A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Archive for the ‘pr’ Category

It’s March Already

Wow, time has flown. I’m almost at the end of my first Berklee Music paper which is Music Publishing 101 and have been really enjoying it. I knew from past experience that this means self discipline in getting my readings done and getting assignments in on time, but it is so worth it.

Anyone who has studied subjects they were passionate about at university, knows how much you gain from them, and how they can move your career forward. The only catch now is that I have a list of so many things that I need to do asap, that the course has shown me, that I am wondering how I can start on my next paper and do all of those things at the same time.

Amongst the things I need to do is complete all the administration for my song catalogue and have everything in files so that I can access them on demand. This includes archives of Lyric Sheets, Split Sheets (only one song is a collaboration so far, so that’s not a biggie), copies of each song demo on disk in MP3 and CD format, with liner notes and much more.

One area I didn’t really consider or know how to deal with was TV and Film. New Zealand is obviously very successful in the film industry, but I also learned in my research that publishers such as Mushroom Music NZ has had real success in publishing to local and international TV, so they are on my contact list.

I have decided that I need to re-record every song demo for all songs that are on my A and B lists, before I make contact with people like Mushroom, because I want them to be impressed with my writing and not ruin chances by providing A&R people with hastily recorded demo’s, recorded within minutes of completing writing of songs on my Tascam Digital 8 Track. I have also decided that I should record more of my guitar  music arrangements as they are very good, but I have never considered them as having commercial value.

Of course this is all money and time, but if I want to have a music career as a songwriter and composer, I need to get seriously organized and treat it as a business.

So next steps. I had a meeting with APRA last week, which was very helpful. I was looking for advice, but also to let them know that I am working hard on my craft and music education and looking to go ahead in the industry. I put in an application for a grant to attend the Song Summit in Sydney in June and also inquired about next year’s music grants. Currently I am studying my Bachelor of Songwriting degree online, but I can’t complete the full degree online and the cost to travel from New Zealand to study in Boston MA, with accommodation etc is very high, so I am hoping that when the time gets closer I can get some local support to make the trip.

Another challenge I have is staying in touch with the industry and really getting to know it well, locally and internationally. This means reading magazines that you can’t buy locally. These include Country Music Magazine from Australia and of course Billboard from the USA.  New Zealand is really bad when it comes to accessibility to international music magazines, so this means more money to get subscriptions and of course time to read the magazines. There are of course loads of great websites, including the ones for the magazines I just mentioned, this also means more time for reading and research.

I haven’t done any gigs for a couple of months, because this also takes time for practice and the gigs themselves, but I really need to fit this in as well, not to mention writing new songs!

So loads of work to do, money to find for recording, artists to find to record my songs, because I can’t do them full justice myself. In between I have a full time job, a family, a mortgage and other commitments, but they say if you want something done, give it to someone who is busy.

What I need now is a winning Lotto ticket so that I can focus on my music instead of working 50 hours a week in my day job.

The bottom line is that if you want to be a success in this industry you need to work hard and a little luck would be nice, but most of the time you need to make your own luck, by putting in the effort. I can’t remember who actually said it the first time, but it was along the lines of “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

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DIY Record Album Production lessons

Almost every time I’ve played a live gig, I get asked if I have a CD that people can buy and the sad and sorry answer is no, but here’s my card and you can visit my website at MySpace. Now there is my first error, you really should have your own website, but I haven’t found a CMS yet that is easy for me to use, but I will do soon. Anyway, even if you can’t afford to visit a studio, there are plenty of low cost tools that you can purchase, either software or hardware. I have both.  Now you can create your own CD.

I will also visit Go Daddy one of these days and get my own URL, which you can easily link to your MySpace or other page until you have your own. They only charge $9.99 for a .com domain. If you listen to the great Musicians Cooler Podcast, he has a number of promo codes that will give you a discount off Go Daddy services.

I’ll wait until I use up most of my business cards which have the MySpace address on it.

Anyway, back to the story. I bought myself a Canon iP4500 printer which will print directly on printable CD’s. It was very cheap and did a great job, except it doesn’t print all the way into the hole of the CD, which is a minor dissapointment. I checked the settings and they are set to the closest it will go.

I spent quite a lot of time on the image I wanted on the label and also making sure it was consistent with the insert cover and the theme of the Album which is Greenhouse. I thought I’d be able to find some good templates on Microsoft Publisher but was sorely dissapointed. Fortunately at a sale last week I found a software package called CD Covers and Labels for Dummies, which was as simple and simplistic as you would expect, but awesome value for $5! So I as able to use their templates and my images.

I put the title on the CD label and also in smaller print on the bottom Copyright Luigi Cappel 2009.

I worked out the order of the tracks I wanted, which I listed on the Album insert. I didn’t put in the song times, which I will probably do on the next batch, because if any of these do find their way to a radio station, they will want to know how long the tracks play for.

When I went to burn the CD’s using Sonic Digital Media Plus v7, I found (having wasted 3 CD’s) on testing them that the software had reordered the tracks alphabetically which meant I had to solve this problem because I wanted the tracks in the specific order to keep it relevant and interesting to the listener and I had already printed the inserts including the track listing. To solve this, I used the Rename function and numbered them in front of the song title. Now we were sweet.

Printing the labels was easy, although cutting them to size was a pain. I used fairly heavy paper so that it would look professional and not try to slide out of the case when it was opened. I used a guillotine and found it really hard to get the edges exactly right. Next time I’ll use a straight edge and a craft knife, which will be much easier. Also you need something for the back to fold the little edges which are the titles that you can see from the side.  Detail is important as even though the CD’s are home made I want them to look professional. The only thing missing is the shrinkwrapping, which I will have done later when I create more volume. There are plenty of places that will shrinkwrap for you very cheaply.

So just to go over the presentation. The front cover is consistent with the concept of the album. This album is called The Greenhouse Demo’s, because the songs are demo’s and Greenhouse is the title of Track 4. The cover art is a picture of a big block of Franz Joseph Glacier ice that is melting at a rapid pace. The title is very easily read on both the CD label and the insert.

On the inside of the isert I have a photo of myself (because the listener can’t late to you if they don’t know what you look like and the album is about building a fan base) holding a huge block of glacial ice which has melted and been washed away in the icy river.

On the back I put another picture of myself, this time standing on White Island which is an active ocean volcano and represents the global warming and the yin and yang of hot and cold. The other crucial data I put on the back is my email address and URL so that people can make contact with me, probably one of the most important things of all.

All in all, it was pretty simple. Everyone should have an album available, even if it’s home made, whenever you perform. I’m really pleased with how mine turned out and it looks more professional in my humble opinion than some that I have seen, made by ‘professionals’.

As a footnote, I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts yesterday while I was vacuuming the pool. it is Music Business Radio. The interview was with Meiko, who I strongly recommend as a good listen. I love the song Boys with Girlfriends. Anyway, on the podcast they have a section called Dave’s Demolition Derby where they get their guests to review 3 songs hat listeners have sent in for critique. I can’t remember her Manager’s name but he used to be an A&R man and made the comment that Record Companies and others get loads of unsolicited CD’s in the mail and some of them look really cheap and nasty.  If you hae to pick a few of them for a quick listen, which one do you think will get an airing, the one with a CD which someone has written on, something like My Cool Song, or one that looks like it was purchased of the shelf of your favorite CD store?

one-cube2

Another Stretch in Iraq, my Christmas Song

December is only hours away and I have just entered my song Another Stretch in Iraq into the Paramount Group’s Christmas Song Competition. Why enter a song about a soldier going back to the Iraq War?

I couldn’t think of anything more poignant than soldiers in the field opening up a parcel from home which has a miniature Christmas Tree in it. The men and women will be thinking of home, wishing they could be with their friends and family, just as they would have at Thanksgiving. Just as their families and friends are thinking of them, wishing they were at home, hoping they will come home safe, sound and soon.

The concept of soldiers going to war with pictures of their loved ones helping them keep it together and coming home finding their loved ones have moved on in their absence is not unusual and while it is tough, the strength and security of knowing your fellow soldiers have your back is in a sense even stronger than your home relationship because their support can be the difference between coming home alive or in a body bag. The memories of experiences in the field can not be fully understood by those who have not served in the field of war. The worry of those at home waiting and praying for their men and women is also a unique feeling, worrying every time the mail is late or the doorbell rings late at night.

So while my Christmas song is not about sleigh bells ringing or Santa coming down the chimney, it is about love and family, about fellowship and trust and about being alive, that special way of feeling alive in a world of uncertainty.

Now I haven’t been to war, I’ve been lucky to have come of age between wars, but plenty of my family members have served in times of peace and war.

I did spend 6 months or so researching it and the reaction of men who served in Desert Storm when I performed it in the US last year suggest that I managed to capture some of the feelings.

It must be pretty tough for someone to want to go back to the Bradley (personnel carrier)

Id rather have my Bradley

I'd rather have my Bradley

and the MRE rations (Made Ready to Eat) having gone home to the girl or guy they felt they were fighting for and finding they now love someone else. But the story has probably happened a hundred times to soldiers in the last year and to thousands before them.

So, I give to you and the judges of the Paramount Group songwriting contest, Another Stretch in Iraq and hope that they see my Christmas Song entry as a piece written full of respect for the men and women whose blogs I read and commented on at the Milblogging Site and the diaries of Desert Storm which told their story in their own words. This isn’t a song of war, but a song of people who do what they feel they must and what they feel.

Merry Christmas to all those brave people fighting and peacekeeping on their missions around the world. You and your families have my deepest respect. May your stretch be short and your Christmases with your families holding each other around  the tree be many.

Another Stretch in Iraq

(you can listen at MySpace)

©Luigi Cappel 2007

1

I was walking on an empty street

My feet were marching to a lonely beat

I had you on my mind.

I kept on walking though my feet were sore

There was no procrastinating I could take no more

I wanted to leave you far behind.

I served my time on the sand in Iraq

While you were making hay with my good friend Mark

How could I have been so blind?

Thinking of you helped me keep my cool

Little did I know you played me for a fool

Feel like I’m gonna lose my mind.

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Sit-rep says its all haywire

Its home where I got shot by friendly fire

I’m going back

Home is where I thought I wanted to be

Now I’d rather have my Bradley and an MRE

Even in Iraq

Bridge

It’s a strange old world we’re living in

Don’t know who you can trust

Don’t know where to begin

Now I’m gonna live my life one day at a time

So its Christmas time and the desert is cold

My life is with the army if the truth be told

They’ve got my back

My mom and dad sent a little Christmas tree

They said that they were praying for the boys and me

They said get yourself back on track

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you know someone who would appreciate this blog, please send them a link. Please feel free to leave a comment, I always welcome feedback. If you are inspired by this, check out the links, its not too late to contribute to a Christmas Parcel. The guys who blog at Milblogging also appreciate feedback and knowing that even total strangers are thinking of them. Finally wish me luck with my Paramount Song Competition entry, I’m keen to grow my career as a songwriter and a competition like this could be a leg up.

About Songness and music upload sites

I’m always interested in checking out new sites where you can post your music and when I heard about Songness, I think from The Musicians Cooler podcast, I thought I’d sign up. Just a quick digresson. Dave Jackson over at the Musician’s Cooler has some awesome podcasts and if you have an iPod or other way of listening to MP3’s are strongly recommend you subscribe. He has great guests and excellent information if you are tryin to grow your business. He also has an excellent eBook which I have purchased myself called Get Your Band out of the Basement and Keep Them out of the Asylum and if you are putting a band together or wanting to keep it together, this is a great investment. I got the Audiobook version which I listened to in the car.

I posted my new song onto Songness called Watch Me Daddy a couple of weeks ago, so far not a single listen. On the Homepage it says that each song will be rated by up to 200 registered fans. You get an audience report for free and loads more. 

The concept sounds really good, (the concept doesn’t sound at all, but I guess this shows that even subconsciously I’m an auditory person) but I suspect that it is still at the prototype stage, so hopefully things will happen. There are still sections of the site that have word fillers, you know the latin words that developers use to show where the words are going to go. 

One of the key things if you want to post music on these kinds of site, is to listen and comment to others. Generally, just like MySpace, the more you contribute, the more you get back. The challenge is where to spend your energy. An example on MySpace is Em-J Taylor, who writes on her page that she spent 2 years promoting herself on the web. With over half a million plays, you would have to think she has been reasonably successful.

I have music on lots of sites and will share some information about them in future blogs. You never know where an opportunity will come from and each site tends to have it’s loyal followers.

One thing that I did recently was to create a spreadsheet so that I can see all the sites that I have music on, what songs or videos I have on each site and when I last visited. That way I can monitor what I’m doing and also check out the number of listens so that I can see the effectiveness of the work.

One thing I am big on is sincerity. There are companies who will send out ‘friend requests’ representing that they are you and helping you build a huge ‘fan base’. I am against this and like Em-J, I do my own friend requests and when someone invites me to be their ‘friend’ I will listen to their tracks and leave a comment. I would rather have 500 fans who would come to my gigs than a million who really don’t know who I am and don’t care. They are just numbers. 

Listens do count, if they are real. It’s possible to create false listens, but again, what’s the point, are you trying to look good under false pretences or are you trying to build a fan base so you can go on tour and have people come who already know who you are and like your music. 

Just a comment here, these are my opinions and you may believe otherwise. That’s great and you are welcome to argue your case here by leaving your own comments. There is no absolute right in this industry.

I’ve had a few people send me ‘friend requests’ at MySpace after reading my blog and I welcome that. Please do come and listen to me on MySpace, or maybe even give Songness a try. You can find me there, only one song at this stage, because I didn’t want to put any more effort in at this stage untilI see if it is justified.

So that’s me for now, bookmark or RSS this page and come back some time:)

Take lots of photos of you and your band

You never know when a photo will be useful. It might be photos for your tracks, an album cover, photos for your bio or web page.

Many web sites where you post your music, like MySpace for example, let you post photos with your tracks and so many people use the one photo for all tracks, which is boring. Boring reduces interest value.

If it’s a photo for your Press Kit or EPK, I recommend that unless you have a great photo, get a portrait photo done by a professional photographer. It could be the classic head and shoulders, or you doing something. You should at least have one clasic shot because it says you are mature and professional and you treat your music career as your business.

Shots for Facebook like this one, which my daughter took of me playing in Montego BayLuigi Cappel performing in Montego Bay

Luigi Cappel performing in Montego Bay

in Jamaica are fun shots, but not good enough quality for professional use.

If you are going to use shots in relation to a song or for an Album cover, make sure they are relevant, if it’s a song about a beach, like my song Muriwai Beach, then show a photo of Muriwai Beach. When I record my album Greenhouse, I have a photo of me holding a very large chunk of ice in my hand at Franz Joseph Glacier. The glacier is melting away with global warming and fits nicely with the title song which is also called Greenhouse. You can hear it at Music Forte.

If you don’t have a performance video, then video slide shows are a great way to add your songs to sites like Youtube. This one was done for me by my friend Noel of Powershows. In this case he supplied the images from his photo library.

There are lots of plug ins for websites like Photo Bucket which I use on my MySpace page. It lets you have some fun and easily put up a slide show. Photos add interest to your web page, especially a slide show, which attracts attention. It also helps people connect with you and feel like they know you a little. It makes them want to come back, or leave a comment, its about developing a relationship.

Even if you don’t need them now, take them anyway, you will find good uses for them. Take a camera to your gig and even if you don’t have anyone you know there, someone will take it for you.

Do you know who your fans are part 2.

Following on from yesterday, I wanted to cover a few more ideas, because first of all it is about the song, but someone has to hear it and if you know who is going to like your music, then you can influence the chance that they will find it.

So here are some more questions to ponder:

What hobbies do they spend money on?

Where do they live? Why not try to get gigs near the right demographic? If you play death metal, it might be in working class area (crass generalisation I know that many death metal fans are well educated but generalisations have some degree of fact). If you play country, then a rural tour might be on for you. You should have an idea of where your fans live. Or at least where a higher percentage do.

What do they drink? If they have a favourite tipple, that might help. For example if they are students burning the candle at both ends, you could look at getting Red Bull to sponsor your gig. They could help promote it and offer deals. If they are farming people for country music, Speights might be the go. When you ask for a lot of money, for example to sponsor a tour, you have to get in early so they can budget for it if they are keen, but if you only want some product and promotion for a gig, it can be pretty easy. The thing to do is tell them what’s in it for them and ask. It’s often that simple. Just remember that can offer something to them, you just have to figure out what that is. At he very least its visibility and if you have done your homework, you will know what it is.

What radio stations do they listen to? There are many ways of getting attention from radio stations if you use some smarts, even if you are unsigned and they are not playing your music. I might have a look at this topic in the future in more depth.

What TV shows do they watch? TV is a bit harder to get to, but if they are young and watch the music channels. In New Zealand it might be MTV, Juice TV, Alt TV, you will be surprised at how easy it is to get some support from them. Wherever you are, there are similar local stations who want to know about local acts. Check out what exposure other bands or artists similar to you are getting. Ask the band or artist, ask the station, don’t forget they have to have shows and videos. If it’s summer, have a beach party and invite Juice TV to send a crew over. You are a songwriter, use some of your creativity to find novel ways to make things happen. Write a song about the beach party that you are inviting them to and send it to them. Have them in the song.

I had a sales rep working for me a few years ago. He was from London and had that Cockney patois and wanted to make things happen. Within a couple of weeks he had his own show on our local MTV. All he had to do is ask.

What magazines and newspapers do they read? I’ve talked about PR before and will again in the future. If you know the types of magazines your fans read then you know where to send your Press Releases.

Where do they go on holiday? A couple of years ago I was in Raglan, (you can hear the story on my Music Forte page, the song is called Raglan Rain) and there was a guy who I recognised from New Zealand Idol running around the small town putting mini posters on all the shop windows that would let him, promoting a gig he had that night in one of the cafe/bars. Unfortunately I can’t remember his or his bands name, I guess I’m not the right demographic. Obviously he had decided that the surfing and artsy type of people that hang out in this famous surfing area where his target market and was now doing everything he could to get lots of people to his gig.

The great thing about what he was doing was

  • He had indeintified where his target market could be fiound on a Saturday night
  • He visited all the shops (probably around 50), got most of them to put his mini posters in the window and spent time talking to the locals.
  • His venue was the only one with live music at night so once everyone knew it was on, he was pretty much guaranteed a crowd.

I drove past that night and the bar was full of people having a great time. They all paid a door charge and the band would have not only had a great night with people who liked their music, they also made a profit on their gig.

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