After hosting an incredible Drummer’s Reality Camp last month, we here at LA Music Academy have been going through some serious “legendary drummers withdrawal.” We were spoiled by the likes of Terry Bozzio, Thomas Pridgen, Gil Sharone, Ralph Humphrey and Alex Acuna to name a few. We are already counting down the days until next year’s DRC (not yet seen the photos? Check ’em out HERE).
Anyone looking to solve that drummer withdrawal should seek out Drum! Night 2011 in San Jose. This year’s event features the Santana rhythm section of Raul Rekow and Karl Perazzo, Thomas Lang, and Terry Bozzio. Plus drummers who show up early can have a free technique tune-up with music editor Wally Schnalle, witness music demos, test new drum gear, and get in on a special autograph signing session with some special guest superstars. The editors of Drum! Magazine will also be giving out a special award to a local drummer.
Tickets are available on-line with Premium Seating costing $25 and general seating costing $20. Just seeing Terry Bozzio’s monster drum kit is worth that price! If you couldn’t tell, LAMA supports and encourages going out and socializing in the music community. Sometimes the best education is watching and learning from the pros. If you are able to make it please post a pic on our Facebook page and let us know what you learned. For more info and to purchase tickets please visit – http://www.drummagazine.com/drumnight.
It’s not called the music business for nothing. As great as it is to know about music in general, if you aren’t following the business side of things, you are losing out on a lot of helpful info. A music subscription service called Spotify, that took Europe by storm the last few years, has now arrived in the States.
Spotify is a Swedish DRM-based music streaming service offering selected music from a range of major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. What separates it from other current streaming services is that their catalog is supposedly extensive, the software is excellent, and you are able to sync it with your smartphone. It is completely free to use Spotify on your computer, but the company makes their money by charging for the premium accounts which have smartphone sync. Monthly subscriptions range from $4.95 to $9.95.
We’ve heard from friends that the free catalog available to the US, for the moment, is rather limited unless you are a premium member. But the industry speculates a game changer for a long-suffering music business that has been searching for a new way to make money off of music. YouTube has shown us that the way of the future is streaming. You can think of Spotify like the music version of Netflix Streaming, which has been incredibly popular.
You can sign up for Spotify today if you buy a premium subscription, but free invites have been trickling out and you can request them by going to the spotify.com or searching Twitter for a myriad of free invites from popular musicians and tech services. In fact Lady Gaga gave out a thousand invites over her Twitter recently. Same with Foursquare.
Musicians amaze us. They might not have a car, home or food (Top Ramen doesn’t count), but check out their gear i.e.: an amazing vintage amp, deluxe pedals, an incredible axe. One thing musicians rarely cheap out on is musical instruments.
Why spend decades practicing your musicianship only to play on sub-par equipment? The secret that most musicians know is that you don’t have to buy gear brand new. Much like a car, it loses too much value when you “play it off the lot”. Also, for vintage gear, often times the only place to find it is on the used market. Here are 10 tips for buying used gear. Are we missing anything?
1) STAY SAFE
The most important tip before we get started is always keep yourself safe. When going to meet someone off the internet, always bring a buddy, and let someone know where you are going to be. A terrifying story recently happened in a San Diego Craigslist scam – http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/story/Craigslist-Murder-Suspects-Identified-in-Court/GOX3gdx6qkGtzi9ulIEKvg.cspx. Also, remember the old adage, if it is too good to be true it probably is. In other words, if someone says they are giving away a Ludwig kick drum for free, be very suspicious!
2) DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before you even think about going to the store or online, do your research on what you actually want to buy. Pick several pieces of gear that may interest you and read everything you can on them. The internet has an amazing wealth of information for this kind of stuff. There are forums dedicated to Vintage fender amps, Moog synths, old pedals– you name it. Try to get the exact name of the piece of gear and get to work on Google. Start to get familiar with price range. Ebay’s “Completed Listings” section is great for this. Knowledge is power musicians.
Craigslist has been the premier used gear source. For you lucky LA Music Academy students, you can have access to LA, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego gear which will double your chances of finding a great deal. Everybody will put the piece of gear’s best info in the ad but the true test will be when you play it in person, which you can read more about below. Be wary of anything that may sound like a scam! Craigslist works best when you pick one piece of gear you want, search for it, bookmark the page and check it several times a day.
Ebay has one thing going for it — accountability! And when you are dealing with used gear, this is a huge plus. Negatives involve high shipping prices, and in most cases, not getting to play the gear before you buy it. The best perk is that Ebay runs on a user feedback system so if a seller sells something that isn’t great, you will hear about it. Also, it is connected with Paypal, so if something does not go right, you can bring down the might of Paypal and your credit card on them.
5) CHAIN STORES
Similar to how car dealerships got into the used car market, large chain music stores are turning to used gear to boost profit. Guitar Center Used (http://used.guitarcenter.com/usedGear/index.cfm) is the premier store doing this sort of thing. They update their website with lots and lots of new gear. One really cool function is that if you see an amp you like in Wisconsin they will ship it for free to the Guitar Center closest to you. And you get a 30-day return policy! It may be cooler to say you traveled the earth looking for that used vintage gear, but going to a chain store is way safer.
6) PAWN SHOPS
Some of the coolest and rarest used instruments and
stolen gear can be found in pawn shops. People either sell or pawn their items for cash and have a month or two to buy it back before it gets sold. You never know who might be hard up for cash and have to pawn a great piece of gear. Visit a pawn shop and if you are looking for anything specific, let the people at the store know to call you. Be safe! Pawn shops often attract a “seedy” clientele so go during the day and bring a friend.
7) PLAY IT IN PERSON
Actually playing the gear in person is a great way to test out gear. If possible bring some of your own equipment; if you are checking out an amp, bring your own guitar in; if you are buying a keyboard bring in the keyboard amp it will be attached to; make sure to play at different volume levels…Turn it to 11, pound on that snare. You want to hear every possible flaw that might be there. Don’t feel like you need to make a quick decision either, spend hours with the piece of gear really thinking it over. Be considerate of the seller however…probably don’t want to overstay your welcome!
While playing gear in person is important, remember that same person can also sell you faulty equipment. And, good luck trying to find them again! With sites like Ebay and Guitar Center you have accountability that does not exist on Craigslist (unless of course you are familiar with the seller).
9) BRING AN EXPERT
As stated earlier, we suggested that you always bring a buddy with you when buying used gear to stay safe. Why not bring someone who knows more about gear than you do? Especially with electronics, this can be a great idea. Someone who really understands vintage bass amplifiers, for instance, could simply unscrew the back and within in a few minutes tell you if it is worth the asking price.
10) THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE
You never truly own music gear, you borrow it, until you sell it again for something new (or when you need rent money). This is important! Consider whether the item has maintained its value over a long period of time or whether it is just something hot right now. There is nothing worse than losing 50% of its value when you try to sell it in a few years.
So there you have it musicians! Get calling, emailing and visiting. Remember: just because you go and play a piece of gear, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Feel free to say you need to think about it for a day and go home. If it gets sold, there will always be another one the next week. Stay safe, stay cheap, stay knowledgeable — and you will succeed.
This video from Anna Burden showed up on the sidebar of YouTube today. A charming rendition of You’re Gonna Miss Me by Lulu and the Lampshades. Enjoy:
DrumChannel.com and Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music hosted the Second Annual Drummer’s Reality Camp June 29 – July 2, 2011. Guest artists included Alex Acuña, Kenny Aronoff, Terry Bozzio, Jim Keltner, Cobus Potgieter, Gil Sharone, Thomas Pridgen, Cobus Potgieter and LA Music Academy’s own Ralph Humphrey, Dave Beyer, Aaron Serfaty, Tony Inzalaco and Joe Porcaro. The four-day event took place at LA Music Academy in Pasadena. Campers were treated to workshops, lessons, master classes, special performances, meet & greets/autograph sessions, a DW Drums factory tour and in-studio, live clinic by Terry Bozzio at DrumChannel.com studios. Drummer’s Reality Camp will return again in 2012.
Back in the dark ages (the 90s) of Indie music, your music didn’t come out- it escaped! You had to record in some sort of professional studio, buy tape (or ADAT, Google it!), pay a company to print up CDs or tapes, and then— well, it was actually quite hard. Aside from getting on MTV or Radio, there weren’t many avenues to get your music out there. There was no YouTube, iTunes, or Facebook, so unless you were Fugazi or Ani Difranco doing a total DIY style release and/or touring constantly, your printed up records usually stayed in storage. However, the future is now! Musicians have a worldwide indie AND mainstream music store where anybody can sell their music. Keep reading to find out how:
RECORD YOUR MUSIC
As you will see in the next step, anybody can put any legal recorded music up on iTunes for sale. In other words you could record air on a micro-cassette recorder, convert it to MP3, and have it for sale all across the world in days. I do not recommend this! Since the whole world has access to iTunes, you are going to want to record music that will distinguish yourself. If you have the money, try to record in a professional music studio. If you want to record it yourself, consider tracking in your home studio and then taking it to a professional engineer to mix it. Regardless of where you record it, invest a little bit of money for a professional mastering engineer. If you are unfamiliar with Mastering, it is essentially the last step of the recording process where a fresh set of ears tweaks all the audio levels so that it can sound good on the radio as well as coming out of your iPod.
CHOOSE YOUR ONLINE DISTRIBUTOR
What’s funny is that Apple’s original plan was that iTunes would not be available to anybody and would only feature “quality artists” (read about this here: http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/11/cd-baby-founder-recounts-a-tale-of-steve-jobs-itunes-and-broken-promises/). However, now iTunes is pretty much open to anybody and there are several digital music distributors that can facilitate this. The two biggest companies doing this are TuneCore and CD Baby:
TuneCore is the largest—it distributes artists as diverse as Nine Inch Nails and Ziggy Marley as well as many unsigned bands. TuneCore charges $9.99 per single and $49.99 per album. TuneCore takes none of the money from the sale of your music. For the iTunes U.S. store, you receive $0.70 per song sold individually and $7.00 per album with 11 or more songs sold in its entirety. Your music typically appears on iTunes within 72 hours. For more info visit: http://www.tunecore.com/
CD Baby has been around longer than iTunes and was one of the first companies to offer bands cheap CD printing and distribution via their website. Times have changed and CD Baby is now the second largest digital music distributor. CD Baby handles distribution for $9.95 per single and $39 per album. On their website, they boast, “We keep 9% of the net income paid to us by our partners and you keep the rest.” To learn more about CD Baby check out: http://www.cdbaby.com
FINALIZE YOUR MATERIALS
You have your mastered song files, and have signed up for either TuneCore or CD Baby, and then you are ready to go. Follow the instructions of your distributor on how they want the files uploaded. You will need to come up with song titles, album or single names, and most importantly digital album artwork. Make sure you take some extra care to have your artwork look good because it will be displayed on everybody’s iPods and iPhones and can often set the mood nicely for the music. The last step is usually payment and then you will have to continuously check iTunes to see when it appears.
Good luck out there, fellow musicians. Make sure you only put up music that you feel shows the best side of your ability. Don’t just throw up something just because you crafted some songs. Now the hard part begins, getting people to buy your music! Look forward to a future installment on how to promote your music on iTunes. In the meantime, get uploading!