Four ways to be a pro music manager

To be a pro music manager, you’ve got to follow a few key tips. Just as last week we offered ten ways to be a great band member, this week we’re doing the same thing with management. Whether you’re managing yourself, your own band, or someone who has hired you for the job, these four tips will help you know what you’re doing. Let’s get to it.

Keep your artists visible

Even if the band are handling their own social media accounts, you should have a separate one you’re operating at all the major sites. You should be updating these daily with news, photos, and comments about your artists.

You should consider flyers around their hometown, professional press releases, and interviews on blogs and college radio stations. Anything and everything to make a buzz around their name and their music.

This is connected to merch.

Handle their merch

Merch isn’t hard to create, but it is time-consuming. Your artists need that time for writing, practicing and performing.

Get some art together and show it to your artists. They select their favorites, you take these to the merch people and order however many shirts, stickers and such it makes sense to order.

Don’t waste your artists’ money. Buy what you know you can sell, then put those profits back into more merch.

Every sticker and shirt is free advertisement. That’s what merch is for.

Book the right shows

One of the primary jobs of the music manager is to call venues and book live shows for your artists. This can be accomplished online, but often means phone calls and actually visiting the venues in person.

You want your band to feel comfortable there, if possible, but most importantly, the people likely to show up should be the kinds of music fans who are likely to enjoy your artists.

Remember when the Blues Brothers played that country-western bar? Avoid that.

Keep your artist’s calendar full

Keep a calendar online accessible to your artists. Let them circle the dates they’re available to play.

Push them to perform at least one night a week, preferably on weekends when music fans come out, but it’s most important to have them onstage weekly.

Fill all those dates. This is probably the most important job a manager has.

If your artists play onstage every week, they’re going to get great at their music very quickly. After that, it’s a matter of time and persistence.


With these basic tenets, you’re good to go! Thanks very much for reading.

-S. McCauley



10 Ways to Be a Good Band Member

Last week we talked about how many tracks to record for a single song in the studio. This week we’re discussing how to be a good band member.

Everyone would rather have a popular, successful music project than just a hobby, but you’ve got to work together. Here are some plain-spoken tips to keep you from getting the evil eye (or worse, kicked out).

These words to the wise work equally well as guidance for hiring new members. If you can’t see the new guitarist following all or most of the below, maybe you should keep auditioning new guitarists.

     1. Know your music

Don’t bring fresh material to band practice only to make the others wait for you to figure it out. Do everything you can ahead of time.

     2. Come prepared

If you show up to practice — or, please god no, a performance — without your strings, sticks, power cable, whatever, and everyone has to wait for you to go home to get your stuff, you’re being unprofessional. You were taught to bring your pencil and paper to school for many years. Coming prepared is a skill you should have.

     3. Lose the rock-star attitude

You may be the best player in the county, but if you act like you know it, you’re the worst guy in the band.

     4. Help out

Help carry the drums in and out. Help the guitarist find the chord. Help the band with gas money. Don’t let people walk all over you, but definitely help out.

     5. Contribute to the sound, don’t dictate the sound

Even if you did write the song, you’re not the boss. Offer your creative input and welcome that of the others. You can’t have chemistry if you don’t mix anything.

     6. People first, then music

Music-first band members tend to be the most-driven and often most-successful artists. But they’re also often the most despised. That’s a hard way of life for you and for the poor people putting up with you. It’s far more fun and healthy to remember your band mates’ feelings before prioritizing what you think is best for the song. Besides, what’s best for the music is sometimes not what’s best for the band, and vice-versa.

     7. Eat ahead of time

Seems silly, but it’s really annoying to the people who are already plugged in and tuned when you walk in munching a hoagie.

     8. Work out what sounds best, not what’s the “right way”

Sooner or later every musician gets into it with the guy who’s determined to teach everyone the “right way” to do X. But there are many, many, many examples of world-class players with awful technique to prove that the only right way is the way that sounds best. Jimi played upside-down, Ringo plays backwards, and Dick Dale plays on one string. Just go with what sounds good.

     9. Be democratic

Groups of musicians in odd numbers have it easy: there’re no tie votes. Vote when the band takes one, and accept the results of the votes. You’ll have enough indecision in the band without arguing against the majority.

     10. Be friendly, be family, and have fun

You may be deathly serious about succeeding as a professional musician, but if you don’t follow #10, you and everyone working with you will be miserable. Even pencil-pushers in stuffy offices can follow #10. You should be able to do it playing music, for crying out loud.

How many tracks does a song need?

So you’ve got a new single you want to record, but you’re not exactly sure how many tracks to lay down.

We can help you decide. Read on.

For most indie musicians, the digital audio workstation software looks something like this.

Do you need all those differently colored tracks? Answer these two questions to get a definitive answer.

     1. Does adding a track make the song better, or just fuller?

You don’t want more than the song needs.

Excess tracks make the music harder to mix and master, and muddy the tone of the whole thing. It’s actually harder for listeners to listen to the same way that more pages are harder to read than fewer pages, even if the reader is an expert one.

Swedish music mastermind Max Martin has described his studio recording style as “direct, effective, we don’t show off … A song that sounds simple is not simple to make. It’s all about the taste and making sure you don’t add more than what the song needs.”

Words to live by.

     2. Can you make listeners feel the same way with one instrument as you can with two?

Lets say you record your bass line and it sounds good. Then you record someone on synthesizer keys and that sounds good, too.

Take a second to see if the players seem to be playing similar notes at similar times. Try muting the bass line you recorded earlier.

Does the song sound much worse? What if it were taken out of some or most of the song, but not all?

Same for the keyboard. Can you do something similar using just the guitars you have rather than including the keyboard?

Same for vocals. Same for drums. Same for every track you record.

If you don’t really need it, ditch it.


And that’s exactly how many tracks you need.


Make a great cover tune with 3 basic rules

Making a great cover song doesn’t take a genius. Anyone who plays live should have a few in their repertoire. If you’re performing for public audiences without playing any cover songs at all, you’re missing out on a slam-dunk trade secret.

Everyone loves to hear music they recognize, regardless of who is playing it. You can make your audiences love you more simply by doing a song everybody knows in your own style.

But! it can be done wrong. Here are the three rules you should follow in playing or recording cover tunes.

Rule 1: Don’t cover music you can’t improve somehow

If you go out and just perform a Beatles song as closely to the original as you can, you’re going to disappoint your audience. You aren’t the Beatles. Why would you do that to yourself?

Pick a song pretty much everyone knows, something flawed, something you can do in a new way everyone is going to appreciate.

Protip: there are lots of one-hit-wonders who weren’t very good but made a song everyone loves. Those singles are often pretty easy to improve on. People will think you’re really hip for remembering that one song they haven’t heard in years.

Rule 2: Perform the song in your own style

If you’re a hip-hop band, do a hip-hop rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

If you’re a country band, do a country/western rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

If you’re a metal band, do a heavy metal rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

(Except, you know, it doesn’t have to be Michael Jackson’s “Bad”).

If you think people don’t frickin’ love to hear familiar songs played in totally different styles, you’ve got another think coming.

How many people in the audience have forgotten that time Rob Zombie played the theme from 1960s TV, “The Munsters?” None of them. Or when Green Day recorded the theme for the movie version of “The Simpsons?” Exactly zero. People love that stuff, and admit it, so do you.

Rule 3: Don’t introduce the song when you play it live

Introducing your songs before you play them is pretty tacky most of the time, anyhow, but it really stinks when the song is something everyone knows already.

What’s more fun? The vocalist goes to the mic and says, “You guys might remember this one from a show back in the nineties called ‘Friends,'” or, nobody says anything and you just break into the song. A few seconds later people start murmuring to one another. Now there’s a ripple of applause and everybody’s smiling at the stage. Seriously, how is that even a debate?

Don’t announce it. Just play it and have fun.

BONUS Rule: Maximum two covers per set

Play your music. That’s what you’re here for.

The covers are just a sneaky way to get people paying attention.




How famous rappers write songs

This week on Mondo DIY we’ve collected some rare statements from famous rappers on how they write songs. Beat first? Rhymes first? Read on to know.

Ice-T on Dr. Dre: “[Dre] said there’s a difference between a rapper and a songwriter. Dre says, ‘You’ve gotta write me a song. I don’t need bars — I know you’ve got skills, but we need songs, so give me the hook first.’ He says a lot of rappers get lost, but that’s what Eminem does. They write these incredible songs, and that’s basically what Dre likes to take to the marketplace.”

Joey Bada$$: “How I avoid writer’s block is always switching it up, like always switching up my structure. Sometimes I will be walking and a melody will come to my head and I’m like, alright, I’m just going to keep repeating it and keep adding on. Or I might be feeling another way. Like, maybe I just want to draw something out. I want to actually illustrate the picture to the listener.”

Tech N9ne: “I’ll sit there and just wait. In my living room, I’ll just wait for the word, and it always comes. So I sit next to my Google — I love my Google, because I gotta make sure I’m using the word in the right context, because words will just pop up in my head, I’m like, damn, what’s happening, who’s putting these words in my head?”

Eminem: “Like, I’ll get my starting line and I’ll try and figure out — just mumble words to myself until I find the right ones I wanna use. Or, sometimes, a word will pop in my head, I’ll be like, what the f–k? Lemme write that sh-t down. I put it at the bottom of my pad, and then I’ll start coming up with words and then OK, this goes here. It’s like a puzzle.”

Andre 3000: “I write all the time. Like I write down thoughts that I think would be interesting or things that are kind of just concerning me at the time. Sometimes I write them on a napkin, sometimes I type them in my phone. And when it comes time to do music, I go through and see what thoughts work for this song. Sometimes they’re in rhyme and sentence, and sometimes they’re just a thought. Sometimes it’s a melody. With phones now they have the recorder on it, so I can sing melodies or I can say lyrics right into my phone.”

Kool G Rap (author of the foreward in How to Rap: the Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC): “I wouldn’t really say there is a set process, it’s me just trying to go in that zone. I just try to zone out and let the beat tell me exactly what should be placed on it and let the beat give me the lyrics. Each track calls for something different, whether it’s a flow, whether it’s a subject matter, whatever it is. Some tracks call for you to be a little more hyper, some tracks call for you to fall back a little more and to just talk to them.

“[These days] I don’t use paper, I type now. It took a long time to do that transformation, but I finally got the transformation to typing now. I just type in my phone, I don’t really type on the laptop or nothing like that because who’s gonna lug a big laptop around with them everywhere, so I just type in my [Sharp] Sidekick. I can go to the studio or wherever, do a feature with somebody else and my phone is always gonna be there. Typing it [helps you play around with it more], because instead of crossing out, you’re going back and deleting words and replacing them. And it’s not sloppy, as opposed to writing—with typing it’s easy and simple and it’s not a bunch of cross-outs and scratches on the paper.”

Advertise Your Music Online for Free (Part 3)

Continuing our series on How to Advertise Your Music Online for free, this week we’ll be talking about how to use other people’s blogs and websites to boost your visibility.

Previously, we talked about publishing your own press releases and broadening your public reach through social media. A great deal of free advertisement is also available through the free efforts and websites of other people. These people run blogs, news websites, and music sites in general which depend on having new things to say on a regular basis. This MondoTunes DIY blog, in fact, is a perfect example of one such site. Other examples friendly to independent musicians such as yourself include Indie Music News Worldwide and the Independent Music Times.

A good website always has an email address somewhere so you can email the owner or administrator of the site. Just write an email to that person including the news you’d like featured on their website. This news can be almost anything, like, “Brooklyn rock band ‘Vipers’ to play Coney Island,” or, “Indie hip-hop artists form new collective, ‘Titanz,'” or, “Jane Doe to tour East Europe.”

Make sure the material you want published has no spelling or grammatical errors. Some admins will revise your English for you, but most will choose to ignore a train wreck rather than fix it.  (Of course, a professionally written press release is best).

Don’t stop at just one website, either. You can submit material to as many blogs and online music newspapers as you like. Each one will prefer an exclusive release (meaning your news is only available at their site, nowhere else) but you work for yourself, not them, and you want your news as accessible as possible.

If you really get in good with the admin of a certain indie music website, you might even get them to interview you. This may seem improbable, but you’ve got to keep in mind that these writers come up with material every single week. If they like your music enough and think your sound fits the format of their site, then you answer all the questions and they hardly have to write at all. You can even suggest the questions for them, too, so they don’t even need to do that.

In any case, the point is that music blogs and news sites can be extremely useful to indie artists, and they’re not at all as utilized as they ought to be.

The door is wide open to you. All you gotta do is step through it.


How to Advertise Your Music Online for Free (Part 2)

Last week we began a series on how to advertise your music online for free, focusing on the tried-and-true method of the press release.

This week we’ll be talking about how to use social media to maximize your visibility.

Most artists in 2018 know that social media makes up the lion’s share of advertising for nearly every market today. Fewer know exactly how exposure can change depending on how those media outlets are used. Here are a few basic principles to follow. Every artist won’t follow all of the below, but the artists who do will benefit from superior exposure compared with those who don’t.

  1. Make an official account at each social media site for each of your music projects.

Every site has a different user base. Very few people use every social media site, just like very few people watch every TV show.

This means that you will talk to different people at each site. Therefore, if you post at every site, you will reach the most people.

This means you should have an official account at Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and Snapchat (as well as any others you can think of, optimally). Being so spread out is going to take you a lot of time, too, because:

2. Post to all of your official social media accounts on the regular.

Magazines, newspapers, TV shows, and radio programs all have one thing in common — consistent regularity. These media types have known for decades that if they miss a week, they lose audience members. Everyone wants to hear from their favorite social media contacts on a predictable, consistent basis.

If you can post to all your social media accounts every day, you should do so. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes in your fan base numbers after just a couple months.

If you can only post to each account once a week, that’s respectable, too, but don’t miss a week! One week of silence from your music project is hard enough on your web visibility. Two weeks of silence, straight, will teach fans to forget about you. Three weeks gone dark is a disaster.

3. Interact with people on your accounts.

Don’t just log in, post a picture of your band eating pancakes on tour, and move on. Look for comments anyone has made. Click ‘like’ buttons on things. Make it look like you’re a living person in there, not just a digital billboard.

4. Post different pictures and comments on your various media accounts.

Part of the reason you want an account at each site is to get some fans acquainted with you at more than one site. That only makes sense for them if you’re posting different things everywhere.

If you just copy/paste an image into every account each Friday morning, people will learn pretty quickly that there’s no point in following you at more than one media location.


That’s all for this week’s Mondo DIY Blog. Stay tuned next week for more on how to advertise your music project online for free.

-S. McCauley

Advertise Your Music Online for Free (Part 1)

One of the most frequent questions is, “How can I advertise my music online?”

It’s a smart question to ask, and luckily, it has a ton of answers. This week’s MondoTunes DIY post focuses on press releases.

The first thing musicians should do is perhaps the most overlooked: publishing a simple press release.

A press release (PR) is an official announcement available for reading online anywhere in the world. The purpose of the PR is to put information about your music online which can easily be found if someone searches for you. Advertisement is first about getting attention, but once you have someone’s attention, what do you tell them? You have to follow up with some info, some facts, some interesting things to say.

There’s no bigger failure in advertising than getting someone to search for your music, only to have nothing come up.

So what, exactly, is a press release? It’s a very short article about your music. You can publish a PR on virtually anything that happens during your music career. If you start a new project, the headline might be, “Jane Doe starts new rock crew Iron Maidens.” If you drop a new single, it might be, “DJ Onyx releases official single.” If you start a summer tour, it might be, “Singer-songwriter Julius Caesar starts summer tour.”

Any time someone looks you up, they find one of your press releases. If you have lots of press releases, you look like an extremely active musician — because you are. It also looks like you’re in the news a lot, again because you are.

If you do it the free route, make sure you get an expert writer friend to make your PR for you, though. Press releases with any spelling or grammatical errors work in reverse. They make you look silly. Most free PR websites won’t let you post your own release unless it passes their grammar tests, anyhow, and they won’t tell you what’s wrong. They’ll just decline your submission.

Lots of people will want to charge you hundreds of dollars for writing and publishing a press release, but our own MondoBlast service is dependable, affordable, and ultra-high quality (especially if it’s written by yours truly, wink-wink). We’ll also publish your piece at many sites, rather than at just one site.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 in this ongoing series about advertising your music online for free.


Cheap Microphones for Rap Vocals Under 100 Dollars

When you operate a rap studio out of your home like the rest of us, you’re probably not working with tons of cashola. That doesn’t mean you need to work with garbage to get your tracks recorded, though. Below is a short list of the best cheap microphones for rap vocals under 100 dollars.

Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Cost: about 100 USD

This Shure dynamic has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with around 400 reviews.

It has a uniform cardioid pickup pattern to isolate the rapper while also reducing background noise.

It has a rich vocal pickup, but also boasts professional-quality sound reproduction for drum, percussion, and instrument amplifier miking, so you can use this for laying down live music, not just your rapper.

It’s a beast, too, and can take a beating if your artists tend to be a little hard on your equipment.

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Cost: 75 USD

Cheaper (but more fragile) than the above Shure, the MXL 770 is also a great pickup solution.

It’s a multi-purpose condenser microphone you can use for vocals, pianos, stringed instruments, and percussion, but you probably won’t want to lay down booming live bass with it.

Its patented design allows for low frequency roll-off to reduce unwanted rumble, and has a low-noise FET preamp with a balanced, transformerless output.


Cost: about 30 USD

This Pyle is a dynamic vocal mic with a classic, retro, vintage style. It has a sponge pop screen behind that grill and is built for ultra-wide freq response / high-signal output, which is gobbledygook for you use it for vocals and not much else.

This narrow (but respectable) capability means you can pick one up for under 50 bucks, easy, and it will come with a 15′ XLR cable, too. Not too shabby. And let’s face it — it’s super cool.

Shure PGA48-XLR Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Cost: about 40 USD

For ten dollars more than the above retro mic, you can own one of the industry standards for vocal input.

This Shure has a tailored microphone cartridge design specifically for clarity in the standard frequency range of speech, so it’s very well suited to hip hop vocal recording. Again like the equally affordable Pyle, however, you’re probably not going to want to record instruments with it.

It has a cardioid polar pattern to pick up audio from the source while rejecting unwanted noise, and true to Shure style, it’s got an industrial design that helps it endure accidental violence. You can also get this with or without an accompanying cable.