2013 was a slow year for Passive Promotion, because I was too busy with this, this, and this to write. For the most part, I focused on creation rather than promotion. Next year I’ll have two EPs and a full-length Color Theory album to promote, and you can bet I’ll be sharing my methods and results with you here.
While I didn’t write too much over the past year, I did read a whole lot! Here are my top 10 music promotion posts of 2013, in reverse chronological order, based on how useful I found them for my particular needs and circumstances:
I had the pleasure of working with Matthew Myers on the soon-to-be-released Just Dance Kids 3 video game. As I got to know him and his music, I was blown away by the response to his highly targeted YouTube videos. This recent comment from darksilver1200 sums it up perfectly:
“I feel sorry for all NON-otaku fans. They just don’t understand what it means to love anime and gaming with every fiber of your entire being and soul. I on the other hand, am a full blood otaku through and through. I love all anime, games, and others of this sort. LeetStreet boys, actually, if you listen to the lyrics of the song, have meaning deep down in the otaku heart.”
I’m a gamer and anime fan myself, yet half of the references are over my head! I asked Matt if he would be so kind as to explain how he pulls this stuff off, and the result is this guest post. -Brian.
Making music videos has changed my life. In 2007, I wrote a catchy song about my love of anime and video game fandom. I hired a freelance animator and the music video we created for “Yuri The Only One” was a runaway hit in 2008. It has since garnered over 1.5 million YouTube views, been played at festivals worldwide, enabled my band to headline events across North America as a musical guest, sold out of an album print run, and generated tens of thousands of digital sales.
I’m long overdue for a music promotion post, but even more overdue for a new Color Theory release! Once I wrap up my next EP, I’ll turn my focus back to promotion, and of course share my efforts and results.
In the meantime, I’d like to address a common concern for Ableton Live users: how do I comp vocals?
As a mastering engineer, I talk with lots of musicians about which DAWs they use for what. Everybody who uses Live loves it, but they usually record and assemble (“comp”) vocals in Logic or Cubase, export the comped vocals as .wav or AIFF files, and import those files into Live.
While I also prefer to work on vocals in a separate project, I do it all in Live. Here’s how:
1. Create a new project. Set the BPM and drag your cue mix (what you’ll sing over) into the arrangement window at bar 1. Because I record vocals with closed headphones, which overemphasize low frequencies, I insert a low cut on the cue mix. Not only does it protect my hearing, but it focuses my pitch. An improperly tuned kick drum can throw off your tonal center.
The bass and kick are the foundation of your mix, and we want them to utterly dominate the lowest frequencies. I’m going to show you how to use a frequency analyzer to cut excess lows from every track in your mix, leaving clear, tight, punchy bass.
My favorite frequency analyzer is Voxengo SPAN. It’s free on both Mac and Windows, so grab it! Once it’s installed, load it on the master bus. Place the GUI where it won’t get covered up, or set it to “always on top.”
There are three settings we need to adjust, by clicking the “edit” button in the upper right corner:
Block Size – The higher the number, the more accuracy in the lowest frequencies, but the slower the refresh rate. 8192 is the best compromise on my system.
Engaging with fans is fun and rewarding. It can also be an addictive time suck.
If you check your email, Facebook, and Twitter first thing in the morning, you’re doing it wrong!
Better to start your day creating something worth tweeting about. As a self-confessed productivity junkie, I’ve tried dozens of approaches. This one stuck.
What follows is a step-by-step guide to social media and email management, in the form of a daily routine. It assumes you are on Facebook and Twitter, but can easily be expanded to other networks. All tools mentioned are free unless stated otherwise.
First we need to figure out when to post your content. Because the half-life of a tweet is so short, Twitter requires the most frequent updates. SocialBro determines your best time to tweet by analyzing when your followers are online and when you get the most retweets, with several glorious charts downloadable as a PDF.
I’m excited to bring you a follow-up to one of the most popular articles on this site, by friend and music licensing veteran Helen Austin. -Brian
My music career has advanced significantly in the two years since I first wrote about film and TV placement. As more and more licensing opportunities become available to indie artists, I’m often asked for advice. It’s nice to have an article to direct people to, but it’s long overdue for an update.
With that in mind, here are my new four steps to film and TV placement:
Step 1 : Expand the Groundwork
Your foundation will always be the music. I still write as much as I can, but sometimes get sidetracked into recording and producing. There’s no point in having stacks of manuscript paper and lyrics just sitting on my desk!
I participate in songwriting challenges like February Album Writing Month and The 50/90 Challenge. They force me to write on a regular schedule, and provide quality feedback. My last album and much of my next two albums (one regular, one for kids) have come out of this material.
Step 2 : Refine Your Team
I now write exclusively for pigFactory. This was a big step, and one I didn’t take lightly. I made the decision after a few years of really enjoying our relationship. It didn’t hurt that every time I mentioned them to anyone, I was told how great they are – including my lawyer who checked the contract. Just after signing on the dotted line, they got my song “Happy” on a huge European Nivea commercial, so it turned out to be a very good idea.
Earbits is a personalized streaming radio site focused on independents, with no ads or subscription fees. Like Jango, Last.fm, and Grooveshark, they sell airtime packages to artists. At around a penny a play, it’s a relative bargain, especially since they only charge for songs played past the 30 second mark. Put another way, $50 buys you a bare minimum of 42 listener hours.
That wouldn’t matter if there weren’t any listeners, and there wouldn’t be any listeners if Earbits were overrun with suck. Fortunately, the staff reviews and approves every artist (you can apply here). Judging from the music I’ve heard, the bar is pretty high.
On the listener end of things, the radio experience is engaging. The only “advertising” on the page relates to the band you’re listening to. A high resolution photo fills the screen, with play controls at the top and share buttons on the bottom. A bio and comments are a click away, and artists can craft a slide-out ad with whatever text they want. I’ve been linking to my free song downloads, but touring bands can target specific geographical regions to help sell tickets.
Earbits integrates with Facebook on many levels. Beyond sharing, liking, and commenting, you can invite friends to listen along with you, and your play history appears in your Facebook activity stream.