Archive for the ‘ Advice ’ Category

Making Moves – Building a local following

Building a local fan base has been tough because I didn’t grow up in New York, so I’m kind of starting fresh. Figuring out where to begin has been difficult. I’ve realized though that I have been thinking too big picture. It’s better to focus on smaller fish in the beginning, find exposure to different circles and try to bring people from those circles together.

I recently spit a few bars at a cypher during Barrelhouse Bklyn’s Yo Barrelhouse Raps BBQ. It felt great to introduce myself to such a tight knit group of people. Barrelhouse has, over the past few years, successfully harnessed a Brooklyn based movement of talented rappers, and true hip hop fans, with a lot of positive energy. Here’s a video from the event. I was the lone whitey in attendance, ha…

I’m grateful to have linked up with Barrelhouse and am looking forward to teaming up with them in the future. I’m still working out the details but, if all goes well, Chi Guy will be hosting its first NY shows with Barrelhouse promoting. The first show will be before the end of August.

Like I said in the beginning of the post, I am trying to bring a few different circles together with these concerts to build a solid core of Chi Guy followers. So far the concerts look like me performing (either solo or with a band behind me, The Classical Movement), Scienze and Kris Kasanova (two rappers who I was introduced to by my peoples at Barrelhouse who perform with live instruments behind them), and two electronic/dance DJ sets TBD. The hope is that the hip hop crowd will mix with the DJ crowd well. And who doesn’t like to see hip hop with live instruments?

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Making Moves – Promoting a YouTube Video

I recently posted my most successful YouTube video. Although it hasn’t blown up and been a gigantic viral success, it’s my first video to reach outside of my circle of core fans. In its first four days of being up it has received 160 views and I’m working hard to get more each day.

It has become a core part of hip hop to release free material, oftentimes using instrumentals from popular songs, to promote your own material. So I picked a song that was released last week by Lil Wayne called “6 Foot 7 Foot” that I could tell right off the bat would become a big hit. It’s produced by Bangladesh, the same producer that did “A Millie” with Wayne on The Carter III.

I made the video using iMovie, which came with my MacBook, and photos from my live shows and music video shoots. Using the editing tools available on YouTube and iMovie I added lyrics to the video in the form of blurbs coming out of my mouth, I added title screens to the beginning and end of the vid, and I made it look like I was moving to the music by aligning the pictures to go with the beat.

Some key pointers on how to post a successful YouTube vid and promote it:

1. Keep it short, sweet and entertaining. My video is 1:18 in total and in that time I showcase my lyrics, get my name out there, and link to my other music.

2. Relate your promotional video to something that people are already interested in. Lil Wayne has a huge following already established, so when he releases new material people are going to want to listen to it and talk about it. If you can find the sites where people are talking about related topics and showcase your video there, you might strike a cord with another artist’s fans. For example, I posted my video on http://www.lilwaynehq.com, where there are thousands of people discussing Wayne in very active forums. After one day I got over 30 independent views from that site alone.

3. Get familiar with YouTube’s editing tools. I can’t believe how much extra work you can do after you upload footage to youtube. You can add annotations, add links to your other material and have it all streamlined right into your video.

Making Moves 7 – New Equipment

I have new toys to work with! The studio is definitely coming together with new studio monitor speakers and a microKORG. Soon I will be getting Pro Tools 9 for more advanced recording and mixing than my current program (Garageband). There comes a point in any rappers career when it no longer makes sense to pay someone else an hourly rate for mixing. For me that point is now, as I am making a conscious effort to expand my horizons and properly learn how to mix and master. Until this point I have been either paying someone to mix my music or playing around with the mix without really knowing what I was doing. I have paid people rates ranging from $30-75/hour and they never put as much into the mix as I would like. They have trouble seeing the vision that I am trying to communicate when I tell them the way I want the song to sound, and the effects that I want. More likely they don’t really know what they’re doing.

I am also going to be getting into more production. My roommate recently got a Maschine, (~$500 retail) which is an extremely powerful sampling, beat making monster, so I will have access to that. I have tried my hand at producing on a few projects when I really have a vision of a melody in my head and I can just try to translate that into an electronic version. But with the KORG and the new recording software I will have all I need to really see what my producing capabilities are.

Here are my brand spanking new Yamaha HS 80M Powered Monitor Speakers (~$300/speaker). They are shown “floating” on foam pads atop two wooden towers.

The reason why these speakers are going to make such a difference is that they are allow me to mix songs properly. They are reference speakers so when you play something through them you are hearing a reference of the true sound that is meant to be heard. So if the mix sounds good on these speakers, it should sound good on any speakers, theoretically. I will keep everyone posted on the progress of my mixing and mastering skills and what is helpful along the way…

Here is the microKORG in all its glory (~$400 retail).

At first glance, the microKORG looks like your average electric piano with midi capabilites. But once you hook it up to some speakers you start to feel the true power of this instrument. Rather than just being a piano with a few effects you can throw on top, it is an instrument in its own right. Officially it is a midi capable virtual synthesizer/vocorder. After playing around with it for a few days I am beginning to see that I might want to take lessons to learn how to play this thing (do they have microKORG classes??). I will look into it. Not only does it have vocorder capabilities, but the complexity of the effects and the ease of switching between effects makes for an extremely powerful tool. I can see why so many well-established acts use the microKORG as part of their live show. Bands using the KORG include JUSTICE, Chromeo, Devo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers, Le Tigre, The Neptunes, Kings of Leon and many more. It has famously been used by Dr. Dre and many other big name hip hop producers in their arsenals. As far as I’m concerned, sky’s the limit with this instrument. Can’t wait to get more familiar.

Making Moves 6 – Budgeting for a Music Video

I kept notes of the whole music video production process so others can see and plan their own projects.

You’re Welcome

The One Who Got Away Music Video Budget

Food/Drink $170

–       $40 Sandwiches, etc.

–       $50 pizza

–       $80 Alcohol

Wardrobe $322

–       $96 makeup, etc.

–       $16 Costumes

–       $210 = 30 + 180 Masks

Set Design $145

–       $90 fabric

–       $55 Christmas lights, paper to cover window, props

Equipment $80

–       $80 DSLR Cinema Support rental

$717 total spent on video

Equipment Used

Camera:

–       Canon Rebel T2i 550D DSLR

Other Equipment:

–       DSLR Cinema Support

–       Chrosziel Lightweight Follow-Focus

–       100mm Hi Hat

–       Kessler Cinelsider

–       Sachtler Cine 7+7 HD Tripod

Time Spent

Shooting Hours: 13.5 hours (Sat, Dec. 4 5:30pm-2:00am. Sun, Dec. 5 10:00am-3:00pm)

Set Design: 8 hours (Sat, Dec. 4 10:00am-5:00pm. Sun Dec. 5 9:00am-10:00am)

Labor

23 people in total (15 actors, 7 production crew, 1 director)

Making Moves 6 – Making a Low Budget Music Video (pt. 1)

This past weekend was a busy one for me. A group of people transformed the living room of my apartment into a music video set and we successfully shot the video for my song “The One Who Got Away.” It’s the third low budget film set I have been a part of in the last two months as my roommate and one of his friends have shot 2 films over that time. Let’s just say that the smell of stale smoke machine air is quite familiar to me now.

It’s a beautiful thing to see it all come together, to see people devote their time and energy to create something bigger than themselves (for free). We rented and borrowed as much as possible, yet still ran up a bit of a tab. Quality has its price. Although the video was in planning for over a month, there were still some unforeseen problems we ran into on the days of the shoot. The problems mostly involved actors (friends) not showing up, and shot setup taking longer than planned. But it helped a lot to write a detailed shot list and schedule.

Photos of the video shoot are up on my facebook page

Online Video Distribution: Getting More YouTube Views

 

This post that I found on Trackhustle.com gives some tips on how to appeal to a wider audience on YouTube. The videos in the article all succeeded in reaching a large audience and you could learn a lot just be viewing them. These tips are very timely because I am shooting a video this weekend and am hoping to reach a wide audience through a strong viral campaign on YouTube. The video is for my song The One Who Got Away, and has been in the works for over a month now. One of the key takeaways from the article on Trackhustle that I hope we will achieve is to “do something that is so awesome that people have to show their friends.”

Emmett Adler, the director, and I have developed a pretty great story line that follows closely with the lyrics of the song, but takes place at a halloween party. The song is about the regrets of lost love and missed opportunities so it is a universal theme that a lot of people can relate to. The setting of a halloween party provides the setting for something that couples tend to do together and can show loving moments, yet also provides the setting for betrayal and alienation with strange looking people making the girl feel alone.

Stay tuned for the video coming soon…

Here is the Full Article on Trackhustle.com

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MUSICIANS LEARN HOW TO GET A MILLION YOUTUBE VIEWS

Lots of people have videos on Youtube that reach a million views, but getting a million views based on musical talent is rare. It is important to showcase your musical talent in the videos because that’s what you are promoting. There are a handful of Youtube Stars that understand this principle and continuously get millions of views on their Youtube channels. Here’s how you can do it.

BE CREATIVE
Find creative ways to showcase your music. Do something that is so awesome that people have to show their friends. There are some really cheap video editing programs that do special effects. Experiment with a green screen and see what cool ideas you can come up with.

BE CONSISTENT
Don’t post one video and get mad when it doesn’t hit a million views in the first week. The most popular Youtube Stars post videos on a regular basis. You really don’t know which video will go viral so just post quality videos and build your fan base.

BE STICKY
Ever wonder how these Youtube Stars views are so high on all of their videos? Its because after fans discover their Youtube channel, they watch multiple videos. If the videos have similarities, they watch another video. Soon, they’ve watched all the videos on the channel. Have a central theme to your videos. Consider covering popular bands’ songs or accepting musical challenges from your viewers.

PROMOTE YOUR CHANNEL
This is pretty self-explanatory. Promote your videos on social networks to get people to watch your videos. This is not limited to the internet. Make sure all your friends and family watch the videos you post. Youtube also has several built-in features that allow you to promote your videos to other Youtubers.

SPONSOR A VIDEO
If all else fails, you could approach a Youtube Star that is already established and sponsor a future video of theirs. This does not necessarily mean pay money either. Try writing a song for them or send them some of your music and merchandise to give away.

Check this video of Mike Kalombo making a beat for Shane Dawson

BE CONNECTED
Contact people that you admire on Youtube by sending them a message. Introduce yourself and tell them what you like about their videos. By befriending other Youtubers, you can learn more tips for success. You could even collaborate some time down the line to cross promote each other’s Youtube channels. Don’t be afraid to reach out to top level Youtube Stars for advice.

BE PATIENT
There are a lot of undiscovered musicians getting millions of views on Youtube. Don’t be discouraged if your great content does not get a lot of views at first. Once more and more people discover your channel your views will eventually increase.

Remember, you are aiming to get millions of views to gain millions of fans. Don’t chase the record labels and major corporations. Make them come to you. Once you build your audience, they will approach you to work with them to expose their brands to your fan base.

Check this video of DeStorm jumping on board with a Pepsi campaign and gaining awareness for himself at the same time by bringing a lot of positive energy.

The Bitter Truth: Artists Must Sacrifice to Find Success

This is a very well-written, painfully truthful, thought provoking story about the hardships of life as an artist. I found it on Digital Music News and it is written by Paul Resnikoff. He offers some advice for all DIY artists: unless we are prepared to sacrifice the luxuries of a “normal” life, we most certainly will not find success as an artist because it won’t simply come to us. With the vast array of tools available to us through the Internet, and affordable recording options, success may seem just within our reach. Because it is so easy now to look and sound like the big boys, we get comfortable with mediocrity. We get excited when new fans are added on our various social media sites while losing site of the big (money making) picture. “Pretending to pursue a professional career – while actually living the life of a hobbyist,” Resnikoff argues, “is a tragedy.”
Having recently graduated from college last May, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to get a “real job” and have the security that comes with it. Many friends of mine have gotten jobs in finance, accounting, marketing, etc. and they all work long hours that leave absolutely no time for something like music, even as a hobby. All of them tell me the same thing when I say that I am pursuing a career in music: “Stick with it! You don’t want to be where I am!” Your 20’s are your most creative years, and I don’t want to see them pass by as a slave to some company that doesn’t appreciate my talents because of my age. I have faith that I am talented enough to make it, so now it is a matter of getting others to agree. I will fight until I find success or it becomes impossible. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself later in life if I didn’t give it a full shot.
Here is the Full Article from Digital Music News
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Want Serious Success? Then Start Losing Everything, Right Now…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What will we be laughing at five years from now?  The notion that somehow, direct-to-fan connectivity means that fans will care or connect.  That somehow, just having a straight fan connection is more important than writing incredible music.  Or, the idea that millions of other artists aren’t getting the same exact memo on direct-to-fan channels.

The idea that skipping a label and giving $50 to Tunecore is what makes a career.  Not even Corey Smith believes that.  Do you?

The numbers are telling a completely different story, over and over again.  So which is better, a fairy tale or a realistic assessment of the terrain?  “I feel like there are a lot of people in my position frankly – in the software space – who just said ‘yeah, you’re going to make it,’ and it’s definitely statistically untrue,” Ian Rogers recently told an artist audience in Santa Barbara.

How untrue?  Rogers himself revealed a stat showing that less than 30,000 artists are actually making a living.  Soon thereafter, the UK-based Musicians’ Union revealed that 87 percent of its members are making less than $25,000 a year.  Earlier this year, Tom Silverman found that roughly a dozen DIY artists (if that) were selling north of 10,000 albums.

If you’re a hobbyist, then enjoy the considerable fruits that come from musical composition, performance, and direct distribution.  Music is one of the greatest pleasures in life, whether performing, listening, mashing-up, or discussing.  But pretending to pursue a professional career – while actually living the life of a hobbyist – is a tragedy.

So if your statistical chances of making it are close to zero, what’s the better approach?  It’s not a romantic, DIY, Long Tail-inspired game plan.  It’s slogging it out on the road for 200-plus dates a year, sleeping in the van, getting your stuff stolen, finding it again, getting ripped off by the club owner a day later, fighting with your bandmates.

It’s sitting in a room for hours writing incredible music.  And recording, performing and perfecting that music every day.  Even on Thanksgiving.

It’s saying goodbye to comfy nights on the couch with your girlfriend, a round of beers with your buddies, or two-week vacations.  And the same thing goes for the team, which needs to be equally committed to sacrifice and total success.

Why not just get a real job?  It’s also explaining to everyone – including your family – why you’re barely surviving, why your art takes precedence over everything else in your life.  And this is not a modern-day reality: artists have struggled for centuries to make ends meet.  The numbers have always been stacked against musicians, internet or not.

And then, when all of those sacrifices are made, when you cut out all the comforts you think you’re entitled to… then what?  You get a lottery ticket, to possibly become self-sustaining and even wildly successful.

And if your number comes up, what happens then?  If you actually get substantial traction, if you can fill 200 rooms a year, then you’re now ready to work some more – a lot more.  To expand the base, structure partnerships with professionals, distribution partners, management agencies, and even labels.  Because even total control needs to be sacrificed at some point.

Thoughts by Paul Resnikoff, Publisher.  Written while listening to Mozart, Sepultura, Daft Punk, Icepick, and Hatebreed.

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