Direct-to-Fan Distribution

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78767366There was no single blow that killed the record industry’s business model, but it never recovered once artists gained the capability to sell and distribute their own music and content online.

Though the internet has opened the doors wide open, up until recently it still has been difficult for  musicians who weren’t tech-savvy to sell their music directly to the fan – that is, without a middle man. Unless your paid for a developer to have your website set up for sales, with a back-end area for fans to purchase and download tracks, you had to rely on channels like iTunes to take care of the distribution process.

While it’s still absolutely necessary to have your music available on iTunes due to its convenience and huge user base, it’s also important to remember that the profits you receive from them are split and that gathering sales data (and getting your check) takes time. If you think about it, selling a digital file shouldn’t be that hard to do.

Fortunately, services have popped up that offer the artist the ability to sell tracks directly from their websites and social networking pages with ease. Nimbit jumped on the scene a few months back, and more recently ReverbNation announced a partnership with Audiolife to offer a similar service.

With these services and others like them, artists have a direct line to potential buyers and fans have a new option for purchasing music directly from the artist. And setting this system up is becoming easier to implement.

What does this mean for you, the artist? It means you can focus your marketing efforts on getting people to your website, and then take advantage of the opportunity to sell tracks right there and then.

With one less hoop for the fan to jump through, artists should see an increase in download sales – and because there’s no middleman, an increase in profits as well.

–Eric Hebert

Eric Hebert is CEO of Evolvor Media and teaches musicians and artists how to market and distribute their work through the revolutionary Label 2.0, a interactive learning community of do-it-yourself independent musicians. Visit the blog of evolvor.com to keep up to date on the ever-changing digital music scene.



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Yes, Master

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“Mastering Engineer” — an industry job shrouded by a magical black veil of intrigue and mystery. Who are these guys? What do they do behind those closed doors that makes your music sound so good? Why might you need one — and why can’t you just use a piece of mastering software to replace them?

Guitar Recording StudioBefore moving forward, let’s take a step back. One of the hardest things for any recordist/engineer/producer to do is to make sure all the frequencies of your mix are even and balanced. Think of the many variables that might throw you for a loop in that department: your speakers, the room they are in, the desk or stand they are on, the software you’re using and the hardware it’s running through…. All of these factor into the final mix’s equation. That’s not to mention your own ears, by the way, which may or not be as finely tuned as you’d like to believe.

Tuned Rooms

A poorly balanced room or set of speakers may lead you to mix your song with too much or too little bass, mid or treble. Did you ever finish a song in your room that you think is perfect, but then you take it to your friend’s house and it sounds terrible? That’s probably the result of your own setup not offering a true representation of what’s actually been recorded.

One of a mastering engineer’s primary jobs is to check and fix your mixes in a tuned audio room that has been designed to do nothing but that. It takes a lot of hard work, attention to detail and often a substantial financial investment to make sure every single aspect of a mastering room offers an accurate reproduction of your music. That’s what they mean by a “tuned” room: the sound is perfectly balanced out of the (often ridiculously expensive) speakers.

Most quality mastering engineers know their room incredibly well, so they can easily make sure your mixes are even in the lows, mids and highs. They can also level out the volumes to make sure all the mixes sound balanced and even.

Mastering Packs a Punch

Typically using a combination of high-end analog and digital gear (such as equalizers, limiters, compressors and noise reduction units), they can sculpt the final sound of your mix to be one that will sound great whether it’s playing back on huge speakers or on a tiny pair of ear buds connected to an iPod.

Aside of the sonics, mastering engineers also space the songs in the mix order. Then they prepare a final disc or set of files (a master) that duplication houses can use to create CD’s. Even if you’re not making CD’s, a good mastering job still gives you the best shot at making sure your mixes pump through those speakers.

Man vs. Machine

Yes, there certainly are software programs available that let you master your own tracks. Some of them are quite good, too. But make no mistake: the trained ears and experience of a fine mastering engineer, along with a perfectly tuned room, cannot be replaced.

Still doubtful? Send just one of your mixes out to be mastered and then A/B it with your original. If you’ve hired a good engineer at a reasonable price, you’ll see that the difference is worth it. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either; certainly less than having your own room acoustically calibrated and equipped for mastering.

Plus, it’s an invaluable experience when the sound coming out of the speakers finally matches the music you first heard inside your head. There’s a good reason why nearly every hi-level commercial release is sent off for mastering before it hits the public’s ears.

–Rich Tozzoli

Rich Tozzoli is an accomplished engineer, mixer, producer and composer. He has worked with artists such as Ace Frehley, Al DiMeola and David Bowie, among many more, and is the author of Surround Sound Mixing for ProTools. Rich is also a lifelong guitarist and composer. His work can be heard regularly on FoxNFL, HBO, and Discovery Channel.



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Top 50 Hardest Working Guitarists – Part 3

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The list must go on! Here are 10 more incredibly hard-working, talented, downright awesome guitarists from TrueFire’s stable of educators (listed in alphabetical order):

Bugs Henderson
Bugs HendersonBugs’ signature sound was beginning to define itself during the 1970s with the blues. Quoting Bugs, “Blues was all that mattered to me; no other music was worth a damn.” During this time, Bugs moved from Tyler to Dallas in order to join the scene of a bar called The Cellar. “It’s really hard to explain that place,” Henderson remembers. “It was this big, black room. It had a red light that came on when the cops were coming in and another light for fights. The waitresses wore just bras and panties, but they ran three or four bands in a night and everybody played original music. We usually didn’t leave until four in the morning, and there was no other place like it around. It was the best thing that happened to my music. I learned a lot.” Henderson went from small clubs to playing on stage opening for artists such as the Allman Brothers, B.B King, and Leon Russell. Henderson described it as “a big change.” Bugs and his love for blues got tired of the wide-open riff-oriented rock, and friend Freddie King began pushing for Henderson to start his own band. Bugs the assembled his first record “At Last” released on succession of 14 albums spanning over four decades.

Check out Bugs’ latest blues guitar lessons – Bugs’ Blues
Visit Bugs’ official website – www.BugsHenderson.com

Rich Maloof
maloofRich Maloof is a longtime friend of the Fire. He has contributed to dozens of TrueFire lessons both on camera and as a producer behind the scenes, and now is our chief blog-man. Formerly the Editor In Chief of Guitar magazine, Rich has produced a ton of instructional content for musicians, including the book series The Way They Play, Alternate Tunings for Guitar, Joe Satriani: Riff By Riff, the biography of amp legend Jim Marshall, and several other works. He is the founding editor of the student magazine InTune and has also edited for Billboard, Hal Leonard Publishing, BackBeat Books, For Dummies, GuitarOne, Guitar Shop, and others. When he’s not playing guitar, Rich keeps his carpal tunnel syndrome active on a computer keyboard. He is a regular contributor to MSN.com and writes on health, technology and music for a number of other outlets on the Web and in print. In 2009, Rich has released two new books to the mass market: This Will Kill You (St. Martin’s Press, with co-author HP Newquist) and Rock & Roll: The Beat Goes On (Imagine Publications, with the legendary New York DJ Cousin Brucie).

Pre-order Rich’s killer new guitar lessons – 50 Acoustic Guitar Licks You MUST Know

Jeff McErlain
mcerlainJeff McErlain is a New York City based guitarist, songwriter, teacher and producer. At age 12, Jeff McErlain picked up a guitar and never looked back. Inspired by Beck, Hendrix and Page in his early years, he attended the Berklee College of Music where he was introduced to legends like Coltrane, Miles and Monk. After school, he headed to New York City, where he hooked up with Liquid Hips, a funk-metal group. After releasing three CDs and touring Europe, he started an instrumental trio where he has focused his efforts since. Jeff also produces and writes music, teaches at the National Guitar Workshop, and has a successful teaching practice. He has contributed to Guitar Player Magazine, Guitar World and is the author of Modern Rock Techniques. He has taught at the Bath International Guitar Festival and has shared the stage or worked with Scott Henderson, George Clinton, Zakk Wylde, Will Lee, Hiram Bullock, Omar Hakim, Anton Fig, and Keith Carlock to name a few. His main musical focus is his instrumental trio and last released a CD in early 2007.

Pre-order Jeff’s new blues guitar lessons – 50 Blues Guitar Licks You MUST Know
Visit Jeff’s official website – www.JeffMcErlain.com

Andreas Oberg
obergAndreas Oberg was born in Stockholm on August 6, 1978. At the age of 18, Andreas made a name for himself on the vibrant Swedish music scene scene performing with many of Swedens top artists and he was also admitted to the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm in 1998. During recent years Andreas Oberg has been working with his own projects as well as performing with artists in many different styles such as Les Paul, Eros Ramazzotti, Toots Thielemans, Hank Jones, Harvey Mason, Bireli Lagrene, Larry Coryell, Barbara Hendricks, Martin Taylor, Stuart Hamm, John Pisano, Danny Gottlieb, James Genus, Marian Petrescu, Jimmy Rosenberg, Wycliffe Gordon, Gary Novak, Roger Kellaway, Harvie S, Joe Beck, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Beasley, Joey De Francesco, Mark Murphy, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Dorado Schmitt and Florin Nicolescu just to name a few. Andreas playing has impressed music listeners all over the world, with his energy, swing and technique. Andreas has performed on international TV & radio and has also been featured in numbers of international guitar and music magazines.

Check out Andreas’ latest jazz guitar lessons with Frank Vignola – Gypsy Jazz Duets
Visit Andreas’ official website – www.Andreas-Oberg.com

Gil Parris
parris Hailed by Guitar magazine as “the brightest new star in the genre since Larry Carlton,” guitar virtuoso Gil Parris is very comfortable in many musical idioms. A list of his many accomplishments is not easy to compile and is quite impressive considering his young age. While attending Berklee College of Music on a Jazz Masters scholarship, he left to tour Europe for three months doing “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Upon his return, one of his tapes landed him a national feature in the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine. Since, he’s performed and recorded with: Billy Vera, Bill Doggett, Richard Tee, Dr. John, Will Lee, David Mann, and Toni Braxton, to name but a few. Some of the highlights in his discography are: “Syndicate of Soul” (on Shanachie with Dr. John, Wilbur Bascomb, and Corey Glover), “Bluesiana Hurricane” (with Chuck Rainey, Bill Doggett, Lester Bowie, Bobby Watson), “Skallelujah” (with the Uptown Horns), Toko Furuuchi- “Strength” (for SONY/Japan with an all-star cast of New York studio players produced by Michael Colina), and Bakhiti Kumalo’s solo CD (Paul Simon’s bassist). Gil can be seen consistently performing in NYC with some of the scene’s best players. He’s headlined at many prestigious venues, such as B.B. King’s in Times Square, Town Hall, Metropolitan Cafe, and 55 Bar. When he’s not performing or recording, he contributes instructional articles to guitar magazines, is part of the affiliate jazz faculty at SUNY Purchase College, and has been promoting his first artist driven Hot Licks video, “Modern Blues Guitar.” Gil is also part of the national Hot Licks video, “Masters of the Stratocaster.” In addition, Gil has been the lead guitarist of Blood, Sweat & Tears for the past year, playing to thousands. Currently, Gil can be found on tour with rising sax star, David Mann (Tower of Power). They recently appeared together on NBC’s The Today Show, and followed with a sold-out performance at Jack Rose in NYC. Be sure to check out Gil’s newest record, “Blue Thumb” with guest stars Eric Alexander, Harvie S and Bob Malach.

Check out Gil’s modern blues-rock/funk-jazz guitar lessons – Inside Out
Visit Gil’s official website – www.GilParris.com

Rick Payne
payneRick Payne is an established acoustic blues guitarist with many national and international tours to his credit. He has become especially well known for his authentic acoustic blues finger picking, in the many traditional styles of the blues including delta blues, piedmont, ragtime and slide and has recorded several albums of this kind. Often compared with Ry Cooder, slide guitar maestro Rick Payne’s performances have taken him to prime time TV, to festivals and theatres throughout the UK and on tour to Europe, USA, Scandinavia and Greek Islands. He has provided music to a number of major TV productions, for programmes on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. He has also featured on The Paul Jones blues show on BBC Radio 2. Rick has recorded a number of CDs, including the noted ‘Blue River Blues’ for Bennett House Records California. Reviewers have described his sound as: heart wrenching and passionate, delicate and scorching, seriously brilliant, totally absorbing and spellbindingly evocative with raw and fiery vocals to match. As a teacher he has written and facilitated many guitar workshop style sessions, teaching the art of Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Rev Gary Davis and many more.

Check out Rick’s beginner blues guitar lessons – Blues in a Day
Visit Rick’s official website – www.RickPayne.co.uk

Paul Rishell
rishellPaul Rishell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, descended from a long line of Methodist preachers and Norwegian painters. At the age of ten, he discovered that he could keep time on the drums, though his feet didn’t reach the pedals. He started a band a few years later, playing surf music and rock ‘n roll, until a friend turned him on to the country blues records of Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He immediately took up the guitar and in the early 70’s Paul moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and had the chance to play with many of the first and second generation of blues masters — including Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Howlin’ Wolf. Paul Rishell’s debut recording, BLUES ON A HOLIDAY (Tone-Cool) was released in 1990 to resounding critical acclaim. The album was half acoustic, half electric, and established Paul as a masterful, versatile blues player and as well as a deeply soulful singer and songwriter. He followed that with SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH in 1993, which featured heart-stopping solo performances as well as guest artists Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and “Little”Annie Raines. Paul’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography. He has built up a stellar reputation over 40 years as a performer, teacher, and torchbearer of the country blues tradition. His former students include Susan Tedeschi and Michael Tarbox.

Check out Paul’s latest country blues guitar lessons – Dirt Road Blues
Visit Paul’s official website – www.PaulAndAnnie.com

Dave Rubin
rubinDave Rubin is a New York City blues guitarist, teacher and freelance writer. He currently writes for Guitar One Magazine and has written for Guitar Player, Guitar, Guitar Shop, Guitar World, Living Blues and Blues Access Magazines. In addition, he is an Associate Editor for a forthcoming Blues Encyclopedia from Routledge Press. As an author for the Hal Leonard Corporation, Dave has nine titles in his Inside the Blues series: The Greatest Electric Blues Guitarists: 1942-1982, The Art of the Shuffle, Power Trio Blues Guitar, 12 Bar Blues (nominated for the prestigious Paul Revere Award), Acoustic Country Blues, Birth of the Groove, Open Tunings for Blues Guitarists, Blues Turnarounds and Rockin’ the Blues: The Greatest Blues Rock 1963-1973. He has written more than twenty books for the Guitar School and Signature Licks series, including ones about B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. For Warner Brothers he has written a case book series as well as co-authoring a harmonica method. Dave is also the musical director for Star Licks’ blues videos series with titles for Son Seals, Honey Boy Edwards, Duke Robillard, Bob Margolin and Billy Boy Arnold produced to date. Dave has performed with Son Seals, Chuck Berry, Johnny Copeland, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, James Brown’s JBs, the Marvelettes, the Coasters and the Drifters. He also has made TV appearances on “New York Now” and “Blues Alley” and has recorded radio commercials for Mountain Dew and Orlek.

Check out Dave’s Big Book of Blues guitar lessons

Jeff Scheetz
scheetzJeff has released 8 CDs. His name is on the Ernie Ball Super Slinky string package. He’s written a guitar instructional book and CD, released an instructional video, and a live video. He has toured the US, Europe and Mexico, and has been featured in Guitar, Guitar Player, Guitar School, and Guitar World magazines, as well as numerous magazines in Japan and Europe. He is endorsed by Ernie Ball strings, and Yamaha guitars for whom he has performed over 200 clinics worldwide, and played numerous NAMM shows, the LA guitar show and more. He is also endorsed by Avlex mics, Pro Stage Gear. He also is busy in his studio producing and mixing projects like the band “Crunchy” from former Galactic Cowboys bassist Monty Colvin. Jeff and his studio were featured in an EQ magazine article. He has recorded spots for Toyota, Chevrolet, and many others, and his music has been used for tons of commercials. His band has toured all over as headliners, and opening for the Scorpions, ZZ Top, Jeff Healey, Steve Vai, Cheap Trick, ELO, .38 Special, Eric Johnson, George Thorogood and more. Jeff has been a guitar instructor for 20 years, and besides the aforementioned book, CD and video, he also worked with Yamaha on the “Rock School” project writing curriculum and implementing schools in many music stores. He has written guitar columns for several magazines including 10 years worth for hm magazine. So he has a vast background of teaching.

Check out Jeff’s latest blues rock guitar lessons – Secret Sauce
Visit Jeff’s official website – www.JeffScheetz.com

Marc Schonbrun
schonMarc Schonbrun is a Performing Musician, an Author, and a respected Teacher. He has accomplished this in just over a quarter decade. Marc graduated Magna Cum Laude from The Crane School of Music majoring in Classical Guitar Performance, Music Theory and Composition. His current teaching schedule is booked solid with a waiting list of students. He was one of the youngest teachers at the prestigious National Summer Guitar Workshop in New Milford, Connecticut, working alongside other nationally known performers and teachers such as John Petrucci, Jim Hall and John Scofield. Marc has completed five books and is currently under contract on his sixth and seventh and eighth. His first four are published by F + W Publications in their popular “Everything” series. His books cover Guitar Playing, Music Recording, Music Theory and a Guitar Chords Encyclopedia. Marc has recently signed with Thomsons Course Technology Publications to write the first ever book detailing the marriage of guitars and computers. “Digital Guitar Power” will publish in spring 2006. Marc also has formed his own publication company and its flagship book “The Efficient Guitarist” has just gone to print. The “Efficient” guitarist will be a four-volume set that shows the full possibilities of what the guitar can do in a logical fashion; this has never attempted in such brevity and conciseness. Marc is also under contract to write a classical guitar book for Mel Bay publications, one of America’s largest sheet music publications – it should see publication by 2007. Marc is also writhing a monthly classical guitar column in the upcoming “Accent” magazine headed up by Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. Marc is endorsed by D’Addario Strings, Godin Guitars, Metric Halo, Sibelius, Flite Sound Speakers, Native Instruments, and Starr Labs.

Check out Marc’s latest guitar lessons – Geek Guitar
Visit Marc’s official website – www.MarcSchonbrun.com



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Internet Bands: How to Record Around the World

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The Web has changed not only music commerce, but music creation and production as well. The pairing of broadband lines and computer-based recording has made for the very real and very exciting capability to record with musicians from around the globe and even form so-called Internet bands. The concept is simple and really easy to launch on your own.

To build a band, you first need to find other musicians who want to collaborate on a recording, and a good place to start is in music chat rooms. You could post a request and see if any of the respondents share your goals, and then see if they have audio samples to share. If you like what you hear, you’ve got your band started. Another option is to check out musician pages on social networking sites, and then ping a player you like to see if he/she is open to working together.

Next, everyone who participates should have a high-speed connection plus some way of digitally recording and exporting audio. They don’t have to be wired like Real World Studios, but they need a computer running some kind of sequencer/recorder (Garageband, Live, Sonar, Pro Tools, Logic,  etc). Whatever the system, make sure you can import and export compatible file types (wav, aiff).

Here’s a basic scenario: Musician #1 will start a song, laying down a drum-loop beat and a rhythm guitar part. Once that’s mixed down to an MP3 file, it can be emailed to Musician #2. That player imports the MP3 into his DAW and then records a new part on a separate track (without mixing in the loop and guitar). Once completed, Musician #2 exports his new track to a file and mails it back to Musician #1, who imports it into the master session. When files are really big, you might need to swap them using a content-delivery service (yousendit, MegaUpload) in place of email. 

After you get the hang of that basic process, you can start exchanging files with any musician in the band or recording project. Today, lots of bands are cutting complete albums using this exact method. Some players are even using sophisticated VNC programs to control the mice on each other’s computers, allowing for collaboration on a mix. Better still, these two musicians can talk to each other during mixdown using Skype.

Whether you want to form a full-blown band or just find someone to fly in a keyboard part, you can find a ton of musicians who make their services available online with a simple search. Clearly, there are some great creative possibilities that a few years ago were only a dream. You could start a band right now from where you’re sitting.

— Pete Prown

Guitarist/Writer Pete Prown has written hundreds of guitar articles and is a contributing editor at Vintage Guitar magazine. Pete’s latest CD release, Sir Clive and the Raging Cartographers, is a manic chunk of guitar-fired surf and psychedelia.



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Wednesday’s Daily Kindling

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Fuel for the Fire:

Answer this: Should a record be a picture of where you are now, or of all the places you could just as likely be?

Musings:

Gibson Guitar is offering video guitar lessons on their site with contemporary artists teaching their own songs. Would you be interested in something similar on TrueFire? Which contemporary artists would you want to learn from and which songs? – http://su.pr/8VAdbA

Here is a very specific example of how a band is adding value to the “analog” live-concert experience by adding “digital” perks. – http://su.pr/A1ugMP

Texas claims the Guinness World Record for largest group of guitar pickers. – http://su.pr/8e5gof

A nice piece from BluesBlogger about Boz Scaggs and the blues. – http://su.pr/1jegk8

And finally, a great biography (with videos) of the late, great Les Paul. – http://su.pr/4oJkl8



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