Monday, February 01, 2010 

GoGirls Interview with Lisa Brigantino

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

I've been singing and playing music since I'm a kid. I come from a very musical family and there was always ukulele playing and 4 part harmony singing at family get togethers. I learned to harmonize at a very early age and the first instrument I learned to play was ukulele at 4 (my Grandma taught my sister and I), then piano at 5, then violin, guitar, upright and electric bass, mandolin, etc. The last time I counted I think I was up to 14 instruments. I also started writing music as a kid. Except for a brief period of time when I thought I might want to be a doctor, I always knew I wanted to pursue music in some way, shape or form. It's simply who I am and what I do - I can't imagine any other life. I have a physical, mental and emotional need to make music.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

I take a very eclectic approach to composing and don't write in one particular musical style or genre. I listen to all kinds of music from medieval chant, baroque, classical, to ragtime, standards (all the great songwriters like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, etc.), hard rock to folk, blues, alt country, pop, punk, etc. and these influences find their way into my original music. My goal is to write good music with my own unique stamp on it, no matter the style. My upcoming CD release "Wonder Wheel" has songs ranging from folk and tex-mex to rock, pop, and more. I also have a Master of Music degree in composition and music theory from the School of Music at SUNY Fredonia and I compose for a variety of projects including TV, film, theatre, etc., so I have to be flexible and able to write in whatever musical style or genre the project calls for.

I've been inspired by many musicians and composers, but if I have to pick three, I'd have to say the late Felix Pappalardi, Johann Sebastian Bach and The Beatles/Joni Mitchell are tied for third! Felix Pappalardi was my cousin and produced Cream among many other bands and artists and later went on to produce and be the bass player of Mountain (folks might know them from their hit "Mississippi Queen"). Felix gave me my first electric bass when I was 14, an old Ampeg with a scroll top and I treasure it. He was classically trained like me and played a myriad of instruments so we had a lot in common. Bach is simply the master of composition. One of Brahms' students asked Brahms what he should study to become a great composer and Brahms said "Study Bach. There you will find eveyrthing." It doesn't matter what style you write in, you can learn so much about form, counterpoint, harmony, melody by studying and listening to the music of Bach. I find myself going back to The Beatles music and the writing of Lennon/McCartney over and over again. I'm never bored by their songs and I find great inspiration in their music and recordings. Just wonderful, well-crafted songs and performances and arrangements (with the help of George Martin) that are going to stand the test of time. As a singer/songwriter, I think Joni Mitchell is the ultimate role model - She has an amazing ability to combine lyrics, melody and harmony in a way that it totally unique and perfect to each song and what that song is trying to express.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

Really, any venue that has a good sound system and a good sound engineer is ideal! I'm happy in a small room with a handful of people, or a room like The Fillmore in NYC that fits about 1000 or playing in front of 20,000 people at The Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee which I got to do when I was with Lez Zeppelin (the all girl, all Led Zeppelin tribute band). As long as it sounds good out in the house and I can hear on stage, I'm comfortable anywhere.

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

I've been performing since I'm a kid and have played in a variety of ensembles ranging from orchestras to choruses, jazz bands, rock bands, etc. I had been doing the singer/songwriter thing for a number of years in NYC after college and then I got involved with Lez Zeppelin. I was a founding member and the "John Paul Jones" of the band and played bass, bass pedals, keyboards and mandolin. Being in the band gave me the opportunity to play some of the most challenging rock and roll there is at A list venues and festivals all over the world, get amazing press (including appearing on CBS Sunday Morning) and it also opened the door for me to become a Kurzweil endorsed artist. Although it was a great ride with Lez Zeppelin, after being involved with the project for almost 6 years, it was time to move on and I left in early 2009. Now I'm back to focusing on my own original material, about to release my next CD and planning shows, working on "The Vickie & Nickie Show" (a wacky musical comedy act I do with my sister Lori) in addition to performing with other artists. I've sat in on accordion with my friend April Smith and her band The Great Picture Show and I also play fiddle and mandolin with my Nashville-based friends The Mulch Brothers, when they're in town. In addition, I played bass for NYC cabaret singer Gretchen Reinhagen's 2009 show "Almost Blue" and will be working with her again this spring on a new project. Because I play a number of different instruments, I'm lucky to have so many performance opportunities open to me. In addition to doing my own music, I really enjoy the challenge and diversity of playing with a variety of artists.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

The music scene in NYC is coming around. It was pretty bleak for about 10 plus years, but it seems to be making a comeback. NYC offers many different performance opportunities and there are venues of all sizes for all levels and types of musicians and performers. There are many venues to play even if you're just starting out and trying to get some experience. That being said, a lot of these places that cater to new artists are like assembly lines, having too many acts a night and only giving people 30 minutes to perform. You really have to do your research and find the best venues where music is important to who owns and runs the place, not just how many drinks they're going to sell.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

I'll be releasing a new CD within the next few months. The title of the CD is "Wonder Wheel" and it was inspired by a photograph that my sister Lori took of the Wonder Wheel (a ferris wheel) at Coney Island, Brooklyn and that's going to be the CD cover. It also inspired the title track for the album. "Wonder Wheel" to me is also a metaphor for life and that jives lyrically with the tunes on the album that include songs I wrote years ago to ones I just finished in 2009. I also wanted to create an album where I played most of the instruments. With the exception of some guest appearances by vocalists Lori Brigantino, Susan Haefner and Jerry Snee and my husband Tom Millioto playing electric guitar and doing drum programming, I'm doing everything else. That includes vocals, acoustic and electric lead and rhythm guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, mandolin, ukulele and more.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Having a good producer is key. Even if you want to produce your own CD, you really need another set of ears, and very good ones at that. My husband and I co-produced my new CD, so even though I'm a producer on it, I had someone else working with me that I trusted to bounce ideas off of. In terms of saving time in the studio, making sure you do good pre-production can save many hours. I'm lucky in the fact that we've been able to take our time recording "Wonder Wheel" because we recorded it in our own project studio. If you don't have that luxury, you and any other musicians you bring in need to have your parts down and be well-rehearsed so you can go into the studio and knock out the tracks because of the time constraints you'll be under. Time is money.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

I believe that you have to follow your heart and write and play what you want and what you hear in your own head. You can't try to be someone else or latch on to the latest musical craze. Too many young songwriters and musicians get swept up in trying to copy someone else that they never develop their own "voice". Yes, music is an aural tradition and you have to listen and study to learn from those that came before, but then you have to incorporate that into your own unique vision. Plus, you have to be persistent. Just because you might have some bad experiences and disappointments, doesn't mean you should quit. Simply put - do not give up.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

My toughest moments came when I was working full time in the business end of the music industry (In addition to writing and performing, I also do music and talent supervision and intellectual property licensing and rights clearance) and was not finding the time I needed to work on my music. At the most difficult point, I was the Vice President of a licensing company, working up to 10 hours days at a very stressful job and was mentally and emotionally exhausted when I got home and didn't have it in me to even pick up my guitar. That was extremely frustrating. I did, however, force myself to get involved with Lez Zeppelin at that time to have an outlet. In 2005, gigs with Lez Zeppelin were starting to pick up and I quit my full time job. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. Now, I do supervision and licensing through my own company Hidden Pond Productions and have plenty of time to do music because I'm managing my schedule and working for myself. I've also been able to combine my creative side with the business side of my company and supply custom music production, scoring and sound design to my clients. I recently scored my second film for filmmaker Jennifer Williams and also co-wrote the music for a national TV commercial for Plato's Closet (an apparel store chain) with my husband in 2007. The big lesson here is, don't be afraid. I know it sounds corny, but I love that line from the sci-fi book Dune: "Fear is the mind killer." I'm also big into the teachings of Joseph Campbell who said over and over: "Follow Your Bliss". Find a way to do what you love and it will work out.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

I think in addition to being passionate, tenacious and not giving up, you need to surround yourself with people that love and support you and are not dream-killers. If you do get discouraged, you just need to focus more on the things that can propel you forward. You need to practice and study and be the best musician/writer that you can be. You will always have more to learn - not only about the craft of music but about the business, itself. The more you can educate yourself about how the business of music works, the better off you'll be and the less chance you'll have of someone taking advantage of you. You also need to network like crazy and be confident about who you are and how you present yourself. Also, keep your ego in check. No one likes working with a diva. You may get that first job, but if you're difficult, you'll never be asked back and word spreads quickly in the industry about how easy or hard it is to work with someone. It sounds so simple, but be kind and say "please" and "thank you". Remember, kindness is not a sign of weakness. Most of the music opportunities and jobs that I've gotten through the years have come through referrals because people know my abilities, that I have a good sense of humor, I'm easy to work with and I'm a professional. That goes a very long way.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

I'm an award-winning singer/songwriter/composer/multi-instrumentalist that loves writing music, making music and performing. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to do and continue to pursue what I love.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

Being a part of GoGirls has really opened up some cool opportunities, like being able to do this interview. There are great networking, educational and performance opportunities through GoGirls, as well. It's so important to be a part of organizations like this not only to further your own career, but to support, give back and mentor others doing the same thing. Plus, I think all of us could learn a lot from Madalyn Sklar. She's a great example of a woman who knows how to get stuff done!

Find out more about Lisa Brigantino:

http://www.lisabrig.com/
http://myspace.com/lisabrigantino
http://www.facebook.com/LisaBrigantinoMusic
http://twitter.com/lisabrig
http://www.reverbnation.com/lisabrigantino
http://www.vickieandnickie.com/
http://www.hiddenpondproductions.com/
http://kurzweilmusicsystems.com/ArtistProfile.php?id=22

Copyright © 2010 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 14 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com or madalynsklar AT gmail.com

Wednesday, January 06, 2010 

In 2010 It's All About The Data

by Madalyn Sklar



You've probably heard these buzzwords commonly used in the last few years when talking about social networks: analytics, metrics, trends, stats. And many of you are probably saying, "what does it all mean?" Simply put, it's the collection of data. For most, it makes little sense. However, if you spend time getting to know your data you can learn a lot about what is going on as well as what works and what doesn't.

In the olden days of the Internet (and still today) you got your web site's "statistics" from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Many provide highly useful information like page views, hits, referrers, etc. I always enjoy knowing what sites are driving traffic to my pages and which pages are most popular.

Fast forward to today and now your stats are on steroids!

Many recent blog posts including Jason Feinberg's The Year in Digital Music and Predictions for 2010 talk about this being the year of analytics. There are sites cropping up to help you gather and decipher info. Plus many sites you're already on offer analytics. Sites like Facebook, ReverbNation and FanBridge collect a great deal of valuable data that can be quite useful to you.

Let's examine this further:

Facebook offer "Insights" which lets you know how users are interacting on your fan page. There is so much information in here it's almost overwhelming. You can see how many impressions you received during a particular period as well as how many new fans. You can see the breakdown in gender and age range plus top countries and cities. To access your insights, log into Facebook then click on Ad and Pages at the bottom of your page. Click on Pages then View Insights. Click here to learn more about Facebook's Insights

ReverbNation gives you a "Stats Summary" when you log in showing your band equity, new fans, daily plays and widget hits. You can then head over to the dedicated "Stats" page which is chock full of information. There is so much in there it will make your head spin!

FanBridge has been offering really nice "Campaign Analytics" for all their paid accounts. I have really enjoyed this feature and am able to effectively measure the success of each email campaign I send out. Now I know who's opening them, clicking on links, if they are forwarding the message, etc. I find this invaluable!





RockDex is a new service that I love. It's geared for artists, managers, labels and social networkers like me looking to track artists data from music web sites, blogs, tweets, song plays, etc. I have found this to be extremely valuable in tracking my social network clients success. I see RockDex becoming quite popular as the year progresses. It's currently in private beta but I encourage you to sign up so you'll be in line to jump on board what is sure to be one of the hits of 2010.

Collecta is an interesting new site I just discovered that provides almost real-time searches on Myspace that can be useful to when searching a particular topic or artist. I found this very helpful when researching one of my Myspace clients and saw that a fan added one of their songs to his personal profile. How would I have known otherwise? This is cool!

I'll be keeping an eye out for more cool sites and services that will help us analyze and understand our data. Analytics are headed for new heights. Let's use them to our advantage!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to post a comment.

Copyright © 2010 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 14 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com or madalynsklar AT gmail.com

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Saturday, January 02, 2010 

GoGirls Interview with Lisa Bianco

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

What drives my music is that endless need to create. That feeling that if you don’t “let it out” you can’t live. I enjoy the process of writing songs. I get that weird feeling that “this cool little riff or chords is gonna end up a song”. It’s an intuition that can’t be explained. The universe treats you well on those days (lol). The first time it was “music or bust” was really when I picked up the guitar. I played flute and piano since the first grade up until high school. Studied it. Took lessons. Competitions etc. But it never felt right. The guitar felt right. I always thought it was a hard instrument to play. But it turned out it was really easy for me because it was my third instrument. My friend taught me a few chords and that was it! Then I was playing hours a day learning all the rock songs 101 I wanted. There was no turning back.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

It’s pop singer-songwriter with a punk heart.

Nirvana-The songs were brilliant and simple. But the sound was fresh and new. They perfected the soft-loud-soft-loud formula, which still influences many artists today. I also loved the lyrics. Abstract and clever. Kurt’s singing was like no other and was so primal and right from the gut. That’s the place I want to be when I perform.

Velvet Underground-New York down to the bone. It’s really the whole package here from the music, to clothing style, vision and art/Andy Warhol. While the hippies were talking about free love in Frisco Lou Reed and co. were writing about what you’re parents did not want to hear: Hard drugs, transvestites, turning tricks, and living life in New York that was truly a jungle then. Growing up in Long Island/NY (so did Lou!), I had an immediate understanding of the music…or why such topics were song subject matter. It was saying a statement without being so overt.

Dixie Chicks-I’m giving props to “my girls” here. I never really liked country music so much but their last record “Taking the Long Way” was an inspiration to me in songwriting, harmony and just the tone of their voices. They are fantastic musicians and flawless live. I ended up buying all their records and DVD’s. They have so much class you really can’t find that anymore.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

I think theaters are really cool. Especially the historic ones like Hammerstein Ballroom or the Tower Theater in Manhattan. Shepard’s Bush Empire in England. They tend to have great detail in the architecture/design and that could only give you good vibes while on stage. Definitely some magic is to be made. It’s also small enough to be still intimate. But if you are from NY there is only one house to perform in: Madison Square Garden

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

Well I started out barely knowing how to turn on an amp and didn’t know what a footswitch for a 2-channel amp was. Lol. I used to get nervous with my heart pounding just before I got on stage. Now my effects board weighs in about ½ of my weight. I tour in the NY tri-state area. I have performed at some reputable conferences like CMJ and American Music Festival. So it took quite a few years to grow and learn. I did not get to this point overnight.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

You know that is so hard to say. NYC has A LOT of people in it full of musicians. There is still the old hard rock/metal going on. Folkies with their guitars. And the hipster rock skinny jeans rock bands. It is diverse. I think you can pretty much find a subculture of any genre you can think of. But some would say maybe things have drifted to rock bands with ‘bells and whistles” meaning they lack a traditional instrument in the band (i.e. no guitar or no bass) and a funky old keyboard/synth player who you call your “utility guy”. Some would say songwriters have drifted to the “Americana” meaning back to a Petty/Springsteen Nebraska era vibe. I don’t know...



What was the inspiration for your latest release?

My current album is called “Post Data”. It is an artist collective in Brooklyn. They create art based on old technology and manipulate it or the programming some how. They use data beyond its original intended need. This collective was mentioned in a Village Voice review of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album. Comparisons were made with that. What it made ME think was that we live in this world of ridiculous technology and apps to do everything. A Post Data world or society. You don’t have to leave your house to communicate. And sadly we lose human contact and interaction. You know we are naturally wired to have intellectual conversations in real time face to face. But the world has gone mad once again and we have less and less time to do so. We stay in contact with Facebook and such or texting. And that is better then not I guess. So, it was my drive to write songs relating to that in a loose sense. A deconstruction of communication as we know it... and I feel fine.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Number one is making sure you are working with the right person. Be it a producer or engineer. The relationship is KEY. Don’t record somewhere because it is free or you got a great deal. You have to be on a certain level of connection with your recording team. To save time in the studio make sure your songs are ready: the arrangement, any re-writes of verses or choruses. Pre production is a must. Work out all parts with your band in a rehearsal studio before hand. Have your producer hear it and make any suggestions for revisions. That is what he/she is there for. This way when it’s time to record you all know what is going on in the songs.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

Drive. You got to have it. It’s a shitty business and people will tell you you suck and you will never get anywhere. You must believe in yourself and your music. Also, don’t be stubborn. Learn from (hopefully) constructive feedback from people. Be open. Evaluate. It can only make you better.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

When I started singing I was pitchy. I didn’t sing my whole life. In fact I never did until I started paying guitar and wanted to write songs. I was in a few bands and they wanted me to step down from singing and get another singer. I actually gave in to that for a while. I didn’t want to in my heart and I lost hope that I could sing. Thankfully the band broke up. Lol. I took voice lessons and I continue to study today. It’s an underrated instrument. I worked my ass and my wallet off. But it was totally worth it. Now I have people offering vocal studio work for me.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

The Beatles were passed up to get signed many times over when they were starting out...remember that. Being an artist is a life long commitment. You have to keep plowing away. I believe talent and some luck that you create for yourself will make you successful. People’s tastes are so subjective. You never know who will fall in love with your music and be that one person to make you a superstar.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

I made a promise to adopt a dog from a shelter one day and save it’s life. Dogs are amazing creatures. Due to my schedule I don’t have time to take care of a dog and I feel I should really be in it 100%. In a perfect world I’d love to adopt a pup, an old 14 y/o dog on its way out and the dog that no one wants. They all need equal love.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

Putting shows together and meeting Go Girls from out of state. It’s also a comfortable atmosphere to approach anyone to ask questions. The network really connects you if you want it too.

You can connect with Lisa Bianco at:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.lisabianco.com/
MYSPACE: www.myspace.com/lisabianco
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Bianco/15715842255
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/lisabianco
YOU TUBE: http://www.youtube.com/bianxnyc

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 

Is Your Music Career Stagnant?

by Madalyn Sklar



It's that time of the year where we need to look back, evaluate, assess and look towards the New Year. 2010 is going to sparkle for you!

When it comes to promoting your music in bigger, better and broader ways it's all about having a plan in place. Take a moment and think about what your goals are for 2010? Think about where you want to be in the next 3 mos, 6 mos and year. If you map out a plan on paper with your thoughts, ideas and goals you will have a much better chance of achieving the success you want and deserve. Most people just don't do this so that puts you ahead of the game.

How hard is it to write out your thoughts, your ideas, your goals? No hard at all!

It Starts With A Plan

The biggest hurdle most people face is procrastinating. Don't be the majority. Be the minority who will take the path leading to success. Take a few minutes right now. Get out a sheet of paper and write down your thoughts for you and your music in 2010. It all starts with a plan.

Thoughts, Ideas, Goals and Dreams

I find it's best to get yourself a notebook and start writing down what you want on a regular basis. Don't worry about how outrageous it is. Get your thoughts on paper. Visualize it. Keep the notebook nearby and write in it whenever you get ideas. The key here is to formulate your ideas and dreams into achievable goals.

An Action Plan To Success

Once you get a clear picture of what you want to achieve, make an action plan of what you need to do to reach your goal. Keep it simple. Set deadlines. Close your eyes and visualize it.

I know this sounds simple and it really is. If you spend time doing this you will see real results. Escalate your music career to a new level. Don't let it stagnate.

I'm available if you are looking to schedule a phone call to discuss this further and work together to map out a plan for you and your music. I know that brainstorming can make a huge difference. Let's brainstorm together and create great strides for you. Details at http://www.indiemusiccoach.com/

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com or madalynsklar AT gmail.com

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 

Madalyn's Interview with Ryan Michael Galloway

by Madalyn Sklar

I've known Ryan Michael Galloway for years and not only is he an extremely talented musician but he's also a great resource for indie artists. He's written some really helpful books and hosts a nightly video blog. --Madalyn

First off, I’d just like to say that I have always been very appreciative of what you’re doing, Madalyn—both for women in music and for all the rest of us musicians. I particularly like the women-oriented focus, because I think that women in rock have not been well supported until you launched your efforts. Still, I haven’t heard you give advice that didn’t pertain to all of us, so your messages are universal. --Ryan

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

When I was 14, I played an original vocal/guitar/harmonica song for a very loud and demonstrative high-school audience of about 500. It was a completely magical moment for me, personally. I stepped on the stage, the audience disappeared in the lights, and I felt like I was alone in the room. I almost went into meditation or tunnel vision while I sang. When it ended, the crowd roared with a sound that is still in my ears. I was totally hooked, and it has never stopped.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

This is an issue I have. Though I’ve been compared to James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, I’m really a songwriter first and foremost. Way back when I was published by Columbia/Screen Gems Music, I was taught how to write songs, and it really didn’t matter what style. So it was rock, folk, jazz, country, and blends of all four. Consequently, when you listen to one of my albums, it sounds like a diversely programmed radio show, as opposed to a single artist. It drives record companies crazy because they can’t categorize it and market it easily. It also means I win my following one person at a time. My fans have to be open-minded, and it has certainly slowed my success. However, once I get them, my fans tend to stay around for a long time. They like the variety.

Joni Mitchell has to be my number one influence—including her transition from folkie to jazz and that marvelous in-between place in the albums “For the Roses” and “Hissing of Summer Lawns.” Her first producer was David Crosby of Crosby, Still and Nash—and he was another big influence for me in the merging of folk and jazz. CSN&Y also got me into harmonies early on. Then throw in the Jazz-Rock-Indian fusion of John McLaughlin and you probably have my three strongest influences. There are many, many more.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

I like small. Somewhere between 12 and 500 people, who have nothing to do but listen. Small concert halls, warming-up for dramatic plays, and house concerts. I like to connect with stories and emotion; to me this is the best way. The places I actually play, however, are usually small wine bars and clubs. That’s probably the next best thing, but people who come out to drink aren’t necessarily there to hear original music; they would rather re-live their memories. You have to work really hard over time to win them.

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

I started seriously performing my first year of high school. I’m really weird though, and I have been inventing big projects for myself forever. I played with friends in a folk-inspired band called Breezewood for much of those four years. High school music theory really unlocked it all for me. I did my second year on independent study when my “final test” was to put together a small orchestra of 40 musicians from two different schools and perform 15 arrangements of my original songs. That’s when I found out it’s really hard to be the Project Manager, Conductor, and player all at the same time.

After high school, it was a series of harmony-heavy bands doing originals and covers of Eagles, Beatles, CSN, America, and the like. I LOVE harmonies, and am still enthralled with them today. I played in a number of bands, including Nic Danjer, Primadonna (which toured the east coast), and Promise out of Dallas. I can’t afford all the rehearsal time it takes to get a vocal band tight anymore, so I use the Digitech Live Vocalist 4 as a back up. It’s great, but not as great as ensemble singing and playing.

I’m mostly solo these days, but have great fun playing in Foundation, a band made up of the founders of the Collin County Songwriters Association. I also really enjoy playing with Chad Ireland on drums, and Matt Gaskins on bass, in a really nice little trio configuration. You can see some videos of us playing on Youtube from a taping at Drury University last year.

In the last five years, well past middle age, for some reason my voice is better than it’s ever been before. I’m singing stuff I only dreamed of in my twenties, my falsetto is strong, and I think my performing and audience connection has evolved to the best it’s ever been. I have a mild case of autism, called Aspergers Syndrome, and I suppose it’s taken me a while longer than usual to learn to read audiences. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, though.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

Vibrant! There are lots of places to play live, and we have a number of songwriter groups and associations: the Collin County Songwriters Association (which I chair), the Dallas Songwriters Association, a Waxahachie-based songwriter group called Tredway and Friends, and several branches of the Nashville Songwriters Association. The local musicians who “get it” have really pulled together to be part of the local performance industry. We’re strong competitors, but we’re friends too. In the media, the local Public Broadcasting System (90.1 KERA) has launched a sister station (91.7 KXT) focusing on locally produced content, Randy Tredway’s Texas songwriter site http://www.InTheMusicRoom.com is getting 16,000 hits a month, and local bluesman, Michael “The Mudcat” Reames, is considering launching a local music television show shortly.



Up on the north side of Dallas, in Frisco, there are three booming music schools, including Neighborhood Arts and Music School (NAMS), Music Conservatory of Texas, and School of Rock. If you need a guitar worked on, you can talk to Anderson Guitar Gallery, now cohabitating with NAMS. They are all serving their niches, maintaining a friendly competition, and have been supportive of local live music and songwriters. I’m sure I’ve just mentioned a fraction of the scene.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

My latest release is currently available in digital release only from Songslide.com, or slightly lesser quality downloads are available free on my website: http://www.ryanrocks.com/. It’s called Rock the Big House Down, and it is inspired by the indie music revolution. The title song is about taking the music back from the record companies and making it our own again. It’s truly the theme song for everything I’m doing in educating fellow musicians, and it led to my nightly v-log post at http://www.wedontneednostinkingrecordcompany.com/. If you’re on Facebook, you can follow all the blogs by being a fan of http://www.facebook.com/nostinkingrecordcompany. I’ll remind your readers that I have a number of books and programs out—all part of the Gigster Clinics Series. Titles include “Hits and Heartbreakers: Songwriting Fundamentals for Love or Money,” “The Band Promotion Turbo-Charger: More fans, more fame, more fortune,” and the “Gigster Clinic Textbook,” among others. This is all what I consider “nuts and bolts” stuff about putting your band together, selecting PA and lighting equipment, promoting your act, and some stagecraft. The books can be found at http://www.GigsterClinics.com.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Planning is totally key, then sticking pretty close to that plan in execution. If you’re on a budget (who isn’t?) the studio is not the place to do all of your creative stuff, so keep that to a minimum. The goal is cost/time control, because the typical engineer is going to let you rack up as many hours as you want. If you’re doing it all yourself, you’re in real trouble—no one is keeping score of the time and it could go on forever.

One of these days I’ll finish my book on how to be your own producer. In the meantime, I generally:

-Establish my songlist and arrangements
-Rehearse my musicians (whenever possible)
-Record the rhythm section—bass and drums—with a scratch (temporary) vocal and guitar. If I’m working on multiple songs, I try to do as many rhythm sections as possible to save money. Drums can take hours to get sounding right, and even if you use electronic drums as a shortcut, it’s going to take a while. Imagine how much it’s going to cost if you have to re-set the drums for every song on the album.
-Layer on the basic instruments like guitar, piano, organ, horn sections, orchestra
-Add the lead and background vocals. I like to double and triple the background vocals for that CSN/Eagles/America sound.
-Add lead instruments
-Add embellishments like sound effects, rhythm and musical additions
-Mix the songs
-Correct any discovered mistakes
-Mix again
-Listen on various systems
-Mix again
-Master—where I send it to another studio to get an extra set of “ears” on it and make adjustments to the audio curve.

As much as I believe in producing yourself, a co-producer is really helpful. Someone who is honest enough to say, “I just didn’t believe that last take,” or “you hit a sour note,” is invaluable. My usual engineer is Ron Logan out of Desoto. I have also done some work with David Williams at Vault Studios in Houston. I consider both of them my co-producers when I work with them. They both have great patience and excellent ears, and they’re both musicians.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

Professionalism. You have to say what you’re going to do, and do it—just like a job. Even if you’re not being paid, by the way. Professionalism also means taking charge of your audience’s experience. Like bringing SOME kind of stage lighting when you’re playing solo in a dark corner of a club. If the club doesn’t “get it,” who suffers? The artist and his/her audience, that’s who. Do the best job you can, even if it’s not in your job description.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

A number of years ago, a record label famous for KC and the Sunshine band decided that they wanted to branch into rock and roll. They signed my band to a two-year contract, and promptly went into bankruptcy within about 30 days. That left us completely locked up for two years, unavailable to sign a record contract with any other label until the time expired. We simply toughed it out and kept up our live playing and writing. However, I recommend that artists—young and old alike—subscribe to a pre-need legal program of some kind, so they have someone to review contracts from a legal perspective, and help out when things get more serious. Here in Texas there are some free artist-oriented legal services available through the Texas Music Office. If that’s not available, or not enough, programs with a wide variety of protections—not just those to do with the music business—are available nationwide and in Canada for $17 - $26 a month. That’s pretty cheap to have a law firm with attorneys in every specialty (including copyright) at your beck and call to review legal matters, write wills, and send letters when you have an altercation with a club owner.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

We all hear the stories about James Taylor who made it at 17, or the Beatles who came onto the scene all at once. People who really take off young are largely flukes—it’s like winning the lottery. And how much money they make is entirely over-estimated. The Beatles were more of an example of how it is and was. They spent years honing their skills in Hamburg and bonding as a team before they made it. In the indie world, for sure, it’s about lasting for a long time. Outlasting everyone else in the process. Don’t wait for a record company, manager or producer. Become those things for yourselves, find your own “voice,” and build your own fan-base. Don’t stop. If you think you’ve tried everything, trust me you haven’t. With your own fan base, signing with a record company becomes a choice, not a requirement. You may find that staying independent makes a whole lot more sense when you look at how much you’re NOT going to make off the deal.

One more: choose bandmates and partners who are stable, even if they’re a little less talented. Nothing is more likely to trip you up than a talented jerk that you can’t work with, or someone strung out on drugs or alcohol. This is your career you’re talking about.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

This year I was nominated for 2009 Texas State Musician. Willie Nelson won, but my standard joke is, “at least this year he can say he beat Ryan Michael Galloway. And I wish he would. Every time he plays.”

I’m here to mentor as much as I’m here to write, record, and perform. To me, it’s always been about service, whether it’s to my fans or my colleagues. As generous as I’ve attempted to be, I find my fellow musicians have always been amazingly willing to share of themselves in even larger ways. What comes around truly goes around.

Let me put it another way. My email is Ryan@RyanRocks.com and my phone number is 972-841-0226.

Websites to check out:
http://www.ryanrocks.com/ (my main portal)
http://www.gigsterclinics.com/ (music business education)
www.facebook.com/NoStinkingRecordCompany (fan page, including nightly v-log posts)
http://www.wedontneednostinkingrecordcompany.com/ (v-log ground zero)

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com or madalynsklar AT gmail.com

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Monday, December 07, 2009 

Madalyn Sklar Recommends Crystal Clear CDs and Sonic Vison Mastering

When it comes to getting your CD mastered and manufactured you want it simple and easy. Am I right? I know we've all been through our share of disappointments, missed deadlines and errors when it comes to getting our CD just right and ready for launch. I'm here to share my good fortune and experience with two top-notch companies in the industry. First Mike Milchner of Sonic Vision Mastering. This is my first year working with Mike and I am completely wow'd by his professionalism and experience. He has totally exceeded my expectations. And we know how rare that can be in this biz. Second, I'm thrilled to once again work with Jim Cocke and his great team at Crystal Clear. They are the kings of CD manufacturing! I'm amazed at how easy they made this for me. Yes, they make my job easy!

Here is the bottom line: with these two companies you get personal attention. I know, real customer service is becoming obsolete because many are getting too "corporate", making it about their bottom line, not about you the customer.

Those who know me well know I willl not work with just any company. In the sea of music businesses, I look for those with professionalism and integrity. I look for companies that will take care of you and me.



"They rock! Plain and simple. You know, there are so many CD manufacturers out there but who really knows their stuff and cares about the customer? Hands down, it's Crystal Clear. Give 'em a call and see why we are happy customers!" -- Madalyn Sklar

CDs – DVDs – T-SHIRTS - PROMO
Madalyn Sklar at Madalyn's Blog & GoGirlsMusic.com recommends her friends at Crystal Clear Disc, Promo, and Apparel for your CD/DVD replication, T-shirt/apparel, and other music promotional needs. Serving the regional and national independent and major label music industry for over 35 years, Crystal Clear has grown to become one of the largest, most experienced and respected replication and music promotional products companies anywhere in the country. Visit them on the web at http://www.crystalclearcds.com/gogirls or contact the head of Crystal Clear, Jim Cocke directly at 800-880-0073, ext 114 or jim@crystalclearcds.com. Be sure to let Jim know you were referred by Madalyn Sklar for great discounts and special offers!

Make your production the best that it can be. Sonic Vision provides world class mastering to the independent music community at extremely reasonable rates. 20 plus years of experience will put the finishing touches on your music that will ensure impressive first impressions and preserve long term enjoyment. Hear for yourself with their free no obligation demo. Just visit their website for all the details and mention GoGirlsMusic for a 10% discount. We highly recommend it!

Details at http://www.sonicvisionmastering.com/

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

Thursday, December 03, 2009 

Get interviewed on this blog for just $50

I'm sure you've seen my monthly interviews with members of the GoGirls community here on my blog. It's a fee-based service I've been providing for many years. Due to its popularity I've decided to expand it to ALL musicians, artists and bands of all genres looking for promotion opportunities. Your $50 investment gets you a professional Q&A interview posted here on my blog. I will also promote it on my Facebook and Twitter. You are free to promote it on your site and anywhere else you see fit. It's a win/win for sure!

To get started, please click on the "buy now" button.



See examples of Q&A interviews:
Kathleen Blackwell
Davina Robinson
Scorpio Rising

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009 

GoGirls Interview with Kathleen Blackwell

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

Hmm...those are good questions! What drives my music? Well, I have always been inspired by music, since I could remember radio, musicals, MTV, I awe-struck by music, fascinated by music--it's not quite something that I can put my finger on, rather I find that music is a vehicle for me to explore. Music gives me permission to feel and to be in touch with my inner-being. I am first drawn to the chords, the beat, the vibe of a song and I am last drawn to the lyrics. Nine times out of ten, I'm not sure what a song may even be lyrically saying until I've made it a point to focus on the lyrical content! I know, probably many people are just the opposite and that's why that first lyric line of a song can make or break somebody's desire to hear the rest. With me, though, I am initially more in tune with using my right-brain to process a song, automatically asking myself, "How does this song make me feel?" With my classical piano background, as well, lyrics weren't really an integral part to the repertoire that I learned, rather interpretation was based more on melody phrasing of the notes. This stuck with me...until I started writing my own music a few years ago and then not only did I intuitively gravitate towards finding chord structures that allowed me to express myself, but I also "woke up" and realized that, "Wow, I have a lot I want to say and I'll be darn if lyrics aren't also important...maybe even more so!" So, to finally answer "What drives my music?" I'd have to officially say the combination of unique and compelling chord structures that allow me to explore the depths of my feelings, combined with the fact that for a long time, my voice was silent, dominated by others...until I went through some life-changing events that compelled me to find my voice and to lyrically speak "me." I have also been wildly driven by the question, "What makes people tick?" One of my favorite subjects is psychology and social psychology, so I find that I enjoy writing about people.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

My musical style is indie-pop-rock mixed with some modern-classical chord-structures. To my surprise as well, I have written with some jazzy chords, too, and those have turned out to be my favorite songs! Go figure, as I am primarily a musical lover of alternative-pop, grunge, radio hits and anything that's heavy :) I like loud, "balls to the wall" (pardon the expression!) music. I'm thinking, though, that my jazzy influence came from my love of soundtracks and Broadway musicals as a kid. Three musicians or artists that have greatly inspired me are: 1) Tori Amos for her stunning, stunning piano presentation mixed with compelling, thought-provoking lyrical content. Wow! I wanted to "be her." 2) U2 for their absolute dedication, musical prowess and gifted ability to "make an arena sing in peace." I also admire their vision to unite, their fearless approach to politics and their attempt to merge earthly "desires and destructions" with an outer-worldly approach. They have also managed to stay together and in a world where many things seem to be falling apart, I applaud that. As well, as a young child whose Irish, Air Force Pilot father was absent from my life, U2 filled this emotional space--their earliest albums some of their best. And they've always worked with tremendous producers! 3) Well, for number three, I'm going to combine a few, a) Lenny Kravitz, b) Seal and c) Soundtracks. While there is not a whole lot of correlation between the three (LOL!), I have to single-handedly say that without a doubt, I love Lenny Kravitz--I think that his music and his style rock! Amazing artist. Seal--wow, what an incredible voice, gifted and uplifting...beautiful, but with sadness. Soundtracks--what can I say--I adore soundtracks! A few of my favorites have been "Strange Days," "9 1/2 Weeks" and "A Chorus Line." I also have to mention Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. AND Urge Overkill (love them!)--for my generation, these bands did it for me, too.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

Intimate, as it ups the ante. Although, my dream is to play an arena show! Haha! I know--but I have this love for the way the crews move in and out of these shows, they set up imagination and when the lights go down and the show comes alive---wow, fabulous!

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

Since I first started performing, my music career has expanded in the sense that what i bring to the live setting is somewhat different than my recorded work, so in essence, people who see me live see a different side of me.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

Well, living in Los Angeles, the music scene is vast! As well, there are many of us here who are trying to pursue our dreams and play for the love of playing as often as we can. I find the hardest part is that for me personally, I want to be out there supporting other artists all of the time, alas much of the time I am also playing that same night, or rehearsing, or writing...and I think that many of us do the best we can to support each other, as well as try to gain our own audience and following.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

Well, hard times--emotionally and financially! I was going through life-changing events that I couldn't understand, I had so many questions, I didn't know what I was doing, what my role was---I wanted to ask and answer the "why" question of it all. I was focused on writing about my inner-dialog mixed with my external experiences and I think when I aptly titled my album, "To Be Human," when I look back, I realize that title summed it all up. "To Be Human" was the question and the answer. Through it all, I found some resolve. Writing my album was one of the most beautiful experiences--out of the pain comes light.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Your songs! By all means, if there is anything that I have learned over the past couple of years, it would be to not be afraid to "face your own music." Take a look at your song structure, your opening lyric line, are there any details you can add, or change to make the story even that much better. Write from your heart and don't be afraid to say what you feel. Go to song critiques and get feedback BEFORE you go into the studio. I would say the number one ingredient in preparing to record your CD project is pre-production! As well, I might add, that for me, at least...if I hadn't had the best producer in the world (haha, I really believe that!), I'm not sure what my CD would have sounded like. Wow, though, a good engineer / producer can make all the difference in your final product. As for saving time in the studio, I feel that comes back to pre-production on the songs themselves. ALSO...one of the best things I did as a singer-songwriter, was that when I went into the studio, I was not "stuck" on exactly how I wanted the songs to sound--it's okay to leave some of your chords open--allow other players who come in to do their own interpretation--that brings in the magic. I firmly believe that when I work with somebody who is also creative, be it a producer, my graphic designer, a business partner--I WANT them to bring their own style and ingredients to the mix. So, in essence what I'm saying is "trust." Trust them to do their job!

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

I think every musician has to learn to find a place of trust within themselves. This can be a very tough business. I know, I've been on the business side of it, worked for labels...I've seen how tough it can be. I am now on the artist side and I think, for me, the one thing that has been the toughest lesson to learn, to grow from and to build on is: Trust yourself, be true to you. Nothing else matters! "They" can go take a long walk! Haha! Love who you are because at the end of each song, each day--you have to live with you.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

The toughest moments for me in my music career quest have been balancing the left brain and right brain activities it takes today to really develop your own career! Today is so much about the 360 concept--being your own business, too!

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

Network. Network. Network. Get out there. Meet people. Attend trade-shows and music conferences. Get feedback. Help others when you have learned the ropes! Have a plan A. Have a plan B, too! Remember your passion.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

Well, I'm really excited that I just got singed with Gotham Records Music Placement! Woot! And on a completely different note, my biggest dream has always been in the International realm. I have always wanted to work for the UN, or work on peace-keeping missions, I have always wanted to help bridge communication gaps between people, nations.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

GoGirls Rock!! I have so enjoyed the community aspect of GoGirls--it is truly a fabulous gathering of female talent and artists and one of the most inspiring aspects of GoGirls from my observations and experience is that each member cares about their own community, their surroundings--they give back and work together to support each other. I remember the first time I saw Madalyn before I knew she was the founder of GoGirls--I had seen her on some instructional video talking about how to make your Facebook artist page work--LOL! I was so completely enthralled with this "cool chick" who seemed to know what she was talking about in the technical world (as that is my blind side) and she had it so together and then when I discovered GoGirls and realized that she was also the "fearless leader," I said to myself, "Wow, well, this has to be one helluva organization!" And it is!

Learn more about Kathleen at:
http://www.kathleenblackwell.com/
http://www.myspace.com/kathleenblackwell

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar/GoGirlsMusic.com

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

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Monday, November 23, 2009 

Sending Facebook Page Updates - Where Did The Link Go?

by Madalyn Sklar

One of the greatest benefits to running a Facebook Page is the ability to quickly and easily send out an update to everyone. Unlike your web site's mailing list where people opt-in first, your Facebook fans are automatically given the opportunity to hear from you. Of course they can opt-out at any time.

I recommend sending out updates no more than once weekly but preferably only 1-2 times per month.

So you are ready to send out an update but uh oh, where did the link go? Seems over the weekend Facebook decided to move the link and you may be wondering, "what the heck?" Don't worry. You can still send out your updates but now you must add an extra click to get there.

Before, when logged in your Facebook page, the "Send an Update to Fans" link was located below your profile image along with several other links. Not anymore.

Now you must click on "Edit Page". From there look on the right side column under "Promote your page" and you'll see the link now resides here.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post it here or on our Facebook Page. We'd love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

 

Madalyn Sklar's Facebook Quick Tips Video

Hey friends. So you know I stay on top of Facebook and am constantly aware of what's new as it happens. I do this so you don't have to. If you don't already subscribe to my RSS feed or get email updates, be sure to do so. I'll be spending more time letting you know what's going on at Facebook here on my blog. I also update regularly on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/socialnetworksformusicians.

Here is my latest Facebook Quick Tip:



Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

Thursday, November 05, 2009 

Attention Bands: Welcome To Facebook, This Is Not Myspace!

by Guest Blogger Laura Marie

Welcome to Facebook. If you are new here and coming over from Myspace you have noticed many differences. Social Networks for Musicians can help you navigate those differences and make the most of your Facebook experience. For now, here are some helpful Do's and Don'ts to keep you growing your network and stop you from getting blocked.

Do: Post gig flyers to your wall
Don't: Post gig flyers to your friend's walls. On Myspace this was acceptable. Here it's like going to someone's house and posting it on their front door.

Do: Tag your photos, flyers and videos with people who are involved in whatever you are posting.
Don't: Tag everyone you want to invite to see your photos, flyers and videos. It's the same thing as posting it to their wall and, unless you have permission to do so, don't do it. Besides, if you post it to your own wall, it will show up in all your friend's home feed anyway.

Do: Create and event invite when you have an event to promote
Don't: Continue to invite people who have RSVP'd with "not attending". This happens all the time on on other social networks

Do: Create a fan page for all your band's music and info.
Don't: Use your profile as your fan page. Mostly because the fan page has so many more options for bands to promote their music but, also because Facebook did not design your profile page to be an advertising page and you might get deleted. Of course, you might not but why risk it? And, yes, it can be challenging to get your friends to also become fans but SN4M can help you with that. Plus, there are benefits to having both.

We recommend reading, How To Attract 3,000 Fans In 30 Days, The Ultimate Facebook Pages Guide

Do: Tell your friends about what you are doing in band related activities.
Don't: Make it all business all the time. This is a social network. Go. Be Social. :)

Remember there is a reason people are moving to this network. Don't try to buck the system. Go with the flow and it will be a great tool to spread the word about your music.

Copyright © 2009 Laura Marie, singer/songwriter/computer nerd

Texas singer songwriter, Laura Marie, can be found promoting indie music and helping artists with their internet presence throughout the web. She is currently preparing for her second solo release in January of 2010 and can be easily found on the following websites and networks:

http://www.lauramariemusic.com/
http://www.facebook.com/lauramariemusic
http://www.twitter.com/lauramariemusic
http://www.myspace.com/lauramarie

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Sunday, November 01, 2009 

GoGirls Interview with Davina Robinson

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

From a very young age, I've wanted to do music. I hardly watched TV; I listened to music instead, fantasizing being on stage, but I was extremely shy and had severe stage freight. I would write lyrics to future songs, sing them in my room or the shower, and just kept hoping I could be good enough and fearless enough to get on stage someday. Thanks to living in Japan and being dragged to karaoke bars, I got used to singing in front of people. I was a late bloomer. When I started my first band, there was no turning back.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

I tend to weave my genres; it's not a conscious thing, but I chalk it up to my multi-racial background, growing up on R&B and rock. I like to sing in a bluesy way, I like to write stuff I can dance to, and I love hard guitars, bass and drums that I can headbang to.

As for my songwriting style, I wrote journals for years, so that autobiographical style/viewpoint seems to be prevalent in my lyrics.

Three musicians... difficult to limit to three. But Living Colour was particularly inspirational because, for one, it was the first concert I'd ever been to. I didn't know who they were, a friend invited me, and I was blown away. Of course for their unbelievable power and musicianship, but also because I'd never known there were African-Americans like me who loved rock music. A big eye-opener, and very liberating.

I really love Pink for her songwriting, her resilience and humor, and I like the way she (and her producers) can do different genres on the same album and make the album sound totally cohesive.

I love Chaka Khan for her singing range, her attitude, you name it. She can sing any genre, she can sing any cover and make it her own. She's an R&B legend, but to me, she's a funky rock chick. I want her to do a rock album so badly.

There are so many more...

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

I'm sure everyone says this, but a great sound system with competent people to run it! I did the bar band thing for years, and from that experience I've learned that I love a venue where people come to discover something new, and actually appreciate it. I don't mean silently listening, though. I like an active crowd, dancing, headbanging, responding in some way. And if they sing the hook back to you, ahhhh.....

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

When I first started, I knew absolutely nothing about music (!) and had no idea who I was as an artist. I just basically got on stage and sang cover songs I liked. I let my band handle everything else, from the arrangement to setting up the PA for rehearsals. I certainly didn't know anything about the business/marketing/promotion end. Now, I know my voice, I know how I sing and what types of arrangements complement me. I do my homework, am prepared, keep up with the business/marketing/promotion, and let my existence known to various bookers, venues, and others in the industry. I'm my best and most enthusiastic cheerleader.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

Like most cities, venue attendance is down, including in Osaka. But there is definitely a market for "niche" type artists. The Japanese like quirky stuff and are very group-oriented, so once you find a group of fans, word will spread quickly, and they'll be loyal to the end. The underground scene seems to rule right now. My music isn't particularly quirky, but I am unusual enough in that I'm a plus-size foreign woman with a huge afro doing rock in English, so I stand out, so I guess that puts me into a niche. I've been getting more attention lately, so I'm looking forward to the next several months to see where this new attention leads.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

My latest (May 08) and only release (so far), "The Blazing Heart", represented my determination. I'd spent years trying to get my music together, but it always seemed like my music would never see the light of day. It took years to find someone who understood my vision and could arrange the songs the way I wanted, or even surpass my vision. Of the four songs on the EP, two are older songs I'd written years ago; the other two were new at the time. So I combined the old me and the new me, and gave it the title "The Blazing Heart" to remind myself of how far I've come, and to remind myself to keep going.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Fortunately, I hired a very organized producer, and I learned a lot from him. He had a time schedule, he knew exactly how he wanted the song to go, the exact drum pattern, the exact tone of the guitar, and he hired experienced session musicians who could take direction. He did a lot in pre-production. So this saved a lot of time.

As for preparation for a CD project, I think the number one thing is to know your song and how you want to play it and sing it. Any song you plan to record, you should really have it down pat, by playing it live as many times as possible, not just in band rehearsals. New ideas - lyrics, phrasing, melody, chords - will always come. In a live situation, friends can give honest feedback, and you can see how the crowd responds to certain songs. The more you perform a song, the tweaks get worked out, so the smoother the studio session will be. So it's best to go into the studio with a song that you're confident in; that you'll be satisfied with. Because once it's recorded, that's it.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

The ability to handle the fact that not everyone will like your music. Or the courage to venture out of your comfort zone and perform at a venue in a different state or somewhere far, in front of total strangers who aren't into you at all. You really need to be thick-skinned. It's cliche but true: Only the strong survive.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

A great opportunity that never came to be... Thanks to a GoGirls opp, I was to be featured in a print magazine called "Figure" earlier this year. But the magazine went bankrupt, so my feature/interview was never published. That kind of exposure meant so much to me. Really broke my heart.

Lots of money wasted/lost on a promoter who I realized didn't really promote me at all, during my acoustic tour of L.A. last November. That made me feel really stupid, totally violated and taken advantage of.

Both the good and (especially) the bad are learning tools. What you do with the new knowledge is the important thing. I know I won't make the same mistake next time.

These setbacks made me tougher, and made me change my strategy. So I decided to market myself where I live and perform (Osaka), even though I wasn't sure the Japanese audiences would dig me singing originals in English. But it turned out to be a very good decision, as things are really picking up, and I feel very confident and excited for the first time in a long time.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

You really have to do your homework, not just the performing side, but the business side. It takes patience, time and consistency. Do research. Read books. Read biographies of famous artists, to see what they went through before hitting the big time. Be prepared for the setbacks and enjoy the big opportunities, but with a grain of salt. When something doesn't go your way, you have to be able to say to yourself, "That opportunity wasn't right for me," instead of thinking "I'm not good enough." You can't sit back and wait someone to "discover" you and help you. You have to make it happen for yourself. Even when things look bleak, or don't turn out as you'd hoped, you have to keep your focus, keep believing in yourself, keep selling yourself and take control, of both your career and your emotions.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

I am the Rock n' Roll Soul Chick!!

I'm working on material for my next CD project, and one of those songs will be used for my first music video. Hopefully I can shoot it by next Spring. The material this time will have simpler arrangements but with a harder feel, perhaps more blues-rock/hard rock, and the lyrics...hmmmmm....I'll need a "Parental Advisory" label for this one! LOL.

Would love to visit my hometown Philadelphia (go Phils!) next summer and be able to do a few shows.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

Though I live in Japan and as of yet there's no chapter here (I've been thinking of starting one, actually), and I can't really fly out to do showcases, I still think GoGirls is such a valuable resource. Members offered advice when I was planning my tour of L.A. last year, and I even met a few face-to-face while there. What a cool group of chicks! :-) There are always new opportunities to check out and new things to discover from the websites and group discussions. Even though I'm far away, I never feel alone. Sounds corny, but true. I always recommend GoGirls.

More on Davina Robinson at these sites:

WEBSITE http://www.davinarobinson.com/
FACEBK www.facebook.com/davinarobinsonmusic
YOUTUBE www.youtube.com/rocknrollsoulchick
CD BABY www.cdbaby.com/cd/davinarobinson
MYSPACE www.myspace.com/davinarobinson

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009 

How To Attract 3,000 Fans In 30 Days, The Ultimate Facebook Pages Guide

by Madalyn Sklar

I have come across the best marketing guide that will help you attract Facebook fans. It's put out by the people behind AllFacebook.com, which I read regularly.

How To Attract 3,000 Fans In 30 Days, The Ultimate Facebook Pages Guide

This 75-page guide to Facebook Pages teaches you:

1. What’s New? - Our guide will walk you through all of the new features in the Facebook Pages product and explain how to use them.

2. How To Develop A Successful Brand - The course doesn’t just provide lessons on how to use Facebook Pages but also how to build a more powerful brand on the web.

3. Mastering The Art Of Conversations - Social media is a two-way conversation and Facebook is no exception to the rule. We walk you through some of the best strategies for more effectively engaging your audience.

4. Creating A Content Strategy That Sells - At the end of the day, building out your online brand presence is not just about attracting fans but making sales. We will discuss some of the best tactics to developing content that will help you sell more.

5. Using Facebook Ads To Promote Your Page - Want to get more fans through Facebook’s advertising platform. I will walk you through the process of building out an advertisement and discuss some of the best strategies to improving your results.

6. Turn New Visitors Into Fans - As I just mentioned, not all visitors to your Facebook Page are fans. In this guide I walk you through the best techniques to converting new visitors into fans.

7. More - There are over 30 priceless techniques to attracting more fans and developing a magnetic presence on Facebook.

How To Attract 3,000 Fans In 30 Days, The Ultimate Facebook Pages Guide

I know you find this handy resource invaluable in your quest to elevate yourself on Facebook pages. Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 

Top 10 Places to Get Online Radio for Free

Madalyn's Note: I'm passing this info along... Enjoy!

Got work to do on the computer and need to make it go faster? Then grab a pair of headphones, the below top ten places to get online radio, and make the work fly by with your favorite music. Best of all, these stations are completely free to listen to and work with a pop up blocker.

1. Slacker An outstanding site, it allows you to create your own personal radio on the computer. Simply select from stations such as Today’s Hits, New Country, Comedy, and others to begin. The site even has options for iPhones, iPod Touch, Blackberry, and anyone with a Wifi connection. You can even type in the name of a particular artist or song to find them.

2. Pandora Part of the Music Genome Project, this radio station actually analyzes how people listen to music. Another feature of the site is the ability to allow visitors to type in the name of a song or artist into Pandora. The site then scans its entire database of both new and old songs to find musical similarities to your choice. Create up to 100 stations of your choice and start listening.

3. Live 365 Stop here for over 6,000 internet radio stations run by real people, not computers or generators. Genres available here include the blues, reggae, metal, and many others. They even have specialty stations such as Xtreme Prank, Horror Old Time Radio, and many others. You can also get a free app for your iPhone.

Read the entire blog post and get all ten at http://onlineitdegrees.org/top-10-places-to-get-online-radio-for-free

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 

Are We LinkedIn?

by Madalyn Sklar



When we talk about the top social network sites that are a must for you to be on it's important to include LinkedIn. Because it's a professional networking site, there are incredibly great contacts for you there if you take the time to work it. Wouldn't you like to tap into the over 50 million professionals who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities? I feel it's not being utilized by most musicians and should be quickly added to your mix and updated regularly.

One of my favorite features is "recommendations" where people you know can leave a testimonial about you and your work. Over time I have accumulated some amazing recommendations from people I know, love and respect.

Here is my latest:

“Madalyn has been our biggest resource for help both in career coaching and through GoGirlsMusic, giving us a platform for our music. Madalyn is the utmost professional, and her experience and knowledge is second to none. Here generosity and kindness towards us, our goals, our music, our business has been invaluable. Madalyn taught us how to fish, and because of it we now eat. You will not find someone more qualified or dedicated. Madalyn our deepest gratitude.” September 22, 2009

Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, High Integrity

LnZ and Chris of A Melodic Daydream
This is truly what social networks are about, connecting and sharing. Whether you are searching for work or wanting to reach and connect with people who can help you in the music business, this is the place to be. If you are not LinkedIn yet, get moving. It's well worth the time to set up. If you have a LinkedIn profile, be sure to review it from time to time, tweaking it and keeping it fresh.

You can check out my profile here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/madalynsklar
I encourage you to connect with me here on this extremely valuable site.

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
GoGirlsMusic.com
Social Networks for Musicians

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WHO IS MADALYN SKLAR?


    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 14 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

    Madalyn's Sites:
    * GoGirlsMusic.com
    * Social Networks for Musicians
    contact: madalynsklar(at)gmail.com

         

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