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How to Submit Music to Blogs for Free

If you want to maximise your next campaign but want to do it with a minimal budget, the good news is that there is a raft of music blogs to submit to that prove that some things in life do come free. The editors do it for the love of the industry and to help grassroots artists thrive, meaning they will constantly be open to hearing new unestablished artists, unlike the editors at the NME and Rolling Stone.

Whatever the genre, wherever you are, however slim your niche, there will be countless other up-and-coming artists clawing for the same attention. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to improve your chances of getting featured in music blogs.

How to Submit Music to Blogs for Free

  1. Create Your Contact List

In addition to scouring Google for blogs to submit for free, get creative with your self-promo campaigns. One of the best ways to make new contacts with music bloggers, editors and journalists is by networking, which can be done online and offline. This effectively transforms a cold pitch into a warm one if you take a friendlier or more personal approach to your request to be featured. Failing that, you can take to a search engine and look for your local music blogs and niche-specific blogs. Once you have sourced suitable blogs, find the right contact info and name and add them to a database, which you will also update with how many times you have contacted them – no one likes spam.

  1. Practice Your Pitch

Regardless of what you may think about the industry, no one likes an egotistical artist; being affable in a pitch and showing a little humility can go a drastically long way. So, instead of lauding yourself as a prodigy with heavenly vocals and an equally as celestial songwriting capability in your pitch, let them know what you are really about. Allude to the textural details of your music and introduce your artistic attitude, and remember, no unestablished artist is God’s gift to any music blog. If they are featuring you for free, they are probably writing for free; make it worth their while.

  1. Create an EPK

Before you start firing emails and messages to music bloggers, craft an Electronic Press Kit (EPK), or at the very least a press release, which contains all of the info that a blogger will need to write a thorough review, such as the band location, ethos, line-up and details on the release that you want to be featured. In your EPK, be sure to include press-quality photos and all of your relevant streaming and social media links.

  1. Put Effort into Your Own Online Presence First

One of the best ways for up-and-coming bands without much of a budget to show that they’re serious about their music is by investing in a social media and online presence. Firstly, you will want to create a professional-looking website which holds all anyone will ever need to know about your band; secondly, sprawl across all social media networks and stay vocal. Think of it from a music blog’s perspective, would you feature an artist that is going to share the feature far and wide, or go with a digitally muted artist that won’t bring their audience, no matter how small, to their website?

  1. Get in the Right Mindset

Learning to deal with rejection is as fundamental to the artist’s journey as learning to sing in tune or keep in time. You will experience it. A lot of it. You will come up against armchair critics that want to pick apart every single production element in your track and sound snobbishly petulant while they’re doing it. Or potentially, even more frustratingly, you will hear nothing but radio silence after firing off what seems like an endless series of pitches. The trick is understanding that as personal as it feels, it isn’t.

  1. Understand that Timing is Everything

To increase your chances of getting featured by a music blog for free, give them an exclusive preview of your new material, or at the very least, send them your single, EP or album as soon as it has dropped. Music blogs love to be the first to write on new music and run special features such as music video premiers. If a music blog gets the exclusive premiere, that increases the chances of all your current fans flooding to their site to see it!

How To Promote Indie Music?

If you are deliberating on how to promote your debut or wondering how to make your next self-promo campaign more successful than the last, we have collated 10 of the best ways to get your next indie release noticed in 2022.

From increasing your presence on social media to getting into the good books of playlisters, this one-stop guide will put you on the right path from unestablished to one to watch.

How to Promote Indie Music

1.       Do Your Research

Forget what you have heard about it isn’t who you know; it’s what you know. Knowing your niche and your audience is one of the biggest hurdles for artists to overcome while getting to grips with self-promotion.

Make the most out of the thriving sub-cultures around the globe, and remember, the niches aren’t solely defined by genre. When you are starting out, your best bet will be to keep it relatively local; give music fans the chance to champion an artist from their local town or city.

2.       Create a Website

If you want to leave your amateur status far behind you, invest in a professional-quality website to bolster your digital presence. Your website should include all your social media and streaming links, a well-written bio, press shots, past or present tour dates and release info.

3.       Sprawl Across Social Media

Establish a presence on all social media platforms, yes, that includes TikTok; it is as close as we can currently get to the Myspace days in 2022. Unlike on Facebook and Instagram, newly registered users have just as much chance to go viral as users with millions of followers.

Get creative with your posts, and give your followers, regardless of how few, something to get excited about. Whether that be teaser clips from an upcoming video, footage of you playing live, or pictures of cats on amps, give your audience something to connect with.

4.       Discover your Local Radio Hosts

If you have tried submitting your music to BBC Introducing in your area to no avail, check out your local and niche-specific internet radio stations. Their reach may not be as wide, but they will have an audience to promote you to. Additionally, getting any airplay under your belt is enough to boost credibility for further press, radio and playlist opportunities.

5.       Find Independent Playlisters

Even if getting on an official Spotify playlist is the dream, set your expectations a little lower when you are unestablished to have a better shot at landing a position on one of those multi-million-listener playlists.

Look through Spotify to find playlisters you think you can impress; once you have found them, make a friendly introduction to the playlisters via social media or email (if you can find their contact details).

6.       Submit Indie Music to Blogs

Just like being playlisted and featured on a radio station, getting featured on indie music blogs is a great way to tap into existing fanbases and gain some critical acclaim. Some music fans still religiously follow indie blogs and online magazines to find out about new talented artists, and blogs are always looking for more content. In the run-up to every new release, craft an electronic press kit (EPK) and start firing it off to indie blogs that feature unestablished artists.

7.       Get on the Live Circuit

Promoting music by playing live will always be fundamental to the success of an indie musician. This modern age has just given us more ways of doing it, such as in the metaverse or via live stream.

Daunting as it may be to make your stage debut, getting on the live circuit will give your fans and your soon-to-be fans a real chance to connect with you. And remember, networking at gigs is just as crucial as killing it on stage – there is no telling who may rock up to a show, but there will almost certainly be someone in the industry – in some capacity – present.

Touring the smaller venues with hack promotors and depressingly sparse audiences may be a drag initially. Yet, once you have a reputation for being a killer live band, you won’t have to wait much longer for the better gig and festival slots outside of your hometown.

8.       Make Your Releases Visual

With enough originality, a massive music video budget becomes unnecessary. Even if your music video only gets a few streams on YouTube, you can add teaser clips to your reels, stories and newsfeeds to build hype around a new release.

On the other hand, there is always the chance of the music video being more popular than the track itself. For the best chance of success, allow the visuals to contextualise the lyrics or go with a quirky and share-worthy approach.

9.       Build a Mailing List

Once you have got a few loyal fans, keep them in the loop by creating a mailing list and regularly using it to promote your new releases, tours, merch drops and news. To build your email list, give your fans a reason for joining it, such as exclusive access to tickets, singles and merch drops. Mailing lists for indie musicians may sound outdated, but they have one major advantage over social media marketing. Once someone subscribes for updates, they are much more likely to receive them as there is no algorithm which decides what to quash and what to promote.

10.     Promote Indie Music with A&R Factory

A&R Factory was founded in 2012 by a team of award-winning music industry veterans with the sole aim of helping new artists get in the ears of fans and in the books of the names that matter. Along the way, we became one of the most acclaimed indie pop music blogs.

We run a range of artist development services, from one-to-one sessions on up-to-date self-promo tactics to promoting artists on our top UK music blog to providing courses on music marketing to bespoke PR packages.

With our affordable rates to fit into the budgets of every indie artist, paired with our extensive collective experience in promoting indie music and our passion for grassroots music, expect your expectations to be exceeded.

How to Make Money from Your Music in 2022

This era may have given us the £0.0058 pay per stream on Spotify, but it has also seen the exponential rise of virally famous independent musicians, such as Chance the Rapper. Even if you’re not that into hip hop, the chances are that you will have heard of his music, or at least his name.

His $33m income in 2017 proved that it is entirely possible to fund a non-impoverish lifestyle via music – if you’ve got the songwriting ability and talent. In an exclusive interview in 2022, Chance the Rapper revealed that most of his income came through the sale of tickets and merch. Even if you don’t get to the same level of renown, there are a plethora of ways to make money from your music in 2022.

From sync deals to getting on radio station playlists to selling merch to selling digital downloads, relying on streaming platforms never has to be and will never be your bread and butter.

With enough blood, patience, sweat, tears and perseverance, financial success and an impressive level of recognition are entirely possible. However, there is only so much room for the cream of the crop to float to the service in an oversaturated market – meaning that having realistic expectations will be fundamental to maintaining your sanity while you are trying to turn your creativity into a money-spinner.

How to Make Money from Your Music in 2022

The main reason why the financially successful artists are in the painful minority is due to the sheer number of artists that made their debut when the lockdowns gave everyone too much spare time. Not because there is a lack of opportunities for talented artists.

In May 2019, the Bureau of Labour Statistics ran a study on 175,600 singers and musicians; the study found that the median hourly wage for all participants was an impressive $30.39 an hour.

Stop Depending on Physical Sales & Digital Downloads

Trends in the music industry are constantly in flux; one of the biggest changes in recent years has been the decline of digital and physical LP and EP sales, while streaming has seen a sharp rise.

It is easy to feel a little dejected when you compare the cost of a gatefold limited edition picture disc vinyl with a Spotify stream; find the silver lining in the fact that the platform is the biggest contributor to streaming royalties.

By the end of 2020:

  • 184,500 artists earned over $1,000.
  • 42,100 artists made over $10,000.
  • 870 artists earned over $1 million.

For all future releases, utilise third-party distribution services which will platform your music on all popular platforms, including Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal and Deezer. We highly recommend the services of TuneCore and Ditto.

Try Your Luck with Sync Deals

In 2020 sync licencing deals contributed to 2% of an artist’s entire income through their original music. That may not sound all too significant, but considering that the sync licencing industry was worth $265 million in 2020, it is still well worth considering.

There is an increasing trend in licencing companies offering subscriptions to clients on their roster and paying the artists small but continuous payments.

Yet, there is still the chance to rake in the big bucks when working with companies such as Music Gateway, BeatStars, Music Vine, Sound Stripe and Music Bed.

Leave Lo-Fi Behind 

As highlighted in our first point, streaming is king in 2022, which means your music must be of high enough quality to be stream worthy. And to state the fairly obvious, this also goes for your sync licencing deals.

One of the best things that you can do to increase your chances of financial success with your music in 2022 is to produce it to the highest possible quality.

This may mean enlisting the help of a renowned producer with plenty of sway in the industry, or it could mean that you need to focus on your production skills. You can always earn additional income by producing other people’s music with your freshly acquired skill set!

Play Live

The 2020 and 2021 lockdowns proved just how much money was at stake with the closure of venues. Along with the cash you get paid to play (whatever you do, don’t just do it for exposure or resort to extortionate pay to play gigs), you will also bank money from merch sales.

A recent study showed that musicians who lived comfortably off their music made an average of 14% of their income via selling their merch.

A lot has changed in the merch-selling world, aside from t-shirts remaining the top sold merch item. New key trends to consider are the demands for leisurewear, such as joggers and hoodies and the increase in sales of home décor items, such as posters and mugs. Other merch ideas to explore include hats, tote bags, phone cases, stickers, or whatever you think your audience would appreciate!

Other Revenue Streams to Consider

Creating hit songs that fans scream for when played live is the financial vision of success that many artists have in mind when they start to contemplate how to fund themselves via their music.

The reality is that some of the income streams are a little less rock and roll and a little more lucrative.

While looking at the different ways of supporting yourself through your music, take the time to consider:

–             Composing and writing songs for other artists.

–             Working as a session musician – remotely or live.

–             Performing at private functions, such as weddings.

–             Teaching music as a private music teacher or academically

–             Producing music for other artists.

–             Livestreaming on Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

–             Writing music-related content, such as blogs.

–             YouTube ad revenue

–             Music Journalism

For more info on music artist development, look at our consultancy packages and self-promo course material.  Our PR Packages, which were developed by award-winning industry veterans, were built to boost exposure, fans, and revenue streams for independent artists.

Can I Produce My Own Music Using My Laptop or Computer?

In short, it is entirely possible to produce music – of any genre – on a laptop or computer. However, there are some additional hardware and software components that you will need to complete a mix in your home studio from start to finish. With most modern PCs and Macs, users will have the capacity to produce music on them, depending on specs, such as the CPU Power and the RAM; the more the better. With laptops and computers with less CPU and RAM, there is the chance that your mixes will choke your OS.

Many independent music artists are forgoing the traditional means of making and producing music and while there may be a stark difference between how Billie Eilish made her debut and how the Beatles created their hits, that doesn’t mean that mixes crafted on a laptop or computer have to sound amateur – or that it is any less artistically viable.

As we have created several guides on how to create an affordable home studio and how to create and produce EDM, this article will be the ultimate beginner’s 101 for aspiring producers; covering the skills you need and the tools you will need to invest in.

How to Make Electronic Music on a Laptop

Invest in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Selecting a DAW should be your first port of call as an aspiring electronica producer. This software is what will enable you to compose and create your music. As home production is big business, there is almost an infinite amount of choice, and everyone has differing opinions on which one reigns supreme.

Some of the most highly rated DAW software packages include Logic Pro X for Mac users, FL Studio, Cubase, Ableton Live, PreSonus Studio One and Reason. DAW software packages and subscriptions all come with different price tags, which means that producers on a budget can be priced out by some options. However, there are also several free options, including Garage Band, Zynewave Podium and Ardour.

Be prepared to invest plenty of time giving these DAWs the once over by using the demo versions. Once you have made your selection, don’t rush into production mode; spend ample time learning the DAW inside and out.

Consider Upgrading Your Audio Interface

All modern PCs, Macs and laptops come with an in-built soundcard. However, unless the PC has been custom-built for music production, it is unlikely that the soundcard will have a strong capacity for making electronic music or have Audio Stream Input/Output support.

If you can afford a higher performance audio interface or high-quality sound card, it is highly recommended; especially for any aspiring producers that are planning to record from external sources – more on that later.

Choose Your Monitors

There is a major difference between the speakers and headphones you use for your aural pleasure and studio monitors/headphones designed to give an accurate reproduction of source audio.

High-grade studio monitor headphones start from as little as £30, so you don’t have to break the bank here; just ensure that you are purchasing near-field monitors which do not distort the sound and tonal qualities. The difference between standard headphones and monitor headphones is that standard headphones colour the mix, add bass or change the frequency.

Add Hardware to Your Home Studio Set-Up

MIDI Keyboard Controllers aren’t a necessity, but they make the job easier for many electronic music producers. It is entirely possible to create music using your mouse/trackpad and your keyboard computer. So, if you want to keep your budget low in the early stages of your production journey, feel free to put a MIDI keyboard controller on the backburner.

Kit Out Your Software Suite

In addition to your DAW, you will also need to consider sourcing audio plugins and software synths. Software synths, or VST synths, work just like the physical real deal, but instead of existing physically, they can be installed as plugins into your DAW to help you create your melodies. If you would prefer not to splash out on your VSTs, you can head to Google and search for free ones.

Samples will also be incredibly useful for electronic production, especially when creating effects and percussion. There are thousands of commercial packs which cost as little as £10 and can give you all of the snares, hi-hats, kick drums, bass and loops you could ask for.

Get Over the Learning Curve

The transition from being an electronica fan to producing music of the same standard which gets the dopamine flowing isn’t an easy one. It takes much more than a casual listen to deconstruct and analyse the components of an EDM mix. You will need to pay particular attention to how the tracks are built – from the intro to the outro. There is plenty of scope for creativity here, but it won’t hurt to keep it simple and follow an archetypal format while you’re starting.

As an aspiring electronica producer, the key aspects of a track that you will have to master to see any relative success are the build-ups and breakdowns. However, knowing where to put them is just as crucial. Once you are suitably clued up, you can start creating music, and plenty of producers prefer to start with percussion and bass. To make the process a little easier, you can always use ready-made loops to ensure that your grooves are in time. Just make sure the drums and bass fit hand in glove before you start adding synth melodies with your VSTs.

Once all of your instrumentals are laid down, it’s time for mixing, which can amplify the power in the percussion to give your tracks that big floor-filler anthemic feel. The trick is to balance all of the instrumentals around the percussion, especially the kick drums. Other stages in the mixing process include lowering frequencies that feedback to high, paying special attention to the low frequencies and adding sound effects to keep it interesting.

How to Promote Music Overseas

For independent artists, gaining traction on your new releases overseas may sound like a far-flung dream, but if you plan your PR right, international success isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Even if all of your attention has been from local fans, bloggers, and radio stations, all it takes to extend your fan base and collection of industry figures is a stretch of self-promo imagination. Well, that, and ample time to execute your self-promo campaigns.

If you feel like you are spending more time promoting your music than actually writing it, recording it and touring it, you know you are doing self-promo right.

How to Promote Music Overseas

At the outset of their career, many artists rely on their existing networks to expand their fanbases. When it comes to overseas publicity, it is typically harder to get into the good books of the right people, yet there are plenty of ways to make an impression in places you have never actually been!

 

1.       Submit Your Music to International Blogs, Radio Stations & Playlisters

Music blogs and online magazines are the lifeblood of the indie music scene, meaning that one of the most effective ways to make waves across ponds is by submitting to blogs and magazines. The trick is knowing where your sound will go down well. Post Punk band in LA? Find blogs in Manchester, UK. Americana Folk artist in London? Branch out into Nashville. Parisian Rapper? Hit up the home of hip hop – you get the idea.

The same goes for genre-specific playlists and radio stations; once you search for them, you will quickly learn that the world is your sonic oyster. If you don’t have the time but have the funds to pay for PR, consider this an investment opportunity. Shelling out the cash for PR may not be initially as exciting as buying a new piece of equipment for your arsenal, but if you believe in your sound, do it justice by getting it in as many ears as possible. Some publicists are region-specific, meaning they know all of the key contacts in a city or area. So if there is a place where you really want to make an impression, hire a regional PR rep to make it happen.

 

2.       Make Your Social Media Campaigns Multinational

If you are serious about making an impression ANYWHERE online, make sure that you are investing ample time in your social media presence. Spread your social media campaigns across all the usual channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. If you have the funds for it, you can also pay for sponsored posts to appear in different locations to promote your new releases, videos, gigs, and merch.

To really up your international social media game and promote your music overseas, pay close attention to the time of day you are scheduling your posts. Typically, you want to schedule your posts for when your audience is online. Additionally, don’t assume that the trending hashtags are the same across all continents. Region-specific hashtags are a great way of slipping into multinational conversations.

 

3.       Take a Trip

If you really want to make an ever-lasting impression on a particular nation, be prepared to tour it. Your inaugural tour may be hard to pin down, and Brexit may have thrown a spanner in the works for musicians from the UK to tour in Europe and vice versa, but bookers and promoters exist for a reason; to bring fresh sounds in front of eager fans.

It is important to set your expectations before you head out on an overseas tour. Even if you have sold out 1,500 capacity venues in your hometown and banked a solid fee for it, you will have to get accustomed to the smaller stages and the slightly less dense crowds. Once you have earned your playing outside of your hometown and country stripes, you won’t ever have to take them off, and they will bring peace of mind to promoters and bookers looking to book bands for upcoming bills. For example, for the best music promotion USA, many UK acts head over to SXSW in Texas which accommodates a variety of genres, focusing on the quality of the international talent instead of the niche.

If you are having no look with booking gigs, consider festivals instead. The competition for these is still quite tough but if your sound stands out from the rest it is worth taking a shot at them. Especially as festivals are always highly attended by bloggers, journalists, record labels, photographers, and A&R reps.

How to Become a Songwriter

Technically, anyone that has ever written a song can dub themselves a songwriter, but imposter syndrome doesn’t care for technicalities. Not even becoming a professional songwriter can put them to rest for some. Yet, not all hope is gone for the aspiring independent songwriter – especially now there’s a big market in songwriting.

This article will cover tips for beginner songwriters before moving on to establishing yourself in the music industry via promotion and collaboration and how you can open up a myriad of revenue streams with your songwriting talent.

How to Become a Songwriter & Shed Your Amateur Status

Don’t Avoid the Fundamentals

Before you set your sights on becoming a world-renowned songwriter, you will want to be able to answer yes to all of the following questions:

  • Do you know how to compose a catchy melody?
  • Can you create a memorable and catchy rhythm?
  • Are you acquainted with the minor, major, diminished, and dominant chords?
  • Are you familiar with how verses, choruses, bridges, and solos should flow?

Once you have understood the basics of songwriting, you can follow or break the rules like an artist. There should always be room for spontaneity and creativity when you start composing songs but don’t be afraid to keep it simple in the beginning. Some of the most popular songs ever recorded keep to the same chord progressions; there is no reason you can’t do the same while you are homing in on your songwriting talents.

Not all songwriters go down the music theory path – and it certainly isn’t a necessity. Yet, a few music theory teachings can take your compositions to the next level, such as knowing how chords in keys work, how keys move and how they transpose.

Get Comfortable with Co-Writing

One of the best ways for up-and-coming songwriters to get established is by writing songs for professional singers. Even if you plan on using your vocals in your tracks, there are very few better ways to get your name known in the industry. You may not stand much of a chance of writing for your idol while you are finding your feet, but there is no telling which collaboration will open the door for your career.

Demo Your Music

Demoing your songs doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it can be a great way to share your sound with A&R reps, record labels and promoters. Your demo doesn’t have to be a masterpiece; it just has to include some potential production moves, a few instrumental ideas and a beat. And just in case you are feeling like it isn’t worth demoing your music yet, take some motivation in the fact that demoing doesn’t only give you engineering skills and a better understanding of how to use your instrumental talents. Demoing also goes a long way in improving the songwriting skillset. No one truly knows how the final product will sound when they first think of a melody to put against some words. By seeing the process through, from start to finish, you will have a better idea of what needs to go into your sound the next time and what should be left out of it.

Learn the Art of Self-Promotion

So many unestablished indie artists create songs that easily rival the quality of chart-topping singles.

After pouring their heart out in verse and complementing their candour with melodies they choke in the musician’s marketplace. Getting over the uneasy feeling that hits whenever you try and garner some attention around your new releases is vital if you have set your sights on becoming a successful songwriter.

When you write and record a song that you are sure reflects the best of your talents, don’t be afraid to release it and promote it. To give your music the best chance of being heard, upload it across all major platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Deezer and Tidal. Plenty of third-party distro sites can take all of the hassles out of this for you. However, before you randomly drop your music into the ether, work on establishing a fanbase by promoting yourself on social media, networking with other artists, and reaching out to blogs, DJs, playlisters, labels and promoters. If you have the finances for it and you are looking to make a real impression with your music, consider the help of songwriting promotion services. It could be a great investment for potential sales and exposure.

Creating Capital from Your Music

The number of independent artists making a living wage from streaming may be drastically low at 0.4%, but it is just one of the ways in 2022 that songwriters can receive sizeable royalties from their music.

The sale of downloads, CDs, vinyl records and merchandise can also drastically contribute to an independent artist’s income. As can getting your music played on a major radio station, playing live at festivals, gigs, and private events and pitching to influencers, YouTubers, and record labels.

Music is prevalent in many aspects of our culture outside Spotify and record stores. Every time you go into a department store or a supermarket, you are likely to hear music. Every time you head to the cinema, you will hear a film score. Every time there is an ad break, you will hear some jingles behind the sales pitch. All that music needs to come from somewhere, and the trick to getting your music heard in that way is by sync-licencing, placements, or signing a publishing deal.

Last but not least, one of the best ways to turn your songwriting into a lucrative deal is by signing a record label. Or, if you would prefer to keep hold of your indie status, you can always join the growing numbers of artists on crowd-funding platforms, such as Patreon. For the latter method, you will need a strong following of fans, but if you are just as connectable as your music in the public arena, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Affordable Home Studio Setup

The rapid advancements of technology may not be music to everyone’s ears but the affordability of home studio setup equipment that can kickstart independent artists’ careers that don’t have the privilege of excessive wealth should be.

After the rise of the bedroom artist, it is unlikely that we will see the fall anytime soon, especially given the current trend of artists wanting more control over their music, and plenty of manufacturers have taken note. It is now possible to spend as little as £500 and still come away with a home studio that can create radio-ready music. Many music shops have taken all the hard work out of shopping for a home studio by creating studio bundle deals. And remember, there is always the option of being extra thrifty and giving quality pre-loved gear a second life in your studio.

This article will cover all the home studio basics, which will enable you to create, record and export your music to make the endless choice easier to navigate.

How to Create an Affordable Home Studio Setup

Choose a DAW

Your digital audio workstation (DAW) will be the centrepiece of your home studio setup. As with everything in our consumerist 21st-century, there is an overwhelming choice. The most popular DAWs include Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic Pro, Cubase, and Garage Band. They all work in the same way, in the sense that you can complete a record from start to finish. However, each DAW has a different way of getting you to the sonic finish line.

Pro Tools is often the top choice with industry professionals, but it also comes with one of the steepest price tags. If you are looking to limit your expenditure, consider Acid Pro Xpress by Sony, which is free to download, or if you are a Mac user, consider experimenting with Garage Band. The best DAW for you will largely depend on your experience level and music genre. For example, many composers prefer Cubase, while EDM producers stick to Ableton Live or Logic.

Cost: £0 – £330

Mic-Up

Not many pieces of equipment are resoundingly popular across all genres, but the iconic SM58 by Shure is a classic for several reasons. Its durability ensures that it is extremely unlikely that you will need to find a replacement – certainly if you keep it in your home studio. While its dynamic power and low price point ensure this revered piece of kit is within everyone’s budget. Fifteen years after the Shure SM58 mic entered the market, it is still reining supreme with its £88.80 price tag.

If you would prefer a condenser mic, The Audio-Technica AT2035, with its ability to capture midrange instrumental and vocal nuances, is also a popular choice amongst artists who want to invest a little more in their setup. An affordable yet high-quality condenser mic will set you back £150 – £200, depending on whether you add a reflexion filter – which is highly recommended, especially for instrumental recordings.

Cost: £88.80 – £200

Monitors

Even if you have got a decent pair of headphones that you use to discover new music, you will still need to invest in isolated monitoring headphones, which will give you accurate feedback on your track. You can pick up a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M20 for as little as £48 and still enjoy their above-average audio reproduction. Or, you can choose to invest a little more in a pair of Beyer-Dynamic cans, which are utilised by amateurs and professionals alike. At the lower end of the price bracket are the Beyer-Dynamic DT100s, priced at £111. If you have the budget to splash a little more, the stunning resolution of the DT 1990 model is more than worth it at the £369.00 RRP.

Cost: £48 – £369

Audio Interface

Technically, an audio interface isn’t necessary, as you can use the soundcard on your PC, laptop or MacBook, but for a small investment, you can drastically improve the sound of your recordings, as opposed to plugging your mic straight into your laptop. The good news is that plenty of lauded audio interfaces come with a price tag under £100, such as the Behringer UMC22 interface, which will only set you back £37. Another UK best-seller is the Focusrite Scarlett, which boasts a state-of-the-art interface with clear conversion, intuitive design, and world-class sound. All that ingenuity is available for just £99.

Optional cost: £37 – £99

Accessories

One of the best reasons to buy a bundle home studio setup is that everything will work straight out of the box. If you purchase your studio items separately, you will need to remember essential accessories, such as a mic stand and mic cables. However, these accessories should set you back no more than £40, with high-quality components. Mic cables may be available for dirt cheap, but you’ll also run the risk of your recording sounding just as dirty by relying on them.

Does Rock Music Affect Your Brain?

If you have ever wondered why your favourite rock records leave you feeling so psyched, the answer lies within the neural impulses that fire whenever we hit play. Rock music certainly isn’t on its own for its ability to get synapses snapping to its tune. However, for this piece, we will focus on the heavier genres and dispel the myths peddled by fundamentalists keen to paint rock music as insidious.

For rock fans, once rock music has stimulated areas of the brain responsible for emotional responses, the benefits can keep on eking into your consciousness, such as increased self-awareness, relaxation, and creativity. Beyond impacting emotions, it can also affect behaviour by encouraging positive social interactions and bolstering trust within a respective community.

It is worth noting that this isn’t the stock psychological response to *all* rock music; instead, any song that you have a special connection to can be positive for your mental health when you immerse yourself in it. Sure, there’s a massive culture around rock n roll, with plenty of its aficionados owing their sanity to it. But any high-energy music, such as anthemic hip hop, and EDM floor-fillers, can achieve the same result.

How Does Rock Music Affect Your Brain?

Rock Music Increases the Happy Hormone, Oxytocin

Every time we play a song, our limbic system, which supports long-term memory, emotion, and behaviour, knows about it. The happy hormones we get from listening to our favourite music can drip-feed us motivation while resonating as rewarding. This motivation mostly boils down to the release of the peptide hormone oxytocin, which plays a pivotal role in our complex behaviour. Oxytocin, which is also released in response to touch, can affect everything from personality traits, group conformity, anxiety, empathy, and social decision making. In short, if someone tells you that they aren’t really into music, run.

Rock Music Can Cause a Flood of Dopamine

The mood-enhancing and reward system related neurotransmitter dopamine also plays a pivotal role in our behavioural, emotional, and cognitive functioning, albeit in a vastly different way than oxytocin. Our brains release dopamine at peak enjoyment; this includes when we get to that heart-stopping riff, mind-bending middle eight or breakdown in our favourite rock records. Part of the reason why enjoy music so much is the challenge it presents to our minds when confronted with the task of deciphering its layers and meaning. Once the reward system is fired-up, we are more likely to stay motivated in other areas of our lives, which mostly rings true in terms of creativity.

Rock Music Provides Incentives to Foster Positive Connection

According to some, rock music also helps to form social skills. If you’ve ever been to Download Festival, or whatever the rock music festival equivalent is in your country, you might be inclined to disagree with us on that one. Screw the neurology of rock music; what compels grown men to scream SLAYERRRRR into the atmosphere through cognitively deprived war cries?! I digressed, but it is true that rock music, like other genres, can help people to foster positive connections with others that share an interest.

Your Favourite Rock Records Ease Anxiety

While rock music isn’t quite as efficacious as sertraline for easing anxiety, it can be a good way to release some of that nervous energy that has amassed around your spikes of cortisol that are released when the fight/flight/freeze response is triggered by one of our modern life trivialities. Studies have proven that heavy music can also lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which may go a fair way in explaining why Keith Richards is still with us. Yet, rock isn’t the most cathartic genre for everyone. Music therapists are far more likely to advise soft pop, world music and classical, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, resort to your most resolving records.

In summary, anger and aggression may be commonplace in rock music, but for rock fans, that doesn’t necessarily equate to the feelings being shared when it is played. It is quite the contrary with rock’s ability to trigger happy hormones, quell anxiety, and leave us with energy and the inclination to foster positive connections with other like-minded heavy music lovers. If you are looking for more rock music to squeeze some dopamine out of, check out our rock music blogs UK. Since 2012, we have been a pivotal platform for up and coming rock artists looking to bring their medicinal aural work to the masses.

What Group of Instruments Are Used in Folk Music?

After the Folk revival in the 50s, many of the instruments that were a staple for Woody Guthrie, Oscar Brand and Cisco Houston have remained a popular part of the neo-folk landscape in 2022.

Folk instrumentals may sound different under the massive production from artists such as Fleet Foxes, The Lumineers, Bonny Light Horseman and Bon Ivor. Yet, even the most contemporary folk artists haven’t strayed too far from the traditional folk instrumental ensemble.

This article will show plenty more instruments in the archaic folk arsenal than the usual suspects, such as banjos, mandolins, acoustic guitars, and fiddles, and outline a diversified snapshot of folk cultures across the world.

Before you start to understand the different folk instruments, it is important to cognitively contend with how folk music differs from every other genre. Folk is more of a part of our traditional social history than a part of the music world, as we know it today. Historically, and sometimes modernistically, folk music acts as the voice of the people, snapshotting pivotal points of history. In short, a form of sonic storytelling.

The folk genre sprung up independently across America, England, Hawaii, Iceland, Romania, Greece, Sweden, Ukraine, and most other continents with cultural history to share through songs played on easily obtainable instruments.

What Instruments are Used in Folk Music?

  1. Fiddles

If you ever want to understand how integral fiddles are to folk music, consider Irish folk. The word fiddle is often used interchangeably with violins; however, all violins are fiddles, but not all fiddles are violins – it’s the same story with the violin’s smaller cousin, the viola and its lower-pitched and larger cousin, the cello.

The comparatively small 4-stringed instrument goes by many names across different cultures, and it is popular for its accuracy on every note and highly evocative timbre.

  1. Banjo

There is no twang folksier than the notes from a banjo, which takes the shape of a smaller and more classical guitar and plays with 4 – 5 strings.

Banjos also share tunings with classical guitars while the method of playing them tends to differ, with most banjoists preferring the 5-finger picked style.

  1. Resonator Guitars

Since its inception in the 1930s, the Dobro brand of resonator guitars has been helping to shape the Americana landscape. Resonator guitars carry a similar structure to standard acoustic guitars. Its key characteristic is its inverted-cone resonator in the body which gives the guitar its robust timbre.

  1. Accordions

Accordions may not be as popular today as they were back in the 20th-century, especially in the US and the UK. Across Europe in the 1800s, they provided the soundtrack to revolutions in Germany, and their upbeat nature made them the perfect instrument for traditional folk-dance music. Of all the folk instruments, accordions are one of the only ones that appeal to all social classes.

  1. Harmonicas

If any folk instrument can take you to a front porch in Tennessee in just a few notes, it is the harmonica. The harmonica may never have been one of the most highly respected music instruments from across the ages. Yet, the pocket-sized instrument was utilised by folk and blues singers alike who used them interchangeably with their vocal cords.

  1. Acoustic Guitars

Adding acoustic guitars to this list of traditional folk instruments almost feels painfully obvious, but they’ve done well to earn their place by becoming the most popular traditional instrument in the folk genre. The first acoustic guitars were brought to the instrument market in the 1830s by Christian Frederick Martin. For over 180 years, Martin Guitars have been leading the way in acoustic guitar quality, but plenty of other brands made their mark, such as Gretsch, Fender & Gibson.

  1. Mandolins

Mandolins are members of the lute family, which has been planting its seed in folklore since 3100 BC. When the folk revival hit America in the 40s, Mandolins saw a resurgence of popularity, and they often accompanied acoustic guitars and banjos on folk records. Its tuneful and melodious nature was celebrated in folk genres across the globe, especially amongst bluegrass and Americana artists.

  1. Ukuleles

Despite appearances, ukuleles are also members of the lute family, which originated in Hawaii. They may not carry much clout in the 2022 music market, being the marmite of instruments, but there’s a lot to be said about the 4-stringed instrument that comes in soprano, concert, tenor and baritone form.

If you want to continue your folk education adventure, check out some of our best folk music blogs. We’ve covered folk artists from across the globe, including the Croatian folk-pop luminary J. R. August, Aberdeen’s Colin Clyne and the Istanbul-born, London-based artist, The Guv.

Free Ways to Promote Your Music Online

With so many figures capitalising on every corner of the music industry landscape, it is easy to feel that nothing is free. Yet, there are several effective ways for independent artists without a PR and marketing budget to connect with fans online.

This article will run you through how to harness the power of social media, which kind of contacts will be a necessity in your self-promo campaigns and how to make the most of streaming platforms.

  1. Sprawl Across Social Media

Instead of forever lamenting the glory days of Myspace, which took many independent artists to stratospheric-international heights in the early 00s, you can use the platforms frequented by billions of users across the globe.

Establishing a presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter is the easy part; the hardest is garnering attention amongst users who are already inundated with info and over faced with users looking to make an ever-lasting impression.

The trick is to see every digital space as a potential marketplace for transactions. In this domain, you will have to put your artistic side to the wayside and think in terms of marketing strategy, strategy being the operative word. With every new release, you will want to hatch a social media marketing plan which incorporates plenty of pre-release hype but never make self-promo the be-all and end-all of your social media presence. Allow your posts to reflect your morals, values and personality, just as much as your creative talent.

Along with using your existing network, always look for relevant groups on sites such as Facebook; there are music groups filled with thousands of music fans that have all congregated to celebrate a particular niche. When you are dipping your toe in the self-promo water in these groups, never attempt to find devout fans; focus on creating valuable connections with others.

  1. Feature Your Music on All Platforms

There is no advocating the Spotify royalty system as it currently stands. However, the platform is so much more than a potential revenue stream – especially if you find yourself on one of the popular playlists with over 1 million followers. Spotify also comes with the unique and useful Spotify for artists feature, which has helped countless artists connect with fans eager to find a new obsession-worthy artist. The Spotify for artists feature is 100% free; all you will need to do is claim and verify your profile.

Uploading music to Spotify may be a little more complex than if you were to upload it to SoundCloud or YouTube. With help from third-party distro companies, your music can be launched across all major platforms, such as Apple, Tidal, Spotify, Bandcamp, ReverbNation and SoundCloud.

YouTube is yet another great way to promote your music for free online. You can create a channel and playlists; or contact popular YouTubers whose channels revolve around promoting similar music to yours. While some influencers, playlisters, and YouTube will charge you through the teeth for their services, there are plenty more figures that do it for the love of the music.

  1. Reach out to Blogs

For every popular genre, and then some, there is a blog or an online publication that operates at the centre of it. While it is undoubtedly easier for an experienced A&R rep or PR company to use their warm connections to promote music, that is not to say that independent artists can’t endeavour with the DIY method and still succeed.

Before you start to reach out to blogs, you will want to create a press release and electronic press kit (EPK), which you will use to pique interest in your new release. Spend 5 minutes on Google, and you will find hundreds of blogs to submit music to for free. The competition may be tough against your fellow indie artists, but if you believe your music has what it takes to appease the tastemakers, tapping into their expansive reach is always worth a shot. Save yourself the time, energy, and pain of rejection by being discerning with who you contact. Always stay as close to your niche, or look for blogs that cover artists in your area. You may have to start small when you are getting press features and interviews, but by using this method, you have a better chance of building your credibility from the grassroots up.

  1. Get Playlisted

While some playlisters charge independent artists for a spot on their playlists, this isn’t the case for all playlist curators. Playlists are up there as one of the most popular ways for music fans to discover new artists; tap into that market by reaching out to the relevant independent curators. Because once your Spotify stats start to appease Spotify’s algorithms, you will have a chance at landing on one of the official Spotify playlists, which is the epitome of 21st-century music promotion.

You may need to become somewhat of a detective to find the best details for Playlisters but once you find an email or their profile on social media and develop a relationship with them – not just expecting them to provide a service for you, you could have a key industry contact for the duration of your career.

  1. Create High-Quality Multi-Media Content

Figuring out what kind of content you drive up engagement with will be trial and error with your target fanbase at first, but whatever you put out there, make it meaningful and engaging. The best way to test the water without posting a plethora of posts that fall flat is by looking at what works for similar artists to you. For example, for some independent artists, viral-worthy videos on TikTok will work best; for others, thoughtful, moral, and mindful Tweets on Twitter will work better.

Where possible, always create music videos for your seminal releases because even if the song isn’t a resounding success, the music video might be. Additionally, remember that it isn’t solely you as an artist that can benefit from the music and content that you create. Just as music will always be needed for adverts, films and TV, independent content creators such as YouTubers, Twitchers, and TikTok dancers need music for their content too.