Tips For Increasing Your Music Marketing In A Small Budget   

Tips For Increasing Your Music Marketing In A Small Budget   

You have to learn this vital skill if you’ve transported your first beat from a studio or captured your first LP, particularly if you’d like to make it big in the music business.

Nonetheless, you should often consult with music instructors and read online discussions and send letters to people who suggest, “You need a great deal of money to have your opinions heard.”

Not only musicians but also company executives know that to market your music effectively, they want money. Not only musicians but also label auditors say that to sell your music better; they want money.

Is this true? Certainly not.

Yes, money is beneficial. Major labels have the potential to attract thousands of people with their releases. They can do so, thanks to their financial resources and robust marketing campaigns. Here is how you can market your music effectively without spending much.

Build a Creative Continuity

This is among the most common mistakes we see indie musicians while learning how and when to promote their music:

They put out an album. It performs admirably. Perhaps they’ve spent a lot of time and money promoting it. Maybe it wants a piece of the viral craziness…

But what is a month later? There’s nothing. The music’s life cycle has come to an end… What’s more, guess what? The artist has completely vanished. There isn’t going to be a follow-up update. Therefore, you must continue working with continuity so that your fans do not get bored of waiting.

Make a strategy for your release.

It’s not easy to complete an album. So you should only be relieved once it is completed, and you now want everybody to hear the fruits of your labor. 

You’d put together some low-priced artwork (or just post a picture), and for the song, name it and publish it to Itunes. Then, of course, you should implement a song promotional campaign, which consists of a series of Facebook posts and text messages to a group of college friends.

Develop and use your network

As a musician, how do you create your channel? You can’t survive in this business without having a strong social media presence. Let’s face it: what is more successful in terms of having your message heard? Cool emailing to 20 unknown websites, brands, YouTube channels, and influencers…

Or enlist the help of friends?

The latter is the case. Every single time. To begin developing connections with friends who can assist you in promoting your music…

  • Mutual friends with a sizable fan base on their private or artist Facebook pages.
  • Blog and YouTube advertising site owners
  • At signs, holders or A&Rs
  • Others with complex systems

Make Your Videos and Artwork

When it comes to promoting your music, having excellent gaze and appropriate artwork is crucial. In the past, though, you have to hire a designer to create your artwork. Even so, it’s better to employ a professional if you want very great visual design jobs.

No, y’know what? SUCK IT, Hot Lixx Guitar.

When I was a kid, Tyco came out with the Hot Lixx toy guitar. The ads were all some variation of some cool kid, with cool kid hair, blowing away all the other cool kids with their mad guitar skills, often while bragging ‘never had a single lesson.’

Urgh.

And look at this.

 

There was even one (which I can’t seem to find on YouTube, but it definitely happened because it left its horrid insulting imprint on my growing brain when I was most vulnerable) where some adult rock star lookin’ dudes were auditioning guitar players, then a kid came in and wheedled on his Hot Lixx and bragged about never having had a lesson or been to GIT or sold his soul at the crossroads or even been to one of those John Petrucci guitar camps I can’t afford.

Do you know how mad this made me?

Do you have any idea how my ten-year-old heart raged with indignity at the utter injustice of suggesting it’s all in the gear?!?

Should you start learning guitar on electric or acoustic?

If you’re planning to start learning guitar, it can be pretty overwhelming. You have to figure out where and how to learn (teacher? Instructional books or DVDs? Online course?). You have to figure out what kind of stuff you want to learn. And critically, you have to figure out what you’re going to play it on. It’s a lot to take in. But I’m here to help you through it! Let me start by telling you a little about when I first started playing guitar.

I always had music in my head, from a very young age. Eventually I realised I probably should put a guitar in front of all this music. I had a few guitar heroes already; Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, Robert Smith. And I knew that there were certain guitar sounds that I really loved, such as Knopfler’s “Money For Nothing” tone, or the fuzzy, filthy roar that was The Beatles’ “Revolution.” So I asked my folks for a guitar, and my dad said the words I’d anticipated and was already dreading:

“You can have an acoustic guitar first, and then if you stick with it we’ll get you an electric guitar in two years.”

So that’s what happened. Father Christmas brought me a nylon-string acoustic guitar (he must have overheard our conversation) and I set about learning everything I could. I was a fast learner – probably too fast, because I picked things up by ear so easily that I got a bit lazy about learning to read music and it took me years to catch up. But I stuck with it.

But something always bothered me: Nothing I played sounded like what I wanted to play.

I came up with all sorts of ways to make my acoustic guitar sound more like the electrics that I heard on TV or on the stereo. I figured out that I picked close to the guitar’s bridge, right by where the strings are attached to the body, the sound would be sharper, twangier and tougher, but it didn’t quite sound like Richie Sambora’s Kramer electric guitar back in the Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet days. I realised I could drop a little microphone inside my acoustic’s sound-hole and plug it into the stereo, but it sounded weird and boxy, and not at all like Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues.” 

Finally, after two years, Father Christmas paid me another visit. This time he brought me a pretty cheap Strat copy by a brand called Status (no, not the company known for headless basses). That’s it in the pic. I still have it. It was great for several reasons; first, I finally had an electric guitar that looked cool, and secondly, because it was so cheap it would often malfunction so I learned a lot about repairing guitars when I was only 12 years old.

Miraculously I saw that as a plus rather than a huge, huge minus. But it still didn’t sound like all those recordings I loved, but this time I knew enough about guitars to know why: my inexpensive little amplifier only had controls for volume and tone; no overdrive or distortion. And overdrive and distortion are what most of us really think of when we think of the sound of rock guitar. So finally, the July after getting that electric guitar I received a distortion pedal for my birthday, and I was at last able to play real – and real loud – rock guitar. I remember the very first time I turned that pedal on, and my mum yelling from the kitchen ‘What the f**k is that horrible noise?‘ That noise is my future, mum. Hehehe.

Years later when I became a guitar teacher I would often be asked, either by students or by their parents, “Is it better to start on acoustic or electric?” And my answer would always be “Whichever one you want to play.”

An acoustic guitar isn’t like the musical equivalent of training wheels. Especially a nylon-string acoustic, where the string height, neck width and string spacing are way different to what you’d encounter when ‘graduating’ to an electric guitar. If you wish to primarily play acoustic guitar, that’s what you should start on, because right off the bat you’ll be hearing sounds that are consistent with the music that inspires you. If you aspire to be an electric guitarist, start on that! You’ll be much closer to sounding like the electric guitars that you hear in your head.

I remember one student who loved metal but her dad had bought her an acoustic guitar with very high strings, and it just didn’t sound like what she wanted her sound to be. I had another student in a similar situation but after about six months of steady progress she bought an Epiphone Les Paul and her playing became supercharged; she was able to pick up songs by the likes of Muse quite easily, and her playing was full of life and creativity.

The point is, when your guitar sounds like the guitars that made you want to play in the first place, you’ll be more likely to stick with it, rather than become discouraged and drop it. And the world needs more guitar players!

Eddie Van Halen

I haven’t tackled the massive, sad news of the passing of Eddie Van Halen here yet because it just felt too immense. This guy changed everything for everyone. Do you play a Strat-style guitar with a humbucker in the bridge position? Companies make those because Eddie played them. Play a guitar with a Floyd Rose? The fine tuners were Eddie’s idea. Paid attention to metal over the last three decades? You’ve heard the amps Eddie designed. Artificial harmonics, two-handed tapping, Drop D tuning? Eddie didn’t invent them but he sure mastered and popularised them.

We all have our personal little stories about Ed and how he impacted our lives as guitarists. I wanted to tell you about the most important lesson I learned from Eddie Van Halen, although that lesson was actually imparted by someone else. 

When I was in 9th grade I returned to Peter Cominos, the guitar teacher who had taught me when I first started playing in 5th and 6th grade. Peter remains a great player. And he was the perfect teacher for me. During the first couple of years of lessons he would indulge me by breaking out of the ‘Progressive Guitar For Beginners’ book and helping me to train my ear to recognise chords and learn to teach myself songs. And so I’d figure out things like ‘It Must Have Been Love’ by Roxette, or ‘Faith’ by George Michael. In 7th grade I went it alone with my first electric guitar, getting to know this new electrified and expressive instrument, so much more versatile than my plunky-sounding nylon-string acoustic. 

By the time I returned to Peter for lessons again, I was doing pretty well with my ear training and I could play pretty fast. I didn’t really understand phrasing yet though, so that was something we worked on a lot. We’d dissect a solo phrase by phrase. One night I showed up for my lesson and Peter put a photocopy of Steve Vai’s transcription of ‘Eruption’ in front of me. As we dug into each phrase we looked at how Eddie began and ended each note, and what he did in between. And Peter said (I’m paraphrasing), “The thing that mades Eddie so special is that he’s put in the work to know exactly how to make the string do exactly what he wants, no matter what he wants it to do.” Essentially, Eddie had played guitar so frigging much that he had internalised all the tiny little micromovements that allowed him to really take control of the note.

That made a huge impression on me, and it was something I always paid attention to from then on, when listening to Eddie or just in general. It’s something that not all players have. I could name any number of great players who don’t necessarily have that kind of ultra-microscopic connection to each note.

I sort of met Eddie once, at a Fender party at NAMM. He showed up towards the end of the party and headed to the EVH section, completely surrounded by people as you may expect. We’re talking high-end retailers, artists, media… people who are used to being around famous guitarists just as a simple part of their job, and they were all grinning like kids at the sight of their hero. I couldn’t get anywhere close, so I got out of the way and looked at some guitars. Then the crowd started to shift and Eddie and I were suddenly face to face. He saw my jaw drop and he shot me that grin and saluted me. It was surreal and beautiful. In the context of a hectic NAMM party it was probably the best I coulda hoped for, and if you told that teenage-kid version of me that one day he’d even get to say so much as hello to Eddie Van Halen at a private Fender party at NAMM, he would have freaked the hell out. 

This blurry photo is the closest I got to documenting the moment.

But of course, the fact that I was even there in the first place and working in this industry is undoubtedly due in part of Eddie’s influence and example. 

Rest in peace, Ed. You left the guitar world a better place than you found it and you touched millions upon millions of hearts. Thank you. 

Five Great Covers EPs you should check out

Some bands build their early careers on a well-placed cover, like Van Halen blasting right out of the gate with a redefining take on The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” Some bands make a point of avoiding covers altogether. And some love covers so much that at a certain point in their career they’ll release an entire album of the dang things. Buried somewhere in the middle of it all though is the covers EP. For many listeners a covers EP hits a certain sweet spot: enough tracks to feel like a little treat, not so many as to lose focus or have listeners impatiently drumming their fingers waiting for the next album of original material. A covers EP says “dude, listen to these songs that we loved when we were starting out” but it doesn’t say “and you must listen to everything I listened to in order to understand where I’m coming from.” There are countless covers EPs out there but these are my personal favorites. What are yours?

Skid Row – B Side Ourselves

Skid Row released this EP between their Slave To The Grind and Subhuman Race albums, and it stood out for me because in those pre-Spotify/YouTube/iTunes days you couldn’t simply command a song to appear in your ears: you had to either catch it on the radio or encounter its physical representation in the form of a CD or cassette. Wild, I know. So for me, this was the first time I’d heard a song by The Ramones, and although I was already a Jimi Hendrix fan by age 13 I hadn’t yet come across “Little Wing.” The Judas Priest cover features a guest appearance by the metal god Rob Halford himself, and there’s an energy throughout this disc which captures the power of Skid Row in this unique era, when they successfully survived the last days of rock’s hair metal era and before grunge temporarily put the boot in to bands like Skid Row. This was a band with the world at their feet and a song in their hearts.

“Psycho Therapy” (Ramones)

“C’mon and Love Me” (KISS)

“Delivering the Goods” (Judas Priest)

“What You’re Doing” (Rush)

“Little Wing” (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Metallica – The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited

This EP represented Metallica’s first release with Jason Newsted on bass following the tragic death of Cliff Burton, and the band chose to go back to their roots before diving in to new music. These tracks are all available on the band’s 1998 Garage Inc double album too, but for me they tell an entirely different story when heard in their original context instead of fitting in amongst other covers, B-sides and one-offs. If Garage Inc is the story of a band using their platform as The World’s Biggest Metal Band to shine a light on the songs that inspired them, Garage Days Re-Revisited tells a story of a band who was struggling to cope with the emotion of the situation, and who retreated to the comfort of the jam room and the songs that inspired them in their early days before life became so complicated. 

“Helpless” (Diamond Head)

“The Small Hours” (Holocaust)

“The Wait” (Killing Joke)

“Crash Course In Brain Surgery” (Budgie)

“Last Caress/Green Hell” (Misfits)

Stone Sour – Meanwhile In Burbank…

I get a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this as time goes on: covers EPs that feature songs released post-1990. While most of Stone Sour’s recent covers EP (the first of a trilogy) focuses on tracks from the 1980s, the inclusion of Alice In Chains’ “We Die Young” acknowledges AIC’s rightful place in the Great Heavy Rock Songbook. It’s interesting to note that this EP features songs by Judas Priest and KISS, just like Skid Row’s. And it’s also cool to see a band paying tribute to Metallica, who have done so much to share cool covers with the world.

“We Die Young” (Alice In Chains)

“Heading Out To The Highway” (Judas Priest)

“Love Gun” (KISS)

“Creeping Death” (Metallica)

“Children Of The Grave” (Black Sabbath)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP

The Chili Peppers released this EP in 2012 as an iTunes-only digital download to celebrate their induction in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. The idea was to pay tribute to other bands who came before them in joining the ranks of the Hall. The tracks themselves date from between 1991 and 2011, with three guitarists represented: John Frusctiante, Dave Navarro and Josh Klinghoffer. 

“A Teenager in Love” (Dion and the Belmonts)

“Havana Affair” (The Ramones)

“Search and Destroy” (Iggy Pop and James Williamson of The Stooges)

“Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” (Neil Young)

“I Get Around” (The Beach Boys)

“Suffragette City” (David Bowie)

Rush – Feedback

Alright, this one is probably long enough to qualify as an album if you really wanna stretch it, but this eight-song release clocks in at just over 27 minutes. While most of the EPs covered (ha!) in this list feature songs from the ‘metal and onwards’ era, Rush’s reflects an earlier era, an era we now think of as ‘classic rock.’ Heck, it even includes two songs apiece by Buffalo Springfield and The Yardbirds, and you might as well count “Summertime Blues” as a The Who song too and at them to the ‘two songs by…’ list. What’s really great about Feedback is that it gives the listener a clear indication of where Rush derived their energy, yet it provides virtually no hints whatsoever as to how they developed such a progressive, iconic sound of their own.

“Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart)

“Heart Full of Soul” (The Yardbirds)

“For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield)

“The Seeker” (The Who)

“Mr. Soul” (Buffalo Springfield)

“Seven and Seven Is” (Love)

“Shapes Of Things (The Yardbirds)

“Crossroads” (Robert Johnson, Cream)

10-year-old me’s pick pouch

Here’s something fun. It’s my pick pouch from when I was 10 years old. A little D & J McCallum’s Perfection Scotch Whisky leather thing. And inside… The picks I used in my first year of learning guitar, including 10-year-old-me’s attempt at making my own Jazz III out of an
Ernie Ball Music Man Medium (which I chose for this surgery specifically because it was red).
As you can see, I was merciless on my plectra. All of these were busted on nylon strings, no doubt playing ‘Dogs Are Talking’ by The Angels and ‘Cry In Shame’ by Diesel Music

.

I imagine the pouch itself (minus the picks) is probably worth something to whisky collectors, but I ain’t selling it because it’s unlikely to fetch the thousands I need for a Music Man Axis.

The Last Action Hero: best soundtrack ever

These days it’s common – nay, expected – for a big blockbuster movie to have a kickass soundtrack packed with original new tracks by the big heavy-hitters of the day. But it wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time the ‘movie soundtrack’ section of a record store was populated largely by recordings of the actual orchestral music scores of films. If a soundtrack featured pop songs, they were often classic tracks that everybody knew. Even in the case of big blockbuster soundtracks which featured a healthy amount of original new songs – like the album which accompanied the release of Dirty Dancing in 1987 – the tracks were very much mainstream radio-friendly pop. So the 1993 release of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero and its soundtrack sent shockwaves through the hard rock and heavy metal scene of the day because it was fricken loaded with crushing tracks by metal, thrash, grunge and alternative icons.

This was an album which featured new, never-before-heard tracks by some of the biggest names in heavy music at the time, including two of thrash’s Big Four. Check out this track listing:

“Big Gun” – AC/DC
“What The Hell Have I” – Alice In Chains
“Angry Again” – Megadeth
“Real World” – Michael Kamen and Queensrÿche
“Two Steps Behind” – Def Leppard
“Poison My Eyes” – Anthrax
“Dream On” [Live] – Aerosmith
“A Little Bitter” – Alice in Chains – 3:53
“Cock the Hammer” – Cypress Hill – 4:11
“Swim” – Fishbone – 4:13
“Last Action Hero” – Tesla – 5:44
“Jack and the Ripper” – Michael Kamen & Buckethead – 3:43

AC/DC’s “Big Gun” kicks off the album, and although they’ve never played the track at a concert, it was heavily visible at the time of its release, particularly due to the pervasive presence of Arnie himself in the video. A classic driving AC/DC twelve-bar-blues-based track with a monster single note riff punctuated by a slinky, bendy melody, the song is classic Acca Dacca. Check out the video, and watch for Arnie doing his own version of Angus Young’s famous duck walk, complete with Gibson SG. While the SG looks huge on Angus’s diminutive frame, it looks like a ukulele in Arnie’s hands.

Alice In Chains’ two contributions, “What The Hell Have I” and “A Little Bitter,” are especially noteworthy entries in the band’s catalog because they represent the first tracks recorded with bass player Mike Inez, who was fresh from Ozzy Osbourne’s band at the time, replacing the departed Mike Starr. (Trivia buffs will know that Inez wrote the bass riff to Ozzy’s “No More Tears”). The two songs were mixed by Andy Wallace, although both were remixed by Toby Wright for the band’s 1999 Music Bank box set.

Three of the soundtrack’s songs continued to be played live regularly by their respective creators for quite a while afterwards. Def Leppard’s “Two Steps Behind” was released in two versions: an electric version from the band’s Retro Active compilation of rare and unreleased tracks (the song was also a B-side to the “Make Love Like A Man” single) and a stripped-back acoustic version. It’s the acoustic rendition that was used for the Last Action Hero soundtrack, and this is the version of the song that the band still plays live to this day.

Another enduring live track is Megadeth’s “Angry Again.” Written specifically for the film and later appearing on Megadeth’s Hidden Treasures rarity EP, the song was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards. Apart from Marty Friedman’s brilliant guitar solo and the impressive handlebar moustache sported by Dave Mustaine in the video, the song is particularly interesting for a neat little songwriting trick used in the verses. During the first verse, Mustaine sings over the second half of a two-bar riff, but in the second verse he sings over the first half. It’s a great way of creating a sense of movement from one verse to the next, and probably one of the reasons it’s such a fan favourite.

The album’s other thrash legends, Anthrax, contributed a song leftover from the sessions for their 1993 album Sound of White Noise, their first with Armoured Saint vocalist John Bush and last with lead guitarist Danny Spitz. While the song features the same big riffage as the Sound of White Noise tracks, it has a much more adventurous arrangement, including the use of record scratching.

Queensrÿche and composer Michael Kamen collaborated on “Real World,” a sweeping epic in the vein of their previous work together, “Silent Lucidity.” In fact, “Real World” represents a step beyond “Silent Lucidity,” with Kamen set free to push the Pink Floyd-esque progressive elements of the band’s sound even further. Like “Angry Again” and “Two Steps Behind,” “Real World” was performed live on many Queensryche tours.

A few of the album’s tracks had been released previously, including Fishbone’s “Swim” (from their album Give A Monkey A Brain And He’ll Swear He’s The Center Of The Universe). Cypress Hill’s “Cock The Hammer” is from their 1993 classic Black Sunday. And of course Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” presented here as a live version with orchestration by Michael Kamen. Tesla’s “Last Action Hero” is a powerful 80s rocker, although it felt a little out of place in the grunge-friendly climate of 1993, even on an album with such 80s megastars as Def Leppard and Queensryche. But it’s a rockin’ song with some very cool Thin Lizzy-esque twin guitar harmony work.

The album is closed out in spectacular fashion with another collaboration between Michael Kamen and unlikely partner: Buckethead, whose alternatingly haunting and rocking guitar weaves through orchestral ambience and electronica. Although Buckethead was already known to hard-core guitar fans, this was probably his first ‘big time’ exposure, and as an introduction to the world at large it’s a very impressive one.

There have been plenty of innovative soundtrack albums since Last Action Hero – the rap/rock collaborations of Judgment Night later in 1993 being a particularly noteworthy example, pairing Dinosaur Jr. and Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Helmet and House of Pain, Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul, Living Colour and Run DMC, Slayer and Ice-T, Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill, Mudhoney and Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Pearl Jam and Cypress Hill, Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and more. In fact the Judgment Night soundtrack may have been a big factor in the rise of rap-rock and nu metal a few years later. But perhaps that’s a story for another time.