how-to

Photography: Reina Peli – AKMusicScene.com

Some of the awesome photography, that I’m sure you’ve noticed, on akmusicscene.com and parockshow.com were NOT taken by me. I know what you’re thinking.. wait what?!?

Concert Photography

In recent years, a concert photographer has emerged in the South Western Pennsylvania Music scene. Her name is Reina Peli and she does amazing work. From concert photography and band sessions to cover art and logos, your band needs to contact her! While social media and cell phones can help bands get their presence felt, bands need to have professional photos for their press kits & online presence. In today’s music scene and business, image is just as important as your ability to master your craft and that’s where Reina is your savior.

OK, now what?Photography

In recent times I have posted some how-tos for your websites such as how to select your web hosting and how to create a website for you band while on a budget. Here is an article that you should check out from Band Zoogle telling you how you should use photography on your website and why you should hire a professional photographer: 8 Ways you Should be Using Photos on Your Band Website and here is another one to help you prepare for a band photo shoot: The Definitive Survival Guide for Band and Musician Photo Shoots. Here are 11 more tips for band photography.

Here is where you can find Reina:
Reina Peli
Facebook
Flickr

Hosting: Choosing a Web host for your Band Website – AKMusicScene.com

Some tips for choosing your band’s website host

web host pythonI have been designing websites since 1995. I have seen web hosts come and go. I’ve been hosted on big name website companies and on small do it your self hosts belonging to friends and everything in between. I have ran an online radio station, I’ve designed digital signage for businesses, I teach computers, and am currently 11 years into creating my own online/fm Radio show & podcast called the Pennsylvania Rock Show (www.parockshow.com).

I have had sites (both mine and clients) hosted all over the place www.gigarank.net, www.webhostpython.com, www.bluehost.com, www.siteground.com, www.dreamhost.com, www.1and1.com, www.greengeeks.com, www.godaddy.com, www.hostgator.com, www.networksolutions.com, www.vodahost.com, www.flatlinesystems.net, www.seanic.net, www.ipower.com, www.comcast.net, www.yahoo.com, www.geocities.com (yes geocities), and many many more. I’ve been hosted on private servers, VPS servers, and shared hosting. I’ve designed personal sites, band sites, animal breeder sites, small business sites, large business sites, podcast sites, radio station sites, and more. I’ve hand coded websites and I’ve used content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, FrogCMS, SharePoint, etc. My clients and I have paid as little as $0 to as much as $69.99/mo for hosting.

I start out with the biography to give you some background before I bring up my point about the question I’m about to touch on. What web hosting is the best? You see this question constantly when searching the internet. And there are a ton of websites about it. Let me first caution you about using those “top” 10 webhost type of sites. On these types of sites you’ll find sites like www.bluehost.com, www.siteground.com, www.dreamhost.com, and a ton of other shared hosting. I’ve used a lot of them and still do use a lot of them. I see those more of a paid advertising type sites or popularity contests. Web hosting isn’t about either of those things. It’s about finding a web host that can serve your website the best. Also keep in mind that “unlimited” is a gimmick. There is always a limit. Read the fine print.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that you just have to try and try again. I’ve stayed on hosts for years. And then one day something happens to sour me. I’ve stayed with hosts for a lot less time, too. I’ve been on hosting accounts that worked great for static websites and terrible for content management and the reverse. Being a freelancer without my own server to host on, I try to have a few hosting options ready to suggest to new clients. I have the advantage of being at this for about 20 years.

Here is my advice to those of you that do not have that same advantage. Read reviews, ask current clients of the webhosts, go to forums like www.gigarank.net/forum/ & http://www.webhostingtalk.com/. When I start to decide that it’s time to move on to a new host, I spend months searching for new hosts to vet. Once I narrow it down to the one’s I want to check out, I start searching for and reading reviews. I then narrow it down further still. Then I start trying to find websites that are hosting on this set of web hosts and seeing how quickly that are served. I try to find website owners that are hosted by these hosts and ask them what the pros and cons of said hosts are, read the terms of service, try out their hosting panel if you’re not familiar with it, contact their support and ask questions that are important to you for your website… basically do your due diligence.

So I leave you with the final answer, there is no 1 best web host. You need to find the one that works the best for your site through hard work.

For those of you are not tech savvy and do not want to hire someone (note I have not tried most of these):

Skype: Mix Minus – AKMusicScene.com

Skype mix minus

I found this awesome article about how to set up a mix minus to record Skype calls and it makes a huge difference in the Pennsylvania Rock Show. You can find the article here: http://thepodcastersstudio.com/how-to-setup-a-mix-minus/

Here is how it works out with my equipment:

  1. Output to the mic input on dell laptop (recorder)
  2. Used as headphone monitor
  3. Fx send goes from the mixer to the mic input on your computer
  4. Comes from headphone output of your computer to your mixer
  5. My xlr mic

Since we love to use Skype to do our interviews, we decided to put this out there for our upcoming guests and fans who may want to start their own podcasts. It should be noted that guests on the show do not need step 1 in my setup.

Facebook Promotion in W. PA. – AKMusicScene.com

We understand the need to promote your events and band news on social media. We thought we’d share the places that we normally share our posts. Please feel free to join them and start promoting!

Chip DiMonick: The Pros & Cons of Opening for National Acts – AKMusicScene.com

chippressAs musicians, I think we all dream of those moments when we get to “share the stage” with our musical heroes.  For some musicians, that dream never materializes.  For others, it is a possibility and, eventually, a reality.

Today, when national acts tour the “club circuit” consisting of venues usually with a capacity that doesn’t exceed 700, local bands are often recruited to open the show.  Bands and fans alike would like to think that the selection of bands is done in a way that ensures that the local bands with the most merit and that fit best with the headliner are the ones selected.  But, often, an opening band is selected where the promoter’s familiarity with the band intersect with that band’s willingness to guarantee that it will pre‐sell a minimum number of advance tickets.

So, a band being asked to be on the same bill as its favorite national act doesn’t come without strings
attached.  This post is designed to share the pros (which most bands can think of on their own) and the
cons (which many bands don’t realize until later) of opening for national acts.  It is not intended to
persuade a band to choose or refuse the opportunity to open for a national act.  That is a personal
decision.  It is intended to give a band many of the factors to consider so that it can make the best
decision possible.

So, without further ado, here are some of the pros and cons of opening for national acts…

THE PROS

  • A band can get the satisfaction of sharing the stage with its heroes.  Most musicians play music
    primarily for satisfaction (and not necessarily money), so this is a legitimate reason to pursue
    opening slots.
  • A band will usually play for more people than it would if headlining its own bar show.  As such,
    opening slots offer exposure to more and different people.
  • A band will probably sell more merch when opening for a national act compared to headlining
    its own bar show.  I know that, for my band, we always sell some merch when opening for
    national acts, even the smallest ones.  However, there are many nights when we walk out of an
    all‐local bar show without selling one item.
  • A band can make some decent money opening for a national act if it exceeds its ticket quota.
    Most promoters will offer local bands $1‐3 per ticket sold if they meet their quota (usually 30‐50
    tickets).  In some instances, my band has made several hundred dollars for a 30‐minute set
    under this type of arrangement when we were successful at hustling those tickets.

THE CONS

  • I talked about the chance of making money with opening slots.  Well, you can also lose money.
    If the band fails to meet its ticket quota, it often has to make up the difference in money by
    paying out of its own pocket.  Therefore, a band has to be careful not to overestimate how
    many tickets it can legitimately sell.
  • While musicians dream of hanging with their idols in a dressing room, sharing war stories and
    making lifelong friends, many times, the headlining band is out of the club having dinner anddoesn’t interact with the openers or see their performance.  Many musicians find this very
    disappointing.
  • The pressure of ticket quotas can cause tension between band members.  Not all musicians are
    great business people.  So, the band members who hustle and sell their share of tickets can
    quickly get very ticked off when other band members sell significantly less or even none at all.
  • Sound and stage situations for local opening bands are less than ideal, at best.  Locals usually
    have to set up in front of the national act’s equipment, leaving very little room for a true
    performance.  Additionally, quick changeovers are required and, as a result, by the time the
    sound tech gets good levels for the band, their 20‐30 minute set is just about over.  All of these
    things make it hard for a band to showcase itself at its best.  And the fact that a suboptimal
    performance happens for a big crowd can hurt the reputation of a band who is trying to make a
    good first impression.

Again, there are pros and cons to opening for a national act.  There is no one‐size‐fits‐all right
decision.  However, sometimes just knowing – and not being suckerpunched by – the disadvantages
can help a band properly adjust its expectations.

The top piece of advice I have to offer is just to be careful not to accept too much financial risk with
a ticket quota.  There is always a chance you’ll have to take money out of your pocket to play.  A
quota of 30 tickets at $10 each is easier to swallow than a quota of 50 tickets at $25 each.
If you can accept that risk, most of the other cons are easily outweighed by the pros.  But it can be a
big risk, so your decision has to be the one that is right for your situation and no one else’s.
Good luck!


Chip DiMonick is a Pittsburgh‐based songwriter, musical artist, and sometimes blogger.  He is the
singer and guitarist for Chip DiMonick and the guitarist for Londona.  Connect with him on Facebook
(http://www.facebook.com/chipdimonick), Twitter (@chipdimonick), and/or Instagram
(@chipdimonick).

Need a website for your band on a budget? – AKMusicScene.com

There are always paths to your goal. Ultimately I suggest finding someone who does design websites (being one of those people), but you can get a website for your band for completely free if you follow these tips. If this is above your head, feel free to contact us. Not sure if your band needs a website? Well here are 104 reasons why you do!

hellfireclubthumbWebsite for your band: How To

  1. Webhosting: There are many free webhosts available, finding one that works for your needs could be difficult. I have recently found Gigarank, which is a host for post webhosting service. They require you to make 10 quality posts in their forums before they give you a free hosting for your website. They also run contests from time to time to do things like double your webhosting limits and give you a free domain for a year. I currently have one of my websites hosted there. They also have Cheap Webhosting options if you determine you need higher limits. Some paid hosting companies that I’d suggest: Webhost Python, SiteGround, WebhostingHub, Bluehost, & Dreamhost
  2. Domain: A domain name is your www.yourband.com address. There are many free options here such as dot.tk & point.ml; however, this is the one place that I think you should spend money because most people are so used to the “normal” top level domains like .com, .net, .org that it will be hard for them to remember domains like .cc, .tk, .ml, etc. I personally use Godaddy and have used Dotster in the past. You can get a domain for about $10/year depending on the type that you choose. I have recently had a client also use Gigarank to register their domain.
  3. Design & Management: This is probably the scariest part for the non-designer. I suggest using WordPress as the content management/design for your band website. There are many big name bands that have done the same. Motley Crue, Dope, & The Rolling Stones, to name a few. Here’s a list of some more
  4. WordPress Plugins: Here’s a list of plugins that I think are essential when creating a band website using WordPress.
    1. Nextgen Gallery – The most popular gallery plugin for WordPress and one of the most popular plugins of all time with over 9 million downloads.
    2. GigPress – GigPress is a live performance listing and management plugin built for musicians and performers.
    3. TubePress – Displays gorgeous YouTube and Vimeo galleries in your posts, pages, and/or sidebar. Upgrade toTubePress Pro for more features!
    4. Page Links To – Allows you to point WordPress pages or posts to a URL of your choosing. Good for setting up navigational links to non-WP sections of your site or to off-site resources
    5. Ultimate Social Media Icons and Share Plugin – The FREE plugin allows you to add social media & share icons to your blog (esp. Facebook, Twitter, Email, RSS, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Share-button). It offers a wide range of design options and other features.
    6. Wordfence Security – Wordfence Security – Anti-virus, Firewall and High Speed Cache
    7. Fullwidth Audio Player (not free) – Add a fixed audio player to any page on your wordpress site. Create your playlists and add them into the player or anywhere in your wordpress site.
      • If you’re going to use Fullwidth Audio Player, then I also suggesting using Ajaxify WordPress which will allow your music to play non-stop while someone is browsing your site.
    8. Jetpack by WordPress – Your WordPress, Streamlined
  5. WordPress Themes: This is how your website will look. There are literally a million choices out there and many places to find them. If you’re looking for free, I suggest googling “Free WordPress Themes” or visiting the Theme area on WordPress.org. If you don’t mind paying for a theme here are a few sites to take a look at:
    1. Foxhound Band Themes
    2. Theme Forest
    3. Band Themer
    4. Or you might find a list like this one during your google search: 50+ Best WordPress Music and Bands Themes 2014