Monthly Archives: October 2007

Indie Bands | Do it yourself

By Mark Ippersiel

[ad#inpost]I was fumbling around with a steam cleaner at 6am on a sunday morning when I had a eureka, this-could-be-a-post moment!  What does a steam cleaner have to do with drums, music or being in a band?  Well absolutely nothing, but the reason I was messing with it was that it was broken and I had been trying to fix it myself.

I guess I have been getting more adventurous lately at fixing things.  Perhaps I am gaining more confidence in myself as I get older, or maybe I’m getting too cheap to have things repaired!  Either way I have been “hands on” on some varied household projects in the last few years:  original xbox repair and clean (success), Laptop fan cleaning (success), 1st attempt at recording mixing and mastering a 6 song demo in Pro Tools for the first time (success for the most part)….but I think I will have to chalk this steam cleaner up as a loss.

The phrase is so empowering – “Do it yourself”.  Simple right?  Most of the repairs/projects I mentioned above were accomplished through some common knowledge,  some knowledge gained via internet (tonnes out there) and sometimes I even resorted to buying a book to learn a thing or two (so old school).

So the benefits of course are saving money and learning a thing or two…pretty obvious right?  Maybe you can find an affinity for something and turn it into a second income (computer repair) so that you can pay to play at your next gig (take that with a ton of sarcasm). Oh and lets not forget to mention that warm fuzzy feeling, the glow, the pride you have standing there knowing you fixed something yourself (and bragging rights to all the doubters who told you you couldn’t do it).

But if I may bring a heavy dose of reality into this for a moment, there is sadly another side to this whole DO IT YOURSELF thing.  You cannot get anything for free my friend.  Sorry if you haven’t learned this yet in life, but you need to know it. The trade up for saving money is TIME.  Money and time just seem to go hand in hand don’t they?  Even if you work at McDonalds and you get paid minimum wage, your time is worth something. If you are a family person, then your time is also worth something to your family (consider it double scale)!  Yes, your time is important. Just because you are not Donald Trump don’t sell yourself short.

We all only have a finite amout of time on this earth and it is always possible to get money back, or even have someone lend you money, and you can even win money, but you will never get time back, you will never have more time than you have right now.  A sobering thought for sure.

The worst case scenario is losing time and money. Starting something you can’t finish and either replacing the item, or sending it out for professional repair after spending a lot of personal time on it only leaves you with the “experience” and hopefully a lesson learned.

So before undertaking any project, a moment or two of thinking about how much time you are willing to invest is very wise.  Consider the project itself, do you have the space?  Do you have the tools?  Have you done any repairs in a simillar vein before (car repairs might be your bag but fixing a computer – not so much).  Also your prior commitments such as those 70 hours at McDonalds this week might make you think twice about how much “free time” you’d like to spend on a DIY project.

There is also the time frame for when you’d like the project completed.  If you only have one vehicle and it breaks down, you probably wouldn’t attempt to fix it yourself over a few weeks of trial and error.  Other things around the house might be able to wait, but for how long?

Also, is it really in you to do it?  Are you really a handy person or a hack? Are you the next Canadian Idol? Or a karaoke queen?  There is no shame in letting someone with expertise do what you cannot.  Do you want a mechanic to give you heart surgery?  Do you want a computer geek to neuter your dog?  Do you want a guitar player to lay down your drum tracks?  NO I didn’t think so.

I haven’t mentioned much about being a band so far, because I figured you can fill in the blanks.  Do you want to design your own web site or write songs?  Do you want to book your own gigs or pay an agent (so you can write those songs).  Do you want to put up the posters for your next gig yourself, or do you want to get drunk tonight? (thought I was going to say write songs didn’t you?).  The list goes on and on.  Obviously it doesn’t take a lot of expertise to put up posters, but it does take time.  Managing time well and delegating small tasks can help you get a lot done and spend time on the area in which your expertise resides.

So remember, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.  If it is broken, think long and hard about whether you can afford the cost (your time) of fixing it yourself.  They say that if you represent yourself in court you have a fool for a lawyer,  try not to have a fool for a (fill in the blank) as well.
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If you want to read more from Mark, make sure to visit his site all about drums.

Indie Bands don’t need a Record Deal

By Mike Ippersiel

[ad#inpost]The first battle ground for any independent band today is the internet. Getting the coveted major label record deal is pretty much a thing of the past – the labels are losing money and they don’t even pretend to ‘grow’ an artist anymore. You can have a one album deal, or even a two song deal, and if there isn’t an immediate ‘hit’ generated, you’re out the door before your ass warmed up a spot on the label roster. Banking your career on holding out for a record deal is the music industry equivalent of waiting to be struck by lightning.

What do you need a Record Label for anyway?

Back in the sixties a record deal meant getting your music on the radio and out to the people. Today, commercial radio is facing a lot of difficulties with internet and satellite radio (not to mention MP3 players). Consumers have learned that they can listen to what they want, when they want with little or no commercials – why go back?

While some may complain that we don’t have the ‘sweet’ record deals anymore, we do have something that more than makes up for it: the internet.

In my last series of articles (Why Your Band Needs A Web Site 1 – 3) I gave some tips on how to get a web site going for your band with minimal dollars. I also touched on why it was important to have your own domain. Your band is more than an outlet for your musical or songwriting talents – it’s also a business.

Do It Yourself

Today’s successful musician has to do more than just write good songs, they have to know how to promote themselves, book shows, maintain a solid internet presence and build up their fan base by touring regularly and kicking butt onstage. But before you say, “Whoa, this music business stuff sounds like a lot of work!”, you can profit like never before with the internet.

Previously with a ‘good’ record deal you’d be paid perhaps ten cents per CD sold.  Now you can get as much as ninety-nine cents for a download of a single MP3 (or even more for a ring-tone). Put another way, you can sell ten times less and make the same amount of money as you would with a record label, or – you can sell the same amount and make ten times more money than you would with a record label!

The hard part is getting those sales. By remaining independent you’ll lose the advantage of having the big label’s marketing department flog your CD. On the plus side, you’ll have one-hundred per cent control over how you’re presented to the public. If you start small, work smart and work hard you can have an even bigger impact on your local region than a major label could get for you.

There’s no secret forumla to making it – no magic bullet. It’s all about hard work, persistence, acquiring knowledge and applying it to achieve your goals one at a time. Put in the hard work and you’ll reap all the rewards for yourself, and you won’t have to compromise your artistic integrity in the process.

Where to Start

I recommend checking out The Indie Band Bible by Mark Makoway (former guitarist of Moist).  It provides a wealth of information for someone looking to start a band, or get their band higher up the music industry food chain.  Another great idea that never seems to be mentioned to bands is to check out some business books.  A great way to ease into it is with a book like Starting an Online Business for Dummies.  These books are easy and fast to read, and informative.
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Indie Band Web Site Basics | Part 3

By Mike Ippersiel
 

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Last week, in Band Web Site Basics Part 2, I told you how to set up your own web site for next to nothing. The only potential drawback is you only get 50 megabytes worth of storage. Right now you can purchase gigabyte thumb drives for about $10 – so in comparison, 50mb sounds like nothing, but trust me – it’s enough.

The reason why you don’t need all kinds of storage on your site is that you no longer need to host multimedia files (i.e. music or video) yourself.  In the last five years there’s been a glut of companies that have come out of the woodwork that want to host them for you for free.

If you want to host hundreds of photos, shop around for the site that works best for you.  For starters there’s Flickr and Photobucket.  For videos there’s Youtube and Myspace. Why spend extra money to host files yourself when these sites will host for free? All you need to do is provide a link

People visit your site for the content, not the layout and design.  Think about it, when’s the last time you went to a store to check out the ceiling and floor tiles?  You don’t go to a store to check out the interior design – you go to make a purchase or see what’s on sale – the same applies to web sites as well. 

Your site needs to look professional; this is possible without a lot of the fancy bells and whistles that professional designers will offer you.  Save that money and put it towards something more important – like posters for your next show, or some merchandise.

Thanks for reading Band Web Site Basics, if you take what you’ve learned in these three articles and apply them, you’ll have your own web site fast for next to nothing. Also check out my free new 10 part video series called Band Website Secrets. Cheers!

Indie Band Web Site Basics | Part 2

By Mike Ippersiel 

Getting online

Okay, so you found a company that would sell you a domain name for a good price (I hope you didn’t spend more than $15 or so/year) – now what?  I promised you cheap webhosting and an easy to manage website, and now I plan to deliver – read on my friend.

Bare Bones Hosting

You can find free webhosting out there, but most of the time you’ll end up with cheesey ads on your pages.  Often new webhosting companies will start out free with no ads and then bring them out later- not cool.

Here’s my solution: create a blog site with a free program called WordPress.  What’s a blog site you ask?  In my opinion it offers the best features of content management, posts, pages and allows your readers to leave comments.

If you’ve created a Myspace page and customized it, you should have no problems working with WordPress.  Not only is it simple to use, there is plenty of documentation to explain the many features offered. 

Getting Started

  1. Sign up for an account at WordPress.com
  2. Start up a new blog – use the name of your domain (ie www.yourbandname.com)
  3. Choose a template that works for you

The result will be a blog hosted on the WordPress.com site, so the address will look like: www.yourbandname.wordpress.com.  To change this to yourbandname.com you need to ‘point’ your domain name to your WordPress site. You need to do this via the company that you purchased your domain name from.  The company I use  calls this feature “URL forwarding”, and also offers the ability to cloak the URL.  This means that anyone typing in my domain will not only be redirected to the wordpress.com site, but it will still look like my domain.com and not a wordpress.com subdomain.

When you’re done you’ll have something like the page I made for my band: www.omegaAD.ca

So now you have a web site and all it cost you was the price of a domain name.  You get 50mb free with wordpress.com – and that should be enough. Next time I’ll explain why. Also check out my free new 10 part video series called Band Website Secrets for more details.
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