MUSIC INDUSTRY ADVICE: SET YOUR LIVE PERFORMANCES APART

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Published on March 24th, 2017.
Article is property of Music Connection.

Playing in a hometown music scene, it can be easy for your band to get lost in the mix with other local artists. This especially applies when your scene is inundated with bands playing very similar styles of music. As a local artist, this affects you, because your local community is important and often gathers around art. And for how much shows help with local communities, these connections will be built elsewhere if your band doesn’t give someone a good reason to keep coming. Shows can (and will) get boring if nothing new or different happens. Apart from writing the best songs you can and killing it each time you take the stage, maybe you can make your live performances particularly memorable in other ways.

1. Uniforms
I hate dressing up for shows, period. I wouldn’t even go for an “everyone wear dark colors” kind of scenario. But lately, I’ve been digging through historical ska discographies. While I know “ska” is a dirty word in a lot people’s books, the uniform mentality that a lot of early ‘80s ska bands had was important to their message and how they were perceived. While many of those bands had a very political message, uniforms can obviously be used for a variety of circumstances and genres. I highly recommend, if you choose to use uniforms, to buy rather than rent or borrow. Of course, make sure that your uniform is appropriate for your message or purpose.

2. Stage Props
The way the stage looks could all be yours. Often I’ll see glorified Christmas lights wrapped around amps, but those things have become cliches and have grown tired. However, I’m happy to say that I’ve seen some bands changing it up. Recently some friends of mine got colored orb lights to not only put on their amps, but to set up inside of the drum pieces as well. I personally want to get cardboard standups and put them in front of my amps from now on as well. Fog machines, videos and other things are used by artists sometimes, but they have to be very purposeful, as to not become distracting from the music.

Read the rest at Musicconnection.com!

Your Tour Van is a Cop Magnet

Published on March 1st, 2017.
Article belongs to Dozmia.

There’s a long history of disconnect between true rockers and the fuzz. Dead Kennedys wrote “Police Truck” almost forty years ago. NWA had their infamous Detroit Show almost thirty years ago (if you saw Straight Outta Compton [the movie], then you know exactly what I’m talking about). And there are so many instances of policemen and women boycotting musicians in this country over anti-cop lyrics, speeches, and sentiments that Pitchfork wrote an entire article entitled “A History of Police Boycotting Musicians in America”. Now not all – I would guess that not even most – police officers are abusive authority figures. But many are, for good or bad, taught to profile, and your sketchy tour van sticks out like a sore thumb, I’m sad to say. Never fear though, I’m here to help you not get pulled over (well, not as much) and to prepare you if it happens anyway. Here we go!

I am not anti-cop but please don’t pull me over. Read the rest of this article here.

Business Owners: Don’t Freak Out This Tax Season!

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Originally published on February 9th, 2017.
Article published on Businesszone.co.uk.

As a few of us Businesszone.co.uk writers are actually American, I feel it’s a good time to write . Many of us get excited for this time of year because we look forward to the returns. However, if you’ve never done your taxes as a business owner, you might be freaking out a little bit internally. It’s natural that first-time tax filers are going to be nervous about such an intimidating process, but armed with the right information, taxes aren’t as difficult as they may initially seem!
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a good amount in one place as a sort of “self help sheet”. If you have things to add to it, let me know on Twitter @Robolitious and I’ll see what I can do!

1. Find the Tax Specifics and Restrictions For Your Kind of Business
A sole proprietorship is a lot different than an LLC or a partnership, and corporations are another story altogether. The government obviously recognizes that, and so it matters what you file your taxes under (as in, what kind of business you claim to be), and you don’t want to wait until last minute if you don’t know the stipulations and kind of forms you need for your particular company. That said, different expenses are also tax deductible in different ways. For instance: there’s two options for taxing on auto expenses (for businesses with company drivers), to deduct business-related expenses or claim the standard mileage rate. And both of those are different than travel expenses. Those are only a couple of examples of specifics you may need to look into, and there’s a really good write up on it all that you can read here, which I highly recommend. But that brings up the topic of keeping track of all income and outcome…

You can read the rest of this article by clicking right here!

Album Review: Chixdiggit – “2012”

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Originally published on December 25th, 2016 (Merry Christmas I guess?).
Article is property of Dying Scene.

Chixdiggit, Canada’s premier pop punk band (Sum forty-wha?), and composers of classic love songs such as “I Wanna Hump You” and “Where’s Your Mom?” are back with “2012”, the longest Fat Wreck song since NOFX’s “The Decline” (I think?), which they happily put to shame clocking in at 25 minutes. An autobiography of the band’s 2012 tour, Chixdiggit up the ante with this one, covering the little details all while playing their simple brand of punk rock they’ve been known for over the last twenty years.

Through this release, a variety of topics are covered, all under the banner of silly punk rock in the same vein as the Ramones. The song/record/whatever starts off in Amsterdam, and travels to Edmonton, San Francisco, and more, finally ending in Victoria. The thing that’s so loveable about Chixdiggit is their ability to make everything about these places funny. Constant praise of abstract hot spots like Trader Joe’s, Nimrod Land, and an unnamed coffee place by Whole Foods paint a fun story for each place they went.

I gave this album 4/5 stars. You can read the whole review here.

Ways To Avoid Losing Your Mind While On Tour

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Originally published on February 8th, 2017.
Article is property by the good folks at Work in Entertainment.

This March, I’m going on my first full US tour.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this, but maybe I should be dreading sitting in a van with at least four other people for hours and hours at a time for an entire month. I’m trying to think of ways not just to keep myself occupied, but to keep me from killing everyone else I’ll be in close proximity to day-in and day-out.

I rattled my brain to think of what I’ve done on shorter tours in the past, and what friends of mine have done on longer tours to keep themselves sane, and I think I put together a pretty good list.

You can be the judge of that, though.

Check the rest out over at Workinentertainment.com!

 

Opinion: What Things are Opposing Progress for Millennials?

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Originally published on February 1st, 2017.
Picture is credited to thestorefront.com.
Article is property of Colocation America.

We’re Out of Funds

Millennials in the US are earning 20 percent less than baby boomers did at this time in their lives. I’m not qualified to give an in depth hypotheses to why this is, but I would guess that a lot of it has to do with things like student debt, cost of living increases, and just the tattered state of the economy and the market all together.

This is a problem that has no good answers, and no matter how much baby boomers and responsible Generation X-ers want to blame our irresponsible spending and lack of respect, we can’t take all of the blame. In fact, Millennials are actually pretty good with money, studies show.

As important as things like college are, we can barely afford it. And it’s rare to get into a high paying job or important management position without a degree—most well known entrepreneurs have MBAs, and not all of us are even afforded that chance! It just is not as simple as it sounds.

This is one point of three. Read the rest here!

6 Essentials for your Band’s Website

Originally published on January 31st, 2017.
Article is property of Dozmia.

I recently bought a domain name, solidifying the officiality of my record label’s website. I had to do some research and read some articles about how to properly build a website, as well as promote it.

Maybe you’re in the same place I am though, and, now that you have a website, you’re in need of some instruction as to the semantics.

I’ve tried to think of every essential you and I might need for our music websites, and thus I’ve been analyzing other musician and label sites to make sure I have all the necessary details. Of course I’m not expecting you or I to get on some crazy “best designed websites ever” list, but I think we can be professional enough to not make a “worst websites” list, right? We can be good without going too fancy.

Read the list here!

More Money, More Problems!

Originally published on January 27th, 2017.
Article is property of Music Think Tank.

Often times, people look at their band/music project as an endless money pit. They view it as impossible to break even. However, I’d argue that over time, breaking even is pretty attainable. A lot of young bands don’t pay enough attention to money – they give up early and view their losses as necessary evils for the sake of “the game,” so to speak. And they also give way too much away for free. That’s fine if free merch is your thing and you’re not concerned with breaking even (in fact, I think that’s noble of you). But if the reason you’re doing that is due to an idea that success comes only from terrible losses, I think you’re wrong. You can start making money now, and it’ll probably help you to continue your music henceforth.

Price Your Merch at Cost (at least)

This is the most obvious of the bunch but breaking even starts with keeping track of how much your merch items cost to manufacture. That goes for your recording costs as well, even though that can be hard to break even on. But the point is: keep track of your expenses, and for each item, charge what you paid for it or above. Personally, I think it’s good to charge more than you paid for each item if you’re trying to break even on recording as well, or gas if you’re on tour. Sometimes payouts aren’t very much. So know how much you need to pay off for other expenses as well – that’s what will help ensure you are able to keep doing this whole music thing.

Read the rest at the MTT website here!

A Gigging and Tour Prep Checklist for your Band

Originally published on January 25th, 2017.
Article is property of Dozmia.com.

I’ve written about this before, so for the sake of not being too redundant, your first tour could very possibly be a disaster. Granted, all of those rough and smelly experiences will be looked back on hilariously later, and you’ll probably consider it to be the time of your life. Realistically, though, it’ll most likely be a mess, despite the fun you have. So to avoid the most collateral damage you possibly can, I’ve written you up a checklist to go through before you take off for your first show.

1. Bring Enough Money to Not Make Any.
When you plan a vacation, you make sure you can afford it, right? Treat this first run as a vacation. You’ll make a little money off your shows and merch, but things happen: vans break down and get broken into, promoters flake, and shows get cancelled. Road misfortune costs money, and not to say all of the things I just listed will happen, but they are pretty common. If you are able to guarantee a payout (see below), that’s awesome, but sometimes the person promoting the show will screw you over for one reason or another. I know tour managers who have literally had to follow promoters to an ATM to ensure they get paid. The moral of the story is to be wary and bring enough.

Read the rest right here!

Staying Sharp on Tour

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Originally published on January 17th, 2017.
Article is property of my friends at Pyragraph.

Okay, so you’re going on tour for a good amount of time. Maybe that’s two weeks, maybe that’s a month. A lot of people I know use nights to drink and van rides to sleep. I like drinking and I love sleeping (especially on long drives). But having hours and hours of downtime, as well as visiting new places, gives a lot of opportunity for personal growth. Every band shows each other new music, and every band has deep, personal conversations about life and differing opinions and experiences. But when everyone’s silent, what are you doing to keep yourself smart?

Read an actual book.
The most obvious one here is to read an actual, stupid, real life book (it is 2017 and Kindles do count as well). There aren’t many ways to become as attentive, learn a variety of perspectives and opinions, and grow yourself artistically as reading. Reading is healthy. Fiction, biographical novels, history, studying—it’s the best way to grow your mind.

Watch movies.
Movies, to me, offer a lot of what books can. While it can get draining to watch a lot of movies at once, there’s a variety of thought and creative ideas in movies and TV shows. I took a movie analysis class in high school where I was taught to pick out key themes and messages in movies and film and then critically evaluate them. But you don’t need a class to teach you how to ask questions like, “What is this saying about the world?” and “Do I agree?” I recommend finding a list of must-see movies you, in fact, haven’t seen most of, and going through them on a longer tour (if you can download them or use 4G in the van).

Check out the rest here!