The Bandzoogle Blog

10 years of advice, inspiration and resources for musicians navigating the new music industry.

How to Book a Tour without a Booking Agent

How to Book a Tour without a Booking Agent

This is a guest post by Joy Ike.

One of the biggest challenges musicians face is booking tours. Many bands don’t have a booking agent, so booking a tour can seem like a daunting task the first time out.

Here are some key things to keep in mind to help you book a tour without a booking agent.

[How to Get a Booking Agent to Book Your Band]

Don't Be Overwhelmed

The first thing to remember is that you are only one person. If you're trying to book a one month tour, break it off into pieces and do little sections at a time. Booking a long tour takes months of emailing and waiting, and emailing and waiting. You couldn't do it in one sitting even if you tried.

Write a Good Pitch

The average venue doesn't need to hear from an actual booking agent, manager, or someone representing you. They just want to open their inbox and not be overwhelmed with your 2-page life story. Learn how to write a to-the-point, concise email that pitches your talent and worth to that venue.

[How to Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Music]

Use Who You Know

Have friends in a specific city? Ask them where they go to listen to live music. Ask them where their friends go. Half the battle of booking shows is knowing the venues that are right for you. Why spend hours online if you've got a shortcut.

Use the Back Door

Sometimes you get into a venue because you know the owner or the booker. But there are other ways. Back doors. Connect with friends who are in bands and can have you co-bill with them. Know a promoter? Ask them to put you on a show. Reach out to the manager of an artist touring through town and ask if you can open the show for them. Use the back door. Back doors count. They also open future front doors.

...this is not a one-off. You are trying to develop a relationship with a venue so that you can keep coming back.

BE a Booking Agent

This doesn't mean you begrudgingly take on the job. It means you actually need to embody the role of a booking agent. Be professional. Be clear. List dates. List links of your music. Be Specific: know that a song or video that might appeal to a club is not necessarily the same video that will appeal to an arts center. Also remember: this is not a one-off. You are trying to develop a relationship with a venue so that you can keep coming back. That is what a booking agent does.

Be Consistent, Not Creepy

Good booking agents are consistent but not creepy. Don't email the venue every 3 days to check on the status of your potential show. Give your pitch the space it needs. Follow up after a few weeks. When you follow up, include a line that fishes for a response, such as, ''If those original dates (13/14) don't work, another good date would be the 28th as I make my way back up north.''

[Musicians and the Art of Polite Persistence]

Check the Calendar First!

DO NOT email a venue about a date that is already booked on their calendar. Do your research. Visit their calendar, see which dates are still open, determine if any of those work. Then reach out to the venue about one of those.

Sell Yourself

As a ''booking agent'' your job is to sell the product - YOU. When you read your pitch, do people wanna ''buy'' you? Are you appealing? You don't need to embellish or lie. Just package yourself well.

Sell an Idea

Sometimes you're not just selling you. You are selling an idea. Maybe you're actually selling a Women's themed event b/c it's Women's History Month. Maybe you're selling a Veterans Day event with performers who are all veterans. Maybe you're putting together a piano-themed showcase or a tribute show. Sometimes the idea is much bigger than you. Venues like that stuff.

Sell your data

Is your website getting a lot of traffic from the city you’re trying to book a show in? Mention that when pitching the venue. Also, be sure to take a look at your mailing list to see how many subscribers are from that city. That is tangible / actionable data that can be used to promote your show, and venue bookers will look kindly on it.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

Be Thorough

Sounds like a no brainer. But if it takes you 1 week to get back to the venue, they're going to give that Hold to someone else. If it takes you forever to communicate your ideas to the show contact and get your act together, your show quickly becomes less important. Just be on top of it. The average music venue has 15-25 shows a month. If you don't care, they won’t.

Joy Ike is a full-time singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is also the founder and primary writer for Grassrootsy, one of the most-read music business blogs on the internet. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself.

Your band works hard to put on a great show. We work hard so you can make a great band website, easily and affordably. Build your own Bandzoogle website in minutes. Sign up free now!

How to Build a Music Composer Website

Music composer websites

Working hard and finding different income streams is a reality for most artists these days. Whether you’re a music composer, performer, teacher, or all of the above - you multi-talented musicians out there should have a website to showcase your skills!

[18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money]

It can seem overwhelming to take a ton of content like your compositions, your resume, and your sheet music, then turn it into a website that is easy to navigate. We’ve got some ideas on how to organize everything you need for a functional and creative music composer website. Let’s get started!

Key Elements for a Music Composer website


Make a good first impression on potential collaborators or interested fans by making sure to add music to your Homepage. You could do this using the sitewide music player, which allows the song to play continuously while your website visitors checks out the rest of your website pages.

Another option is to add a track to a compact player in the content area, on one side of the page where it’s easy to see and play. Your music will define your website - pick your best tunes to show off.

Your Homepage is a also good way to show little bits of your website all at once. Add a few sentences about yourself, a bit of news in a Blog feature, and any upcoming events. Have a new tune, or recent achievement you want to highlight? Place it on your Homepage. This is the most visited page on your website, so make it count!

Jan Hammer music composer

If you want to grow your mailing list, add a mailing list signup form like Jan Hammer has done on his site (Emmy-nominated composer for the Miami Vice TV series!). This is a good spot to add your social media icons as well, so people can keep in touch with you in multiple ways.

Music composer website Chris Donohue

Bio page

When looking at your website, a lot of visitors will head right to your bio to check out your credentials. First, write down your education and training, then all the songs you have written and where they have appeared, plus the musicians you have worked with. You can condense this into a loose resume of sorts in chronological order, and put it online in a Text feature.

music composer donald markowitz

If there is a lot of text, you can use a two-column layout and feature titles to make this page appear organized and easily scannable. Or, keep it simple with a few paragraphs of the most important information.

Adding an image or two to your Bio page (a professional headshot, or a photo in your workspace) is a nice touch.


Have your songs been placed in commercials, film, or TV? Add your songs to a list and the corresponding credit. Make it visual like Ryan Richko has for an impressive look, using a photo gallery to include movie credits.

Music composer website Ryan Richko


And now...time to show your stuff! Place a track list player here with examples of music you’ve written - either full tracks or previews. Listening to audio samples will really make your audience understand what your music is like. You can upload MP3 tracks, WAV, or FLAC files.

You'll want to ensure your creativity and versatility as a composer comes across on your Music page. Add different songs to show the range of your ability, then describe them by writing a bit about them. Was the song used on a soundtrack, or placed in a music library? Describing your music will give it some context, and appeal to your website visitors.


Do you sell music in CD form? Maybe you want to sell sheet music online. A Store page will allow you to reach interested buyers with all of your products. You can set up CDs or file downloads in a Store feature, and make sales for your compositions this way.

Music composer website Amy Lauren


People love to watch videos as a brief way to connect - it helps to see and hear you in more depth. If you have a demo reel of songs in video format, YouTube clips of your songs in action, an interview or collaboration, or perhaps a tour of where you write, add them to the Videos page.


Make it clear on your contact page how to get in touch with you! If you do commissions, or are also a session musician, producer, or teacher, mention this here. You can add custom form fields and make any of the fields required, which helps you collect the information you'll need to get in touch.

Music composer Mike Reed

Other talent? Add another page!

Many composers also offer lessons, perform, or produce music. If that’s you, round out your website by dedicating another page to your other endeavors.

[10 Ways to Make More Money Selling Music Lessons on Your Website]

This could be a page to help you book students as a music teacher. It could include an EPK and events for a performer. Or, you could set up a page with rates and information for your home studio if you're a producer.

Music composers are the backbone of so many creative endeavors! A stunning website will help to showcase your success, and get more work writing, scoring, and collaborating with other artists.

Book more clients by showing off your music and the projects you're proud of on your own Bandzoogle website. Professional and beautiful-looking in minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Sell more music online this holiday season using discount codes

Sell more music online this holiday season using discount codes

Selling music is a tough business but during the holidays people are a lot more open to buying. With the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday increasing every year, it’s a good idea to position yourself to sell your music and merch online.

Fans are always looking for unique gifts to give family and friends. This is your time to stand out by offering your music in ways you may not be able to the rest of the year. Between Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and other celebrations there are many opportunities to promote your music to the world.

Because it’s the time of year for holiday cheer, what better way to love on your fans than by giving them a sweet deal on your music and merch. Bandzoogle Pro members can easily do this with discount codes in our Music & Store features (commission free!)

Just set up the code of your choice, enter the percentage off you'd like to give and set an expiry date.

Sell more music online this holiday season using discount codes

Then spread the code all over social media and through your mailing list to treat your fans. In the shopping cart they will just enter the code and the discount will display above the total. It's as easy as that!

Sell more music online this holiday season using discount codes

To get you started here are 6 ideas for offering discount codes this holiday season

  1. A Day of Thanks: You love your fans and you wouldn’t be where you are without them. Offering a 50% discount on Thanksgiving or the day after (Black Friday) is a fantastic way to say thank you to all your loyal fans. Example discount code: givethanks
  2. Cyber Monday: Some of your fans may be sad that they missed out on the ½ off deal so give them another chance with a generous one day only 25% off sale on Cyber Monday. Example discount code: 1daycyber2015
  3. 12 Days of Christmas sale: Try something fun that’ll get your fans to jump early by offering a 12 days of Christmas sale. Start with 24% off and each day decrease the sale amount by 2% ending the day before Christmas. This creates a sense of urgency to buy early. This can also be done for other holidays and celebrations such as Kwanzaa or the Hanukkah Festival of Lights. Example discount code: 5goldenrings
  4. Post-Holiday inventory blowout: Got some old merch you want to clear out before the new year? How about offering a 2 day only 20% sale. This would also be a great time to offer item bundles such as one CD and two t-shirts, or a guitar pick, a t-shirt and a CD. Example discount code: auldlangsyne
  5. New Year, New Music 2016: If you have a new album, EP or single that’ll be ready toward the end of 2015 think about releasing it on New year’s day 2016. Then you can delight your fans with a 16% discount to get them on board with your new music. Example discount code: popchampagne16
  6. Festivus: Traditionally celebrated on December 23rd as an alternative to the commercialism of the holiday season, this ‘holiday’ gives you one more chance to treat your fans. You could offer a one hour flash sale of 99% off as a way to stick it to big business. ;) Example discount code: idowhatiwant

Sales Tips

Now that you have some discount code ideas here are a few tips to make the most of putting your music and merch on sale.

  • Create urgency: Use FOMO (fear of missing out) to your advantage by giving your sale a time limit. Everyone wants a deal so make sure they know that NOW is the time to buy. When your items are on sale make it clear that the discount is for a very limited time which will encourage fans to buy right away.

  • Presentation: Present your sale and sales items in a professional yet fun way. Use images to show fans what they’ll be getting for their money. Your fans will match your excitement level so project your enthusiasm on every sales message you post. Make sure your message makes them feel the passion you have for your music.

  • Offer a few options: Discount pricing is great because it gives your fans the best chance at big savings. That said, if you want to put individual items on sale you can do that too with our sale pricing option as well. You can also put your fans in the drivers’ seat by letting them pay-what-they-want for digital downloads.

  • Promote, promote, promote: As the holidays approach advertisements will increase dramatically. Bell ringers, commercials, and sale signs galore! Obviously you want to get your products out there but you’ll want to do it in a way that doesn’t make your fans feel like they are just another number. You don’t want to ONLY post about selling your music. Post other non-music related things so fans get to know on a personal level as well.

  • Use your mailing list: Email marketing is 40 times more effective than Facebook & Twitter combined. So be sure to use Bandzoogle’s built-in mailing list tool to send an email blast to your fans announcing your sale.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

The goal of discount codes is twofold. The first is to reward your current fans with a nice holiday markdown. The second is to bring awareness to your music and website. Putting your music on sale gets fans talking about your band and sharing the discount code with their friends. This is the way new fans are made!

Making money as a musician is tough. That's why you keep 100% of your hard-earned revenues when you sell music, merch & tickets through your Bandzoogle website - even using discount codes. Sign up free now!

10 reasons you’re not making money as a hip hop artist

10 reasons you're not making money as a hip hop artist

The music industry is tough. The odds of you selling millions of beats and making it big are slim, but you, you’re different. You’re the one that’s gonna make it because you never give up. Your will to succeed is extraordinary but there’s a few obstacles in the way you may not even be aware of.

To get on a money making path, you need to stay focused on making solid connections with industry professionals and fans. Make sure you’re not guilty of sabotaging your own career with any of these ten music career killers.

1. You STAY high

We get it, you like to smoke. You like to drink. You like to party. That’s fine and dandy, but keep it at the party. Nobody likes to conduct business with someone who can’t see straight. In an inebriated state you may think you’re holding an intelligent conversation but you’re not.

The other person is just shaking their head trying to figure out how to get away from you (or secretly taking a video of your drunkenness for a Vine clip). Keeping your mind clear and focused allows people to trust you’ll be able to deliver the best on any project you work on.

2. You don’t network with professionals

You’re the one with the fly style standing in the corner with shades on waiting for someone to approach you. Guess what? They won’t. They’re looking at you thinking either a) you’re conceited or b) lazy.

When you get in a space of industry professionals, this is your time to shine. Take off the glasses and interact with as many people as you can. Sometimes the most low-key person is the one who has the most solid connections. This is why talking to everyone is beneficial.

[Music Biz Networking: Four Easy Ways to Strengthen Your People Connections]

3. You don’t follow up

So you left that music conference or networking event with 23 business cards, 19 new Instagram/Twitter followers and 5 phone numbers. A month later, you realize you haven’t contacted even one of the people you connected with! This is where new opportunities die.

When you meet a new person make it your goal to reach out to them within 24 hours. See how the initial interaction goes and if there’s potential to work together, set a reminder in your calendar to follow-up on a consistent basis.

[Attending Music Conferences 101: It’s ALL About the Follow-up]

4. You try to force a fake style

You’ve heard before that artists with unique styles tend to stand out from the crowd, but copying won’t get you there. Your best bet is to do a little research. Look at styles from all eras in hip hop. Incorporate those that speak to you and your personality. Then get creative with accessories, clothes and hairstyles that fit your vibe.

5. You hide behind your squad

Your homies are your heart and they’ve been with you from the beginning. You want to include them in your music career journey, but you have to know when they are standing in the way of your progress.

Making new contacts requires one-on one-conversations. If you’re rolling ten deep everywhere you go, your crew is acting like a shield keeping you from meeting important people. Also, because your crew loves you they may not tell you when you need to improve. You need people around that will tell you the truth about your music, career choices, and when you’re making bad decisions.

6. You’re all talk

How many times have you heard a fellow rapper say, “Aw man, I got a meeting with [insert name of impressive person or company] and I’m about to sign a deal.”

It seems like everyone has all these meetings but nobody’s getting anywhere. Don’t be that guy or gal. Don’t get stuck on the illusion that getting signed is your golden ticket. You have to make your own way by putting out quality music, working consistently with other industry professionals, and building up your fanbase. Remember that your actions always speak louder than your words.

[Major vs. Indie: What really happens when you sign a record deal]

7. You sound like everyone else

You may not be able to change your voice or tone, but you can definitely create a unique sound or thoughtful lyrics. You wouldn't think whispering a song would work, but people lost their freakin minds when Ying Yang twins released “Wait” (The Whisper Song.)

And some might find it irritating, but Fetty Wap has used his wobbly squeaky voice to make a name for himself. Similarly, artists who take the time for thoughtful lyrics are the ones who have staying power in the hip hop arena. This just goes to show that you don’t have to try and change who you are to fit in. Just do you because fans gravitate towards artists that have a passion for being real and using their natural talents.   

8. You only think of yourself

The thought of you on stage with thousands of fans cheering for you is thrilling, but you can’t get there all on your own. Building relationships and strategic partnerships is an important part of the process.

Everyone you come in contact with is working on their own dream. You have to figure out what they want and how you can help them achieve it as well. When you’re reaching out your hand for help, you can use the other hand to offer to help someone else. You may not think you have anything to offer, but get creative.

9. You’re not putting in the work

The music scene is ever changing and evolving so it’s important to stay on top of it. Gone are the days where you can put out a 10-track CD, then wait a year or so to release the next one. In today’s music business you need to consistently produce new music to keep your fans engaged.

Keeping new music in your fan’s ears will keep them coming back again and again. If you put out a new track per week for example, it gives your fans something to look forward to. This consistency creates Superfans and those are the ones who share your music, buy new EP’s, concert tickets and merch.  

10. You’re not connecting with your fans

It’s not enough to create a few new tracks then go on social media shouting ‘Check out my new Mixtape!!’ In fact, it’s a sure fire way to get blocked. Constantly repeating ‘check me out!’ over and over is not only annoying, but it doesn’t do anything to connect with your fans.

You need to get the mindset that you’re building your team, one person at a time. Your team being your fans. To do that you have to not only talk, but listen to them as well. Send newsletters, interact on social media, post messages and pictures about things other than your music so they get to know you. Then when it’s time to share your new tracks, they’ll be more interested since they’ve been relating to you on a more personal level.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

It’s easy to fall into these bad behaviours but to stand out you need to do things differently than the rest. The key to a successful career as a hip hop artist or producer is making meaningful, lasting connections. If you take it one day, one fan and one contact at a time before you know it you’ll be making a living doing what you love in music!

Catch the attention of your fans and industry leaders the right way by building a professional website to sell your beats. Create your own in just minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!


Music Website Template Design: Make it Manhattan

Mobile-ready band theme - Manhattan

Feel like creating a stylish, sleek website in beautiful black and white? Why not try out Manhattan - a mobile responsive theme that’s sure to impress your fans and the industry.

It's easy to change your website's template at anytime, without having to rebuild from scratch. So let's say your new album is coming out, or you get a bunch of new, hi-res images taken. This new artwork might work really well within this theme. Switch it out, and see how it looks!

Here are a few highlights of the Manhattan theme that truly allow it to make your design stand out:

Image and more image

Your image. It's so important to use a good quality image that represents your music as the first thing a visitor to your website will see. It can tell a potential fan what you’re all about without them even hearing a note, or reading a word. Jenny Weisgerber has a stunning image that does this so well:

The inner pages, which means everything besides your original landing page, has a smaller area for the image. So your landing page has the initial impact with a wow-factor image, while your other pages can focus on content, like music and shows.

Mobile responsive website template

Smooth scrolling

Notice the white arrow at the bottom of the main image? Clicking on it will make your website scroll smoothly down to reveal your Home page content. It's a sleek effect that has the nice touch of making your content easy to find, without sacrificing image space.


Sticky menu makes pages easy to find

The menu bar for this template sticks to the top of your browser even when it scrolls! This is helpful especially for a website with lots of pages and content. It makes it easy to look up, click, and be directed to another page.

[The Magic 8: Essential Menu Options for your Band Website]

The black menu bar also starts off semi-transparent, then turns black when someone scrolls down the page. The size of this menu bar can be altered as well, depending on how large your header text is. You could add large text like Folk/Americana songstress Justine Bennett, making the menu appear stacked in one line on the side.

Look for a great logo

Have a great logo and looking to use it? If you have a professional logo, you can add it instead of header text to the navigation bar, to the left of the menu. You can also use a built-in font (or upload a custom font) and then set the text color to make a nice looking text logo quickly.

Site Wide Social Media

This theme also includes the option to add your social media icons site-wide, at the very top of the page. Add your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links to the Site Wide My Sites feature, and they’ll display on the right above your menu bar. They will also appear on your mobile menu, under your page list.

Bilingual Website

With a nice large image and a sticky menu, Manhattan is one of the best themes to use if you are creating a bilingual music website. We love the Whisky Legs website for this reason: they've created sub-pages under 2 language menu options, with all of their content in both french and english.

This flexible theme is fully mobile-responsive, and works great on all screen sizes. It'd be a great match for so many kinds of music websites. Choirs, producers, alt-rock bands, and more can find a streamlined option to add news, showcase music, and book gigs or clients, with Manhattan.

Create a stylish, mobile-ready website that’s easy to update in minutes. Try Bandzoogle free today!

Major vs. Indie: What really happens when you sign a record deal

Major vs. Indie: What really happens when you sign a record deal

As the recording industry continues to battle against the steady decline of physical album sales, and now steady decline in digital album sales, it can be difficult as an independent musician to determine the best path to take for long-term growth and success.

Ultimately this crossroads is met with three separate avenues:

  1. DIY (Do It Yourself)

  2. Independent Label

  3. Major Label

There are pros and cons to each avenue, which should be weighed carefully against what type of musician / band you are and how you expect to see growth.

DIY Pros and Cons


100% Creative Control: No label means you have complete control over the direction of your music. You also have complete control over your marketing, and the free will to say yes or no to any opportunities that come your way. Simply put, this is the most ideal scenario possible for an artist.

100% Rights Retention: Without a label, any revenue generated from things like album sales and sync licensing deals goes right into your pocket.

Build Your Own Team: While DIY means Do It Yourself, it doesn’t mean do it alone. You are your own boss, so you can surround yourself with the people who share in your vision and have the skills to help you to move your career forward.


Limited Resources: No label means any money for things like recording, distribution, marketing, etc. all come from your pocket.

Limited Network: One of the biggest benefits to a label is the access to their existing network which can open significant doors and create opportunities for you and your music. Without a label, your network can be limited to those who you know directly.

Independent Record Label Pros and Cons


A Team that Believes in Your Music: Indie music labels are smaller companies who are less likely to be pressured by a board of directors to sign a specific sound, or promote a specific look just for success on the charts.

Personal Relationships with Your Team: Independent record labels tend to have much smaller artist rosters, allowing you to get more face-time with your team to discuss things like strategy and execution.

Pro-Artist Contracts: Indie label contracts are known to be more artist-friendly, giving the artist more money for their work through either profit-sharing programs, or simply a larger percentage of revenue than given by the major labels.


Funding: An issue for independent labels, being that they can range so greatly in size and success, is funds. A lack of funding means a smaller budget for recording, production of physical disks, packaging, distribution costs, tour support, merchandise, etc.

Size: Although a smaller size allows artists to form stronger relationships with an indie record label, it also means that the label itself has less influence and reach within the industry.

Major Label Pros and Cons


Funding: Although budgets are not what they used to be, the majors still have far more money for things like marketing and production.

Networking and Connections: Long-standing reach and influence comes with a deep-seeded rolodex of contacts across all aspects of the industry.

Reputation and Influence: Obviously size can make a significant difference when dealing with the biggest names in music. Being signed to a major label has its benefits, in that larger media outlets and bigger opportunities may be more likely to take interest in you.


Significant Turnover: Contrary to popular belief, major labels do sign many artists, but much of what is signed quickly gets turned over and dropped by the label.

Artist Unfriendly Deals: Being that major label record companies are a business, they likely do everything they can do profit as greatly as possibly from their investment in you, your music and your brand. Not only does this mean the possibilities of small royalties, but it means the artist does not get to keep the rights or even the creative control over their music.

What Type of Deal Should you Sign?

What Type of Deal Should you Sign?

If you determine that a label, either an indie or a major, is the right path for you, there are several types of deals that you can sign. Here’s a breakdown of 4 of the most commonly seen:

1. Production Deals

Rather than signing to the label, with a Production Deal you would sign on to work with a specific producer who has an agreement to develop artists within a label. Think of this as an artist development deal. You gain the benefit of working one-on-one with the producer, but you also take a big % cut, as it’s possible with these deals for the producer to take up to 50% of the royalties.

2. Distribution Deals

This type of deal is simple. You are often expected to create and produce your album from start to finish, and then the label helps you to get the product into stores. This deal could include getting music videos, albums, and singles onto the label’s own major digital channels. Most often, this deal includes no advance (payment given up front, used for recording purposes, which is paid back by the artist through album sales), and could take up to 25% of the money generated.

3. Major Label ‘Standard’ Record Deal

Formerly the most common type of deal, this is what most musicians think of when getting ‘signed by a major’. In this deal, the label would be part of the artist development, recording, pressing, distribution, and marketing. And in most cases, the label would pay the artist an advance. Once the advance is paid off, artists commonly receive a royalty rate of up to 15% of revenue generated.

4. The 360 Deal

Seen by many as the future of label deals, this is a new(er) type of deal offered by labels. With a 360 deal, the label gets involved in all (or most) aspects of the artist development, including touring and brand development, in exchange for taking a % of all revenues generated across all channels, not just recorded music. The benefit here is that you have the label’s network and influence to help you generate further revenue opportunities. The downside is the label can dictate all aspects of your career and will take a cut of even more of the money you make.

So Where does the Money Go?

The purpose of signing with a label is of course to record and sell music. Here’s what you can expect as a breakdown of percentages from music sales:

CD - In the making of a CD, here are the key players and the percentage of sales that they get: Artist (6.6%) Producer (2.2%) Songwriters (4.5%) Distributor (22%) Manufacturing (5%) Retailer (30%) Record label (30%).

[VIDEO] How to sell music online with Bandzoogle- CDs & Vinyl Records

ITunes - Selling an album on iTunes has less key players and the percentages are split a bit differently, though the artist doesn’t see much more at the end of the day. Apple takes 30%, and the label collects the remaining 70%, of which they pay out about 12% of their end to the artist (about 8% of the total purchase price of the album).

[VIDEO] How to sell music online with Bandzoogle Part 1- Digital Albums

Which Path Will You Take?

Now that you understand the different paths you can take as a musician, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons and decide which one makes the most sense for you. There is no right answer, it all just depends on where you feel you could use the help and how you can see yourself moving forward most comfortably and effectively in the future.

Making money as a musician is tough. That's why you keep 100% of your hard-earned revenues when you sell music, merch & tickets through your Bandzoogle website. Sign up free now!

4 Ways to Battle the Stress of Managing Your Own Music Career

4 Ways to Battle the Stress of Managing Your Own Music Career

This post originally appeared on the Sonicbids blog

We've said it a thousand times: being an independent musician isn't easy. Part of the difficulty in that effort is managing the stress it brings. When you're overwhelmed, achieving your goals can seem impossible. Minimizing the pressure is paramount.

The four points outlined here are pretty basic, but the effects of wholeheartedly incorporating them can be tremendous. If you often find yourself stressed about your career, try them out, and let us know how things go in the comments section.

1. Don't take on too much at once

The amount of pressure you feel will increase depending on how many responsibilities and goals you give yourself. While ambition is important, overloading yourself with too much can be hugely detrimental. You might find yourself overwhelmed and in need of significant breaks from the pressure – or you might feel so bogged down by work that you begin to dread it, and eventually feel like abandoning it altogether.

Some guidelines:

2. Educate yourself

If you don't truly know what you're getting yourself into, you're extra susceptible to stress and anxiety. The more you know about how the independent music world works, the better prepared you'll be to conquer it.

The Sonicbids blog is made for just that: education. You can learn the ins and outs for free from people who work in the industry. Don't stop here, though. Read as much as you can. Even better, talk to the people you meet – other musicians, promoters, booking agents, etc. Take any chance you can to hear about their experiences, and ask them for advice. You'll find people in the independent realm are often happy to help others; seasoned folks likely helped them when they were starting out, too.

3. Get organized

A messy, haphazard schedule will make life seem chaotic, especially when your efforts as an independent musician also compete with another job and family and friends. Meticulously mapping out your goals and the day-to-day plans that will help you achieve them will make you feel more control of your life, and can reduce stress.

Try using a planner gives you a longer outlook (the entire week at least) but allows room for a daily to-do list. You can buy a physical one, or try using Google Calendar. The latter is free, allows you to change views (day, month, week), and is potentially accessible anywhere, assuming you own a smartphone.

[5 Free and Cheap Time Management Tools for Musicians]

4. Take care of yourself

Chronic stress can take a physical toll, so it's important to take care of yourself the best you can. You've probably been told this a million times, but don't discount its importance: eat well, exercise regularly, and sleep plenty. The healthier you are, the better equipped you are to handle the stress of managing your own music career. Don't forget to take a break now and then – a day off from everything, a night out with friends, or a vacation, if you can afford it, can help sustain or rejuvenate your motivation.

Create a beautiful, professional website that is easy to maintain and keep up-to-date as your music career evolves. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Get a free PDF of The Indie Musician's Ultimate Guide to Booking Great Gigs by Sonicbids, featuring pro tips and advice from musicians, venue owners, and talent buyers!

Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.

[VIDEO] How to add a Twitter feed to your Bandzoogle website

In this video tutorial we show you how to add a Twitter feed to your Bandzoogle website in just a few clicks.

You can add our Twitter feature to any page of your website. It will automatically display your latest tweets, so you can always have a fresh feed of updates about your music career on your page!

Create a beautiful, professional website that is easy to maintain and keep up-to-date as your music career evolves. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Music Licensing 101: 8 royalties you can collect from your songs

making money from royalties as a musician

PRO, licensing, synchronization, royalties - learning the language of music publishing can be daunting. But it’s important to take advantage of all of the revenue streams available to you as a musician and songwriter!

In Part 1 of this series, we covered what a performing rights organization (PRO) is, what they do, and how they can collect royalties for your music.

[Music Licensing 101: What is a Performing Rights Organization?]

For our second post in this series, we’re taking a closer look at the different types of royalties that can earn you money from your music!

1. Synchronization Royalties

Synchronization royalties are earned when a track is placed as a score or soundtrack to a moving work like a film, TV show, video game, or movie. The producer of this work must acquire a license to use the song as a “synchronization” to the pictures displayed on screen. Typically, these are paid to the PRO and distributed with performance rights royalties.

2. Digital Synchronization Royalties

Synchronization royalties also exist in the digital world! If one of your songs is used in the background of a video uploaded to YouTube, you are owed a royalty for its use. Services like Audiam or TuneCore can help you collect these royalties.

[How to make money from your music on YouTube]

3. Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are paid to songwriters or rights holders (usually via the publisher) for inclusions on hard musical goods, like CDs, vinyl records, or cassette tapes. These royalties are paid based on sales of the goods. Royalties are paid upon sales (when a vinyl record is purchased in a store, for example) rather than when it is manufactured (pressed in a plant.)

4. Public Performance Royalties

Public Performance royalties get paid to songwriters and publishers (via their PRO) whenever their songs are performed in public. This applies to plays on AM and FM radio stations, in restaurants, sports arenas, shopping malls, or any other public place. These are also paid to the rights holders when a third party performs a cover version of the song.

5. Digital Performance Royalties

Digital Performance royalties are paid out for digital performances or streams. These include:

  • Non-Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties: These apply to services like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Make sure you’re collecting your non-interactive digital royalites by signing up with SoundExchange: (there might already be money waiting for you!)

  • Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties: These royalties come from streams on services like YouTube, Spotify or Rdio. They are collected by your digital distributor.

6. Print Rights

Print Rights are royalties due for usage of lyrics or written musical works. For example, sheet music, magazines or books, apps or lyric websites. It can also apply to any apparel featuring a songwriter’s words, as well. These royalties are paid to the publisher of a song.

7. DART Royalties

DART royalties (or Digital Audio Recording Devices and Media) were established to allow for reproduction of works through digital formats on digital audio tapes to combat infringement lawsuits. These royalties can be distributed to copyright holders and publishers whose sound recording or musical work has been played publicly.

8. Foreign Monies

These types of royalties vary based on country and usage, and they’re paid to PROs, publishers, and occasionally record labels. While it is an option to sign up with multiple PROs to represent you internationally, domestic PROs can also collect any foreign royalties due to you as well.

Foreign mechanical royalties are paid out to the PRO by the digital distributor, but if you’re not registered with a PRO (or society) in that country, you’ll be considered a “lost” writer.

“Lost” writers can, after a certain period of time, collect these payments as black box royalties - essentially an escrow account where countries will keep these royalties for a certain amount of time. To ensure that you’re collecting those royalties, you can use a service like Songtrust.

Making money as a musician is tough. That's why you keep 100% of your hard-earned revenues when you sell music, merch & tickets through your Bandzoogle website. Sign up free now!

Home recording studio tips: 6 steps to mastering your music

Home recording studio tips: 6 steps to mastering your music
In our previous studio posts, we’ve talked about setting up for a great recording, and provided tips on getting some great mixes for your tracks. We’re now going to delve into the basics of one of the least understood aspects of recording: mastering.

A big advantage to using a professional mastering engineer is they provide a set of experienced ears, and a fresh perspective for the last glorious touches of your master recordings. But with any recording, cost can be an issue, and mastering engineers don’t come free.  

Most audio software comes with tools that can - with good critical listening and patience - help you master your music yourself.  So without further ado, here are the basics of home studio mastering!

[How to set up your recording studio environment for creativity]

What is Mastering?

A phrase I’ve heard a lot of exasperated mastering engineers say when trying to explain the profession they’re in is: “It’s not mixing”. In a nutshell, mastering is where you adjust your already mixed and summed stereo track levels, and manipulate frequencies in them to give your songs more ‘punch’ or ‘dimension’. It also determines exactly how your record will sound and play front to back.

Mastering is a very subjective process - much of how you master an album comes down to your own perception of how things sound. Mastering for hip-hop is totally different from country, and different again for classical recordings. Even within the same genre, one style of mastering on one recording may be completely different from another.  

The common thread though is that the songs on any style of album need to be presented cohesively, so they make sense to the listener when they hear your final product. This is the reason mastering is so critical to a good record.

1) Determine the order of tracks in your album

Where mixing tends to focus on the presentation of elements in a single song, a big part of mastering is listening to all the tracks together as a whole album. This helps determine the best way to present it to your listeners.  

[Your Home Recording Studio: 5 Tips to Help You Mix Like a Pro]

The first step should always be to figure out the order of your tracks. How you do this is up to you, but just this one consideration can greatly improve the listening experience of your fans.

Do you want to start with the ‘pop’-centric track first to hook the listener? Then move into slower, more intense tracks in the middle, only to finish it off with a raucous danceable number? Or perhaps it’s a ‘concept’  album - where each song tells a part of the whole story.  

Either way, take some time to see how all your tracks ‘flow’ in different orders, until you get the track list that works for you.

EQ and compression basics

2) EQ Basics

EQ, or ‘equalization’ is the adjusting of specific frequencies in a recorded sound. In mixing, EQ is applied to specific tracks within a song, but in mastering, this is applied to each song as a whole.

Generally, EQ is broken up into 3 frequency ranges:

  1. Low frequencies, or ‘the bass’
    What it’s good for: Adds ‘warmth’ to the song.
    What to listen for: Too much can make it sound ‘muddy’ or ‘rumbly’.

  2. Midrange frequencies, or ‘mids’

What it’s good for:  Can add a bit more presence to vocals, guitar, or even bass.
What to listen for: Too much in some frequency ranges can result in the track losing dynamics.

  1. High Frequencies or ‘highs’
    What it’s good for:  Adding ‘brightness’ to a song.
    What to listen for:  Too much can make the track sound ‘thin’ or ‘harsh’.

If you have a great mix, you don’t need to make a lot of drastic changes to your EQ on tracks with your audio software. In fact, as a general rule in mastering, you want to try to avoid any drastic frequency changes. Just remember, you’re enhancing and fine tuning - it’s creating the final ‘master’, not ‘mixing’.  

Mastering can also mean having less of something, so along with boosting some frequencies, also try reducing some. You’ll be surprised at how much a track gains clarity with a few strategically placed little ‘scoops’ in your EQ plugin.

3) Compression and Limiting basics

Compression is one of the most misunderstood processing methods in recording. This could be because there are different compressors for different jobs that have slightly different ways of compressing a signal.  But to sum it up, compression will:

  1. Reduce the volume of louder elements (peaks) in your track.

  2. Allow you to increase the volume of the overall audio after compression with gain.

This can give you control over the ‘punchiness’ of your track, while adding some ‘glue’ by bringing up the volume of more quiet elements of the song, without increasing the gain on louder parts as well.

Limiters, which are a type of compressor, generally help you get more ‘gain’ on your tracks. This allows you to even out volume differences between tracks on your album without distortion.  

While this can be an extremely helpful tool, too much compression can result in you losing what’s called  ‘dynamic range’.  Because the volume ‘peaks and valleys’ are being ‘compressed’ closer together, things like builds to your chorus for example can get lost, and make the whole song sound squished, almost like it’s in a ‘fishbowl’.

4) Gaps and track fades

Mastering not only deals with sound, but also where there’s no sound in your album. This is the last step before you press your CD, or upload it to a digital distributor. So you’ll want to make sure the tracks are spaced how you want before your album goes out.

For CDs, most tracks have 2 seconds of space between them - this can be adjusted on pressing.  

If you want fades in tracks, you should definitely figure out your fade points and lengths in mastering. This shouldn’t be done in a mix before mastering as the frequencies and gain will be changed, so they’re better done at this stage.

If you want certain tracks closer together, lay them out on your timeline in your audio editing program with the spaces you’d like to hear to get a better sense of the album flow. You can also ‘butt up’, or ‘crossfade’ tracks into each other.

While crossfades sound cool in certain cases, remember songs will still wind up as separate tracks on a disc, so know where the break in a crossfade is going to happen. Also keep in mind if you’re selling music on your site, or with services like iTunes, customers can buy these tracks separately. So you may want to reconsider crossfades between songs to avoid the ‘cut off’ feeling at the start or end of tracks.

[How to sell music online with Bandzoogle]

Watch your track levels

5) Watch your track levels

While processing like compression and limiting can help you increase the overall volume, it’s more important to have all your song levels ‘balanced’ with each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean make them louder.

Imagine you’re a fan listening to a record for the first time in your car. The first track is a quiet ‘intro’ piece to a first love who broke the singers heart. Because it’s quiet, you turn up the volume on your car stereo.  

When the song ends, the second track comes on - it’s a searing loud metal opus telling the singers evil ex ‘where to go’. It unexpectedly comes on at twice the volume of the first track, and blows the speakers, along with your eardrums.

This is an extreme example, but this is why getting a good gain balance between your tracks is important.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have louder and quieter songs on the album. This can help with the overall flow and vibe of the record, but they should be reasonably level with each other in terms of volume.

6) Compare the album everywhere!

After you’ve completed a first pass of your album master, bounce it out, and test it on as many things that can play back your album as possible.

Put it on a laptop and listen to it through the laptop speakers. Laptop speakers usually have crappy bass response, so if it sounds good there, you’re off to a good start.

Burn your mastered album onto a disc, and listen to it on a friends stereo, or in a car. Try different locations and devices, different headphones etc.  

Also, invite trusted musician friends to give a listen and provide constructive criticism. Some bands throw mastering parties just for this purpose!

If you can make it sound reasonably good everywhere without weird frequencies popping out at you or sounding ‘squished’ (over compressed), you’ve done a great job at mastering! If not, make notes on what sounds wrong and where, go back in the studio, and adjust your master settings.

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