The Legends Of Classic Rock

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When Your Band Should Hire A Manager--It's Not Always When You're Successful

When Your Band Should Hire A Manager--It's Not When You're Successful

When should your band hire a manager? Hmmmm?

Picture of Peter Grant and Robert Plant: Peter was band manager for Led Zeppelin

Most musicians seem to think that they are better off hiring a manager when they're starting out than making 10 grand a week.  First of all you'll never learn anything if you let someone handle things when you're just starting out. It's vital to learn all you can about gigging, recording and taking care of your band.

And like I keep saying working on joint ventures with other bands, indie labels and managers. If you do what I say in this article you'll do good period. This is a repost and an important one. If you have any questions, and I know you do just email me and we'll talk.

By Mark Grove

Many bands seem to think hiring a Manager or agent when you're first starting out is a hip thing to do. When in fact, for the most part it is a major mistake due to music industry economics. By that I mean bands just starting out playing locally will usually play for the door, or if they're lucky $100.00 for the night. Or in a lot of cases for nothing--with the smart musicians using that time to build their chops in front of an audience no matter how small.

If you hire a manager that means paying out 10 to 15 percent of your hard earned playing dollars, and if you use an agent as well that means another 10 percent on top of that. When a band is just starting out playing locally they are better off booking the gigs themselves, that way all band members receive an equal share.

But if you don't know much about the music industry from the business end of things and would rather have someone handle the bookings, media and label deals, at least do your homework. Talk to your local musicians union which is a fountain of info on what agents get paid, contract know how, how to obtain media coverage and what's involved in a record label deal. Not just Major label deals, but how to cut a production or distribution deal with a solid independent label. Which is where you will obtain a better deal anyway.

Hiring The Right Manager:

If you're just starting out and want to hire a manager anyway, make sure that he or she is willing to work with the band when times are tough money wise and willing to work to build a bands business and personal affairs for possibly years, yes years guys for next to nothing. That way when your act starts making a good living you'll know you have a legitimate manager. Most bands will make the majority of their money on the road, even the Rolling Stones.

Live performances will consist of playing mainly the club scene locally, and regionally to gather a larger fan base. When you have a manager and agent who know the clubs and are competent at handling bookings, lodgings and regular media interviews in each town they play, then the band is able consistently make better money. Then you know they are starting to climb the ladder of success.

As well, a good manager knows how to handle a bands budget for on and off the road expenses as well. So in these days of accounting scandals, keep your eye on your manager even if he is a good friend. A good manager will send any demo or recent releases to independent labels and a small number of major labels. But a band for the most part if they're industrious enough--will forgo any major label interest and do it them selves--being able to keep the lions share still.

That's not to say all Major label deals are bad. For the most part a band if they are smart will only go for distribution deals when dealing with a Major. Even then they have to make sure they get a fair deal. If it looks fishy even after having a music industry lawyer look into it, get the hell out!

The Business Side And Creativity Of Music

As you all know having someone in your corner early in your music career to steer you in the right direction is vital, and along with that being confident enough to trust someone to handle your business affairs. But keep in mind what I said earlier, watch your manager like a hawk no matter who they are.

But on the plus side, a manager who has music business and creative vision will see beyond making money from just managing your affairs but know the right A&R people for your style of music. Along with that, session players who are suitable for stage and studio work if your band has to take on hired guns. Along with being able to see what markets are suitable for your genre of music which may not be in North America, But Europe or Asia.

An agent should be separate from a Personal Manager to better enable an agent to concentrate on bookings in clubs, festivals, and bigger venues along with setting up concert dates where a band can start opening for others. Having an agent take care of the money gigs and a manager setting up your music business and taking care of personal affairs, enables you and your band to concentrate on the creative end of musicianship. But musicians should at least have a working knowledge of the business side of music. That way if you and your manager part ways, you and the other band members can take over the business end temporarily.

Learning About Music And Thinking Differently To Succeed As A Musician

Even if you've been in the business for years you can still learn from guitarists who've only been at it for a few months believe it or not. They may play something at a jam session that totally floors you and end up using that little riff or chord structure as an element of your style, by changing it slightly so you're not just stealing it. As well, and I keep saying this, learn as much as you can about the music industry from others and reading magazines such as Canadian Guitar Player Magazine, Canadian Musician and Guitar Player to learn the latest innovations and to constantly educate yourself. Associate yourself with musicians who are serious about their craft and you won't constantly find yourself spinning your wheels in bands that go no where.

I may be getting a bit off topic, but what I'm talking about in this article is imperative to do. I know a lot of music industry people would disagree with me on when to hire a manager and how to run one's music business, but then again you have to think differently guys.

How I help Band's through my website:

Canadian Guitar Player Magazine is not just about this writer coming up with articles to help musicians. This web site helps musicians by publishing articles on aspects of music they understand and are accomplished at, such as instrumental playing, recording, band publicity techniques etc. This way a musician or a band has an instant press kit and a way of promoting a band differently. Most press kits have a band bio, musical style and a bit about the band.

Generally just bragging about the band. That's all fine and good but does nothing really to help the band get gigs or show any extra ordinary work or creativity. But by having articles written on a musicians expertise or experience in a certain area of music, along with the musician writing and publishing articles themselves and interviewing other musicians, helps their careers that much further along.

But as I said at the start of this article, hire a manager who is there to help you creatively and further your music vision along with handling day to day responsibilities such as transportation, lodging, dealing with agents, A&R dealings and music conferences. Having tunnel vision to the future of your music career will only help your career that much more.

Keep in mind what I've said in this article and you won't go wrong. Just make a few adjustments along the way. Oh, and don't forget to e-mail this article to a fellow musician.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Music Business Is All About Relationships--Not Just Business

The Music Business is all about Relationships--Not Just Music Business

Picture of Jim Morrison and The Doors Manager Bill Siddons

By Mark Grove

I felt I should write another article on what the music biz is all about and what to do when going to jam sessions, concerts, watching a band or going to music seminars and workshops.

If all you do is talk about gigs, making money and the business of making music, you'll be doomed! Business should be your last priority or thing on your mind.

Not many musicians, agents, managers or music biz people try to build lasting friendships which build a foundation of trust and honesty.Then if you decide to talk about music business ,then I'll be interested.

When I go to jams I find most want to talk about making money. Then I'm put off. If you talk about how you love playing blues with other jammers, and are working on a song for an upcoming jam--I love it!

Every Musician is eventually trying to get a deal backing up other bands,label deals and doing sessions for other musicians. If you are that musician trying to get a deal--talk about creating value for other bands for free.Yes that's free.

In my last article on  creating value for other musicians, I talk about writing articles for other musicians. Write songs for them and do sessions for free as well. Creating massive value for free   and doing it out of the goodness of your heart will help you gain points with other musicians like

If all you talk about with me is business or how shitty the economy is I'll walk. I also have an article on how the shitty economy is an opportunity to make money as a musician.

If you Have a crappy home life with the wife and the kids and don't do anything to make it better,that says something about you as well. Create value for other bands, open up for other bands for free as well--then you have my undivided attention.

Creating value and just talking about music and being positive as a person will keep you in the game building solid relationships in the music business.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Steve Hunter 70's Session Cat---Miking Technique Recipe For Great Tone

Studio Recording Techniques
From 70's Session Player
Steve Hunter

PS: This technique is a guitar and amp miking tip that so many session players and bands in the studio can use to their advantage.

I was reading an article in the December 2013 issue of Guitar Player about Steve Hunter who was a well known sideman and session player with both Lou Reed, Dick Wagner and Alice Cooper.

In reading this important article I thought; these types of guitar amp miking tips are even more relevant in the digital age to help musicians both in the studio and doing live work. Hell, even soundmen could use these golden nuggets to help them at the board.

Steve Hunter worked hard and developed his own tone and feel that so many producers and band leaders were looking for, and made him a wanted man in the studio session world in the 70's.

Mr. Hunter said that Dave Gilmour helped teach him because he was one of the best players who had a great sense more than most rock players on how to have more of a natural blues feel, and a rock player who played his way and lent his tone more to harmony and feeling based more on emotional playing that too few players have today.

If you get a chance take a look online at Gilmour's work with Pink Floyd. Not just the well known material.

I'll be honest with you, Steve Hunter is not the session guy I know a lot about, but his miking tip is an incredible golden nugget so many of you guys could use!

Okay, here's the the guitar miking technique you should use next time you're in the studio.

I can't guarantee it will work for you—but I know that if you don't use this miking tip you'll lose out on a great way to develop your own tone and find new ways to record your material.

To me this tip is like having an extra distortion or effects pedal without having to use one if you tweak your amp,guitar and miking just so.

Okay here it goes...

The 70's guitar miking recipe for session cats.

Okay, the type of mics Steve used and the position and distance were very important. He used Shure SM 57's which are a staple in the studio. Not so much your higher end but a solid mic none the less.

He kept that SM 57 close to the grill of the amp then another mic—a Sennheiser 421 about 4 or 5 feet back from the Shure, and then more of a condensor even further back. In using that condensor far back it gave more of a tone that lent it's self to a jazz type melodic tone without a pedal.

If you don't have 3 mics you can use just two and test,test,test the hell out of them. That is the combination of mic distances and positioning.

As well, if you're a creative player who is schooled in designing and creating your own tone but only have one mic to work with—its important to know how to combine 3 things. Those are your guitar and amp tone along with your miking technique.

So depending on the tune you're recording---you'll have to tweak your tone for either higher gains,cleaner tones or just a down and dirty,nasty feel.

And a mid-range feel without the need for an effects pedal.

I always say to players if you want to become better at playing and be in demand, learn how to get a good tone and natural feel in your playing,without pedals or effects. Then when you do need an OD or Fuzz, you'll be able to do it well without having to over ride your tone in a negative way that takes away from your playing and natural tone.

If you have any other questions on this, just email me. Believe me I'm no expert but I talk to the experts who have been instrumental in helping me understand how to get great tone and recording like a pro.

By the way, Steve Hunter has a new album called:The Manhattan Blues Project. I don't have a link to it at the moment.

Some of the best players are on this album. You want to learn how to be a real guitar player, go back to the 70's.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 Reasons Why Musicians Like You Need A Solid Press And Media Package

Okay, first of all most musicians won't try to get regular media attention thinking that its the club managers job, or that the music media will magically show up at the gig.Never happens.

1--Start doing your own media.Write your own band bios, articles and material that shows a strength in an area of music you excel in that will get you work in clubs, opening for other bands and doing session work as a sideman.

2-You're thinking, I don't know how to do this!! It's not that difficult. If you don't have someone to do it,start by going online and looking at bios and press kits of your favorite band. Email them and offer to interview them for your own blog.

3-I'm not worried too much about pictures. Just get some black and white photos taken of the band without gear and on stage and in practice. Just some still photos. Have every band member put in an equal share.That's it! Just make sure all band members wear something appropriate for the type of music you play.

4-Write regular articles for your press package every couple of months. That way you have fresh material. Take on a writer from a college to write reviews of your material, shows and do small press conferences. Get to know your fans. Offer free tickets to the writer to gigs.

5-Offer free EP's to the first 10 people at gigs once a month. Include a small sampling of your press kit with it. Fans will want to see you by being more accessible to them.

6-Start a blog and include monthly articles on the band, and offer fans a chance to be on the mailing list and get free tickets to your gigs. This is all part and parcel of your media activities.

7-Interview other bands and offer to do press conferences for them. Do this for bands in your genre of music. If you offer it just to any musician you'll go in too many directions. At some point you can start charging for this service.

8-At some point start using college and underground media. They understand music better than mainstream media. Start your own online radio show as well. There are a number of free pod casting services out there. Fans will get to know you even more and know the real you by doing audio and video pod casts,on top of live gigs.

Use Its free and a great way to grab fans.

9--Use your media writing service and offer it to other bands in your genre. This will interest bigger acts who see you work hard at their own media, work hard as musicians, and want to help other bands succeed as well.

This will help you get better paying gigs as openers and eventual headliners.

10-- If you follow these principles in developing a media strategy and helping other bands, your band, fans and other musicians will love you for it and see you as a real person.

Not just a musician out to make mucho dinero'.

If you have any questions or your band is interested in a Press-Kit through Canadian Guitar Player,just email me. If you want testimonials from musicians just ask me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How To Be An In Demand Session Guitar Player---By Creating Value For Other Bands Beyond The Music

"I Think Most Players Filled Out The Application Form When They Started Playing Guitar, And Forgot How To Be An Original Guitarist"    Mark Grove

I was reading an article in the September issue of Guitar Player in the "Session Stories" section at the back of it. Carl Verheyen was the profiled session guy. Anyone who knows session players or is involved with players of his "ilk" or anywhere in his chopdom, know he's still a very sought after session guy. Hell, he even does sessions from his home on the internet. Not many players can do that. And that is not where I'm going with this piece on how to be a wanted session player.

But in today's 5 bucks a gallon of gas world it's an option once you start getting regular live and studio work with other bands besides your own. It will definitely cut down on expenses. But here's the gist of all of this mumbo jumbo of session playing.If you've been a player for any length of time playing in your own band here is what to do to get extra work as a sideman.

Start talking to and interviewing band's whose music you like and remember this, make sure they play the kind of music you play or complements yours, and you can make a good contribution to with your style of play and tone. If you play blues and you're looking at a Jazz or Metal act, but have never played that music, don't go near it. You'll say, I want the experience to learn different music and make extra session cash. If you can't play to the changes, keep the tempo or the feel don't bother.

Chances are if you don't like the music but like the Paycheck because it's big, chances are you won't enjoy doing that kind of work. It will feel like going to a regular day job, and you don't want that. You'll get more sessions and be more in-demand if you look for sessions of music you like or love and want to be a part of.  You'll probably like hanging with those musicians too if you love the music they play.

If you play slow blues well, and like Country bands that play slow Country-Blues, seek out local or regionally based Country acts of that kind who might be searching for a good session man. Go out of your way to talk to local Country bands, or blues acts of the kind I mentioned above, and interview them on something like the kind of gear they use. Don't ask for a job. This way you're getting some good intel on the kind of gear they use without tipping your hand.

Put that interview on your site, and ask local media to publish the interview. Keep interviewing this band, go to their gigs and buy a CD. And when you do another interview, ask if you can attend a practice session to get a good handle on what they want tone and feel wise. Once again some under the radar intel.

If you know they use session guys regularly, you'll have one over on the majority of players who want to work with this band. Chances are at some point they'll ask if you play and you'll say yes. Then ask them if it would be okay if you practiced with them sometime. Chances are they'll say yes as well. Keep playing with your current band and have them come out to a gig or blues jam. Ask them to jam with you on stage.

Keep interviewing this band and them only. This will keep you from stretching yourself too thin trying to deal with a bunch of bands. You'll get more work if you stick to one or two bands you want to work with. After you've done all that with the band you're interested in and you enjoy playing with them, ask for sideman work with them. All they can say is no.

 I get no's constantly from people I want to write for in the music business. If they say yes and employ you doing either live or studio work,work hard learning their material and what they want from you to complement their music. Keep helping them out interviewing them and getting them local media. As well, you won't feel burnt out from trying to get session work from 10 million other bands, bands you don't like, and you'll be more focused and results motivated, and actually succeed.

As well, what you can do is search out your local Musicians Union for session gigs, and keep your session work to blues or country bands. Don't say to unions you'll do any sideman work. Keep to the plan I outlined above. Learn all you can about how to use the Union to your advantage and become a member.

Start a Separate Bank Account For Sideman Gigs:

At some point you'll want to start a bank account outside your regular band's business account, and start an account strictly for your session work gigs. Take some money and become a paying member of the Union, not just to get better paying side gigs, but to learn how to structure your music business like a professional  and how to work with other bands opening for them and working in Joint Ventures with them.

As well, if you're a union member you can get a reputable agent who can help your main band get gigs, and get you session work. Make sure you interview a number of agents so you're not stuck with one that doesn't help bands that play blues or country. Or they have so many bands they ignore yours. No you don't want that.

Even interview the agent who becomes your booker, and learn all you can about what he does. But don't just leave all the work up to him. Look for jobs yourself and keep doing media for your band.If you have an agent who will work hard for you and sees you care and have a good work ethic business wise, you'll have more success with your main band and your side work.

Back to the extra bank account:

Use it to pay not just for gas to gigs but for guitar strings that will be appropriate for the kind of session work you'll be doing. A solid practice amp of even 10 to twenty watts and all tube. You don't need a 50 watt amp for doing some session work. Once you get enough money in that account, buy an axe with pickups and strings that are right for those gigs. Even the proper effects pedal. There are good deals to be had on gear and accessories out there.

If your money is limited, take the train to go to sessions that are at least 2 hours away or more. You'll save money on gas if you take a train or bus on a regular basis. If you do make good cash as a sideman, yeah you can use your own vehicle. But if not, take alternate routes. Your bank account will thank you.

But helping local bands you want to do session work with, and play complementary music will get you faster to success than going all over the musical style map. Keep practicing your ass off, write songs and even do backing vocals as well, to make you more employable.

Keep promoting your band and the side acts you're playing with. It's easier than you think. Once you start doing sessions with a band and it ends for a while such as 3 months, search out other bands and help them as well. Make sure they play music you love and would like to hang with. If these bands see you're not just a great player, but will go out of your way to help and learn their material, you'll most likely be an in demand session boy.

If you follow these little tips, you will make more money as a player. Your own version of  "Session PlayeMoney Grab". But remember this, don't try to get and do session work online. Do live auditions for bands.

Chances are you'll be frustrated and never get sessions, and eventually quit. That type of work is non existent for almost every player except good ole' Carl Verheyen.

You can do it as a session lad guys. Go for it.

Mark Grove

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blues Guitar Jams And How Your Band Can Profit From Them--No Kidding

By Mark Grove

This is an important post for guitar players and bands who are stuck spinning their wheels in local bands,and just going to jam sessions.Believe it or not you can succeed using jam sessions at a blues club to springboard to bigger and better things as a guitar player.

Most guitar players need to start their own band and jam with others to get leverage in the music business.There are a number of ways to help other players at jams,and start your own music
business,all from helping blues artists at club jam sessions.

My last article was on blues guitar jamming and how to become a better player by listening,yes listening. Anyway, a lot of players mainly just jam with their own band and players they know.

You should play guitar with people you don't know as well. This will give you an indication of how well you play with others and how good or bad you are.

Think about that!

You might be able to play fast chords and riffs, yet when it comes to mid-tempo and slow blues chords a local guitar jammer might be better than you 10 fold. They may be able to teach you a  thing or two. Don't think so? Get over it.

Okay, to the making money thing....

If your blues band plays clubs regionally in California, New York and Florida, or here in Canada. When you play these clubs make it out to their jam sessions,and bring a small practice amp.

Do this to learn something, not show your chops. By jamming with local players where you gig, you learn from others and learn how to play with others and develop relationships that may lead to session work for you. Or when you need a guitar player for live or studio work you can get a player who's playing you know.

As well, your band can give back by interviewing blues guitar players in the cities you play in and put those interviews on your site or blog. And you can put those interviews on the internet live through  and it's free.

This is giving back,and it brings back 100 fold to your band. Like I said in an earlier article, creating value for other players and blues bands doing interviews, and writing articles for them will help give them a leg up.

Okay, so this article has been more about helping other blues guys than making money.

Okay, if you've developed a good relationship with a player and their band is looking to get booked regularly, become their agent.

Why not?

You're helping blues artists and you can make money by booking them. You can get 10 percent of what they make. That's better than what pro athlete agents make. If blues artists see you're helping other blues men with press-kits and booking,others will follow suit.

When they see you do the writing press-kit material for free, and are getting gigs for other blues guys, they'll follow suit. Its all about helping others that will eventually make money for your band and music business.

Okay, you have to actually put in work as a booking agent for other blues artists. Learn from the American Federation Of Musicians who can teach you to be an agent and know how contracts work, and get work for other musicians and guitar players besides blues guys.

Think about it, if you have a band making money gigging regionally, and are booking other blues bands, the potential for making money is well over a thousand dollars a week extra in your band's pocket.

Okay, back to jamming.

Okay,we've talked about going to jams where your band plays in different cities. If your band is at the end of a regional touring cycle and taking a week or two off for practice and recording, play a jam in your hometown and keep doing the same with writing press-kit material, interviewing and booking local blues bands.

Yeah, its a lot of work isnt it?

Hire someone to be an administrator or help in your business for a small stipend. I know you're thinking that you can't possibly do all this. If your blues band has any guts at all they'll divide up duties and share in the profits.

You cant do it all. And take one of the blues or rock bands you write for and interview to open up for your band locally and some of your regional dates.

Oh, I almost forgot. Do Question and answer sessions after gigs for blues lads you are writing and booking for. Don't do it to promote your band, do it to help that band strictly.

Jamming, creating value for other blues bands will eventually help you get better gigs and get other blues men where they want to be. Its a lot of free work isnt it?

Create massive value for other musicians and you will get a lot of good karma back. You'll become a better player as well.

Don't just be into it for being the best player around and making money.

Help other guitar players to help others and do what they want,and that's play and let others enjoy their music.

Mark Grove


Friday, October 10, 2014

Vintage Low Watt Guitar Amps--Why They're Great To Play At Some Gigs And Studio Sessions

By Mark Grove

I always get a laugh out of players who want to make big bucks from their old guitar amps from the 70's and forward. If your amps aren't late 60's and back you won't make much money off an amp you paid in the high 3 figures or low four figures for. That little picture is of an old Marshall Bluesbreaker. It first came out if I'm correct, and I could be wrong, when Clapton was around with the Yardbirds and Cream. But I could be totally wrong.

If someone wants to, you can correct this old sod.

Some of the best amps for tone and low level volume are 15 to 30 watts at the most. These were used in session recording situations in the 50's and 60's in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York and Motown. Most players still seem to think they need monstrous wattage and a boat load of accessory gear to get great recordings or live sound. Smaller amps with lower wattage seem to give off a tone that's naturally warmer and purer. A lot of players have problems with their tone on low watt practice amps as well.

I'm a prick aren't I? Some of the best vintage amps have been turned into guitar amps that aren't recognizable anymore because of all the trick outs and renos done to them. Basically, too many state of the art features like overdrive, too many tone controls and compression dials. Drives me nuts when players constantly fiddle with this shit!

Now here's what I think. Some of you are laughing now, and some of you are rolling your eyes. You should learn how to set up and play your vintage guitar amp along with setting up your guitar so they work for you, not against you. The best well known vintage amps are naturally Marshall Blues-Breaker or Fender Princeton which were used for some of the best recordings for Chess and Vee-Jay Records in the 50's and 60's.

I'm actually surprised revamped vintage amps like Fender and Marshall aren't modelling amps which would infuriate me even more. I shouldn't give these people evil and stupid ideas just to make money. Damn marketers!

Attaining good Tone Control on Vintage and Old Amps:

For overdrive and tone control you should know how to set it up with your guitar like I said above, and use your bass and tone controls with your guitar together so you when you need extra volume or to back off, you can do it without fiddling with everything. This way you develop a keen sense for building great tone for blues,country and rock.

For more info on Vintage and custom made amps from an expert: Dan Torres is the man!