events/ workshops/ networking/recording for Smart Musicians


Caro C – Tips on creating a magic live music performance guest post

on Feb 6, 2014 in Articles, How to |

BLOG POST 3 – The gig itself Here we are at the point of actually getting on with the gig itself. Maybe surprising, we only got to this point at blog post 3 out of 4 which shows how much other stuff is involved in performing whilst maximising on every opportunity to share your thing with other people. Previous posts 1 & post 2 if you would like to pick up the threads of my mental meanderings Again, disclaimer and caveat that I am mainly writing from the perspective of a solo performer though I have been known to collaborate and share my stage with others. So, how to do your best to deliver a magic live performance? One that is memorable, captivates, enchants, moves (emotionally and/or physically). And that is therefore likely to bring in new supporters and listeners and let’s face it, consumers of your music – always a bonus. Strike a balance I feel I start the gig experience a lot more smoothly when I arrive on the time and allow time for traffic, parking, finding the location and the right door to get in. It may sound obvious but tends to be worth double checking the venue and location as some venues have similar names in a town or other such anomalies. I do try to stick to soundcheck times (with equipment set up time factored in) even though most often I am waiting around, you can guarantee if I get too lax about it then I will piss off the sound engineer who would have preferred to have come in an hour later too. Talking of soundies, cut them some slack to start with (unless they really are being a lazy, incompetent or a sexist git) and respect that it is their sound system and they should know it well. They usually work long hours and are subjected to many bands, artists and varying definitions of music on a daily basis. Be polite but not unassertive. Find a balance, gauge the situation, humour can help..If they seem arsey or uninterested it is not actually your problem, so don’t get involved or too bothered about it. Just do your job – get set up and...

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Five tips to kickstart your music career if you’ve never been on X Factor and you didn’t go to the BRIT school

on Oct 2, 2013 in Articles, Music Marketing |

Guest Post by Hazel Jane Maclaurin Piano poetess, singer-songwriter, lyrical obsessive and lover of life. Debut single ‘Keep the Change’ out 7/11/2013. Joking aside, it feels harder and harder to carve your own niche in the music industry today without some serious help or training. So what if you’re beyond school age and you don’t want to go down the talent contest route? Do you give up and settle for the day job? Do you try to bury your dreams under a mantra of ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘it’s too late’? Or do you keep going with no guarantee of reward or success? Well, if you want to make it, but you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, bemused, or even like you’re at square one, read on. This is meant to help. Tip #1 – Remember who you are Our culture really likes to put people into boxes, to categorise them – and there seems to be very clear definitions of what ‘success’ and ‘failure’ look like. And in music – whether you’re a singer, a songwriter, a musician, a producer, management, whatever – the difference between what most people think of as success and failure in the music industry is stark. Success means Adele-style mega-stardom (Adele was responsible for over 10% of UK music exports in 2011 – how’s that for a target to match). Failure means no income, no jobs, no prospects, and no hope. Disturbingly, non-musicians sometimes still equate non-megastar success with a lack of talent. Those within the artistic industries know that talent is an indicator, not a guarantor, of success. But hold on a minute – how does remembering who you are help this situation? Well, you know that saying, ‘to thine own self be true’? In my humble opinion, Oscar Wilde said it better. He said ‘you might as well be yourself – everyone else is already taken’. We already have an Adele. We already have a Rihanna. We’ve already had a Nina Simone, a Billie Holliday, a Sarah Vaughn, a Daphne Oram . And we’ve still got a Tori Amos, an Aretha Franklin, a Madonna…the list goes on. If you’re involved in another side of the music industry, substitute these names with your...

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Some of my musical Sheros

on Aug 23, 2013 in Articles, Smart Female Musicians and Producers |

Shero corner Daphne Orams 31st December 1925 ~ 5th January 2003 Originator and first director of the groundbreaking BBC radiophonics workshop. Most famous for the iconic Dr Who theme. When she was 20 Daphne got a job at the BBC working as Junior Studio Engineer and “music balancer” (She took this job instead of the place she had been offered at the Royal College of Music ) She was fascinated by electronic music and started a serious campaign with her bosses at the BBC to convince them to build their own electronic studio. In the meantime she was staying late into the night chaining the existing (early version) BBC tape machines together to create a makeshift studio, then taking it all apart before anyone else started work in the morning. The BBC got more interested and after commissioning Daphne and Desmond Briscoe to compose some some electronic sounds for their drama programs, finally founded the Radiophonic Workshop in the BBC’s Maida Vale studio in 1958. She is also credited with creating one of the first synthesiser and sequencers. “It represents the first time in England that someone had built a device that was capable of synthesis and composition at the same time,” Dr Mick Grierson director of the Daphne Oram Collection. It was called the Oramics and could translate drawings (executed on to 35 mm film ) into audio. She developed the Oramics with engineer Graham Wrench starting with virtually no budget, one of the early versions of this proto synthesizer used an old commode for the machine body and a broom handle for part of the tensioning mechanism. She eventually got some funding from the gulbenkian foundation, £4,500 in all, to complete it. The first drawn sound composition using the machine, entitled “Contrasts Essonic”, was recorded in 1968. The Science museum now has the Oramics in its collection, sadly they have decided it is too fragile to restore to working condition but it will be on show from June this year, they have also commissioned an Iphone Oramics app.daphneoram.org Sourceshttp://www.soundonsound.com Oram click for more Sister Rosetta Tharpe One cool cat, Carol Kaye Legendary bass player Carol Kaye I just wanted to big up one of my all time...

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Recording Drums with Caitlin

on Mar 9, 2013 in Articles, How to |

Drums? They come out of a plugin these days don’t they? Surprisingly even some of the most processed acts find a greater connection with their audiences with real drummers; even playing samples. The visual impact is awesome and the microsecond timing fluctuation of any human is rather like sugar to many people’s ears. Even the Olymipcs featured drumming to great effect. I’ve been a drummer since I was 14, I’ve worked the pub circuit in the Greater Manchester area for several original and party covers bands. I went on to study the drums under Darryn Farrugia at Drum Tech in London, am an Associate of the Trinity College London and most recently played for an all girl Mötley Crüe tribute band, Mötley Künst. I got my first recording experience when my high school drum teacher took a group of us into a studio in an industrial unit with a walk through live room, control room to the rest and a relaxation area in the upper floor of the unit. Happily, I’ve since lost the tape of my shy face worrying about the camera lens and the shock of getting to play a pro drum kit. Since then I’ve done sessions for several indie bands and through Mötley Künst with Felix at her studio in London. (Künst is of course German for “Art”) So, here’s a run down of what I consider to be studio vitals to prep for tracking drums to get the very best in the shortest time. Everyone knows that drums are the easiest instrument to play so that part is fairly trivial. Provided the drummer can be confident and relaxed, the performance is simple. The following are thing that can be planned ahead of time to make sure the drummer *IS* confident and relaxed. Sit at the drums and wiggle some things. Don’t play; just move cymbals and pedals and the seat and toms and listen for any noises. Squeaks and wiggles here will all be audible on your tracks. Oil your pedals and seat components so they’re smooth and quiet. Make sure you have decent felts and tube sleeves for your cymbals and that the stands are all solid. Why risk ruining a great take...

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I’m in with the in crowd – Crowd Surfing to Crowd Sourcing

on Mar 2, 2013 in Articles, Music Marketing |

We artists are famous for being long on creativity and short on funds. Lack of money can stop us in our tracks – indeed, lack of money can just plain stop the tracks (pun intended).   Crowdfunding (aka crowdsourcing or crowdsource funding) removes this barrier and empowers musicians by empowering their fans (in this scenario, ‘pledgers’). The idea is that everybody wins – pledgers gain exclusive access to their favourite artists and get to ‘collaborate with’ them rather than being ‘marketed at’; artists build a stronger relationship with pledgers which sets them up for a long-term career, and, crucially, get the money upfront to fund their project from people who believe in it.   Unsurprisingly, the independent artist has a choice of crowdfunding platforms to utilise, all promising the biggest amount of traffic and the most generous pledgers. The top four artists should check out are Kickstarter, WeFund, Indiegogo and PledgeMusic. So which is best for the independent musician?   Kickstarter   Amanda Palmer made big news in the music world when she fully funded her new album, artbook and worldwide tour through She was the first artist to raise $1,000,000 via crowdsourcing and her pledge video ‘This is the future of music’ clearly shows her rationale behind the strategy. But there is a cautionary sting in the tale, and it goes by the name of Bjork. Bjork cancelled her ‘Biophilia’ apps project ten days in because she hadn’t reached a fifth of her target.   There’s a crucial difference between these projects. Amanda Palmer was offering pledgers a raft of exclusive stuff before anything had been made. But Bjork followed the model of ‘marketing to’ her fans instead of collaborating with them. By the time she set up her Kickstarter fund, the Biophilia album was out, she’d been on tour, and even the remix album was old news. Would fans really fund a Windows 8 and Android app of Biophilia for the sum of £375,000 after they’d bought the merch and album and been to the concert? Really? Would you?   Kickstarter is the biggest fish in the crowdsourcing pond and therefore it generates the greatest levels of traffic. If you want to fund your music through...

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