Sunday, October 23, 2011

35 Rules for Bands

Most of these are true and some I just now learned for myself(ouch).
  1. Never start a trio with a married couple.
  2. Your manager's not helping you. Fire him/her.
  3. Before you sign a record deal, look up the word "recoupable" in the dictionary.
  4. No one cares who you've opened for.
  5. A string section does not make your songs sound any more "important".
  6. If your band has gone through more than 4 bass players, it's time to break up.
  7. When you talk on stage you are never funny.
  8. If you sound like another band, don't act like you're unfamiliar with their music ("Oh, does Rage Against The Machine also do rap-rock with political lyrics?")
  9. Asking a crowd how they're doing is just amplified small talk. Don't do it.
  10. Don't say your video's being played if it's only on the Austin Music Network.
  11. When you sign to a major label, claim to have inked the best contract ever. Mention "artistic freedom" and "a guaranteed 3 record deal".
  12. When you get dropped insist that it was the worst contract ever and you asked to be let go.
  13. Never name a song after your band.
  14. Never name your band after a song.
  15. When a drummer brings in his own songs and asks to perform one of them, begin looking for a new drummer IMMEDIATELY.
  16. Never enter a "battle of the bands" contest. If you do you're already a loser.
  17. Learn to recognize scary word pairings: "rock opera", "white rapper", "blues jam", "swing band", "open mike", etc.
  18. Drummers can take off their shirts or they can wear gloves, but not both.
  19. Listen, either break it to your parents or we will; it's rock 'n' roll, not a soccer game. They've gotta stop coming to your shows.
  20. It's not a "showcase". It's a gig that doesn't pay.
  21. No one cares that you have a web site.
  22. Getting a tattoo is like sewing platform shoes to your feet.
  23. Playing in Portsmouth and Nashua doesn't mean you're on tour.
  24. Don't join a cover band that plays Bush songs. In fact, don't join a cover band.
  25. Although they come in different styles and colors, electric guitars all sound the same. Why do you keep changing them between songs?
  26. Don't stop your set to ask that beers be brought up. That's what girlfriends/boyfriends are for.
  27. If you use a smoke machine, your music stinks.
  28. We can tell the difference between a professionally produced album cover and one you made with the iMac your mom got for Christmas.
  29. Remember: if blues solos are so difficult, why can so many 16 year olds play them?
  30. If you ever take a publicity photo, destroy it. You may never know where or when it will turn up.
  31. Cut your hair, but do not shave your head.
  32. Pierce your nose, but not your eyebrow.
  33. Do not wear shorts onstage. Or a suit. Or a hat.
  34. Rock oxymorons: "major label interest", "demo deal"," blues genius", "$500 guarantee", and "Fastball's second hit".
  35. 3 things that are never coming back: a)gongs, b)headbands, and c)playing slide guitar with a beer bottle.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Actual Band Names...

Think you have a bad band name? It could be worse...

Furious George
Adios Pantalones
Admiral Poopy Pants and His Dancing Teeth
Armed and Hammered
Afghanistan Banana Stand
Band That Shot Liberty Valence
Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre
Cap'n Crunch and the Cereal Killers
Earthpig and Fire
Endangered Feces
The Fat Chick from Wilson Phillips
Full Throttle Aristotle
Full Metal Chicken
Goldfish Don't Bounce
The Hair & Skin Trading Co.
Half Man, Half Biscuit
Hamster Sandwich
Hitler Stole My Potato
Icky Boyfriends
Jehovah's Waitresses
Jiggle the Handle
John Cougar Concentration Camp
Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds
Lung Mustard
Microwavable Tree Frogs
Not Drowning, Waving
Once I Killed a Gopher With a Stick
People With Chairs Up Their Noses
Pepto Dismal
Orange Juice After Toothpaste
Poop Shovel
Poultry in Motion
Queer Wookie
String Cheese Incident
Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie
Two For Flinching

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cool Site #16 - Record Label Resource

Record Label Resource is, according to their home page, "the best resource on the internet for the independent record label. It doesn't matter if you're just starting a record label or you've been running an indie label for years -- our site offers an incredible wealth of music business information and music industry contacts. We provide free, unlimited access to our extensive music industry database, with information on CD manufacturing, CD mastering, radio promotion, entertainment lawyers, and so much more."

Lots of links and info - Business Essentials, Publicity, Legal, Radio Promotion, Manufacturing, Record Companies, Mastering, Recording, Printing, Touring and Retail Marketing.

Great place to start.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writing for Film

There are three types of music in a film...

1. Score
2. Needle Drops/Songs
3. Source


Score is the composer's responsibility. It's the music under action and dialogue that's compose specifically for a movie. It is a very powerful tool to create a mood. Joy, fear, drama, can be enhanced by the properly chosen melody or orchestration. Usually this is the responsibility of one composer. Could be orchestral like John Williams' Star Wars or band-like like Lyle Workman's funky Superbad soundtrack. Or anywhere in between. No Country for Old Men, with the exception of the closing credits, had no score and it really added to the intensity of the film.

I've worked on many scores for TV and film. In this case I'm hired by a composer to play one or more of the many instruments that are in my closet. Sometimes I'm playing with a band or an orchestra, but usually I'm added after everything else has been recorded. As an overdub. I've done everything from a solo classical guitar, every note written out to a session of just making noises on a Fender bass with bottles and slides and random pieces of metal.

Needle Drops

Many movies are practically wall to wall needle drops like your typical Adam Sandler movie. Think the film "The Waterboy" - "Born on the Bayou" - John Fogerty, "Let's Groove" - Earth, Wind and Fire, etc. Famous songs can be quite expensive. Ten well known songs can cost a small fortune. But it's a great vehicle to take the audience to an era or decade. 

I'm currently working in an unofficial capacity as a music supervisor on an animated film. They don't have a budget to fill the half a dozen or so slots in the film with major songs so I was asked if I could help them find songs with lyrics that fit the scenes. That's basically the job of a music supervisor. 

I'm using this opportunity to work with some other songwriters and write some songs for placement in the film. And submit works of friends. I've gone through a lot of music and only submitted songs that are quality and also fit the spirit of the scene and the whole film. A time consuming job. Though I can often rule out a song in the first two bars. The ultimate decision falls on the director and/or the producer of the production.

For every Adam Sandler film with a $10 million budget for song placement there are fifty low budget films that have small or no budgets that afford opportunities for unknown artists and songwriters to get a song in a film. The reward? Maybe a token sync fee, some exposure and if the film airs on TV or cable some nice royalties. And a little encouragement to stay in the game.


Source is the music heard in clubs or bars or coffee shops, on radios or elevators or TV's that's like score in that it's usually under action and dialogue, and like needle drops in that it can help to transport you to a time or place. It's often added in post production. Like foley. It adds realism to a scene if there is a radio in the room to have music coming from it. 

I've gotten many songs in films or made-for-TV movies in this capacity. One as a country instrumental tune in a car radio. One as a background visual when I replaced a song that a band was playing in the background of the scene, but it wasn't quite right. One a Hawaiian song emanating from a cassette deck. To name but a few. Usually there is a sync fee plus royalties on the back end for these placements.

Some other cool soundtracks - 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Session Translations

These are hilarious and a little too true -
Musician to engineer. "Could we have more band in the phones?"
Translation: "The singer is too loud in the phones !"
Singer to engineer: "I can't hear myself."
Translation. "I don't want to hear anyone but myself."
Musician to guitarist: "Can you hear yourself okay?"
Translation: "You're too loud in the phones !"
Bassist to band. "Can everybody hear the drums?"
Translation: "This band is swinging like a broken record !"
Drummer to bassist: "Can you hear the kick drum?"
Translation: "We're not locking..... !!
Bassist to producer: "Could we have more steel/fiddle/accordion in the phones?"
Translation: "I will punish the band for rushing."
Musician to producer: "Could we have more piano in the phones?"
Translation: "Your artist can't sing in tune."
Musician to writer: "This song has nice changes."
Translation. "It's amazing what you can do with two chords."
Musician to producer or artist: "This song sounds like a hit."
Translation: "This song sounds like another song."
Producer to band: "It's a feel thing."
Translation: "I know the song sucks, but the artist wrote it."
Musician to producer: "I don't think we'll beat the magic of that first take."
Translation: "Please don't make us play this again."
Drummer to band: "Should we speed up the tempo a couple of clicks?"
Translation:"Do you all intend to keep rushing?"
Musician: "Could we listen to one in the control room?"
Translation: "The way these phones sound, we might as well be listening to Radio Free Europe."
Producer to band: "Let's take a break and come back and try one more."
Translation: "I think I'm having a nervous breakdown."
Musician to producer- "Were we booked for two sessions today?"
Translation: "Another three hours of this and I may have to kill you."
Producer to band: "We're supposed to be done at six, but we've got only one more tune and I was wondering if we could skip our dinner break and work straight through."
Translation: "You'll be done at nine, and you'll be hungry."
Artist to producer: I don't like this song it really sucks."
Translation: "I didn't write this song."
Producer to artist: "Trust me. It is a good song. Radio will love it."
Translation: "I own the publishing on this song. Morons will love it.
Singer to musician: "Can you play something like (so-and-so) would play?"
Translation: "I really wanted (so-and-so) on this record."