Songstuff Stuff

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john

First online on 29th November 2000, the first 10 years has flown by.

It's a decade that has seen massive changes in the music industry with the rise in music downloads and a global recession. It's also been a decade that's been one of the most innovative regarding changes in the way artists engage with fans, with the way music is marketed and sold, and lets not forget within the music itself. Not only that but music has become a far more interactive, multimedia experience. Music videos are now an essential element of viral marketing, social media is a contentious but dominant fact of everyday life with fans interacting with each other and with the artists themselves.

The modern artist now has so many ways to engage fans, and most of those ways are available whether you are signed to a major or releasing your music from your bedroom. Mobile apps, blogs, micro-blogs, forums, social bookmarking, social networking, newsletters, gigs and performances, video blogs, online radio, viral marketing... the list goes on. The challenge has really become how to stand out from an ever growing crowd of artists

The accessibility of music creation to those with no musical training or experience and the dominance of television talent shows, especially in shaping the dreams of aspiring performers, has really and truly reshaped the musical landscape. The modern day aspiring artist has a huge range of ways to express themselves, to find apparent short cuts in creating that masterpiece, or that one piece that will "get them noticed". At the same time the modern day fan is spoiled for choice when it comes to their listening habits.

We've also seen the resurgence of band after band from yesteryear, with re-releases, new material and tours galore as artists struggled to adjust to the changing marketplace. For many, if not most, performance income and merchandise have come to replace mechanical royalties from recordings.

It's also a decade that's seen a feeling of marginalization of songwriters despite a reported growth in earning by songwriters overall, a blurring of roles between songwriter, recording engineer and producer, and a growth in the number of roles small bands play in pushing themselves forward through social media aware Online Music Distribution sites.

So what next? How do we rise to the challenges of the next decade? Are mash ups the future of music and video production? Will musical works have to be wrapped with 3D, 24 / 7 reality shows?

Putting aside the crystal ball I can say that I continue to find encouragement through the optimism, resilience and creativity in abundant supply from musicians expressed in groups and seen within musical and songwriting communities like Songstuff, and no doubt within bands and songwriting groups the world over. There's a huge rise in collaborations and there continues to be a huge appetite for information and tools to help with everything from the creative process, through performance to distribution. There is still a massive desire to be successful, to communicate with others and a gritty determination to make the best music we can.

Bands, musicians and songwriters can have many misconceptions, but there is a broader, earlier awareness of music as a business than there used to be. Pandora's box has been opened and now rather than the machinations of the music industry being hidden, the modern muso is overwhelmed with tools and methods but there remains a lack of information on how to best use those tools and how to safely navigate through the flood of business information available.

In all these regards I hope that Songstuff can play a role in aiding our members, our visitors make the most of their talents, to help them connect with other musicians and with fans, and to continue to provide a friendly environment in which to do so. I started Songstuff with the grandiose vision of helping to improve the awareness of musicians and to provide a safe harbor as they sought to expand their understanding and hone their skills. To this day that continues to be my aim. The realism of that idea continues to evolve, and is to a huge degree down to the members of Songstuff itself.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer thanks to all of our community members and site visitors for their many contributions to debate, to music, the many articles contributed, and to spreading the word about Songstuff over the years.

In particular I would like to thank those who have taken time as authors, moderators and staff members, who have all volunteered to dedicate their time and effort towards shaping Songstuff into what it is today. Truly a community of musicians and songwriters shaped by the community, for the community.

Many, many thanks to you all.

Here's to making music over the next decade!

John Moxey

Songstuff

Due to a variety of reasons we have taken the decision to cancel the site Summer Meeting, scheduled for 22nd to 24th August 2008.

There were too few actual Songstuffers who were going to attend and svereal who were uncertain. This on it's own makes the event unviable in the form it was going to take place.

We will learn from this experience by consulting with members so that if we consider further events we can take that into account.

One possibility that has been suggested is the possibility of a variety of informal local meets, but that will be discussed on the boards.

I am sorry for any onconvenience that this may cause any individual members.

Mahesh

Knowing how to restring your guitar is a very very important skill to learn when starting out as a guitarist. Budding musicians sometimes neglect the maintenance part of the learning and head straight to the playing. A sign of a true guitarist maybe seen in the way he handles and takes care of his/her instrument. 

 

Guitar strings need to be replaced periodically especially if you perform regularly on stage. Though some may find that statement debatable,one needs to know how to restring the instrument nonetheless.

 

The following article will take you through the process and the tools needed with lots of images for better learning.

 

http://www.songstuff.com/guitar/article/how_to_restring_a_guitar/

 

Be sure to share and like the article if you find it useful. If you have any questions, feel free to discuss it on the Songstuff Community Forums.

Songstuff

Fan Engagement

Keeping it fresh while engaging your fans isn't straight forwards. At least that's the what many artists tell us. They start a band blog and pretty quickly run out of interesting things to say. They write the odd interesting post, but most posts are boring as hell, or barely related to their band and their music. More common still is their blog just dries up. So what could they do?

Have no fear Songstuffers! We've collected 15 excellent ideas to help you engage your fans using video.

guitarist-green-screen-camera-music-video.jpg

Read "Fan Engagement"

Comments

Please leave some comments and feedback on this article, and / or suggestions for new articles by leaving a reply below.

Mahesh

The Pentatonic Scale is something that almost every musician would have learnt in their early days. No matter the genre, the Pentatonic Scale proves to be a very powerful tool in improvising solos. Even though less is known about how the human brain interprets music, it's been observed that it responds to recognizable patterns such as the Pentatonic quite instinctively.

Jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin demonstrated this theory at the World Science Festival in 2009 when he participated in a talk called “Notes & Neurons: In Search of a Common Chorus”.

McFerrin begins with guiding the audience through a few notes of the Major Pentatonic scale assigning a position on the stage for each of the notes. He then allows the audience to get familiar with each of the notes by indicating them based on the positions on stage. What happens next is quite impressive. The audience instinctively guesses the rest of the notes as McFerrin moves away from the assigned positions.

McFerrin also mentions at the end “Now, what’s interesting to me about that is, regardless of where I am , anywhere , every audience gets that..”.

That makes us wonder how close music really is to human life. Watch the video below to see how it happened at the World Science Festival.

john

YouTube have confirmed that the launch of their new subscription service is very close, but at the same time they are in the process of removing some of the biggest indie label acts.

YouTube and several indie labels have failed to agree on the royalty terms covering the new YouTube subscription service. These terms are in addition to the terms already covering its free service.

Here we go. Again.

The payment dispute between YouTube and indie labels is threatening acts like Adele and Arctic Monkeys, who may now find their music pulled from the service. Such indie label acts account for approximately 10% of all the music that YouTube has permissions to feature. However, their music is now likely to be withdrawn by YouTube from the world’s largest video service, as YouTube has been unable to reach an agreement with Beggars Banquet and several other leading independent labels. Details of the proposed license are at this time not known. Perhaps the indie labels are being unreasonable, however, we have been here before with YouTube.

YouTube executives claim that they cannot continue to offer music as a part of their free service without it also being made available on their new paid service as this would "disappoint" its subscribers. Hmmmm, really?

Arguably, users will be more disappointed that the music of these indie artists will not be available on the service at all and if they suspect that YouTube has unnecessarily withdrawn music from many indie artists, denying their fans the opportunity of enjoying their music on the YouTube platform, believing that they are showing contempt for both music fans and for artists, in a highly cynical, self-serving, negotiating tactic.

Such a bullish approach by YouTube is hardly a new negotiating tactic. This isn't the first time that YouTube has removed acts due to a payment dispute. UK YouTube users may well remember the last large scale dispute where a large amount of YouTube content was withdrawn from broadcast within the UK. At the time Google had recently acquired YouTube. Accusations of manipulating public opinion abounded as search results appeared to be dominated by content condemning the position taken by PRS, the UK based PRO, in a dispute over license payments.

Some privately say that YouTube (Google) are using their size and domination of the online video and internet search markets to unfair advantage, yet again, by bullying the music business and intimidating artists, labels, publishers and writers into accepting exceptionally low levels of payment, by YouTube(Google), for permission being granted to YouTube(Google) to use their content within their products and services.

YouTube will not yet give a date for the subscription service launch, and they are currently testing the service internally. No doubt such testing is carried out within the terms of usage allowed by their current license.

“We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year,” stated a YouTube spokesperson. Of course, they neglected to mention how much streaming such content had made for YouTube and Google over the same time period. They also left us to wonder at the levels of earnings that might have been enjoyed by writers and artists had their service not existed and listeners had had to find their music elsewhere.

While, on one level, the music industry is looking forward to there being more platforms in the streaming market place, the industry remains nervous about ceding even more control to the already highly dominant Google. Google’s track record, regarding respecting the rights of content owners, isn't exactly fantastic. In fact it is pretty poor. Terrible even. YouTube claims that it has paid more than $1 billion out to rights-holders in the "last several years.", however many in indie music have long complained of unfair treatment at the hands of YouTube. This is especially true when compared with other digital services.

In an interview with Billboard, Rich Bengloff, president of the independent label trade association A2IM, said that "We are treated equitably and fairly by Rdio, Spotify and Rhapsody, and about 20 services, but obviously not YouTube,". He also stated "I filed a complaint with the FTC last week.”

Going by past actions, YouTube and Google are highly unlikely to change their approach. From a music business perspective, there is little incentive to do so as long as PROs, labels, publishers, artists and writers continue to lie down and let themselves be walked all over.

A new, competing service is due to be launched by Amazon. Amazon's Prime Music service launches yet another major new player into the music streaming service business. While competition might improve the market overall, YouTube (Google) are bound to feel secure in their position, feeling that they can do whatever they want, for as long as their service dominates the marketplace to the extent it does, which of course it is highly likely it will, just as long as Google dominates search engine wars to the extent it does, leaving Google in complete control of their search results.

Songstuff

dave-bradley-150x150.jpgDave Bradley is a science journalist by day, but by night he's Cambridge's most wannabe singer-songwriter rockstar. Dave has played guitar for four decades or thereabouts and writes and performs acoustic and electric in a range of styles and has been likened to a range of artists, including Glenn Tilbrook, David Bowie and James Taylor, which is very flattering to him, of course, but he really is just a Geordie chancer with a loud shirt and six string...

 

Click through and support!

 

Dave Bradley on Bandcamp

Dave Bradley on Songstuff

Songstuff

photo-16736.jpg.06b94300838469979d301aec"You Rocked The Country" by Amy Abernathy, @ames1212

 

Amy's piece was selected as the closest to the initial challenge brief. Well done Amy and congratulations!

 

Read Amy's entry and an interview with her by following the link below:

Ballad Challenge #1 Winner Amy Abernathy

 

To everyone else who took part, many many thanks for getting involved. There were some great lyrics contributed, covering a range of genres. It was great to see your lyrics evolve, trying to meet the initial brief and in some cases writing in ballad snog form for the first time.... Some songs evolved into quite different songs from how they started!

Mahesh

Stop And Listen!

The world has become such a busy place. Deadlines, schedules, priorities, it's never ending. In such a time, we tend to overlook things that would have made the biggest difference in our lives.

Washington Post conducted an experiment that went on to prove this very point.

It was in January 2007 when Joshua Bell , a violinist, performed a few classical pieces on the Washington D.C Subway as he stood there, incognito. Most of the passersby hurried on without noticing the rare event that was unfolding itself.

Joshua Bell, one of the greatest classical musicians of modern times, was "playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made" valued at $3.5 Million. The fact that the people passed by without a reaction brings us to an important question.

How good is the music really, if people never stop and listen to it?

More thoughts that comes to mind are, if the passersby knew who the man at the side of the subway really was, would the reaction to the music being performed be any different?

Does the social status of the artist matter for the music to be good, or to even be noticed ?

We can only speculate on the answers to these questions but one thing is for sure, if we do not stop, look and listen every once in a while in our daily busy lives, we might miss out on the best life has to offer, or more. Here is a clip of Joshua Bell on the Washington D.C Subway playing along.

Songstuff

Collaborate on Songstuff, bringing lyricists, songwriters, musicians, recording engineers, and producers covering many styles of music.

Come along and take part!

collaborate-336-280.png

Join our general Collaboration Group and keep up to date with collaboration projects, create your own collaboration group.

Each group provides you:

  • your own forum
  • your own web pages
  • your own communication tools to allow you to easily communicate with your chosen collaborators!

Songstuff

A New Perspective on Writing Lyrics

songwriter_with_guitar.jpg

Starting to write a song can be a tricky business. This article explores approaching the song with the big picture in mind armed with a clear idea of what the song is trying to say, and where it is going. This can all be achieved by asking yourself three key questions when writing a song

Read the article now....

A New Perspective on Writing Lyrics

Comments

Please leave a comment! =>

Please leave Anthony some comments and feedback on this article, and / or suggestions for new articles, or simply showing Anthony some love for contributing this article to the Songstuff Music Community by replying to this topic...

New Article - A New Perspective On Writing Lyrics Topic

Author

ceseri_headshot.jpg

Anthony Ceseri

Songstuff

Song Building Blocks

Songs use a number of common sections. These sections are the building blocks of songs. When discussing song form these sections are assigned letters as labels, but you will be more familiar with their names such as verse, chorus and bridge.

This article looks at the common sections, what defines them, and how those sections work together to form a working, popular song.

notes_on_manuscript.jpg

Read "Song Building Blocks" now.

Comments

Please leave some comments and feedback on this article, and / or suggestions for new articles by leaving a reply below.

john

Rob Hoogers (board member Roflcopter) has joined the site staff as a designer and developer. He brings a lot of experience with web technology and a very creative mind to the role. As such Rob will be producing some tutorials on making videos, plus the development of some excellent free tools/services that we hope to provide in the near future.

You can find out more about Rob Here:

Roflcopter

Please join me in welcoming him to his new role!

(apologies to Rob and everyone else for the delay in posting this announcement!)

john

New Moderators

Please join me in welcoming 3 new moderators to our boards!

Long term Songstuff forum members Lazz, Chokai and FinnArild have all taken on moderation of specific critique categories:

Lazz - Jazz

Chokai - Electronica

FinnArild - Rock and Metal

Each of these board members brings a lot of experience to the boards. Each is involved in running a record label and each of them are still very active musicians with albums available on and offline.

Songstuff

Please welcome Donna Dahl as a new contributer to our drumming sub-site.

Donna is drummer and a singer/songwriter. In recent times she has returned to the study of her first love, drums. Dahl is currently involved in teaching drums, recording and composing, appearing live most often as a singing drummer and singer/songwriter with Thorny Swale, a blend of Twin Cities and Wisconsin players. Dahl sings regularly with the St. Augustine Latin Mass Choir of South St. Paul, Mn and is a member of MAS (Mn Association of Songwriters).

donna_dahl_300.jpg

john

I'm looking for some help from Songstuffers, for a fellow Songstuffer (not me).

Many of you will know Finn Arild as a member here, and as one of the Songstuff admins. For the last two years Finn has been working hard on his second album and it was released just before Christmas. i couldn't have been happier for him. He's not made a song and dance about it in any way (coughs at the play on words). He's not asked for any special promotion as a member of the site or the staff.

Well, I was greatly saddened to here that even without a big promotion to raise awareness of the album, it has already been ripped and placed on illegal download sites:

Read about it in Finn's blog

Sad really. He works hard at a job to earn the money to put it together and release it, he spends countless hours honing it, recording mixing and production... and then this. Just when he was getting some press attention and radio airplay. This is the other side of the illegal downloads market. It's not about the big acts and the big labels, it is very much about the little guy because the track rippers just don't care who you are.

It pissed me off.

So... unprompted by Finn (and I hope he is not annoyed) I wanted to ask you, members of Songstuff, readers of Songstuff, lurkers and occasional visitors.... can you do something for Finn? I'm not asking you to go and buy it (but in case you do here is the link to buy Testament, if you like progressive rock I think you'll love it. it's very well written and performed).

What I am asking you to do is help spread the word. Can you post about it on your FB page? Your Twitter? Myspace? Forums?

A big ask I know, but Finn helps make Songstuff possible, and he didn't deserve this. You guys can make a difference. Seriously.

Finn, I'm sorry if my doing this causes any upset. People really  shouldn't piss me off. ;)

Songstuff

Bands, Give Your Fans Real News, Not Spam

Bands face an ongoing challenge when it comes to spreading the word about their music, including both the task of getting their music in front of completely new listeners and the task of keeping in contact with their existing fans. This article explores the key issues involved in communicating with fans and provides some recommendations to make and keep it a positive experience.

380_spam.jpg

Read "Bands, Give Your Fans Real News, Not Spam"

Comments

Please leave some comments and feedback on this article, and / or suggestions for new articles by leaving a reply below.

Ravi Nair

Diy Demo Cd's

blog-0117073001401918612.jpgA month ago my band mate and I decided to give away CD's with our material to those who seemed to like our music. Since we are students and mostly live with a limited amount of money, getting a professional/industry type CD done would've costed a lot of money off our wallets. We tried to find a way around this situation. At first it was all about Saving Money but we soon realized it was about Authenticity, Looks, the LOVE and Saving Money.

Google was my best friend throughout. All the stuff was made and tested on a computer running Windows 8 OS. Click on the images below for a better view. If you are planning to give away or sell CD's with your content, then i hope this post helps you. We made around 30 discs for under $17 in the first run.

1: Decide what you want to put in the Disc!

All we had was our debut Single and a live audio set. It seemed like less stuff for a CD, so we added the artwork and testimonies too. Since an audio disc can't have anything apart from audio, we had to create data discs. Our disc was optimized for computer viewing. There was an autorun feature which included the links to our FB, Youtube, Soundcloud, Myspace, Bandcamp & Reverbnation links apart from all the other data. So the discs we made weren't recognized by a few audio CD players.

This is what i used to create the autorun program. If you know FLASH or other similar software you can create your own interactive program. If you have a lot of songs then you can create a good old Audio CD. If you don't know how to create audio or data discs, do a quick search, its not too hard.

We made two different discs, one was for music enthusiasts and one was for Venues/Organizers, you'd ask how it matters; I'll tell you how, Venues/Organizers need much more than songs, they need the Band's/Musician's profile and the Tech Rider with other things, and yeah it makes quite a difference. Everything a venue or an organizer needs to know about the band is there in a disc. Starting from a demo to the requirements of the Band if its plays somewhere.

This is the Autorun menu for Giveaway

This is the Autorun menu for Organisers/Venues

Make sure that you create content that applies to the audience/venue/organizer that you generally cater to, it'll be very useful.

2: CD Case & Sticker for CD!

The case for the CD was an issue, i did a few searches and found out this website. Filled out the details and took a print out on an A4 sheet that can be folded to accommodate a CD.The printout had numbers that tell how to fold, but I

instead. To be frank the case looked too simple and non-attractive which is not a bad thing, but we wanted something else. Since I had the paper case in my hand, i calculated the size and used that to create a design on photoshop, optimizing front and back of the cover. These looked much better, folding was not that hard a task after a few trials.
is pretty simple to follow.

Its a good idea to print two copies on a high GSM (thicker) A3 sheet and then later cutting them into two individual sheets. You get a full size print and it costs lesser.

If you don't like the paper cover, you can get a traditional cover. Don't forget that there are many other options you can find online.

I designed a sticker to stick on top of the CD. Its a good idea to keep the centre empty, i didnt though. You can also use the same stickers as giveaways. We asked the Printers to make high quality prints. Your printer guy can also put holes in the centre so you don't have to do it yourself. We later used these leftover centre stickers to seal the disc and distinguish the venue/Organizer CD's from Giveaway CD's.

3: Giving it Shape!

Alrightey then, now its time to do the physical part. First off, you need to buy enough number of CD's you so don't run out too soon. Buying a larger quantity generally costs less. We also got enough re-sealable plastic covers for the final product.

Stuff Required

I recommend that you first burn the disc to an iso image so you can identify any errors in the autorun or anything else in specific. Saves CD's for sure. You can mount these images using softwares like Daemon Tools or Power ISO. If you're running Windows 8, then you can directly mount the image.

After you do a good check, burn the CD's, put the stickers on top, fold cases, put CD's in the sleeve. And put the unit in a re-sealable plastic cover. Trust me they look pretty cool, once you've put in some work.

After our next gig, we gave these CD's and people had good things to say. Afterall it's the LOVE that matters more than anything else!!

You can directly download everything i used and made :

This is what we did, you can be as creative as you like. Let me know if you try this. How was the experience and what was the reaction from people on the other end.

Now just one more thing, I made a group for Bass Guitar enthusiasts, go

join.

Songstuff

New Features

New Default Style

Themes and Custom Headers

Content Block Plugin System

Social Bookmarks

Media Integration

Akismet Integration

Feedburner Integration

Other Changes:

Edit Entry Date

Display article count for categories

Blog Offline Mode

Entry author replies in comments are now highlighted

Detail

New Default Style

Blog has been overhauled with a fresh style, one which feels more like a traditional blog. Additionally, it has been designed with themes (see below) in mind, so there is plenty of room for future designs.

Themes and Custom Headers

We can now install 'theme packs' and allow users to choose which of these themes will be applied to their blog. Using themes you can completely change the look and layout of an individual blog. Users are also able to create their own unique theme, these user themes must be approved by an adminstrator before they are publically viewable by other users. The new custom header system allows us to create multiple header images for users to choose from.

Content Block Plugin System

It's now much easier to create custom content blocks, using a new plugin system. It's now possible to define settings for a plugin that apply to individual blogs, this means that we can integrate with 3rd party widgets that require a unique username for each blog. There are also included new content blocks in this release: Twitter, MyBlogLog, Google Reader, Friends Blogs, and Recent Visitors.

Social Bookmarks

A new bookmark manager allows us to define bookmark services for your blog system. These services will allow blog entries to be easily submitted to the bookmark services that you setup. There are several preconfigured services: Del.icio.us, Digg, Facebook, Mixx, Reddit, and Stumbleupon.

Media Integration

The new tag allows you to automatically convert various media types into a more useable format. FOr example, [ blogmedia ]http://www.test.com/somemp3.mp3[/ blogmedia] would be converted into a mp3 player for the specified file. By default we include: Flickr Image Set, GameTrailers, Google Video, MP3 Player, MySpace Video, Veoh, and YouTube.

Akismet Integration

It's now possible to use Akismet to filter spam for both the comment and trackback system. (not enabled yet, wehn it is trackbacks will be activated)

Feedburner Integration

Users can now override the default rss syndication and use FeedBurner.

Songstuff

We have been working on improvements to artist page management:

Streamlining of navigation - removed artist selection

We are currently working on:

Artist page view editing

Image Upload

Removing artist page approval

Further Planned Work

Member pages for fans, individual musicians and music industry

Member message box

Gig Info

Press Pack

Blog Support

Fan List