels, even though they may have sales in the hundreds of thousands.  The last estimate I recently saw said that an artist that goes GOLD (sales of 500,000) stands to make only around $47,000!  This is why so many major artists are choosing NOT to resign with their record companies, but instead, to release their new CDs independently. An independent artist selling 10,000 of their own CDs can theoretically make twice the amount of money as the signed artist selling 500,000 copies! (there are exceptions to this and every other point)

There are now more opportunities for singers and artists than ever before in history! The artists that succeed will be the ones that wanted it more, and were willing to sacrifice more in order to achieve success. You have to get yourself into the “game”! And of course, once you’re in the “GAME”, the talented ones will rise to the top!

Bottom Line

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re a “doer” and you’ve just passed 80% of the people who do nothing but dream!  If you’re ready to do more than just dream and you’re serious about a career as a singer, we can help get you there.

Start right now by emailing or calling SkyeLab. Our artists have gotten record deals, publishing deals, #1 Billboard hits and more.

If you want that record deal, you need to bring yourself to a certain marketable level before approaching record labels. That means making an investment of time and money.  You need professional music production, exciting pictures and a serious internet presence! Bring your music directly to the people and build up your fans!  If you’re successful enough on your own, record labels will start approaching you, and then you can dictate the terms!! So start right now by contacting us.

Click here to request a Free personal, one on one consultation.

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Breathe Easy https://www.skyelabmusic.com/breathe-easy/ https://www.skyelabmusic.com/breathe-easy/#respond Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:50:31 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7536 Vocal Tips By: Claudia Johnson Vocal coaches always talk about breathing from the diaphragm. This is correct of course but can be very confusing to singers, especially new singers. Vocal coaches always talk about breathing from the diaphragm. It might make more sense to say breath from your lower abdomen. Concentrating on muscles that you can...

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Vocal Tips

By: Claudia Johnson

Vocal coaches always talk about breathing from the diaphragm. This is correct of course but can be very confusing to singers, especially new singers.

Vocal coaches always talk about breathing from the diaphragm. It might make more sense to say breath from your lower abdomen. Concentrating on muscles that you can feel and flex (the abdominal and intercostal muscle groups) as opposed to an involuntary muscle (the diaphragm) may help you achieve the deep breath all singers should have. Try inhaling so that your stomach expands out and then comes back in as your exhale. This type of breath engages the diaphragm and gives you full support for pitch, resonance, and sustain. As always, a trained vocal coach will help you find your proper breath placement so seek out a professional!

As we come into the drier winter months and begin to heat our homes we can overlook and underestimate the effect that this has on our voices. The drop in humidity alone has a marked effect on our bodies. Add to that a home filled with even drier heated air and perhaps some cold and flu medicines and you’re looking at some seriously dehydrated vocal chords.

It is important to properly humidify your home during the winter so as to avoid overly dried out mucous membranes, i.e. your vocal chords. In addition to keeping your voice nice and lubricated you’ll also be keeping your nasal passages clear and this will avoid mucous buildup, which leads to getting a cold or the flu.

Aside from these small steps, it is proper technique and maintenance that will truly keep your voice flourishing all year long. Weekly sessions with your voice coach will help you stay on top of your game and provide you with the extra ears you need to catch those vocal health problems before they get out of hand. Do what many other Skyelab recording artists have done and come see us at TrueVoiceNYC to keep your voice sounding professional no matter what.

1. The Importance of Daily Vocal Warm-up

A ten-minute daily vocal warm-up is the ideal way to keep “in shape”, especially if that is all you can fit into the day. Of course working your daily exercises for endurace and growth and to increase vocal abilities is part of the “job”, the daily 10-minute warm-up will keep your vocals activated and remind you to breathe like a vocalist for the day!

2. Nervous? Breathe!

If you’re performing live or in the studio, nerves can often get the best of us. The best way to take control of your performance is to breathe more! The problem arises, when the body’s natural reaction to stress is to start quick, short intakes of breath. This, in turn, increases blood pressure and creates dehydration throughout the body, but mostly in the mouth!. To take control, start by slowly taking a very deep breath into your lower abdomen. Begin breathing through your nose and mentally count to 15. Once you’ve reached a 15 count, hold the breath for 3 seconds and then slowly release the breath through your mouth for another slow count of 15.

This will help to calm the glands in your body that release stress hormones and will decrease blood pressure. After a few more slow deep breaths, the body’s muscles (especially those in the neck) will loosen from the increase in oxygen. Soon, your anxiety level will begin to diminish and you’ll be singing confidently again.

3. Spring time recommendations

The arrival of Spring brings with it allergies and dryness. for the Vocalist this can mean the difference between a successful or a frustrating recording session. Many vocalists don’t even realize what is happening to them and they may experience an increase in Phlemb or a raspiness that wasn’t there before. They may also discover an annoying little tickle that continues throughout the day. Well singers, welcome to spring.

The average person may not find this quite as disturbing as the singer because they don’t rely on their voice or depend upon it to perform at its absolute best at all times. Besides allergies becoming heightened at this time, dehydration is almost an absolute and therefore must be attended to. To cut back on mild allergies, keeping your home as dust free as possible and perhaps purchasing allergy free pillows, you should also consider a Neti pot. A Neti pot is a small porcelain pot to help cleans the sinus passages. Used daily (sometimes both morning and night if allergies worsen ) it can alleviate some of the congestion and actually minimize discomfort and also support clear passages in order to avoid the common cold or sinus infection which is almost always a risk especially during spring when our immune systems are compromised.

The other factor, hydration is also at risk at this time. The constant fluctuation of the temperature and heating units in our home make it almost impossible to keep hydrated. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of room temperature water (room temperature water is absorbed into your body much more easily than cold water), coupled with a diet of water-rich foods can substantially enhance water absorption in the body therefore, assuring rehydration. Water-rich vegetables such as mixed green salads with fresh veggies with an Olive Oil and lemon juice dressing (stay away from Vinegars – they are fermented and drying), as well as water rich fruits; watermelon, cantalope , grapes, papaya, Asian pears, pears will not only increase your water intake but will allow the room temperature water to be absorbed more completely because water needs natural sugar molecules to be absorbed more fully. Of course, if allergies are impossible to handle you may need to take medications, remember these can be incredibly drying so it is up to you to protect and care for your instrument.

4. Snooze so you don’t lose!

REST for the vocalist – Rest is incredibly important for vocal health. In many cases, Laryngitis is directly related to fatigue. It is easily avoided by simply getting more sleep as well as finding a way to relax. If you are having trouble sleeping, you might need to look at your daily stress level as well as your eating habits. If stress is keeping you awake, try meditation, yoga or even getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Utilize your body during the day and it will look to regenerate at night. In addition, try not to eat after 7pm in the evening, or consider that you will need about 4 hours to digest before going to sleep. Stay away from spicy and heavy sauces, try to eat “clean” by having a salad prior to your cooked food and stay with a light sauce. Keep in mind, that meat takes a considerable amount of time to digest (in some cases 2 or more days). Stay with easily digestible food like whole grains and steamed vegetables, fish and poultry.

Included in the discussion of getting more rest, stay away from large quantities of alcohol. A glass of wine is fine with dinner, but large quantities will cause your body to go into dehydration mode as well as keep you from restful sleep. Make sure before you have a session for recording scheduled you get rest, hydrate and stay away from alcohol. Optimize your recording session by being as physically prepared as possible.

5. Working The “Song”

After your warm up – work your current songs by going through the Map of the song; marking your breath, hearing difficult intervals in the melody and figuring out where to go vocally to achieve success. Get a hold of the lead sheet for the song and begin to dissect the music. Understand what key the song is in and what key you need to sing it in. Understand what the melody is doing, and consider how you might want to change the melody to make it more “yours”.

Integrate some exercises to support any areas of your song that are challenging. If the songs melody takes you into the lower end of your vocal range, focus working on depth vocal exercises within that range. For melodies that are jumping into other registers or are simply jumping around, try incorporating some wide interval exercises in your vocal practice. Having your exercises work along with your song study can be an incredibly helpful tool in excelling vocally, and significantly reduce the time it takes for you to master your song.

SkyeLab Clients get a FREE, 30-minute lesson. You’d be crazy not to take them up on this free offer. But it’s for a limited time only, and can be revoked at any time. So if you’re serious about improving your voice, NOW is the best time!!!!! Contact us to set up your Free lesson.

Learn more about our vocal coaching and vocal lessons

 

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Need to make or send a demo? Find a manager? https://www.skyelabmusic.com/need-make-send-demo-find-manager/ https://www.skyelabmusic.com/need-make-send-demo-find-manager/#respond Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:55:55 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7540 Like it or not, the days of being discovered singing in the local lounge, or getting a recording contract from a simple piano-voice demo, must be relegated to the archives of rock history. The demo is the vehicle for your hopes and dreams of becoming a recording artist, and it will be the first connection...

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Like it or not, the days of being discovered singing in the local lounge, or getting a recording contract from a simple piano-voice demo, must be relegated to the archives of rock history.

The demo is the vehicle for your hopes and dreams of becoming a recording artist, and it will be the first connection between you and the record company. On the basis of your demo, you will be asking the record company to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to record you as an artist. Therefore, your demo must meet certain standards and be an accurate reflection of your artistic and commercial potential.

Just as the quality of recorded music has progressed very rapidly, so has the record company’s expectation of demo quality. The aspiring artist must be ready to meet the challenge because you need more than a good voice in today’s music scene to get a record deal.

Remember, your demo is your calling card and the representation of the product that you’re trying to sell, mainly you!

The first point to consider is how many songs are enough to show your style as an artist. It is better to have four strong songs than eight songs when you want only two songs to truly stand out. Keep in mind that it is quality, not quantity, that is going to impress your A&R listener and make them want to seriously pursue you as an artist and/or songwriter.

It is crucial to show a consistent musical direction on your CD. If you mix too many different types of music, i.e., hard rock, pop and R&B, it becomes difficult for your A&R person to know who you are as an artist. Make sure all the songs on your demo reflect the musical direction in which you want to go. Always put what you believe to be your strongest song first on the tape. If A&R likes the first tune, it is more likely that they will give a careful listen to the remaining selections. You must have potential hit songs using original material. There is occasional success doing a cover version of an old hit, but you are much more likely to be signed as an artist based on the strength of the original material on your CD, and your interpretation of it.

On Making Your Press Kit:

-Spend some money. Buy laser-printer compatible labels and research who you will be sending the package to.  It’s also a good idea to actually call that person and get permission first to send your press-kit. Go to an office supply store and stock up on insulated large envelopes, spend some money on a nice 8″x10″ glossy, have someone at your local college’s art department design a computer-generated logo for you (crisp black & white line-art is recommended).  And here’s a BIG TIP: create a logo for your make-believe management company (obviously this one’s only for those without formal management representation) and put this on the letterhead of the typewritten note you’ll enclose with your press kit. Your cred-factor has just scored major points and you just might get that foot in the door. – Stacy LeFevre

 

Prioritize who gets what. If you want to reach a lot of media sources and simply can’t afford to send everyone CDs, do this: Send your CDs to the high-priority contacts and places most likely to respond. Send lower-priority contacts your bio and a photo. In the cover letter that goes with them, ask the recipient to contact you if they want a free review copy. That way, you’re only sending your CDs to the people who really want 

Make sure complete contact info is on both the CD and the case it came in. Sending out your press kit and then expecting people to go to work figuring out how to get in touch with you is pure idiocy. Cover letters get separated from bios. Photos get removed from press releases. Put your contact info on everything! Think of your music marketing tools as frisky puppies that love to break from the leash and run away. They need identification tags so the people who find them know who they belong to. – Bob Baker

 

Many artists and bands writing their own Bio, just throw together a bunch of stuff about how “good” their music is, and infer that the music will speak for itself. There is no doubt about it, the music is the centerpiece, it is the axis upon which the potential success of an artist’s career rotates. However, that “good” music may never reach the ears of many gatekeepers, if the artist doesn’t pay close attention to all aspects of the business, and the “instruments” of that business must be carefully considered and prepared. In many cases the Bio will be the first introduction a gatekeeper receives from the artist. It should speak clearly and directly to the needs of the reader.

It can be quite useful to “take an inventory” of an artist or band’s talents, skills, lyric content, stage presence, attitude toward life, and the business of music. Many useful facts can emerge as this inventory is taken. Bands should really take some time to sit down and talk about the music they make, what they feel their image is, and how they can best preserve an honest image throughout their career. Being clear about who you are, even recognizing who your influences have been, and what you want to say with your music, can make writing the Bio an enlightening, and useful experience. – Christopher Knab

 

“Okay, everyone, it’s really important that when you’re sending your picture out through email or posting it online, make sure the file is not too big.  When taking a picture, full resolution can be a few meg large, but when posting it online, it should not be more than 100k. Otherwise it will take too long to load and people may lose patience. [I do :)] To solve this problem, try bringing the file into Microsoft Publisher or another program where you can resave the picture at a smaller resolution” – Kieth

 

On Sending Your Demo:

Don’t be gimmicky on your envelope. A hot-pink envelope may catch the eye, but it will not reflect a professional presentation.

Don’t oversell yourself in any introductory letter. Be positive and confident in your presentation of the facts, but if you sound arrogant or obnoxious, it will hurt your cause rather than help it.

Don’t telephone your A&R person 20 times in one week, waiting for a response. Diligence is appreciated, but remember they have hundreds of CDs and demos to screen. One follow-up call after several weeks will suffice. Please don’t say how bad current music is today and that your tape is the salvation of the music scene.

On Finding a Manager:

Any manager you become involved with should be compatible with you musically, as well as on a personal level. You should check to see what other artists the manager handles, and what success the manager has had in the past. If you cannot get an established manager, it might be worthwhile finding a manager who is new to the game, who has a lot of enthusiasm and initiative and also believes in you as an artist.

 

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Bad Gig? Now what? https://www.skyelabmusic.com/bad-gig-now/ https://www.skyelabmusic.com/bad-gig-now/#respond Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:43:03 +0000 https://www.skyelabmusic.com/?p=7534 Sometimes you have a bad night. Your guitar was out of tune, you forgot the lyrics, you missed cues, and your head was just somewhere else.  It happens in music, it happens in sports, it happens in life. But it’s what you do about it that separates the winners from the losers! You have to...

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Sometimes you have a bad night. Your guitar was out of tune, you forgot the lyrics, you missed cues, and your head was just somewhere else.  It happens in music, it happens in sports, it happens in life. But it’s what you do about it that separates the winners from the losers!

You have to take a moment to reflect and relive the night. Really analyze it but do NOT beat yourself up over it.  Figure out why you had a bad night and what triggered it so you can do your best to avoid it in the future.  Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself though keep in mind that this is just a starting point, and your answer may not even be on this list, so feel free to add to it.

  • Where you stressed before the show? If so, why?
  • Were you prepared personally?
  • Was the band rehearsed enough?
  • Did you OVER REHEARSE?
  • Did you do warm up vocal exercises before hitting the stage?
  • Could you hear yourself in your monitors loud enough?
  • Was something taking your attention away from the ‘here and now’ of being on stage?
  • Were you hanging out at the bar and trying to talk above the music before the show?
  • Did you tune up on stage before playing the first song?
  • Was it someone in the audience, or the crowd that threw you off?
  • Were you waiting for someone to show up that never did?
  • Did you drink too much or get high before the show?
  • Was someone in the band screwing up?
  • Was the band in sync with each other?

Hopefully your bad night happened at a gig that didn’t have a lot riding on it.  You don’t want a meltdown when you’re doing a showcase for a record label, or when you’re performing in the finals of a 5,000 band entry Battle of the Bands (That’s when it happened to my old band, and trust me, we learned a heck of a lot from it!)

Now, you may have known that you were off that night, but you’d be surprised at how few others may have picked up on it. If you hit a wrong chord, just smile and keep playing. If your instrument is out of tune, turn it down and keep playing or tune it fast and keep playing! But whatever you do, stay focused on the ‘here and now’.  You should understand that most people that attend a live show know nothing about music and only a few will even catch that something went wrong, so it’s important to just play through it!

Because music is dependent on time in order to operate, (as opposed to an oil painting) the ONLY time to make music work is right now, the present! Don’t think about the song before or the next song coming up or anything else.  The only thing that matters is the current moment, so put your heart into it and give it everything you’ve got!

So again, learn from it, but don’t hold on to it. Let it go, and make the next gig your best ever! Focus on the next one bro!!!

 

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