We had a phenomenal year with ParaDYM Academy and Diloreto in New Britain. We collectively released a compilation album entitled 'Soundtrack For My City' (which will be available on all major distributors over the summer). We helped the students at Diloreto host their first ever talent show, and every single one of them blew the roof off the place.
We also had a great first year with Farmington Continuing Education running after-school courses at West Woods Upper Elementary School. A lot of these guys were making electronic music for the first time, and boy did they hit the ground running. Looking at the steep progression from day one up until the day we ended Level II was amazing. We're very much looking forward to our continued participation next year!
Next up, we have our Tech It Out program lined up with CCSU at the end of June! It's always a great time.
Every year we get a little bit busier, but it's always so much more gratifying than the last. We very much appreciate the friendships that we're making with organizations, parents, and most of all, the youth of CT. Here's to a great summer in celebration of another awesome school year.
We have a new livestream request from an anonymous member - we will be looking at how to flush out ideas into more full concepts. This will consist of methods in arrangement and composition. Always feel free to drop your suggestions with us in the Discord, and we have the new 'Request Content' button at the top-right of the site for members!
With that said, we will be live streaming at 5:00 EST on Friday, 5/4/18!
We will be meeting in the Classroom - bring your questions! Hope to see you all there!
I find myself having this conversation with my students all the time. Most musicians gravitate towards album sales, and fail to see any of the other avenues. I can't blame them. Album sales are the most obvious, but there are lots of other lucrative activities for musicians to build a career and prosper.
Today, I want to talk about some of the methods you can employ to monetize your music. These are in no particular order:
Licensing your music is a phenomenal way to build revenue from your craft without having to sell ownership. Licensing placements are not as difficult to get as some may think. Even small companies and websites will offer compensation if you're having trouble landing big ones. This can add up pretty fast, and is an effortless, usually non-exclusive way to keep revenue coming in. You don't have to be a big name either.
Music is crucial for advertising, so campaigns are more than willing to pay for good music to send their ad the extra mile.
A simple Google search will give you a ton of non-exclusive catalogues (Indaba Music and Audiosparx are two that come to mind). Additionally, a lot of one-stop-shop distributors will put you right into catalogues too (CDBaby is one).
We spend so much time honing our skills for our own benefit; why not sell them to someone else?
Anything musical is usually a time-consuming skill to learn, so many individuals are ready to throw some cash at someone to do it for them. We can't do it all. I produce music and engineer sound. Nowadays, I actually work for other musicians more than I work on my own music. This has saved me in times of financial crisis.
I lost my side-job last year and was technically unemployed for 6 months. During this time, I worked producing for other musicians. Had I not have had this option, I would've been in big trouble. Selling my know-how saved my wallet.
On the flip side of that coin, I would often rather pay a singer or songwriter to perform on my tracks than do it myself if that's something I need. Performance is not my forte anymore, so getting someone else to do it can improve the quality of the music I'm putting out. Making sure my product is 100% top-notch can ensure more sales on my end as well, so that investment pays off.
Not only is this a great way to earn, but it also keeps the music economy fluid. A musician paying another musician is keeping the money in the industry, and supporting someone else with similar dreams and goals.
Often times we overlook a lot of the potential avenues for building income off of a single product. This becomes a lot more effective after you already have a loyal fan base, but offering more than CD's gives you so much potential to monetize at max efficiency.
For example, there are more than a few artists that I'm a diehard fan of. If they're only offering album sales, they'll get a single sale from me per release (maybe $5-10) when I would be happy to pay more. If they were also offering T-shirts, stickers, vinyl, and photos (even better, make it a $50-100 package), they made way more per capita off of every fan like me. From a content standpoint, they didn't have to do any extra work. All of that merch was released for the same album, and they make way more money.
This becomes even easier when you perform. Get someone in the right atmosphere at the right time, and they'll unload their wallets in that moment. It's powerful to be able to give them the experience to go along with it.
This is a huge one for me, obviously. As I mentioned earlier, musical skill sets can be very time-consuming and frustrating to learn. New musicians are more than happy to pay for someone to teach them how to do it correctly, and mitigate the growing pains.
Torches Academy has become the biggest investment of time for me, even over the music I'm making.
Especially for older musicians, there comes a time when you're done chasing the dream of being a touring, active artist. In fact, even that thought is completely exhausting to me now. As much as I miss playing live at times, I love paving the road to success for the youth who still have that kind of energy! When I started teaching, I found my true passion.
I'll tell you right now - there will never be a shortage of people wanting to learn how to play and write. Every other aspect of music is constantly changing and it's our job to analyze and adapt, but I'd venture to say that this one never really does.
The beautiful thing about this too, is music is an art, so a degree isn't required to teach at most private institutions (your own included). I've been contracted by universities, continuing education departments, summer programs, you name it. And just to bring in what I know about music production and electronic composition.
This one is a little hard for me to put into words because it's not one specific method, per se - it's more of a school of thought than an avenue. You never know when opportunity will strike, and often times, it is not an opportunity you were actively looking for.
Let me outline this one through example -
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a musician. I wear it on my sleeve, and although sometimes it's tough to explain to people how I'm a career musician, I do it anyway. Recently, I was hired to work from home at a music licensing firm. A mutual acquaintance of mine knew what I did professionally, and recommended me. In the end, all I did to land the gig was take part in the industry openly.
On the other hand, I know a lot of painfully talented 'closet' musicians. These are the folks who work their 9-5 jobs and live their lives as normal folks, and only 'dress up' for the part when it's studio time or performance time. To each their own - I can't fault them for not going all in if it's not something they want - but at the same time, some of these people are the same ones wondering why their music isn't taking off. When more than half the people you know don't even know you play or write, how are you expecting to reap the rewards of the skill sets you worked so hard to build? The music industry is all about building relationships - don't shoot yourself in the foot by hiding that side of your life. Wear it loud, wear it proud.
This doesn't offer any kind of guarantee, but you never know when you could be missing out on a great opportunity because that ONE key person doesn't know what you're capable of.
This one is obvious for a lot of people, but sometimes I'm surprised at how many musicians still exclusively rely on album sales over streams.
For a lot of indie musicians, selling albums is still going to yield the best results due to smaller fan demographics. However, the music industry is changing. In my experience, there's absolutely no reason not to set yourself up to get your music on a big playlist on Spotify or trend on Youtube. The worst down side is that nothing will happen.
Not to mention, getting on all major distributors is included with most major distribution platforms like CDBaby, Tunecore, and Stem. Just do it - it's cheap and there's no reason not to that I can think of.
If you look hard enough, there are new trends and avenues appearing all the time. A lot of them aren't going to be super obvious, and you may have to go a little more out of your way than you're used to. But a lot of musicians find themselves in jobs they weren't exactly set out to have in the first place, but still very much enjoy.
Wedding DJ's, luthiers, roadies, event hosts, booking agents - a lot of these roles aren't sought from the beginning, but stumbled upon along the way.
It's also important to look at the trends outside of music to see what is lucrative overall. I remonetized a lot of my music on a website called Steemit, a blockchain technology website where you earn cryptocurrency for good content. A lot of people are skeptical of these new avenues, but I can tell you first hand that I've seen payouts. There is nothing wrong with cautious and strategic experimentation. Try new things and stay ahead of the curve!
Whew, that was a long one. Every musician is different, and my music career will likely look very different than yours. Yet, it's super important to keep your options open, and squeeze as much potential as you can out of every opportunity.
I enjoy writing blog posts like this because I like seeing my fellow musicians succeed, and there should be more sharing of information about these subjects and experiences. Selling music can be like selling water by the river, and we have to stick together, unify, and help each other build.
If there is anything I've missed, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments! Much love and thanks for reading!
I'd like to take a second during this, my first blog post for Torches Academy, to talk about myself. Go ahead and skip paragraph one if you don't care. If you're still reading this now, it's too late. This is Erin "speaking"– you may have seen my name pop up on the Discord every now and again. Or maybe not. I've been a part of the team here since mid-November in 2017, lending a hand with our social media pages, a bit of content creation, journalistic outreach and basically, letting the world know we're here. Okay, background: studied music since early childhood. Always involved in music and arts in school classes, after school programs, in the community and on my own time. Pursued secondary education at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Earned Bachelor of Science degree in Music Business with a concentration in Management and a minor in Music Technology. Not great at any particular instrument (including computer) but, I am a halfway decent singer. Anyway, I love the path that I'm on and I have no regrets.
If you're still reading this, I feel really special. I lied when I implied I was done talking about myself, but as I continue I will also be including a note on YOUR artistry. Something I've struggled with as a musician is the crippling fear of actually showing people that this is what I love and what I do. You are not alone, all creatives feel this. As you move forward through your musical journey, try to remember that criticism help you become better, just as positive or negative experiences in life alter your perspective and spur growth and change. It is my hope that the company you are surrounded by at Torches Academy, or any other artistic communities you find yourself involved with, helps you to build not only your skills but your confidence as well, and your desire to continue. Share your work with us, meet other artists, practice, and don't be afraid.
I know it's been a little while getting the platform back in a running condition but we're finally ready to get back to work! There will be a lot of things that we improve on over time, but right now I feel confident in getting back to member content in the current state. Always feel free to drop your suggestions with us in the Discord!
With that said, we will be live streaming at 7:30 EST on 4/4/18! We have a request made by pro member Sean G., who wants to look at building synths with FM, and sound design overall - definitely a great talking point for progression as a music producer!
As we're working on adding content to Torches Academy, it's extremely important to us that we're building out lessons and videos that our memberbase needs, not just what we want to make.
Recently, we integrated the 'Request Content' page, where pro members can submit exactly what they want to see brought into the curriculum.
Because the page was kind of hard to see (we had it listed under our 'Schedule' tab) we've added a button to the main Torches Academy template at the top right.
We hope this will encourage users to put us to work and let us know what they need to learn! Get to it!
Dive into learning the in's and out's of 'complextro' through a project series made from scratch. Complextro is a sub-genre of electrohouse, using frequently changing and modulating synths and leads to create a hectic audio landscape packed into just a few bars. 'Ikora' is a track that we built from the bottom up, and captured all of the video for you to watch!
Within this series, we will look at building beats and rhythms, chord progressions, a touch of melody, and lots and lots of synth design with Sytrus. Sytrus is an extremely powerful FM synth that comes stock with FL Studio, so if you're looking to bolster your ranks of presets, this project is for you!
The first two installments are free to all Torches Academy members. The full project series is available to Torches Academy pro members.
You can get started here! Have fun!
I'm happy to say that we are finally closing in on having the new and improved intro series back up on the site. This was our first goal moving into 2018.
We're excited because now we get to move forward into the fun stuff! This year we plan to add lots of lessons, features, and downloadable content for Torches Academy members.
We will be creating new lessons every month starting in February, after we finalize everything with the content we currently have.
Thanks for your patience while we build a bigger and better Torches Academy. 2018 is going to be a great year!
Music and artistry can be tricky. I'm not even talking about just making music - the writing, composition, arrangement, recording, producing, mixing, mastering - but even after all that. What do you do with it? How do you start a following? How do you monetize? How do you stay relevant, let alone stay ahead of the curve?
I don't have all the answers, all I can say is I live off of what I am passionate about. All I can do is offer my experience and share some of the ideas and concepts that have proven successful, even in the smallest ways.
I produce a lot of 'first time' artists, and I've noticed that as their first release, they are so dead set on getting it right. But the reality of the situation is (in my personal opinion), a lot of artists' first record is a burner, and for many reasons. From your listeners standpoint, marketing is working against you. How do you get people psyched for an album when they have no idea what you sound like? You're new to the scene - it's probably safe to expect that no one is going to care until you've proven your worth, which most likely will not happen until 1-2 releases in. From your standpoint as far as artistry goes, you are going to be spending your first couple releases discovering your sound! No matter how much time and effort you put into your first release, I guarantee you that you will look at it a month later and say, I could do better now. Whether you spend a month on it or a year on it. Hindsight is 20/20, and honestly that's fine, it's a part of the process. Obviously give it your best and make great music, but don't get stuck up on your entry into the scene. Chances are there aren't going to be too many people watching yet.
This is sort of in line with the first tip, but this applies to many aspects - not just recording an album. I'm not even going to go into detail here, but there are so many hours in a day. 'I'm not ready' is a BS excuse - comfortable does not mean progress. If you are ever 'ready' to do something, it means you've spend way too long waiting to do it. This applies not only to recording albums, but playing shows, learning new skill sets, networking, and investing in yourself, to name a few. It's no excuse - get to work! Comfort does not mean progress - failure does.
From a producer's standpoint, this one gets really important. There are tons of producers who can work very well within one genre. I'm not trying to discredit their skill, because I don't deny the fact that they have it - but they're boxing themselves into a life of being a one-trick pony. Explore and fail. Credit yourself, and praise yourself for progress, but don't let that onetaste of greatness fill you with complacency. Musicians who take themselves seriously take every opportunity to grow, and you should never be the smartest one in the room. Surround yourself with people that are better and more experienced than you. The second you think you know everything is the moment you've sacrificed your chance for real greatness, at the expense of ego. Know your weaknesses and improve.
In this day and age, it's so easy to just litter the world of social media with your music, hoping that the 'wide net' method will bring you fans. Let me tell you - it doesn't. In fact, I can't tell you how many people I've unfollowed because their methods are spammy and self-absorbed. Be a part of your music community - talk to others, comment on their music. Engage fans and get to know them. Talk about your struggles, your plans, and your dreams. Be a human being. People are smarter than you think - they're tired of automated messages and shameless self-promotion. If you want to promote your sound, drive traffic to smart, visible placements in your social media where your music is stupid easy to find, and then talk about anything and everything MUSIC but yourself. You will see more traffic to your page, and more listens because people will view you as an artist, not a robot.
Your artistry is your brand, and you have to spend money to make money. Make a budget and crunch the numbers for short-term and long-term goals. Stop trying to get things for free - in the short-term it may be nice, but not only does that reflect on you as a dead-end prospect to anyone who may want to work with you, but the quality of work you'll see your team putting in will show in your art. Quality over time requires sustainablity. Budget and take care of the people who take care of you, and your art will reflect that. Get people excited about the waves you are making, and your art will reflect that. Let people know that they are taken care of under your roof, and your art will reflect that. No one who makes music for a living will take you seriously if you cannot offer them some kind of compensation. Take the time and energy you allocate to trying to get free services and apply that to building revenue off of your craft. Build your business. You're an artist, not a charity. Which leads me to...
This is the flip-side/continuation of number five. To pay your team and make sure you are getting the best quality work, you need revenue. Music is a business and your name is your brand. If you are going to post or give out your music somewhere, have a reason for doing it. Look up marketing tactics used by professionals and apply them to your sales methods. If you're going to give out 'free' music, get something else in return - like an email. Building an email list could mean hundreds, if not thousands, of future sales if they like the sample you give them. It may not be for money directly, but don't underestimate the value of a contact. Re-monetize your work - Sell your music directly, license it, enable ad monetization on stream services, and blog about it on Steemit - boom, four different revenue streams. Putting value on yourself and your work is important. When someone receives something for free, that is the value that they assign to it - zero. Don't be afraid to allow people to see you as something worth paying for. Even if they choose not to pay for it, they will still apply the value to your worth as an artist.
Naturally, growth creates a larger web of duties, responsibilities, and prospects for you to take care of. Take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you, but never lose sight of your mission statement. If you start to get side-tracked, reel yourself back in - cut out the fat. It's easy to drown in the sea of opportunity that you create for yourself - stay focused and don't be afraid to simplify.
I've almost quit music completely, twice. Why? Because I got lost in the ideas that I was not good enough, or it was overwhelming, or I wasn't making enough to live, or my music had no place in the industry, etc. Don't forget to stop yourself every so often and remember why you do it. It sounds simple, but I can't tell you how important this part is. Keep having fun and always love what you do - if you don't love it, stop doing it. Passion is what drives good music.
These are just a few things I try to remind myself of on a daily basis. I hope that there are artists out there that can read this and take something away from it!
As a music producer, I think one of my favorite and most valued skill sets that I have is my ability to mimic. You learn to hear a song or style, and 'copy' it in a way that helps you learn what it's made up of.
When you're first starting out as a musician, obviously you want to establish your own style, and it's going to be important that you do so over the length of your songwriting experience. However, I will say that sometimes the best way to find your sound is to mimic others.
This accomplishes multiple things...
Firstly, you will quickly master sounds and styles that have already been tried and true. As you continue to do so, your arsenal of sounds and abilities will grow, making sure that you are never stuck in a block of sound design or style. You can accomplish this through mimicry - finding artists that you like and studying/executing their style in a way that is insightful and educational.
Secondly, not only will you absorb information about artists, but also common denominators within the genre. You can only really accomplish this by spanning your studies across a spectrum of artists. This information becomes vital when an artist asks you to produce a 'trap' instrumental, and you need to know what elements typically go into a trap beat.
And the last thing that I want to touch on, is this - many times, no matter how hard you try, it's VERY difficult to emulate an artists' style exactly. What this means is that you may find yourself setting out to mimic a song, and realize that you've created a completely different sound entirely.
This is where the intent of mimicry simply becomes inspiration; it's healthy. I've found that in my experience, when I try to emulate styles of artists that I like, it almost always still sounds like my music. This is the peace of mind to the individuals who are worried about being unoriginal - don't be afraid to mimic! Chances are you will miss the exact mark and make something entirely yours anyway.