Monday, February 28, 2011

2. Thou shalt have a product to market BEFORE you start promoting.

     Here we are back again for another installment of our TEN COMMANDMENTS of Indie Music!   Today we will be taking a look at one of the biggest mistakes i see out there. So without further ado, let's get started...

     You have booked a saturday night slot at the biggest club in your city.  You are playing with another band that has a great draw...  You have a great time slot. A killer set. Life could not get any better.... Right?


     You decided to start playing shows and you don't have T-shirts, a debut album, merch, a 5 song ep, not even business cards pointing to a website. YOU LOOSE.  THIS IS A BUSINESS.  Of course there will be startup costs to any business those of you out there with any level of financial sophistication are wondering if the costs incurred at these shows can be attributed to market research before you release any of the material....I have two words to say to such defeatism.


     This is a business you shall take no losses to be just part of the game...Imagine if your in Los Angeles and you are even paying to be there in the first place.  Go ahead and do some quick calculations for the expenses you incur playing a standard show.

PAY TO PLAY (assuming no tickets sold)  $500.00

(4 members 20 miles (20 mpg) @ 3.75 a gallon   $15.00      

(you don't work for free do you? Union scale is near $75 hr.)
(4 members x 2 hours including setup tear down 8x$75)(or                $  960.00      

That's     $1475.00


     $1475.00 that's crazy you say. No, that's what it costs you to take the gig. Expenses and opportunity costs.  Let's re-work it. Say that you sold 20/50 tickets at $10 each. You want to figure the pay scale as $100 a gig for each member. You all carpooled. lol.

$1475.00 - [200+{$960-(125x4)] = $815.00

     First of all If you pay to play just FUCK OFF AND DIE NOW....Second for that same amount of money you could have started your album. Put out an ad in Revolver magazine.   Hired a high end get the idea.  Bottom line is this. You don't put the chicken in the fryer then turn it on... Get your package together. Get a cd out. Get your website up. Get on I-tunes. Create IT. THEN SELL IT.  You wanna play? START A COVER BAND. You want to make yourself into something new? DO IT RIGHT.


Till next time...JM

Listen to some of my music here!

Midnight Reign: Never Look Back

Midnight Reign: Heaven and Hell - Single

Ellipsis: Tuesday

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1. Thou shalt treat thy career like a business.

     Last week i posted a blog detailing the TEN COMMANDMENTS of Indie Music.  Throughout the coming weeks we will visit each commandment one by one.   You will learn what actions and inaction will cause pain, and which ones will result in cause for celebration.


Today we will look at the first commandment: Thou shalt treat thy career like a business.

     First off we you must honestly answer the question; "Does anyone in the band really know what they are doing when it comes to business?"  If the answer is yes, then great! More often than not you'll be in a band that has not one member experienced in the realm of accounting, marketing, pr, business plans, financing, law. You are lucky if one of you can pay your cell phone bill with any regularity.

     This article is for you.  It would take several volumes of literature to cover everything that needs to be touched in those few topics. I will skim here and leave you with the legwork.
Your best friend at this point is the Library. Go There now. Get a book on each of those subjects.

    I cannot give legal advice here and remember nothing written here is to be construed as an attempt to do such, but get together as a band write down everything you expect out of each other, what you plan on doing with any assets or revenue that comes in, and how someone might be deprived of such. Write it down, type it up, take it to a notary and sign it.  Use this as your ad hoc agreement until you can find a lawyer....TAKE YOUR TIME WITH THIS.

                                                     visit her at:

     In parting i will say one more thing: LEARN QUICKBOOKS,PHOTOSHOP, ACT!, and your Recording software of choice. These are your tools.  For now...



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ten Commandments

1. Thou shalt treat thy career like a business.

2. Thou shalt have a product to market BEFORE you start promoting.

3. Thou shalt not even say the word "tour" until you can grasp the numbers.

4. Thou shalt not ever utter the words Pay to Play.

5. Thou shalt not be in a band that has no songwriter(s).

7th day break...
                            say hello here...

6. Thou shalt always have promotional material at hand.

7. Thou shalt have a contact database.

8. Thou shalt be more concerned with songs than getting a sound.

9. Thou shalt not build a band around another bands sound.

10.  Thou shalt not Fuck your bassplayer.

These are you commandments i will expound on them in the upcoming months. They will be explained one at a time...

For now... JM

                          To listen to Midnight Reign click here!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day Blues

     Trolling craigslist can be a lot of fun, but today is not such a day... Today is a day for those fortunate/unfortunate musicians who do not have significant others to go out and talk to everyone you meet.   Use this wretched holiday as an excuse to flex your networking muscle.

1. Take fifty of your promo/business cards and go out to the most populated area in your city.

2. Talk to everyone you meet.  I mean EVERYONE, homeless and prostitutes included.

3. Smoothly work in what you do into the conversation.

4. For every person interested in what you are saying hand them a card. Tell them you have a

(party, show, orgy, anything make it up...if anyone calls you host the damn get-together)


In your face gorilla marketing...

Here is my facebook page...Join my Network and feel free to ask anything...

Joseph Michael

Create Your Badge

Friday, February 11, 2011

First Album Release: Part 1 of 10

Part 1.  Duplication or Replication?

     The whole point of this series of articles is to help indie musicians take the leap into self producing their own professional product.  Fuck the labels. They ARE NOT an option.
The promoters out there keep that myth alive so that they can charge you to play at their clubs.

     "How else are we supposed to be seen by A&R executives if we don't give the WHISKY,ROXY,VIPER ROOM,HOUSE OF BLUES, $800.00 to play with a bunch of other no-name bands?  If you really believe that A&R execs. from sony or universal are trolling around the strip drooling over the pay-to-play deserve your status.

     So if you are a realist and a dreamer. If you are willing to do the work. If you won't stop until your satisfied. If satisfaction means a dream realized, then this is the blog for you.   So for this first part of ten articles we will be dealing with a major decision that anyone who's gone the indie label route alone has had to face. 


First let's start off with a quick backround: This video is courtesy of

      Simple enough right?  Wrong.   It would seem from hearing the description of the process that it's just a matter of scale, and the replication process makes the large scale production of discs economically feasible...

                             Heavy Metal Vixen Tiana Weaver

     Done looking yet...?

     Alas, no. First point is no one in any market outside of the united states can play your discs with any level of dependability. CD-R's are not compatible with the format of some of the foreign players.   This is especially true in Japan a major indie music market.  Two, NO DISTRIBUTOR WILL TOUCH YOUR RELEASE.  You are dead on arrival... D.O.A.  Three, you obviously don't care enough about quality so i am going to assume the rest of the disc qualities are going to be of the same standards.


     Duplication is good for one thing only.   SAMPLERS.  If you are going to make press kits or cd's to give away at shows, then the duplication route is for you.  If you are selling cd's you MUST REPLICATE. It costs no more to replicate your cd's.  If you are printing 500 or more which is what you should be doing.   Taking advantage off the economy of scale you will appear professional in the eyes of distributors, and more importantly potential customers.

ALL HRX RECORDS are glass mastered and then replicated.  If you are serious about your career then yours should be as well... Till next Time.  JM

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



     Contrary to popular belief craigslist is a wholesome family oriented website... I can't even post announcements about our site Heavy Metal without someone flagging it into oblivion.   Since they have removed all traces of vice from their pages (see the daily news article here)

"The classified advertising website closed the adult services section, just two weeks after 18 state attorney generals said there weren't enough safeguards barring potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution.   The section has been replaced by a black highlighted strip that says "censored."

I personally have no problem with the "adult" class of ads but i digress...

    So post ads on craigslist, it is all Upside and no, Downside.  All it takes is the invesment of a few minutes before you check your email.  I know it is cliche that all you see at shows is the other musicians in town; great i say!   It works the same way on a bigger scale.  Do you think that when Dragon Force is playing your city that every guitar player within a one hundred mile radius doesn't show up? 

     Put up an ad announcing your search for another guitar player. Whether you are looking or not this will draw traffic to your website.    More importantly it will make you ever increasingly known within your local music community.   You might even meet some whores...  Cheers!

Rate, Comment, and berate me here on the Midnight Reign I-Tunes Page.

Craigslist did not return calls seeking comment."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To Move or Not to Move...Wrong Question.

     This one is for my hometown of Utica NY.  Every young musician that was born and raised in a smallish city has the same thought.  "I need to go to Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville to make it big. I'm not talking about microcosmic places like clayville NY, or Monowi NE.  I'm talking about small to medium sized hubs like Springfield MA, Buffalo NY, Reno NV, Tampa FL, Portland OR ect. 

     The allure of a big city is all too familiar to me. I moved to Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus when i was nineteen years old. I had a guitar, my compositions and $50 in my pocket.  Though i have had an amazing life so far... (a book is in the works stay tuned) there are a few things that give me pause.  Hindsight being twenty-twenty and all i have thought through the nearly endless possibilities that the NEW WORLD has given us.

Superfluous semi-nude model break. Elena Bathory 

     What was i saying; oh: anyway, the point is with the advent of the "www" you have access to the same contacts and information you could once only get by locating yourself in the heart of a major city.  You can do it all from bum-fuck-egypt nebraska.   If you are looking to make a living playing in live bands, then yes you need to relocate to a major music center...but if you just want to release your own music. Build a following with your own compositions. You can now do this in the confines of your own little studio. 

     Bottom line: If you have a self contained product stay put.  Stay small until you can expand on your own terms.   If you can't find what your looking for, or can't produce where you are. Leave.

Follow THE HOLLYWOOD RX RECORDS on Facebook...Friend me while your there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Lesson of Groundhog Day...

     No, not the day that punxsutawney phil crawls out of his hole in front of a bunch of brain dead bored housewives and the men that fuck them... I'm talking about "Groundhog Day" the Movie. You know the one with Bill Murray.

     Yeah, that's more like it.  If your not familiar with the story, here is a quick synopsis.
Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to reexamine his life and priorities.

     It's only after he makes changes in his actions that his character starts to see some level of success.  Picture what you do in your own life. How can this be applied to your situation.

                               Gratuitous Half Naked Model Break - Visit Mizuz Inkaholic

     The year is new enough that you can still break old habits, wipe the slate clean.  Consider your marketing activities.  What is working and what is not. What is the most effective use of your time.
Those spam emails you send inviting everyone-and-their-fuckin mother to your next gig is probably not the best use of your time.  Here is your assignment for today.

1.     Make a list of every marketing activity that you do.

2.     Estimate how much time you spend per day.

3.     Find out a way to quantify your results.

IE; If your trying to generate myspace traffic keep a chart of how many hits you get per day. Then, use your websites analytic app to figure out how many sales come through the myspace portal. Now take your average time spent and divide the average number of hits per day. That will give you the amount of time it takes you to generate a hit. Then take the average sales originating from myspace. Divide that by how many hits you get. That's your number. Do this with every activity.


I generate 1,000 hits per day average at: Midnight Reign's Myspace.
I Spend about 1 hour a day divided by 6 sites... so thats ten minutes.

(1,000 div. 10mnts = 100 hits per minute of time)

Assuming i sell $100.00/day worth of product from myspace originated visits.
So per 1,000 hits i make $100 that's .10 cents per hit.

100 hits per minute x $0.10 = $10.00 per minute

My time spent working on myspace related activites is worth $10 per minute...

Now do this for all of your activities and prioritize them.

Soon you will see you are better off working a minimum wage job and spending the money on advertising than repeating the same ineffective tasks.

Midnight Reign Never Look Back

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Auto-Tune or not to Auto-Tune...

     Depending on your stance on the issue we have Cher to blame for this ubiquitous, overused, audio tool.   Personally, i believe that if you need a software program to sing in tune; you shouldn't be making a living as a singer.  

     Chiefly responsible is the industry's reliance on cheaply made "pet projects", where they groom a minor star to be the next big thing. (ie; Hillary Duff, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cirus, ect.) Instead of actually doing their jobs and scouting for talent, A&R reps just turn on the tv and pick the faces they think might sell.

     I am all in favor of a label put on all releases indicating whether or not the vocals are "real". Regardless this is a business blog so here goes.  What are the economic advantages of employing this technology?

    Christina Aguilara 2009

     To begin i feel it is my responsibility to let you know that none of the artists on HRX Records, including myself use auto-tune in their recordings.  It is inauthentic.  Here are the main reasons i could sympathise with someone using it.

1.   You are on a strict budget. The singer just cannot hack it. You have no more hours left on the clock.  Tune the Vocals, or find another singer.

2.   You are producing Dance music and just want to sound like every thing else out there... Here Auto-Tune is used as an effect. Like a flanger...Perfectly acceptable.

3.   You are not an artists. You are just an entertainer. Sure go for it. Jared Leto that one is for you.

4.   You are Scott Stapp... Of course i would suggest suicide, but barring that. 

5.   You are recording your girlfriend and you'd like to get laid tonight. Seriously.

So there you have it.  The ONLY reasons acceptable for usig auto-tune.

     Remember the voice IS NOT A KEYBOARD.  It is meant to have pitch fluctuations.
If you really love a performance and there are a few minor pitch issues, that's what reverb, chorus and other effects are for...

Have fun...

Check out Ellipsis' Version of Tuesday's Gone.... AUTO-TUNE Free...just a lead singer and a band that can pull of natural sounding harmonies....

                                                         CLICK HERE!