According to today’s article on CNET, smartphone demand continues to soar – more than 50% of all new cell phone purchases are smartphones. Whether the Blackberry, iPhone or Droid we see a lot of our music students walking around with a plenty of “high-IQ” phones. When you are done with your calls, texts and playing Angry Birds, don’t forget to check out some of the incredible musician-friendly apps that are not only fun but will keep your mind nice and sharp musically. Here are five of our faves:
Some people might not be fans of jazz, but you would be hard pressed to find a serious musician who doesn’t have appreciation for that genre. Some of the greatest musical minds come from Jazz. Have you ever jumped into a jam session and not known what scales to play over the chords? This amazing little App can figure out what key the jam is in by entering the chords and get you soloing in no time. Of course, if you are a jazz-focused LAMA student chances are you can do this by ear:
HARMONIC EAR TRAINER
If you find that after your music theory classes, you still want to practice listening skills, check out the Harmonic Ear Trainer App! Harmonic Ear Trainer gives you the tools you need to master identifying the quality of intervals, triads and seventh chords. All intervals between a minor second and a perfect octave are included, as well as all common triads and seventh chords. Brush up on these skills – they will make you a better musician!
Kill some time with Ocarina, which turns your smart phone into an ancient flute. With no musical training required, you’ll “blow” away your friends and family with your new talent. If it sounds good with no musical training imagine what a LAMA voice student would be able to do with it:
It’s 2011, which means you can practice and learn more about the piano on your smartphone! Not only can you practice as you travel, you can also take lessons. Sure beats reading a newspaper!
What good is all this musical stuff if you can’t record it and play it for others? You don’t want to see what a four-track recorder used to look like in the 90s– the fact that one fits on your phone is incredible. Use this app to record vocals or even plug in instruments. They have a nifty feature where you can even upload directly to SoundCloud when you have a finished track. The future is now!
These are just SOME of our favorite apps, but there are thousands more to choose from in the various app stores. If you want to get extra creative, start your own app! Be careful though, don’t rely too much on technology. Your practice room and gear still need your love and attention.
All this talk about smartphones and musicians means we have to refer you to the band “Atomic Tom” — might have taken iPhone musicianship to the next level:
Second Annual Drummer’s Reality Camp starts tomorrow at LA Music Academy College of Music. You can follow @LAmusicacademy on Twitter for daily updates and photos from camp! Spots still available — sign up for the whole week or for individual days here: http://bit.ly/fGEpk8. The school is really excited to be hosting this in conjunction with DrumChannel.com — give them a visit if you haven’t checked out the site. Remember, everyone who signs up this year gets a free DrumChannel.com subscription for one year! Check out this awesome schedule of events:
WEDNESDAY JUNE 29TH
10-11:15am – Playing Techniques w/ Ralph Humphrey
11:30am-1pm – Ensemble Workshop w/ Ralph Humphrey
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Thomas Pridgen Clinic
3:30-5pm – Gil Sharone Clinic
5-7pm Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9pm Roundtable (featuring Jim Keltner, Matt Chamberlain & special guests)
THURSDAY JUNE 30TH
10-11:15am – Jazz Drums Lecture w/ Joe Porcaro & Tony Inzalaco
11:30am-1pm – Jazz Ensemble Workshop w/ Joe Porcaro & Tony Inzalaco
2-6pm – Tour of DW & Drum Channel & Terry Bozzio Show/Clinic (Transportation NOT provided)
FRIDAY JULY 1ST
10-11:15am – Latin Drums Lecture
11:30am-1pm – Latin Ensemble Workshop
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Danny Seraphine Clinic
3:30-5pm – Alex Acuna Clinic
5-7pm – Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9pm – Alex Acuna Concert
SATURDAY JULY 2ND
10-11:15am Rock Drums Lecture
11:30am-1pm – Rock Ensemble Workshop
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Cobus Potgieter Clinic
3:30-5pm – Kenny Aronoff Clinic
5-7pm – Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9 Kenny Aronoff w/ special guests
Here is a sampling of YouTube videos from some of our guest artists this week:
Neal Daniels, the man playing drums in this live Darren Criss (Glee) video, is one of our graduates from Los Angeles Music Academy. He sent this to us and we wanted to share this video because, well, it reminds us of the thrill of playing to packed venues with every. last. kid. singing. along. Congrats on the success Neal!
Has the music machine totally lost its backbone? Where have musicians similar to Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong gone?! They’re around, but not noticed. The music charts have become muddled with mediocre, fly by night pop-one-hit-wonder-sensations. Uber producers like Dr. Luke and Tricky Stewart have been cranking out platinum hits- and so they should during this phase of the music zeitgeist. While most are content with this musical mold, what about the rest of us? What about the ones that want more? What about the ones that want to be inspired?
All right, I get it. I could turn on Pandora and get my fix of digital tunes. Call me nostalgic, but I want terrestrial radio to take a stand on its own. Big brother seems to be telling everyone in radio the same thing: “Play these 35 songs on repeat for the next 4 weeks. Maybe we’ll mix a new one in next month…”. When did we accept this? When did we all sit back and agree that this should be the new format? Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t get an invite to that meeting…must have lost it in the mail huh?
I realize that terrestrial radio plays what’s most popular…I get it. But lets have a station stand on its own two feet and play something out of the box. Music affects all of us one way or another. Undeniably. So why not rotate artists that a) force us to think outside the box; b) enable us to hear different stories and c) give us inspiration to say “yes” instead of “no”.
At the end of the day, I think its only fair to appreciate all genres of music. From pop to classical they each have their own intricacies and are legitimate in their own right. However, this doesn’t excuse the fact that terrestrial radio needs a serious overhaul with its programming. Until then, I’ll stick to my vinyl and Pandora mixes. -They inspire me.
Tomorrow is the first day of summer 2011! You’ve just finished a grueling Spring semester and because you got straight A’s (right??), you deserve a break. There isn’t a better way for a musician to spend their free time than by going to a summer music festival. Whether it’s the behemoths like Coachella, Bonnaroo, or Sasquatch or the smaller ones like High Sierra Music Festival, The Gathering of the Vibes, or Camp Bisco, these summer music festivals aren’t like going to a concert at the park. While often a life changing experience, you should know what you are getting into – so hopefully these tips will help you survive and have a great show-going experience!
Confucius said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Apply this advice to your summer music festival planning. The good news is that almost all music fests will have a lot of info on their respective websites. For example…what can I bring (or not) to the festival? Visualize the festival in your mind and how you want everything to go. If you are a nature-loving individual you should camp out, and if you like a little comfort you should book a hotel. Make sure to book early; hotels and condo rentals often sell out faster than the tickets! Same goes with RVs, if you are thinking of going that route. After looking at your music festival suggestions, make your own personal checklist for what you need packed before you leave. The truth of the matter is that there is a Target or CVS in every town in case you forget a toothbrush or a pillow. One thing you can’t replace is your ticket!
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about music festival traffic. If you haven’t, check this video out:
You should plan on arriving to the festival as early as they allow (check their website again for when that is), if for no other reason than avoiding massive traffic jams. There are other perks too! If you are camping, you can pick the best spot; you can often catch stand-out performances that happen before the crowds come, and you can get a feel for the festival grounds before there are so many people around that you feel like cattle. Arrive early! There is nothing worse than having to hear the faint sounds of your favorite band playing as you sit in traffic.
YOUR BODY IS YOUR TEMPLE
One of the biggest pitfalls of a summer music festival is overextending yourself physically. You will most likely be in the hot sun all day with minimal sleep. Take care of yourself! Pack plenty of water in your car and OVER hydrate yourself throughout the day. The food at festivals is notoriously delicious but also notoriously unhealthy. Pack some healthy, non-perishable foods like bread, crackers, and peanut butter, you can rely on when you want to avoid the fried food for sale. Bring a nice summer hat, shades, and lots of sun block; coming down with heatstroke during the greatest weekend of your summer is not the way to experience a festival. There will be lots of temptations like drugs and alcohol — avoid them if you want to be at your healthiest. The band “The Hold Steady” even wrote a song about people that don’t follow this advice!
All music festivals usually follow a pretty standard format: book lots and lots of bands, and spread them out over several stages throughout the day. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to see every single show. Luckily, festivals release the schedules several weeks before, only so you can prioritize. Make three categories of artists: I MUST SEE, I WANT TO SEE, I COULD GO EITHER WAY. Make sure you schedule out your days to see all your MUST SEE’s and then fill in your spare time with the other bands. Often, show schedules will overlap and you might need to be OK with seeing just half of one set and half of another. The stages are often based on the popularity level of the band or artist. Don’t forget that smaller stages with smaller artists often put on the best shows because they have everything to prove. We all remember the story of Kanye West making the Bonnaroo audience wait for hours:
We should note that companies like Aderra.net record live performances at venues and festivals and sell those performances via USB drives/devices from a booth immediately following the show. Keep an eye out for Aderra booths at shows in case you want to take your experience home with you.
HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
As hard as it is getting into the festival, it can be equally hard leaving the festival! Some people decide to sneak out a day early, or plan their exit before the final big band of the last night. Others might decide to camp an extra night and party it up in the camp until everybody has left. If you are a concertgoer like me, and stay until the last show, be prepared for traffic but make the most of it. A football or Frisbee can go a long way! Make sure you have enough sleep before you head out of the festival or plan to recuperate at a hotel (remember again to book this in advance!). Too many people have died on the drive home from the festival, either from exhaustion or other factors, from having a three-day party.
If you do make it out to a festival, take lots of pictures and let us know how it went. Stay safe out there, remember to take some earplugs, and don’t forget your ticket!
Over at Gibson’s blog, Arlen Roth, an American guitarist and Telecaster enthusiast wrote an entry about finding work as a guitarist:
…there are so many ways people enjoy music, that it seems that if one puts their mind to it, they can really make a living as a guitar player…
It’s true. We’ve written previously about all the wonderful careers in music (read: The Truth – Music Careers Part 2: Songwriting) and while the possibilities are endless, Arlen pushes an often overlooked revenue source for musicians: Teaching. Arlen discusses how there used to be an “un-coolness” factor for players to teach, but how the benefits outweigh the drawbacks:
I still felt the “forward motion” of my career, and I was getting further attention, not only for my teaching, but for the uniqueness of what I taught, and how it pertained to me as an artist!
Arlen has some additional thoughts about finding work as a guitarist. Read the full post here: http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Blogs/Arlen-Roth-s-Blog/June-2011/Finding-Work-as-a-Guitarist!.aspx?RSSName=Blogs
Last time we chatted (The Truth – Music Careers Part 1: Performance), we learned that friends and family don’t often know the truth about what you can do with a music career. We also learned that you could have a very successful career as a performer. A little known fact is that the songwriters behind the songs that performers belt out on stage often make the most money. In this blog, we are first going to give you the basics of songwriting and then examine some of the different career options you have if you want to pursue songwriting after graduating music college.
WHAT IS SONGWRITING?
It might come as a shock to you, and I don’t mean to pull back the curtain, but the majority of songs you hear on the radio or watch on YouTube are NOT written by the artist performing them. Pop and Country music, especially, have had a long history of using professional songwriters to compose the lyrics and melodies that the performing artists sing in the studio, on their records, and in concert. It’s not just flavor of the moment artists like Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears, but everybody from Frank Sinatra to The Supremes to Sheryl Crow to Elton John. Almost ALL country musicians make use of professional songwriters who live in Nashville or “music city” and hope a big star will record one of their songs. Most songwriters are musicians who have a knack for putting music and words together and typically stay behind the scenes. The key perk with songwriting is the fact that you get a percentage of publishing money. If you have been reading Billboard lately, you might have noticed that the only people getting rich in music these days are people with publishing because you can earn money in television and movies and not have to rely on the sale of a CD.
Just because you become a songwriter and you spend your days in a studio recording and composing songs doesn’t mean you can’t have a life performing. Brad Paisley and Bob Dylan started off as songwriters with other people performing their songs before their performing and celebrity eclipsed their songwriting. Many songwriters often perform regularly at clubs, similar to how a stand-up comedian trys out jokes in clubs to see if they work, songwriters test out songs. Other musicians pay the bills by songwriting while they have other performance side-projects and bands. Some performers straddle both sides, like David Bowie who famously wrote “All The Young Dudes” for Mott The Hoople or Elliot Smith who gave Mary Lou Lord “I Figured You Out” both at the height of their respective careers.
JINGLE WRITER RADIO & TV
We all know the story about how the NBA on NBC theme came to John Tesh in his head and he left it on his answering machine. You know that theme right? We all do, even if we don’t watch basketball. Check him out performing the song and telling the story here:
You might think he just came up with a ten-second series of notes, but it’s so much more than that! EVERYTIME NBC airs a basketball game, Tesh gets a very nice royalty, and it has entered our culture. This is the power of being a jingle writer for radio and TV. These are musicians who have a key for coming up with very simple and quick catchy music interludes. This is way harder than it looks! Radio was the original creator of jingles; while most stations don’t sound like this anymore, it’s still the same principle:
This is one of the coolest jobs you can have after graduating from music school. The music supervisor handles and supervises the music for television and movies. Not only does he or she oversee all the composers and musicians that might provide the score, but he or she also oversees the soundtrack. This could include all stages of production from a “temp soundtrack,” as the film or TV show is being developed, to actually doing the negotiations with artist managements and publishing companies to get the “sync licenses” for TV and movies. Another aspect of the job could involve picking a performer to sing a particular song, such as Randy Newman with Pixar or Elton John contributing a performance for “The Lion King”.
This is just a very small sampling of the many opportunities you have if you want a career in songwriting. For a bigger list you might want to check out LAMA’s Careers Page Link. Luckily, if you are a student at LAMA already, you can simply ask some of your teachers because LAMA’s faculty is proud to have many successful songwriters who can give you the inside track on a future career. Fellow musicians, next time those lyrics come into your head, or you start humming a tune, grab for a pencil, chalk, anything and get it down on paper, it could be your big break!
So you convinced Coca-Cola to work with you on your next musical project. Now what do you do? Let’s start with a little congratulations; finding a budget to fund any musical project in general is extremely difficult. So pat yourself on the back. Now, lets focus on how to keep the brand happy, which will in-turn keep you happy. It’s a vicious game, but if played correctly, third party brand investing will save the music industry. At least that’s my opinion.
Before you do anything, make sure the brand partnership makes sense. If you’re a Disney artist, I wouldn’t recommend Coors Light as a sponsor. But that’s me. Then understand that brands are like labels, except brands have money and usually let you cut up the budgets. Yes. Money. Budget. Music. Control. Oh, now you’re listening?
Many artists make the mistake of thinking once the deal is signed, the hardest part is over. However, in order to make the most of a major branded sponsorship is to ignore the word “sponsorship” and replace it with “partnership”. This is key. Once you accept that you and your brand are “partners”, you will both see your musical endeavor grow exponentially.
After speaking at a Billboard seminar last October on brand partnerships from an artist standpoint, I realized that most artists like to remain on the outside of the deal. This is a huge mistake. Letting the manager or agent take the brunt of the deal will disconnect the brand from the artist. Let me say this as clearly as possible so you don’t make a very common mistake: As an artist, stay in direct contact with the brand product manager or agent directing the deal. Doing something as simple as keeping cc’d on emails between the brand and your manager will increase moral across the board, and will hopefully activate that first option deal in your contract for another year.
Your goal as an artist, assuming you like money, is to turn everyone at the brand into a fan of yours! Invested interest is priceless. Do everything required of your deal with the brand but also do a little extra with every project. Adding an extra tweet, shout-out, or Facebook post could turn your $10,000 deal into an $80,000 deal because everyone at the brand likes your hustle. Again, invested interest from a major brand can turn into a bigger budget.
Major brands are the only market where musicians can go for guaranteed budget dollars. Once you find a brand willing to invest in you, realize that you need to be ready to invest time back into them. Do more then expected and the budget will surprisingly open up.