January 8th, 2014 SAC Meeting


Happy new year to everyone.  A new year, a new beginning perhaps, a new opportunity to write an incredible new song!  

Peter Benes came back for the second time and gave a detailed talk on website building.  If you are trying to promote your music then a website is an absolute must.  If you’re on a budget like many of us, the DIY solution is attractive and that was Peter’s focus.  As you know I create this blog on a service called WordPress.  Wordpress is open source and provides the possibility for anyone to create a web presence for absolutely no cost.  Hard to beat that.  It even goes beyond that.  You can create a wordpress site and then publish it somewhere else like HostMonster.  All you need is a domain name and that comes relatively cheaply.  If you want a fancier or more exclusive look you can purchase wordpress themes separately.  The huge advantage to all of this is that YOU are in complete control of your site and can instantly alter anything you like.  No need to rely (and pay and wait) on someone else to make changes and updates.  All this requires is for you to take the time to learn.  Is it easy?  Well, it’s not that hard.  Just commit yourself.  

 

Here are some important links to get you started:

 

WORDPRESS

WordPress free sites (with limitations):

https://wordpress.com

Great for getting your feet wet.

 

HOSTMONSTER

Unlimited site hosting for cheap with easy full-version activation:

http://www.hostmonster.com/track/peterbenes

Note: I (Peter Benes) have an affiliate account here, so I get paid a fee if you decide to use Hostmonster.

Hostmonster lets you host as many sites as you like for one low price. They are also really competitive for buying .com domain names.

 

DOMAINSATCOST

http://www.domainsatcost.ca

Great for searching for domain names, because they will show you results for .ca, .co, com, net, org, box, info, us, name and .xxx at the same time. I used to use this company for all my domain registrations. Now I use this service for registering my .ca domain names because hostmonster does not do .ca.

 

WORDPRESS THEMES

I mentioned that you can get free WordPress themes by doing a search in the APPEARANCE > THEMES panel in WordPress. You can also do a Google search for ‘WordPress themes’. You’ll find both free and paid themes.

 

GOOGLE IMAGES

http://images.google.com

Search for ‘Cosmopolitan Covers’ for great ideas for how to structure headlines (and maybe song titles). Cross reference with Google Keyword Planner to see how many people are searching for a particular term.

 

GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER

You’ll need to create an Adwords account for this:

http://adwords.google.com

Then do a Google search for ‘Google Keyword Planner’ once you are logged into your account.

 

You’ll find Peter Benes here:

 http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterbenes

 

 

Until next month!  

Peter and Peter (way too many of us)

 

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December 11, 2013 Meeting


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Well, if you didn’t make it out, you missed a really fine talk from Bruce Madole.  Such a passionate songwriter who started out as a poet and made the transition to songwriting through perseverance and a willingness to attend many educational songwriting workshops.  Here’s a guy who took up guitar late and even talked of taking lessons recently with D’Arcy Wickham.  Bruce’s motto – ‘keep progressing’, whether it’s musicianship or writing, keep getting better by working hard, is so on the mark for all of us (well me anyway).  Being a writer can be an isolating craft and ‘progression’ can sometimes be hard to define and quantify.  As he said, get feedback on your songs and then get more feedback on the same songs.  The way to do that might be to attend songwriting workshops, belong to organisations like SAC and attend meetings like ours to get honest feedback.

He urged us to find our uniqueness and not try and copy others.  What is different about your perspective on the world?  Write it down, put it out there, proclaim it.  His perspective is that radio is always one step behind.  What is playing today will be old next month so forget trying to copy it, be yourself and forge ahead.  See how people react to your honesty.  Spend time analyzing songs that move you.  Was it the lyrics, the music maybe?  What made your heart beat?  This can be very valuable in your development as a writer.

As far as the ‘craft’ of writing, read read read.  There are lots of books out there – like Sheila Davies on Lyrics and Ralph Murphy on the Nashville formula.  The list is endless.

Although there have been  a few solo writers over the years (Paul Simon, Billy Joel) that shine, the majority of hit makers are co-writers.  Bruce’s suggestion – get out there and find a compatible writer.

I think his description of a song as ‘literature in a matchbox’  as delightful (I think he said he stole that one).  There was much more, including a few wonderful tunes he graciously played live.  Thank you Bruce for an inspiring talk!

Check out his website and insightful blog – brucemadole.com

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Next month, that would be January 8th, we’ll be having Peter Benes back to talk about building a website.

See you all then,

Peter

November 13, 2013 Meeting


Peter Benes came and gave a very interesting talk regarding methods to attract more traffic to your web site.  Below is the info he conveyed more in the form of questions to be answered.  These points would work for any business and are really worthwhile to ponder.  These days you can’t be just a musician or songwriter.  You need to market yourself and this might be a good place to start.

Content Marketing

• The creation and sharing of media and publishing

content that is useful to the consumer.

• Value driven – not sales

• Google loves great content

• Content consumers love great content

Objectives

• What is/are our key objective(s)?

• Why is this important?

• How will we measure success?

Audience

• Who is our audience?

• Where and how do they spend their time online?

• What motivates them?

• Start to create a profile of consistent

characteristics.

Content plan

• Kinds of content we have the resources to create

• Kinds of content our audience will respond to

• Content topics

• Desired outcomes

Promotion

• How will our audience find us?

• Where is our audience already online?

• Who can we work with that has authority with our

audience?

Engagement

• What social networks should we be on?

• What do we need to do to listen and participate?

• How can we support others? (i.e., further

conversations, SEO tipping)

• Where can we engage in conversations that bring

others back to our content?

Measurement

• Is this working?

• What metrics do we need to track to know if we are

successful?

Tools

WordPress, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner

I’m sure that Peter Benes would be glad to elaborate on any point in the list.  Just post the question on our Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/143381052784/

Peter will be back in the new year to give us tips on building our own web sites.  Many thanks Peter for your time and thoughtful discussion.

Peter Light

October 9th, 2013 Meeting


Joni1 Joni2

We had a wonderful workshop and great turnout for guest speaker Joni NehRita.   Joni is making her mark in this country as a vocalist primarily in the classic soul, jazz and pop genres.  She’s also a fine vocal coach here in Guelph and were very pleased she accepted our invitation.

Joni went through many warmup exercises (lip rolling, tongue trills etc) and scale work, stressing the importance of staying relaxed and maintaining proper posture when singing.  She asserts that it is possible to stretch your range through daily exercise (15 minutes a session) and that she did just that.  Water, water, water is the best liquid although some teas are fine for your voice.  Stay away from milk, juice, lozenges and carbonated drinks while performing (no more rum and coke on stage!).  If you’re throat is sore for any reason, steaming for about 20 minutes can be a real soother.

To find out more about Joni go to http://www.joninehrita.com.   To see her live head to the River Run on October 25th.  She’ll be performing with the Jason Raso Quartet!

See ya’ll next month and many thanks to those that attended.

Peter

September 11, 2013 Meeting


Well, we’re back at it for a new year.  Our first guest up was Tom Althouse of Silk Purse Recording in Elora.   Throughout the presentation Tom stressed the importance of reproducing sound that is a true reflection of what the artist sounds like acoustically or at the very least, how they want to sound.  In the world of varying venues with all the different shapes and conditions, it is quite a task that the sound man takes on.  He gave us the some ‘geek speak’ definitions – what is frequency range, decibels, watts and how misleading that can be, sign wavesTom1 Tom2

compared to music waves.  He went over microphone choices, cardioid and super-cardioid vs. omni directional.  Very interesting points were made regarding stage monitors vs your main monitors and the importance of EQ’ing the bass out of the stage monitors so they don’t sound muffled coming back at you.  All in all, a very informative talk.

Many, many thanks to Tom.  He obviously spent a good deal of time preparing the presentation.

Typically we ran overtime time but I gave a handout that some of you might be interested in regarding the writing of a chorus:

  1. The chorus melody should be pitched a bit higher than the verse. This helps generate musical energy in a very natural way.
  2. The chorus lyric should use more emotion-heightening words and phrases.
  3. The vocal rhythms of the verse should be shorter and quicker than the vocal rhythms of the chorus. Longer note values in the chorus help to accentuate the emotional content of the lyric.
  4. The chorus instrumentation should be as full or fuller than what is found in the verse. This helps create an increase in momentum and general song energy.
  5. The chorus melody should be simpler than the verse, and comprised of shorter, repetitive phrases. Repetition and melodic simplicity is a crucial part of what makes song choruses work.
  6. Chorus chord progressions should be simpler and stronger than the verse progression.
  7. Vocal harmonies should be used more in a chorus than in a verse.
  8. The tonic note and chord should usually play a more significant role in the chorus than in the verse.

My apologies to the source of this info, I’ve no recollection of where I got it.   Hope you give it some thought.

Until next month,

Peter and Peter

May 8th, 2013 Meeting


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I’d like to thank Blair Packham and Allister Bradley for coming in and telling us all about Song Studio in Toronto. It’s a week long intensive song writing camp in July that gets raves from all who attend.  Very worthwhile experience.  Check out all the details at songstudio.ca . Remember that Factor give grants for this workshop that pretty well cover the cost of admission.  As well, Blair and Allister hung in and gave great comments during the song evaluations.

 

Many thanks to all who attended.  Watch out  for details for next months meeting on Facebook.

 

Keep writing!

 

Peter

April 10th, 2013 Meeting


We were joined by JK Gulley, a record producer and professional musician based in Kitchener. JK has over 30 years of experience in the music industry, as a songwriter, musician, and producer. He has worked as a staff songwriter in Nashville, and has been under contract with numerous publishers and record companies throughout his music career. His emphasis was on the partnership that is necessary between the producer and the artist. While the artist has a vision of what he would like to achieve, the producer has the skills for that vision to be realized. JK presented a 12 step process that he uses for his recording projects. The steps are: consulting, songs, arrangements, pre production, tracking sessions, vocal recording, overdub sessions, editing tracks, mixing, mastering, imaging, and manufacturing. JK emphasized that vocal production was the most important step in the process and often neglected by artists who focus on the instrument tracks.

JK talked at length about the different levels of production from a songwriters demo with a single instrument and a voice, right up to a full out production for commercial radio. He said that when you are pitching songs to other artists, you need to have the best demo of the song that you can provide, because otherwise your song won’t be able to compete with all of the other great songs that are also being pitched. JK said that if a vocal was pitchy, or anything was off on a demo, a music industry professional would likely just turn it off.

JK recommended that every artist should have a professionally produced demo of some of their songs. He invited anyone who would like to consider involving him in a project, to stop by, and discuss their ideas and budget. He said that he can play many of the instruments needed for a demo, and that costs can be minimized through proper planning and preproduction.

After Jk’s presentation, he demonstrated his insightful skills on songwring by participating in the evaluation of several members new songs.