Monthly Archives: July 2016

How to Perfom music good on collage

Students actually volunteer to plan and book music on their campus. Go online to any college website and search “Student Activities” or “Associated Students.” This will take you to the right office that pays for musicians to play on campus. If you can’t find a music contact, email the Student Activities Advisor and ask to be connected with the student in charge of music. It is the Advisor’s task to make sure the volunteer students are executing and planning their entertainment. Sometimes you need to stop texting and emailing and just make a phone call to connect

Usually you email the music chair and send a link to your website and a GOOD LIVE PERFORMANCE VIDEO. Rarely does this have to go to a committee; usually just one or two students are viewing and choosing. There are different students in charge of each event so it is okay to email each of them!

Pricing varies…$300 to $1,000 in California, $500 to $1500 for other West Coast states; double the pay on the East Coast. (There are many more Ivy League schools in the east with higher attendance and therefore, more fees collected for the activities budgets.) You should never do a college performance for ZERO money unless it is connected to a charity event! Most colleges will feed the band, few will pay for lodging (but ask anyhow!) and rarely will the college pay for travel.

Most colleges have great sound systems, so remember to attach a stage plot and technical rider to all of your contracts. You will be required to sign a University Contract; you do not need liability insurance unless you are bringing an entire sound system with you. Ask the college to cross that section out––performing is a service and you are NOT a vendor! The college will be required to finalize the contract 30 days before your event, so you can get paid by check the day of the show. Be ready to send in a W9, which states who is being paid.

Nooners (a series where bands play from noon to 1 p.m. every week), Spring Flings (usually outdoor activities celebrating events such as Earth Day), Orientation Week Events (take place during hard starts in the Fall and Spring, these events are used as ice-breakers), Student Open Mic nights (musicians hosting an open mic for students and afterwards performing your own music for an hour). Check out the other clubs and organizations on campus, like LGBT events or special multi-cultural clubs. If your act has more of a party vibe, don’t forget to check out the school’s fraternities and sororities. Most of these organizations have direct websites or Facebook pages where you can connect with the frat or sorority president.

“You should never do a college performance for ZERO money unless it is connected to a charity event.”

College campuses welcome a variety of music. Typically, singer/songwriters do coffeehouses or nooner events, rock-blues-pop bands play weekly outdoor activities or you may find a jazz or reggae group performing at an Earth Day or Spring Fling. Colleges are a little fearful of loud metal bands or rap events. It doesn’t mean they don’t happen, but they are rare unless they tie it into a specific day like “Hip-Hop Culture & Fashion Day” or “Head-bang Your Test Stress Away.” So, just about every genre is accepted.
No matter the genre, the minimum performance time is one hour. So if you only have a 45-minute set of originals, work up some jams, write more songs or grab hold of some cover songs and make them your own. Some colleges will ask you to do two 45-minute sets. Don’t claim you can do 90 minutes of music if you are not there yet. Prepare!

While you are on a college campus there are great promotional activities to help grow your college fan base. If you get booked, ask the student music chair if they are connected with someone on their student newspaper or the radio station. If not, go online and connect yourself. It is as simple as going to the home page and putting, “student radio station” or “student newspaper.” Don’t forget to ask if there is an active on-campus TV station doing interviews and band performances.

I also use the radio and newspaper staff, even if we do not have a performance on campus yet! I call the radio stations and see if we can do an on-air interview with a student DJ, or I offer the newspaper staff some free tickets to our off-campus show so they can check us out. If the student radio or newspaper is covering your music, it will be easier to get booked on campus.

Stories about guitar experiences

Specializing in rare and vintage instruments, his clientele includes superstars, celebrities and a special breed of humanity that likes to browse and play the most amazing guitars on earth. His store is so popular it has its own clothing line. You can purchase “Norm’s Lucky Brand” shirt from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or the infamous “Norman’s Rare Guitars” tee that Nigel Tufnel wore in This is Spinal Tap.

Recounting a life way cooler and colorful than most, Harris has written a new book about his adventures: Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer: The Memoirs of Norman Harris. It details his passion for guitars and has some of the best stories about musicians you’re likely to hear. It’s so engrossing, Music Connection caught up with this guitar aficionado to see what makes him tick.

Music Connection: You’ve been dealing in guitars for 40 years. Is it still a thrill?
Norman Harris: The thrill never goes away. There’s always something, a rare custom guitar or a hard-to-find model, that still excites me.

MC: Why write a book?
Harris: Well, I published a book about 10 years ago, Norman’s Rare Guitars, but it was a picture book. I could have included stories, but I didn’t think anyone cared. Then I discovered that people liked to hear the stories and even asked about them. So, I decided to tell my story and the stories behind the guitars.

MC: You came to Los Angeles to be a musician.
Harris: Little Richard brought my band out here and we were signed to a small deal. Plan A was to become a professional musician. Plan B was selling guitars for extra money. Although I did well as a player, Plan B took off and became Plan A.

MC: You got a shout-out in the movie This is Spinal Tap. How did that happen?
Harris: Christopher Guest (who played Nigel) is a regular customer. He told me about the film and wanted to use the store in a few scenes. He also wore one of my T-shirts in the movie. I watched them shoot and it was total fun.

MC: Do you get involved with a lot of films?
Harris: It never occurred to me to do that, but then I was asked to and it was great PR and brought in additional income. The first film I did was Bound for Glory. David Carradine (who played Woody Guthrie) wanted a period correct guitar. Now, I supply guitars and accessories for films and videos whenever needed.

MC: Why aren’t you located in Hollywood where all the action is?
Harris: I didn’t want to be in the middle of all the craziness. Besides, the store is close to my house and it’s a place where professional musicians, rock stars and celebrities can browse without being bothered by paparazzi.

MC: In your book you describe guitars, ones that you had never seen, in exquisite detail. How did you acquire that knowledge years before the Internet?
Harris: A lot of it was word-of-mouth. I established friendships with old players and picked their brains. I also nurtured relationships with people who worked at guitar companies. I just talked, listened and learned.

MC: What makes a guitar vintage?
Harris: Vintage indicates a certain year or era. For example, Fender’s prime era was the ‘50s and ‘60s, while Martin’s was the ‘30s and ‘40s. Almost every prominent guitar company enjoyed a certain period when they were the best. But, vintage doesn’t always mean valuable. “Rare” is valuable because supply and demand determine price.

MC: Are newer guitars better or not?
Harris: They’re different…Some of the reissues are very good. Actually, the Beatles caused guitar manufacturing to suffer. They made guitars so popular, companies started mass producing them and cutting corners to keep up with demand. As a result, standards were lowered and the craftsmanship that made those guitars great started to slide.

MC: You have quite a personal collection. Any guitars you wouldn’t sell?
Harris: I have over 700 guitars in a warehouse. When I started, nobody was preserving them and I was their guardian. Now, I’m 67 years old and it’s time to let someone else do it. So, I would probably sell most of my collection and only keep a few personal favorites.


1. Defining Your Goals—what kind of songs are you pitching?
It all begins with a song, and a great song should be able to stand on its own. What creates that pure and unexplainable “magic” that resonates with audiences? And how can we get those songs working for us, heard on TV, in ads, in films, on famous artists’ records and over the radio?

There’s no secret ingredient on how to write the perfect song, it’s often timing and luck. But, we do have control over defining our goals when pitching songs. Whether you are writing songs in hopes of a publishing deal, or representing yourself with songs to pitch directly to music supervisors, sync houses and ad agencies, having clarity on the kind of writer you are and where your songs fit is key. You must pick and choose writing styles to match which avenue you decide to take when pitching your music; whether as an artist, a songwriter, writing for TV commercials or for film. Let your contacts know where you envision your songs, and whether you are a one-stop shop. The more prepared you are, the more seriously you’ll be taken.

2. When Writing as the Artist, be current with a twist.
Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” There should always be something definitively unique about your songs, so your voice and style stand out. Everyone is looking for the next craze of music. A “sound-a-like” with non-descript vocals can become dated and get lost in the pile. Be relevant, but hone your own artistic signature.

3. When Writing for Another Artist, uncover something personal.
Listen to the artist you are pitching to, and make sure your song matches their style, their vocal range and timbre. To be clever, read articles, Google them and try to find out what the artist may be going through in their personal life and write about it. Record labels will mention song styles the artist is looking for, but rarely a subject matter or lyrical content. So, touching upon something personal can only help. After all, you are competing with producers and top liners who write directly with that artist.

In addition, make sure to have a great production and write as radio ready as possible.

4. When Writing for TV/Film, familiarize and customize.
Getting a song licensed to television and film is mostly up to a music supervisor. However, a publisher can pitch on your behalf. Pull something from your catalogue that may fit a specific storyline of a show you’re watching, or go ahead and write something for a show to send in. Make sure to identify the current sound they are using before writing something that doesn’t fit. For example: Grey’s Anatomy often features ethereal ballads and love songs, versus something featured on HBO like Bloodline, which gravitates more toward quirky underground songs. When it comes to songs for films, it’s unknown territory. But independent films, versus blockbusters, often choose unknown artists over big names, because the budgets are smaller and the music palettes broader.

5. When Writing for Commercials, investigate products and brands.
There is definitely a formula for big box stores and major brands. Cathy Heller, songwriter and founder of Catch the Moon Music, has a lot of experience and placements. Some of her clients include giants like Walmart, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and many more.

“It’s all about the vibe,” she says. “80% of the time they want music that is feel good, happy, playful and lyrically about being young, free and on the go. But, be sure to marry that with a hip, indie, fashion forward vibe, so you’re not just writing a jingle but a great standalone song. The other 20% of the time, there will be brands that have a different sonic palette. For example, Subaru gravitates more toward a Boniver and Lexi Murdock sound. Something slow, moody and melancholy. So, be sure to research brands before submitting.”

Furthermore, songs should have variation and dynamics, so there is plenty of room for dialogue if needed, and a production that builds up to the chorus.

Read More: FEATURE STORY: New Music Publishing Parameters: Creative Companies Adapt

6. One-Stop Shop, get everything in the clear.
One-Stop Shop means you’re legally setup to send your songs out without potential complications. You need to complete the following:

• Writers/Publishers Shares: Register all your songs with either ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Make sure all writers splits are documented and agreed upon.

• Master/Producer Rights: Establish and negotiate Master ownership with your producer.

• Control: Get all creators on your team to give you control for songs to pitch.