Do You Have a Brand?

Written by; Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

At the end of the day, music is a business even at the smallest scale, and business means “selling a brand”.  There’s a difference between being just a music artist and having a brand – which is essential for success. The first question is, “What is your brand?” For most artists to answer this, you must first determine “What is your image?”.  Branding is projecting this image in EVERYTHING!

Branding is all about consistency. Your music is only one part, but there’s also your social media, photos, videos, merch, and even fonts and color schemes you use. It all needs to represent you and your music perfectly, or else your fans will be confused and your brand won’t come together. 

Here are some questions to help you figure out if you even have a brand and what you can work on to make it stronger;

1. Do you have a logo? It’s not something we always think about, but any big artist has a logo. All of their promotional content will use the same font and color for their name and album or songs. It might change with projects over time, but it always stays consistent. If you don’t yet, you should consider creating your logo and carrying it across your merch, promotional material, and album covers. 

2. Does your social media look professional? By professional, it means all of your platforms look similar and give the same idea about you. Even further, every photo and post should be of a similar quality and message. Some things to help look consistent are editing photos with the same styles and filters, using your logo consistently, and even carrying a color scheme in your photos. 

3. Do you have a message? It doesn’t have to be anything extremely complicated, but can a fan easily describe you after they discover your music or socials? In fact, simple is the better way to go. Of course, you want to be creative and innovative as you work on your brand and music, but there should be similar themes in your work and what you promote. This could be anything from mental health awareness to simply having fun and spreading positivity. 

The more thought and planning you put into developing your brand, the more success you’ll have in your career. If this seems like a lot to figure out, you can work with a talent agency (for a steep price), or try Rock the Dream’s mentorship program for one-on-one artist development advice. Plus, your first month is free! 

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Mindfulness for Musicians

Written by Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

It’s important for everyone to prioritize mental health, and musicians have even more reasons. Not only is this a high stress industry, but being creative and vulnerable in your work can take a lot out of an artist. 

Struggling with issues like performance anxiety, fear before new releases, and lack of sleep, because of a busy schedule is very common. It’s not all sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Here are some tips to help artists stay healthy and focused on career goals: 

  • Limit caffeine and sugar, this will help combat nerves and anxiety, and get better rest. 
  • Visualize your success. Imagine people streaming, singing along, and sharing your music! This technique will keep you feeling positive. 
  • Practice meditation and breathing exercises. Try to have a weekly, if not daily, meditation routine. And, when you’re feeling especially anxious or stressed, try this technique for a few minutes- close your eyes and count to 3 while inhaling, then count to 3 while exhaling, and it will calm you down immediately! 
  • Another mindfulness technique is setting small goals. Set goals for yourself that are achievable soon! These small rewards along the way keep you motivated and on track to your long-term goals.
  • Journal about your experiences. Music might be your chosen method of expression, but journaling about the specific things that are stressing you out can help you think through problems, plus it might help inspire music!
  • Remember that anxious feelings about performing or making career decisions are inevitable. It all contributes to your growth as an artist, and it takes a long time to build up confidence!

With all projects, plans and endeavors, self-care is a high priority. Working hard is important, but you can’t achieve anything, if you aren’t in the right headspace to make it happen. 

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Pitching Your Music to Radio

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

Radio may seem like something of the past, but it’s actually still a huge way to get exposure for your music! You should always be marketing in a variety of ways, don’t rely only on playlists. Here’s a guide to pitching your music to radio.

The first step is to decide what type of radio station to approach. There’s regular commercial radio, college radio, community/ non-commercial, and SiriusXM. The best place for independent artists to start is with college and community stations, since many are actually looking for up-and-coming artists, unlike bigger stations. Second, choose those that fit your demographic and genre.

Definitely hit up your local stations, as they’ll be likely to want to support you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to farther ones, even overseas, too. Finding stations is relatively easy, just listen to your local stations, and for others you can use a simple google search, or a site like

Most stations have contact info or even a link to submit music to on their websites. It’s important that you actually listen to the station and do some research, as you’ll be wasting their time if your music isn’t a good fit. You also wouldn’t be reaching an audience that would like your music anyways. When you send your song, include a brief pitch on why you fit the station’s audience. 

When it’s time to reach out, don’t just send your link and move on. Unless there’s clear instructions on how to submit, reach out with your request and ask how they would like the song sent (link, mp3 attachment, or cd). Always send a digital press kit (DPK), which must include a One-Sheet and should also include a professional press photo.

It doesn’t hurt to show up on their doorstep with a basket of goodies, such as merch, favorite snacks, etc., and don’t forget the CD/mp3. Research who the contact person is for playing new music (it’s usually the program director), then call the station, asking the receptionist what some of his/her favorite snacks are. You probably won’t be allowed to “say hi” but the basket will make it to its destination.

Follow up with a thank you! You want to foster the relationship, so you can send out future releases to those who respond. Also, promote the stations that play you! You don’t get on the radio by magic, so start promoting yourself to radio now!

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Apps Every Songwriter Needs!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

One huge benefit of today’s online environment is that anyone can learn to play an instrument or write songs completely on their own. Even if you aren’t a professionally trained musician, there are tons of free online resources at your disposal. Here are 5 apps we recommend that every songwriter use, no matter how long you’ve been writing music!

  1. Rhymersblock- There are tons of apps that help with rhyming, and rhymer’s block is a great one. Just enter the word you want to rhyme and in a matter of seconds it will give you a thorough list. It will start with perfect rhymes, and then give plenty of closely-related rhymes to choose from. 
  1. Soundbrenner- Every musician needs a metronome! This app is free, and it has a special feature where you can tap a beat, and it will give you the tempo. This will save you tons of time instead of trying out different tempos one at a time. 
  1. Tunerlite- You’ll probably need a tuner at some point in your writing and recording. This app is especially useful, because it will listen to a note and tell you what it is.
  1. Evernote Scannable- If you prefer writing lyrics with good old pen and paper, then this app will save you tons of time when you need to type it up. It will scan your handwriting and turn it into text. 
  1. Evernote- This is a great app to stay organized. You can write your lyrics and embed audio in the same note. It’s also great for collaboration, because you can easily share your notes, plus set reminders for due dates or for calls with co-writers. 

These apps are essential to making your songwriting process more efficient and organized. Try them and see how much time you can save, and maybe even write better songs!

Image result for musician apps

Give Your Fans Something to Wear!

Written by Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

Thinking of selling merch on your website? Without revenue from live shows, finding new streams of income right now is crucial. Selling custom merch is a brilliant way to get your name out there, plus increase your income. Your brand can be on display for everyone to own and wear. 

You’ve seen typical merchandise collections of T-shirts, sweatshirts and bracelets, but there are other items that are cheaper. The trick is, just as in your clothing inventory, keep the choices at one or two items. Fans become confused if there are too many choices, plus it cuts back your inventory costs.

Knowing your fanbase is also important, especially when you’re ordering items to open up a merchandise shop. Start out with a low quantity of merchandise and increase your inventory as demand grows. 

Order in bulk for an even lower price. Choose from pins, pens, guitar pics, mints, gum, ball caps, stickers, patches, posters and koozies — printed with your logo or name.  You can get a wide variety for cheap bulk prices on these websites: Bands on a Budget and Awesome Merchandise, such as 100 custom pins for $69. 

For items like shirts and hoodies, companies must quote a price after viewing your logo – it can range anywhere from $5 to $14 each, depending on quality level of the clothing and number of screen-printed colors. A good suggestion is to check local screen-printing shops. You can save money on shipping, plus most are normally much cheaper and of better quality than online services.

FYI, Gilden is a safe quality, yet economical T-shirt brand to choose. Never use Fruit of the Loom, they don’t keep their shape and fall apart quickly. Clothing doesn’t have to be the highest quality for your fans, but they should have the life expectancy of at least 2 years, so the quality level of Gilden is fine and will keep your wholesale pricing down.

Before launching new merch, model some pieces on social media, and even give some away to event promoters, close friends and radio stations who will help promote them. At major tours, give T-shirts to the sound guys and backstage workers. I guarantee, they will wear them. It’s also great to get fan input when designing and picking out merchandise, so you can give them something they’ll want to buy!

Selling merchandise on your website can be a huge success if you take the time to explore options, stick to your budget, and advertise like there’s no tomorrow. 

Image result for music merch website

How to Make Your Own Cover Art!

Written by; Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

When designing your album cover, it’s common to experience a creative block or struggle to decide on a design. Do you want a minimalistic appearance, a psychedelic look, a still life, a photography portrait? When it’s all said and done, what you want is for the cover to fit the artist’s image and album title, and to be visually show-stopping.

First, think about what route you want to go, a real life photo shoot or a digitally made cover.  For a photoshoot, think about local spots with the right aesthetic — maybe a room in your house, an abandoned town, or even the junkyard. You can get really eccentric with hair, makeup and wardrobe design. Check your local thrift stores for outfits and props for cheap. 

You can use visual effect tools to spice it up, too. Play around with effects like smoke, fire, shadows, mirrors, water or iridescent bubbles in your background. Although it would be an extra cost, a projector can be an excellent tool to set up entrancing backdrops for many covers to come. 

Picsart has various features to edit photos, or you can create digital art from scratch. It has thousands of free backgrounds. You can add text with shadow effects in over 20 fonts. Stickers are also available. You can pay for the Pro Version ($41 annually), although, the free version is just as useful. You can make a personal sticker from a photo in your camera roll; use filters, photo masks such as flames and broken glass; blend images on top of each other and distorting effects like mirroring images, chopping them, and making them look like an oil painting.

Canva is another digital app with an interesting comic book feature, and plenty of templates to inspire you. It costs just $12 a month, or you can download the free version. 

With a little creativity, using the many editing apps out there, or just working with an iphone camera and some cheap equipment, you can make the perfect cover art on your own.

Not Writing Enough Songs? Try These Challenges!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

If your new year’s resolutions included being more disciplined in your songwriting, how is it going? The first few weeks of making a new plan or schedule always seem to go smoothly, and then the motivation starts to fade. If that’s how you’re feeling this year, here are some “challenges” to keep you writing:

1. Song a day challenge: This one is just what it sounds like, you will write one entire song everyday for a month – or longer! They can be about anything in any style, you just have to write one finished song a day. Of course, most won’t all be “hits”, but it will get you in a routine and maybe spark some new ideas.

2. Rewrite your favorite album: The goal here isn’t actually to “rewrite”, but it’s to create new songs from the titles off your favorite album. Your versions can and should be completely new and different, but use the album songs as your prompts or ideas for your own. 

3. Art challenge: This one can be fun and really challenge your imagination. Pick out different pieces of art from your favorite artist – abstract, classic, whatever you want. Then, use each piece as your starting point and write a song based on whatever feeling, idea, or storyline it brings to mind.

These may not turn out to be your best songs ever (or maybe they will),  but they will at least keep you on track to practice songwriting more this year. The most effective way to elevate your writing skills is to keep trying, so stop waiting and get writing!

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Should You Be Sync Licensing Your Music?

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

For some artists, TV and Film placement is the ultimate goal, but others never even give it a thought. These kinds of placements are called sync licensing, and can be a huge stream of income for musicians. If it’s something you’ve never heard of or never tried, now’s the time to give it a thought.

The market for sync licensing is huge, think about all the tv and movies being produced, which all need music, not to mention video games, youtube videos and advertisements. And the best part is in this part of the music industry, the quality of music is much more important than fame and credibility. 

There are a few ways to get into the sync licensing world — one is through music catalogues. This is probably the easiest place to start. And, there’s not much work to do after placing your music, the deals will come to you. There are tons of music libraries, so it’s sometimes hard to figure out which ones to place your music in. Do your research and try multiple. The biggest thing is to look for non-exclusive deals, so you can license your music in more than one place. 

Another route is to work with a publisher. A publishing company will do most of the work promoting and getting placements, leaving you more time to work on music. However, you will be sharing royalties with the publisher. These deals will also often be exclusive, so be sure you know what you’re getting into. Never sign a lifetime exclusivity deal as you never know how it’s going to work out in the long run. Try to make any exclusive agreement deals as short as possible.

You can also try to DIY and make your own deals, but it takes a lot of time through trial and error to build these kinds of connections. It’s best to start by reaching out to smaller companies, gamers, and youtube channels with this strategy. 

Although it sounds like a dream set up, it can be very difficult to get into this market and to be successful. It’s also very rare to make a full income from sync licensing. However, it can definitely be a valuable time investment, plus big placements can be good promotion for you as an artist.

If you find you are not having any success with licensing, reevaluate your music. It has to be top broadcasting quality, no demos, and must meet the genres and styles in demand. Also, keep trying different music libraries and researching for opportunities that fit your music best. It can be a long journey to success, so if music licensing sounds right for you get started now!

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The Secret Way to Master Songwriting

Written By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

Until recently, getting a degree in songwriting was almost unheard of. Nowadays, most big music schools offer a songwriting program, or at least a few classes. While a degree doesn’t mean much in the music industry, it takes more than just talent to write real “hits”. Songwriting is a craft that can be learned and developed; and, thankfully, it doesn’t require paying tuition to master it.

There aren’t any secret formulas that a class or degree program will teach you, but there is one technique they all use – analyzing successful songs. Writing as many songs as you can is helpful for sure, but you also need to be listening to music critically to learn how to actually improve your writing.  

All the biggest hits, even across genres and different kinds of artists, share certain similarities, which change with the times. Picking up on these and applying them to your songs is key to creating what people want to hear today. 

The elements to look at are — well all of them. You want to listen to top songs for their structure, instrumentation, tempo, lyrics and meanings. Write out everything you notice, and do it again and again. Eventually, you start to see the elements that appear over and over again in hit songs. 

But, isn’t songwriting all about originality, and creating something totally new? Of course you want your song to offer something new, but it also has to fit into the mainstream expectations of music. The art is in combining borrowed elements and your own creative touch. 

If you’re serious about being a songwriter, then keep on writing, but start listening, too! Whatever your routine is, make analyzing hit songs a part of it. If you want to be the best, then you have to learn from the best. 

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Why You Should Have a Social Media Schedule

Written By; Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

Have you noticed your posts receiving little interaction despite the effort you put in? Social media is actually a lot more complex than it may seem when it comes to promotion and growing a following. That’s why you need to strategize and plan ahead.

For an artist desiring to build a committed fanbase, social media scheduling is something to utilize. We all know how far and wide the media’s reach extends, but it is the user’s job to take advantage of it. 

Although we at Rock the Dream are not a huge fan of duplicate posts on different online platforms, it’s better to have something than nothing at all. “SocialPilot” is one example of a site that can help you create a bulk schedule. You can create 500 posts and send them all over TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr. After a 14 day free trial, SocialPilot is priced at $50 for 5 users. Many tools are going to cost you something, but promoting your work is how you receive proceeds and new fans! 

Another tip is to use calendar templates that can be found online where each post adds to your “long term social media goals”. It can be hard to envision posts for months in advance, but websites like “SocialSprout” can aid you in an “audit” which will show what got the highest level of engagement from your audience. Once you know what your followers appreciate the most, it will be easier to guide and plan your future posts. 

Social media experts agree that the best time to receive recognition from followers is in the evening. Posts are best experienced later in the day. Around 6pm is the best, when more people are checking their phones.

With many helpful sites at your service, you can always schedule and plan your videos and posts by yourself. See what works best for you in the past, and then manage your own posting rhythm. 

The most important thing is to be consistent, which will benefit your image. Your fans want to rely on you and your content. Growing your presence on social media is done by repeatedly standing out in one’s feed. Don’t let your content be swept under the wide web’s rug! Use the varying tools out there or make your own toolbox to allow your social media to soar. 

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