Archive for band

Recording A Demo CD

Posted in Music Industry, Newbies, Recording Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2009 by Chris Bracco

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If you’ve ever been in a band, or attended any sort of event with local music, you have surely crossed paths with “demo cds.” Unsigned bands have been using these for decades, whether it be on vinyl, cassette or CD. They are an excellent promotional tool great to hand out to fans before, during and after shows.

Demos can be created in many different ways, but all too often bands are overwhelmed by the process and don’t even know where to get started. Here are some guidelines to head you in the right direction:

1) Pick the Recording Venue: Where are you going to set up shop? Do you have the cash to book studio time, or are you planning on recording from home? If home, try to find a room in the house that is relatively dead (low echo/reverberation). If you are a one man show (acoustic guitar/singer), recording from home would suffice. If you are a twelve man bassoon army, it may be worthwhile to save up some dough and hit up the studio.

2) Choose the Recording Method: This depends largely on your budget and your style of music. Hardcore punk band crunched for money? Record live. Pop music intending to be radio friendly? Multi-track that shite.

3) Choose Recording Equipment: If you book studio time, you should check out the studio prior to your recording session to see what kind of equipment you will be able to use. If you are looking to do a home job, there are several options both cheap and expensive:

– Super Cheap: Purchase a voice/mp3 digital recorder and stick it in the middle of the room. Results will probably be crappy, but if you have virtually no money to spend, it’s better than nothing!

– Cheap: Record one of your gigs. Talk to the sound guy and see if you can work out some deal to get a recording of your show. If possible, see if they can record straight from the mixer, that usually yields better results. Nice sound guys will do it for free 🙂

– Moderate: Rent/Purchase an 8 track recorder and some microphones. Recording equipment is pretty cheap nowadays, you can usually rent or purchase everything you need from your local music store. Ebay is a good resource as well for used gear. However, this could be difficult if you do not know how to set levels correctly or use EQ effectively. Do your homework before jumping into this option!

– Expensive: Buy a computer, audio interface (sound card), sequencing software (Pro Tools, Sonar, Cubase, etc) and some microphones and create your own budget home studio! Record into the sequencer, and either mix & master the tracks yourself or send them to a studio. This will run you at least a few grand, especially if you don’t have a sufficient computer for recording music. Check out Tweakheadz website for some excellent example home studios.

-Very Expensive: Book studio time. It’s expensive, but can yield great results for your demo. Just make sure you prepare thoroughly so you don’t have to book too much extra time to finish your project.

4) Mix & Master: Record labels and fans won’t expect your demos to sound perfect, so these steps are as critical as the actual tracking. If you can put together a rough mix by yourself, more power to you. If not, there are some studios that will offer mixing & mastering services for relatively low costs, just search around your town for them.



Digital Downloads — Penn State Gets It!

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Chris Bracco

As I strolled ignorantly to my theater class this afternoon, completely forgetting that it had been canceled, I decided to pick up a copy of PSU’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian. And I am SO glad I did, because I came across a very refreshing article.

Digital Downloads: City Lights, other music stores wary of future

To be honest, usually most of the articles that come out of our newspaper aren’t the highest caliber. But the author of this article really surprised me with her knowledge of the music industry! It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me because until today I had yet to meet someone at PSU with as much interest in the music industry as me. If you get me rambling about the music industry up here in Happy Valley, I usually get incessant nodding or eyes rolling from listeners — frankly, it seems like they would rather do a kegstand. Not that there’s anything wrong with kegstands… 🙂 Oh, college.

Anyway, here’s what I took away from the article (with occasional comments by me). Hopefully it is useful to you guys as well:

Digital Downloads
In the first article, author Alexandra Fletcher points out that the impact of digital downloading has finally struck good ol’ Happy Valley (aka Penn State University for those of you who had no idea what that meant 3 seconds ago).

The only local brick-and-mortar music store in the downtown area, City Lights, is predicting it will go out of business by next year due to the rising popularity of digital downloads.

Knowledge Drop:


There were 428.4 million albums sold nationwide in 2008, down from 500.5 million in 2007, according to Nielson Sound Scan. As for digital music, 844.2 million tracks sold in 2007, and in 2008 that increased to almost 1.1 billion…meanwhile, 65.8 percent of the 428.4 million albums sold in 2008, were purchased digitally, according to Nielson Sound Scan.


I’m sure most people reading this are already aware of these trends. Clearly the value of an album has diminished. DRASTICALLY. Why, you ask?

Alexandra goes on to quote local Roustabout! concert series promoter Jesse Ruegg, who believes that album value has decreased due to the recording industry’s business strategies throughout the 80’s and 90’s:


The art form of the album was abused as the industry ‘padded out’ an artist. The industry produced albums of 12 to 15 songs with mediocre songwriting, forcing consumers to pay ’18 bucks to find a few good tracks,’ Ruegg said.


An upside to consumers purchasing/stealing music via digital downloading is the leveling of the playing field. Indie artists & labels can distribute their music & merchandise through the same digital mediums the pro’s use!

Chenjerai Kumanyika, a Penn State grad student in entertainment & media studies, and former member of hip-hop group The Spooks, had some very insightful things to say about this:


This isn’t the first time the entertainment industry has had to change mediums. This is a time when listeners have more freedom to discern what’s good rather than have the music industry tell them what’s good…this is a time that has the potential to empower artists. Artists should try to use that power, and fans should recognize this as a time to choose.


I concur, Chenjerai. I concur.

Anybody remember the transformation from sheet music to vinyl records? Well, if you’re reading blogs then you are probably a bit too young. But you get the point. Change has occurred before, the industries have endured, who’s to say we cannot endure again?


Facebook Pulled a Fast One On Us!! >:(

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2009 by Chris Bracco

hey guys,

this post is just a short rant about Facebook’s decision to make their “pages” (which businesses, artists, and other organizations use) look exactly like a typical facebook profile.


What were they thinking? I don’t know about you guys, but I think this is absolutely awful. How are organizations supposed to differentiate themselves from individuals on Facebook now? Everybody looks the same, it’s absolutely ridiculous. What is the point of creating a “page” instead of just an individual profile now? You are getting the exact same features.

The only good to come of this is that page activity will be posted on the news feeds of their respective fans, and you can update your status….but those features could have been implemented without the format change! Now, my music player is all the way at the bottom of the page, squeezed into a little box….and so is my events widget & mailing list widget…these are most important to me, and now nobody will be able to see them unless they scroll down half a page!!! And i don’t know about you but I rarely click on those “tabs” towards the top that facebook claims are oh so convenient. People usually give a website a few seconds to find something to hook them in, how are organizations with facebook pages supposed to do this now? Its impossible.

you can go here to view all of the user comments about this new implementation…i encourage you to comment both here and on facebook, I am curious to see what you guys think!

I’m really interested in hearing what you guys think.


101 Band Promotion Ideas

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by Chris Bracco

I stumbled upon a great article for those of you interested in promoting a band. It really offers some great advice on how to get your band heard and appreciated by the public.

101 Band Promotion Ideas

I manage and play in 2 bands and have used many of these techniques successfully.

Here are the top 3 ideas that i believe can really boost a band’s recognition:

1. Join MySpace, add friends, leave comments, send messages!!!

   – Myspace is, hands down, the best way for an artist to get his/her music heard!!! So simple too! Just register, throw up some tracks, and add a zillion friends!! Send messages & leave comments asking people to commit a few minutes of their time to listen to your tracks and give feedback. People WILL do it, and you will see substantial results.

2. Put your myspace website link on EVERYTHING.

   – From t-shirts to stickers to demos to your friend’s arm, expose your myspace URL everywhere you can!! Best type of promotion, hands down.

3. Ask your local record/music shop to give away your free demo.

   – If you have a demo that you are trying to get heard, it is an excellent idea to give a bunch of copies to as many small, local music shops as you can. Ask the workers to hand them out for free as a “free gift” to complement whatever a customer has just bought. And make sure your Myspace link is on the demo somewhere!

These 3 marketing strategies will get your music heard and your band out there, and maybe even into the right hands.


The Mighty Beard of Rick Rubin

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2007 by Chris Bracco

Rick Rubin has recently been recruited as co-head of Columbia Records. Apparently Columbia does not enforce the dress code when it comes to musical geniuses, because Rubin looks pretty much like a homeless person. But don’t let his persona fool you – the man really is a genius. He has produced epic songs like “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” by The Beastie Boys, and “Walk This Way” By Run-DMC/Aerosmith.

Columbia is hoping that Rick will solve all of their problems, and then some. He’s got some big ideas, just take a look at this great article:

The Music Man


Getting a Handle on Compression

Posted in Newbies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2007 by Chris Bracco

For some reason, compression was just one of those things for me that I just could not grasp right away. Ratios, thresholds, limiters, maximizers, attack, release…..I didn’t want any part of it. I just figured that compression was something that HAD to be done on a track, and I would just select a preset I THOUGHT sounded nice, and that was that. Little did I know, I was being a total ignorant jerkass. And my music sounded like shit.

Found this article a while back, really helped me grasp the basic functions of a typical compressor:

I really like the analogy that he uses:

A compressor is like a little man who sits there with a remote control for the volume. Every time he hears the sound is too loud he turns the volume down until it’s quieter and then he turns it back up.

your welcome. 🙂


Blue University

Posted in Recording Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2007 by Chris Bracco

While browsing the homerecording BBS the other day, i stumbled across a post that linked me to a place called Blue University. This is an absolutely incredible site if you want to learn about Blue Microphones and the process of recording. Sign-up is free, and the “curriculum” is seperated by degrees. It goes from B.A.S. Level to M.A.S. Level to PhD. Level, and you can take whichever ones you want (take ’em all!).

Sure, since this is being offered by the Blue Microphone company there are going to be lots of references to their products. But there is lots of valuable information about microphones in general that you can take away from this website.

Soooooo, here’s the link:

Sign Up NOW!!!!!