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Giving Away Your Music For Free – Tools For Indie Musicians

This post is part of the “Tools for Indie Musicians series. See all the posts here.

This is more of a strategy than a tool, but strategies are tools, right?

All of my original music is free. I’m going to explain my strategy in this post, but first, let’s look at this idea from both sides.

Argument against free downloads

You can do a google search and read tons of opinions on artists giving away their music for free. Many are passionately against the idea. I’ve read a lot of arguments against giving away music, and I’ll sum them up with this statement:

Giving away your music for free cheapens it. You put lots of work into creating music, and if you believe it is valuable, you shouldn’t just give it away. Furthermore, it harms the entire music industry, conditioning fans to expect to listen to and download music for free.

Why I choose to give my music away free

I believe the argument for giving away music is stronger. So, this is why I give away my music for free.

  • I am an unknown artist. Sure – I may have more than 2 or 3 twitter followers, and my mailing list has more than 13 emails on it, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m totally 100% an unknown.
  • As an unknown artist, exposure is worth way more than money.

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TuneCore – Tools for Indie Musicians

This is part of a “Tools for Indie Musicians” blog series where I highlight what tools I use to spread my music out there. See other posts in the series here.

My last post in this series was over CD Baby. TuneCore does pretty much the same thing – and that’s getting your music to iTunes and other digital retailers so people can buy your music and make you rich and famous.

Visit TuneCore’s website

TuneCore has a few differences, though, and I’m going to highlight those here, as well as detail my personal experience with them.
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CD Baby – Tools for Indie Musicians

This is part of a “Tools for Indie Musicians” blog series where I highlight what tools I use to spread my music out there. See other posts in the series here.

If you make music, you probably want to be able to sell it. And if you want to sell it, you want to sell it on iTunes. Trust me on this one. But, how in the world do you get it there?

Getting your music to iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc, is called “digital distribution”. It’s really difficult to do this yourself, so there are several companies that will handle this for you acting as a middle-man, taking care of the distribution as well as the money. Today we’re going to talk about CD Baby.

Visit CD Baby’s website.

CD Baby has been around for a long time. They handle both digital distribution as well as sales of physical CD’s. I’ve used them for several of my releases, and I’ve been extremely happy with them.

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Tools for Indie Musicians

I’m going to start posting a series of articles titled “Tools for Musicians”.

There are lots of great sites out there specifically for indie musicians like me, but hearing actual user experiences is always a good thing. I don’t claim to be a super successful recording artist, but I feel like things are picking up steam for me, and I’d love to share some strategies and tools that I use to get things done.

Just as a teaser, I’m planning on reviewing and sharing my experiences with (links take you to posts over that topic):

  • CD Baby (sell your music on iTunes and everywhere else)
  • TuneCore (another way to sell music on iTunes and other online retailers)
  • BandCamp (a service that allows you to sell your music on your own terms)
  • Giving Away Music For Free (my thoughts and strategy with giving away free music)
  • NoiseTrade (seriously – read this – you need to be using NoiseTrade)
  • MailChimp
  • YouTube
  • Other websites that list tools for indie musicians

I’m also planning to talk about different strategies for blogging and sharing music.

My hope is to have all of you who are indie musicians to add to the conversation so we can all learn from our shared experiences. Stay tuned!

Live Recording Setup at Church

I have been wanting to do decent quality live recording for a long time at church. I’ve done some recording of our worship before using a hand-held recorder, but nothing like a full-fledged multi-track setup. That’s all going to change now. I’ve got us set so we can get a full mix, each track recorded individually. I’ll break down the equipment I’m using and exactly how we’re doing it.

First of all, here is what we’ve got on a typical Sunday morning, and what we need to track

  • Vocals – usually 3. One lead and two backup.
  • Acoustic guitar. This is mine – I run my Martin D-35 through an Ultrasound DI Plus pre-amp and then straight into the board.
  • Electric guitar. Usually Justin (our main electric player) runs through a footpedal and into a Vox AC15. We mic that with an SM57.
  • Keys. Yamaha MM8 (this is a new keyboard for us – we’re excited!)
  • Bass. We get a direct signal to the board. Sometimes the bass player goes through an amp with a direct out.
  • Drums. We use a Roland TD9 V-drum kit. Just one out that goes straight into the board. It also has a midi out that I’m running into my recording interface so I can put a drum plugin on it like Superior Drummer.
  • The speaker (Pastor). The pastors use a wireless mic, which goes into the board.

So – we’ve got 9 to 10 different inputs going in – all of them eventually go into the board either direct or mic’d. We run a regular snake to the back of the stage where everything plugs in.
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How To Line Up Audio and Video in Final Cut

In this video tutorial, I illustrate the technique I use to line up audio and video clips in Apple Final Cut video editing software. I’ve been asked how I do this several times, and it’s really a lot easier than it might seem.

Let’s say you’ve recorded an acoustic version of a song and you took video during the recording. So, you’ve got a video clip with audio from the mic on the camera you used. Plus you’ve got the audio from your recording interface. You’ll want to use that audio from the recording interface and ditch the audio from the built-in camera microphone. Syncing the video and the audio can be a tedious task! In a nutshell, do this:

  1. Tell Final Cut to show the audio waveforms of the clips.
  2. Line up the waveforms.
  3. You’re done!

How to Transpose Music With Planning Center

I posted a few weeks ago about 5 reasons you should transpose your music. Quickly, those reasons are:

  1. Put songs in keys your congregation can easily sing.
  2. Put songs in keys that you can sing.
  3. Put songs in keys that are easy to play on your instrument.
  4. Give your band charts in the open key (not the key that requires a capo).
  5. Facilitate smoother transitions.

I use Planning Center to transpose not only chord charts but mp3s as well, and it couldn’t be easier. You don’t need any knowledge of theory to do this.

Planning Center is web-based software that does all kinds of awesome things, but this webcast focusses only on the transposing feature. it’s also free to use (they have paid plans as well).

Great Post About Playing Live (DIY Musician)

I found a great post over at the DIY Musician blog from CD Baby about playing live. This would be aimed more for the non-corporate-worship type settings, and many worship leaders (myself included) like to get out there and play music in all different kinds of venues.

Here’s a link to their article:

Click me! (original post on the DIY Musician blog from CD Baby)

Here are the CliffsNotes:

  1. Stay positive.
  2. Your audience size is not a reflection of your talent.
  3. You never know what unseen factors are going on.
  4. Park your dark cloud elsewhere!
  5. All’s well that ends well.

5 Reasons You Should Transpose Your Music

Transposing music may seem like a pretty complicated process. You have to know some music theory. You need to be familiar with what chords go in what keys, etc. It’s a lot easier just to play the songs in the keys they were recorded in, right? Well, not always. Many times, playing the songs in the original keys is not the best idea. Here are 5 reasons why you should transpose your music.

1. Put the songs in keys that your congregation can sing.

Chris Tomlin is the most sung worship artist in Christian churches today. He writes awesome songs that become anthems for churches. He also sings really, really high. It’s likely that there are only a few people in your church that can comfortably sing his songs in they keys he records them in – especially men.

As worship leaders, it’s important that we focus on facilitating worship. In other words, our job is to remove any barriers that might be keeping people from engaging in worship. One of the biggest barriers, in my opinion, is a song that is in a key that’s too high to sing comfortably. Transpose those songs down and watch (and listen) to people belt out that big anthemic chorus with you like never before.

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