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the Silver Dollar

The Best Venues to See Live Music in Toronto

August 6, 2013

When you live in a city like Toronto and you enjoy live music, you are blessed with some of the best bands and venues, in the world. I have been to countless bars and seen hundreds of bands over the years and I am never amazed at what this city has to offer.

Depending on your genre of music, there really is a multitude of venues. The following is a list of my top 5 in Toronto:

The Horseshoe: I’ve probably seen more shows here than any other place. It probably isn’t the best laid out with the low ceilings and long narrow shape, but the soundsystem sounds pretty good. The stage isn’t too high off the dance floor which promotes musicians to jump down into the crowd, or zealots a perfect launch pad for ‘crowd surfing’.

One of the dislikes for me is that they have started the shows later. Main acts going on at 12:30 a.m. is pretty late especially for those who need to catch the TTC.

Lee’s Palace: Another excellent venue. Lee’s is a real club for bands. The dance area sits down deep in front of the stage and is surrounded by a narrow strip of a table top, each with it’s own bar stool. I think the sound in there is fantatsic. Many a great band has graced the stage and the acoustics really resonant from the stage.

The back row behind the mixer, sports another table row with stools and plenyy of standing room. The bar is at the very back. Depending how busy it is, it can be difficult to get a drink.

Mod Club: This bar is really a quaint rock n’ roll shop. Its basically an open area with the bar down the left side and some seating on the right. You probably want to be on the floor as the seating to the right makes it difficult to see anything. But who wants to be sitting down when a band like ‘Sloan’ start cranking ‘Money City Maniacs’.

There are two big stacks of speakers so be weary of as it can get deafening, if you’re directlly in front of them. I’m not sure about the upstairs, as I haven’t been. Again, a cool place to see that upcoming Indie band.

The Opera House: This old venue dates back to 1909 and was once a live theatre venue. Today, it is mainly used for live music and has hosted a wide variety of acts world wide. The inside architecture is truly beautiful. It was built for projecting sound when P.A. systems didn’t exist and the acoustics are fantastic.

The best part is the balconey. You can see everything and it gives a great vantage point with the acts on stage. You’d better have a good zoom camera if you want to take video/photos. It really makes you fall back in time sittting in the wooden benches, almost like royalty.

Danforth Music Hall: This is a newish venue for me having only been there twice. The echo in the hall is fantasic. Depending on the type of music it really adds it’s own natural reverb to the mix and who doesn’t love reverb! Now that the seats are gone there’s plenty of standing room and there are bars on both sides as well as the main one in the front entrance.

The fact that it is sloping downward toward the stage, is the deal sealer. If you’re not terribly tall, which I am not, it makes it much easier to see the stage when the guy with the ‘fro’ decides to stand in front of you.

Honourable mention, but in no particular order:

Silver Dollar: not a great arrangement for the stage with the audience but it has character and I’ve seen some cool bands. Not to mention some ‘Blues’ greats as well.

Sneaky Dees: Divey and trashy. Many a punk act has screamed out 3 chord melodies there. It has it’s own charm.

El Mocambo: The Rolling Stones recorded part of their live album “Love You Live” there. Need I say more?

Echo Beach: Nothing better than drinking a ‘king can’ with your sandals on, down by Lake Ontario, in the biggest sand box in Toronto. They even have volley ball nets setup. Oh ya, and stage is pretty cool too.

So there you have it. I know I’ve missed a few more venues, actually a lot more, as there are so many in Toronto. But again these are just a few of my personal favs.

CATL play live at the Horseshoe in Toronto

Breaking Into the Toronto ‘Gigging’ Scene

June 14, 2013
Breaking into the Toronto Gig Scene

Local Toronto band CATL play live at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto

So you’ve put the band together. The lineup sounds fantastic. You’ve gone from jamming to rehearsing and now have a 10 song set, with nearly 45 minutes of music. Everyone’s on the same page. Your feeling the sound. You just got the EP recorded and now are looking to take on the world. The only problem is you need to find some gigs. What are you to do now?

This is the problem with many bands. You’re trying to find places to play but can’t seem to find any bars willing to give you a shot? There are a few questions you can ask yourself as to why it is difficult to find gigs. The following is a list that can help get you moving in the right direction.

1. Does anyone want to listen to my music? As artists  we are proud of our playing ability and taste in music. You have to ask yourself, is my music marketable? You invented your own genre of psych0-thrash-polka-surf-grunge, and that is great, but does anyone want to listen to it?

Make sure when you come-up with a brilliant idea for your “sound” and “genre” that it actually has marketability. Otherwise, only mom is going to buy your CD and come watch you play on the Monday ‘New Band Night’.

2. You have to bring people out to shows to see your band. Everyone thinks that bars supply the ears of your next fan but that is a misnomer. Unless your well known and signed to  a major label, any bar you play is going to ask you to bring a minimum of 20 people to come see your act.

I know it sounds ridiculous but that is how it works in Toronto and probably every where else. Oh, and don’t forget the sound guy always gets paid first so you can deduct the first $125-150 from the door to give to him.

3. Use social media to promote your shows.  Social media is everywhere. You can’t ignore it. There is no better way to promote your shows, music and band then with the many different social media sites out there. You can use twitter to tweet news about your band. Follow people and hopefully they will follow you.

Get on Facebook and create a fan page for your band. You can communicate directly with fans by posting show dates, photos from shows and videos. It is a great way to develop a fan base. It’s free and there are lots of tools you can leverage to promote your band.

For every gig you have there should be a specific event page created for that show. you can send out updates on your timeline and all your fans will see them.

Youtube is the 2nd largest social network and is a treasure trove of on line videos from all your fav bands an music. Have a friend record your show or rehearsal and add the video to your Youtube channel. Hi-res video is the best.

There are also music specific sites for band promotion. Reverbnation, Myspace, bandcamp and soundcloud are all excellent websites you can create an account on to promote your music for sale, show dates, gaining fans and adding video and photos.

If you are not using one of these sites I strongly suggest you at least sign-up for one of them. They’re all free and have certain paid extras you can use to promote with.

4. The Band is a team. Yes! I said it. We all know musicians have egos. Sometimes you need to put the ego aside and do what is best for the band. This goes beyond making music together and includes how everyone contributes to the band in a non musical nature.

All band members have a stake in the success of the band. That means all members need to buy into the team concept and work together to help promote the band and find gigs. How difficult is it to send an email out to  a  friend and let them know about your gig next Thursday?

If one member is doing all the work it’s not going to work. Maybe one person has a lot of connections and are getting the leads for shows. The other members need to help them out and pull up the slack.

Posters need to be designed. Websites and media channels need to be maintained. Photos and video need to be shot. Songs need to be written. Gear needs to be schlepped to shows. Promotion needs to be promoted!

Being in a band is not easy and it takes all parties involved to get the most out of the experience. Finding gigs even more difficult. But with everyone picking up the slack, you can make sure that you are putting in the best effort to find the shows and gaining the fans for future shows.

 

drumkit

What’s a Drummer to Do?

March 18, 2013
The following is a post by a drummer on CL. Apparently all cover bands play the same music and he wants to branch out. There is a follow-up post replying to his original post.
This is how it is:I am in my 50’s and play more slamming drums than most guys half my age. I’ve played every song in the world (just about). I collect and know thousands of great songs to play. I want to lend my talents to a great, money-makin’ cover band.Why is it, then, that every response to my ads is either:
1. Bands that play songlists that containt the SAME songs by the SAME people? Neil Young’s Rockin’ In the Free World”, still…really? Creedence…one of three choices, folks…Proud Mary, Green River, Born on the Bayou. ZZTop, same, Bad Company, same, Stones, same. The same SONGLISTS with the SAME TIRED, WORN-OUT, boring BAR SONGS.
2. “We ARE a cover band, and PLAN TO PERFORM SOON, but we also do originals and plan to record.
3. “C’mon over and JAM sometime. We don’t perform, but we sure have a lot of fun!!”Listen. If you’re doing Neil Young, try, for one, picking something off of Zuma, maybe. Ever heard “Drive Back”, or maybe “C’mon Baby Let’s Go Downtown” off of Tonight’s the Night? Creedence…never heard of “Pagan Baby”, probably one of their very best songs? ZZTop, Bad Company? REALLY?
How about some Link Wray “Jack the Ripper”, or the Ramones “Rockaway Beach”? Clash “Police On My Back”, maybe?Is there anybody out there with a musical clue, and have cover band/money making aspirations? Or have we all just whittled down to doing “Folsom Prison”, live in the ol’ bar, yet again. What’s the matter, folks? Like, you don’t think this bar audience has heard it before, a thousand times? Did music just STOP for you, once you learned “Wish You Were Here” and “Brown Eyed Girl”? You are a musician, yes? How about exploring and learning some actually entertaining songs, and producing a thought-out roster.

P.S. All of the above mentioned songs are great…but they have just been played a little too often by those with no desire to go further in their musical make-up.

Me? I am the drummer who knows more songs than most of the guitarists I meet these days (at least through Craigslist, so far).

Bored. Very bored. I wanna rock, not just be in another ordinary and familiar bar band, playing the same exact songs as everybody else.

Thank you for letting me vent. I shoulda learned guitar…my biggest mistake.

Here’s me: Over 7,000 hits, and I’m still getting nothing but Green River.
http://www.youtube.com/user/givendrums?blend=4&ob=0

Follow-up reply:

Re: Bored Pro Drummer (Boring Ontario)

You are right, old guys’ bands play the same old covers ad nauseam, and young guys play the same crap noise on 2 chords.

Truth is, old people who go to bars with live music want to hear old worn out country covers, and kids going to noisy places want to hear tasteless noise.

That’s why I decided a while ago to branch out of the “rock and pop” circuit and do jazz, standards, and blues instead.

Notice that studies have shown that IQ is higher with people enjoying jazz and blues, and the lowest with country music lovers…

Easy choice for me.

Good luck.

recording studio

Cheap Recording Studios In Toronto: What’s Up?

November 20, 2012

The following responses are replies to an original poster on CL who was asking the question: “What’s the deal with all the cheap recording studios in Toronto”?

On reading this thread several things come to mind that may not have been mentioned….

1. You can record your band in a cheap studio if the engineer has a clue what hes doing… mic placement, isolation, live room vs flat room, etc…
2. Take your time… get the right tone, sound, performance…. this is important… mistakes, bad sound, instrument bleed, mic phasing cant be corrected very well in mixing & not at all in mastering…
3. You should try to record the drums for the CD in one shot if you can …. other wise they will not sound the same throughout the album. Once mics get moved around you will never get the same sound twice. It doesn’t matter so much for guitars, vocals, etc..
4. Have the cheap guy (if he knows what hes doing) edit your tracks (fades, levels, edits) but SPEND the extra money on having the CD professionally mixed. Don’t worry about insert effects, modulation, automation, etc.. chances are the pro engineer will want the tracks without any effects and automation. Thats what he gets paid to do anyways. We recorded our CD ourselves, mixed & edited it ourselves, then had the entire CD final mixed by a Juno award winning engineer for around $3500 for a 10 song CD. It made all the difference in the world. When we compared what we had mixed to what this guy put togther, it was like night & day and we had pretty good gear too. It just comes down to the fact that these guys have the experience and a great set of ears for it. These days they are looking for work too and bargains can be had.
5. You don’t have to have the whole CD mixed down at once…. You can mix a couple songs a month depending on your budget till the CD is done. Might be wise to use the same guy so you can get the same result. You can get a great engineer for around $500.00 to $600.00 /day including studio time. They can usually mix 2 songs a day. Allow 1/2 day at the end of the CD for revisions and corrections and edits.
6. Mastering can be done professionally for $60 to $100 a song locally in Toronto. Mastering will not cover up any mistakes or sloppy preformance or recording issues, it will only enhance them and make them painfully aware to anyone listening to the tracks. Plan on having the entire CD mastered at the same time & place. Otherwise, the levels, etc.. wont be the same and the overall CD will sound like crap even if the individual songs sound great.
7. Song placement is very important so take the time to strategize and organize your songs. Also, IRSC codes, band name & Album name must be inserted at the time of mastering. IRSC codes (these are the codes that radio stations etc., submit to Socan so artists can get paid) are free.
8. Obtain a UPC code for the back of the album if you plan to submit it to Amazon.com, etc.. for sale. They wont accept it otherwise.
9. Do the artwork yourself if you can & save yourself some $$$.
10. Apply for a grant from Factor if you plan on being a pro or semi pro artist. Get receipts for all your costs to submit for the grant. There are grant writng companies around that will put the application together for you for around $300.00. Well worth it because the least little item that is missing or incomplete on your FACTOR application gets it kicked from the process. Applying for the grant is imporatant because if you don’t apply for a FACTOR grant during the album creation it will automatically disqualify you from applying for any other FACTOR grant later on (ie. touring grant, video grant, CD promotion grant, etc..)

You can save a ton of money on low budget recording and it can sound great as a finshed product if you’re working with good people. The best advice we ever got was from a friend of the band who used to be an engineer in his younger days… he worked with big names too… Rush, Big Sugar, etc… he heard our stuff and said.. “Great songs… but spend the money on getting it professsionally mixed”… best advice ever…

Finally… if you’re just producing music for local shows, family or friends, etc… go cheap and hope for the best.
If you’re making music that you want to share with the world (ie. a serious project) plan on spending some money. If your is goal is sell your music make it worth buying.
We estimate that we’re going to spend around $7,000.00 in total to have the first 1000 cd’s produced (recording, mixing, mastering, production, finshed product). That’s $7.00 a CD. Every 1000 Cd’s after that will cost around $2.00 ea. from which we will profit (hopefully).

Well that’s been our experience, trials & tribulations in producing our first CD. Hope it provides some insight. Good Luck

—————————-

Amen! And praise the Lord!!! (The Lord, of course, being Les Paul …. inventor of the whole concept of multitracking)

Very well written post. A Trebas diploma and a cracked copy of Cubase does not an engineer or producer make. Like any other skilled trade, it takes time to develop your chops. Techology is making things easier and less expensive, but by the same token, you wouldn’t enter a 1992 Honda Civic into the Indy 500 and expect to win.

Everything, including basement or semi-pro studios have their place. But call a spade a spade. You’re not going to get SSL/Neve quality with Behringer mic preamps going into a 003. Not to mention the men and women working behind the pro gear in pro studios have had the opportunity not only to work with countless styles of music, but have probably put a microphone in front of every instrument imaginable. They have most certainly earned the right to make the salaries they make.

Again, nothing wrong with these studios, but as the original poster stated, be aware of what you’re going to get at the end of your session.

—————————

I third that motion.

I work in a real studio downtown and it is increasingly find it difficult to explain to people the difference between professional with a capital ‘P’ recording and home studio recording when they can find it for $20 per hour. The truth is with recording the more people are going to cheap engineers and having a sub-par experience the easier it will be for those who are full time producer / engineers. I think there is a shift going on back toward the real deal.

Music is more competitive than ever, you NEED your best foot forward. I guess it also comes down to self worth too. If you want to test the waters with recording, go to a cheap studio or home recorder. Yes you will learn alot about the process and as you already said nothing wrong with starting out and asking a little cash for it.

But know that all you are going to get is the inexperienced working on your project.

It’s not actually the tools or the paint brush in the end of the day, it’s the painter. And real painters – ie. top producers, engineers and musicians use the best paint brushes they can and know it’s worth paying for.

——————–

I third that motion.

I work in a real studio downtown and it is increasingly find it difficult to explain to people the difference between professional with a capital ‘P’ recording and home studio recording when they can find it for $20 per hour. The truth is with recording the more people are going to cheap engineers and having a sub-par experience the easier it will be for those who are full time producer / engineers. I think there is a shift going on back toward the real deal.

Music is more competitive than ever, you NEED your best foot forward. I guess it also comes down to self worth too. If you want to test the waters with recording, go to a cheap studio or home recorder. Yes you will learn alot about the process and as you already said nothing wrong with starting out and asking a little cash for it.

But know that all you are going to get is the inexperienced working on your project.

It’s not actually the tools or the paint brush in the end of the day, it’s the painter. And real painters – ie. top producers, engineers and musicians use the best paint brushes they can and know it’s worth paying for.

I motion that motion as well. . . but the cheap studios are part of the food chain.

Let’s face it. . . anybody on the pro side of the fence started out as either an assistant/intern making very little to no money, begging bands to give us a shot (probably for free since we had access to a decent studio) OR we charged so little the band had nothing to lose if it sounded like crap. Either way, we made great sounding recordings on whatever we had to work with.

If it is in fact the painter, I don’t look as much at what kind of gear people are using as much as their results. Show me results! That’s all anybody is paying for when it’s all said and done. Bands and artists that have been around long enough understand the costs with recording. They’ll usually disregard rates that seem too good to be true. . . but they’ll also hopefully question rates that seem unreasonably high. Just because someone is offering, doesn’t mean anybody is taking. . . and the bad offers only make the good ones look that much better!

Considering how much can be done with software these days, we don’t need the huge stacks of outboard gear. . . eq’s, compressors, effects, etc. As long as it sounds decent going in, we can do a ton with it afterwards.

Plugin’s/DAW’s were the death of big studios. . . not shrinking budgets. That was a by-product.

——————–

They replaced tens of thousands of dollars worth of outboard gear, almost overnight. Those who know what they’re doing, knew they didn’t need anywhere near that amount of overhead to do a great job anymore. Those same engineers, mixers, and producers are the ones who pushed bands and artists to use smaller (cost effective) studios, which can eventually end up in the home.

Again, if its the painter, and you’re a professional painter, you need to understand and accept current trends and market value to run your painting business. For some, painting just isn’t worth doing for a living. . . and for many, painting just isn’t a realistic career choice unfortunately.

I’ve been flagged here countless times over the years, especially when I was starting out, but I’ve never flagged a studio, engineer, or producer for trying to drum up some work. I figured anything worthwhile on here was bonus since there are many ways of finding projects that are much more effective.

You aren’t going to make a living working with bands/artists posting ads on CL or Kijiji. You aren’t going to make a living recording at $20/hr. You ARE going to have a shot at making a living if you put out great work often and stand behind your work. Word of mouth is king (or queen. . . or boss cat) and when the bands and artists are excited with the results, everyone spreads the word.

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”
– Jim Rohn

———————–

Show me the results. End of story.

There absolutely are guys out there who are able to produce high quality tracks for reasonable prices. There also are guys out there who will shit all over your tracks for reasonable prices.

BANDS: Do not believe the bull shit that studios are spreading that you have to sell your blood in order to be “serious” and get “somewhere”. If you have an amazing sounding record that you spent thousands of dollars on, but you are still playing at the horseshoe for 30 of your friends, no label or booking agent will touch you.

———————–

If you think that paying $10 per hour will get you what you need regarding your recording project, then…Great! Almost everyone knows that you don’t need a good recording to get on internet radio. That’s PARTLY why there’s shit everywhere. I’ve been producing for over 30 years. I’m sticking to my guns and my price. Product in hand is still a want for many people.

——————-

AMEN to x 4

You ARE going to have a shot at making a living if you put out great work often and stand behind your work
“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

Im a producer/engineer and have come up with a couple of handy equations to help you figure out what you will get at the end of the recording process:

inexperienced band + beginner songs + great gear + inexperienced producer = bad record

average band + average songs + average gear + average producer = average record

average band +good songs + good gear + good producer = good record

GREAT BAND + GREAT SONGS + GREAT GEAR + GREAT PRODUCER = GREAT RECORD

————-

Some interesting arguements have been made, but here’s something to think about in true musicians’ terms:

A great player will always be a great player regardless of how much of a piece of shit the instrument they pick up is. Do you need a $2000 PRS, a $3200 Warwick, or a $5000 set of Yamaha Studio Customs to be a great player? Absolutely not. But when a great player gets behind one of these instruments, the tone that comes out of them makes people’s jaws drop.

That is what pro studios bring to the equation. An experienced producer or engineer can make decent recordings on consumer gear. Those recordings become world class when the gear does as well.

old record player with stylus

To Make Songs Available for Free or Not?

August 6, 2012

As an artist/band just starting out getting you music out there is big priority. There lies the problem of garnering a fan base. How can they hear my music?

Giving your music away for free seems drastic. I have been to live shows where bands have given away free CD’s. There was a tip bucket located at the center stage, for the appreciative fans. Although I doubt that all people who received a CD actually contributed to it. Regardless, giving away free CD’s or downloads to gaina following is ludicrous.

Providing a free complimentary download of a song, is a better alternative than giving away an entire  EP. A better option would be to provide a 30 second teaser from each  song. This is the format that iTunes uses. I think a record label would have an issue with giving away free songs.

Set-up a Myspace or Soundcloud page. You can upload all your music for listening. The songs stream at lower bit rates, so they aren’t suitable for download. You can provide purchase options for high quality 320kbs songs.

Music takes years of practise and dedication. Don’t give it away for free.

 

Busking in the TTC and around Toronto – June 3, 2012

June 3, 2012

Busking in the Toronto Subway

There have been a number of individuals upset and frustrated with Toronto’s rules and regulations for buskers performing within the TTC and around Toronto. Should people have to buy a license just to make music in and around the city? It seems that it is one way that the city of  Toronto manages the amount of buskers, so that there isn’t one on every street corner. Should this be regulated? Shouldn’t people have the right to play for tips in public? Maybe so, but if you are on city property you have to be licensed and that involves a fee and an audition in order to get accepted.

Off the TTC website busking application:

1.The deadline is the first 175 Single or Duo Performance to apply or all applicants who have applied by June 22, 2012 (whichever come first).

2. The top 74 scoring acts will then be licenced to play in the TTC subway system from October 8, 2012 to October 7, 2015.

3. Must pay a licence fee of $197.75 (includes HST) per musician for the licence period of October 8, 2012 to October 7, 2015. (This fee partially covers TTC audition expenses);

It may seem to be a bit strict but this system helps to manage what could be an overcrowd issue with buskers. The fee seems a bit much but I guess a good busker can make that much in a day.

The following is the opinion of an individual who posted their concerns on CL:

 

I don’t know what our problem is in this city, but we don’t have a very good setup for subway players.It’s enough to make musicians move towns to somewhere where they don’t have stupid laws governing who plays in the subway. ie montreal. in montreal, sign your name on a piece of paper and what time you are playing that day and show up.. no licenses required. and it works brilliantly… and is essentially the nature of busking anyways, a spontaneous endeavour… as soon as you add too much planning to busking it becomes crap… how do we change this? playing here is an excellent idea in the winter…. do we need to visit city hall?

The Search for a Frontman…where to begin – Apr 21, 2012

April 22, 2012
Search for the right front man for your rock band

Search for the right front man for your rock band

Like all bands, in most cases, there are searches that go on to find the right musician for a particular spot in a band. People move to other projects, sometimes ego’s clash and someone leaves, or people move away or just get day jobs. Whatever the case is, members shuffle around and there can be a difficult search ahead to find the right person.

No other position in a band can be more difficult to fill than the one that requires the front man. Usually a lead singer or guitarist/singer. The position usually calls for more than just musicianship. You have to be able to entertain. If you’re just singing than there are a lot of things you can do onstage to engage the audience. Wether you’re twirling the microphone in the air like a lasso, or doing back flips off the bass drum, antics keep people excited.

There’s nothing worse than going to a show and the band goes through their set with no emotion only to say thanks and exit the stage when they’re done. The following post below expresses some of the sentiments of how difficult it can be to find the perfect band mate:

——————————-

Hey

A strange thing keeps happening here on Craigslist
We advertise for a new frontman/woman and we get some real interesting responses
We e-mail back and forth for a while and we put all our cards on the table
As to what we bring, what we’re looking for etc
And you do the same, and everything starts to look like it’ll be a real positive meeting, even if it doesn’t totally work out. Now aside from the mercenaries who’ll approach you on a pay to play contingent, we get to the point where we’re moving forward to the actual meet and greet and an audition phase, then you vanish, suddenly realize that we’re doing covers and you thought originals, although there was never ANY indication that. Or you suddenly have a better deal (How would you know?) or take a look over it all and wait to the last minute (Meaning room booked and everyone on their way) to say “Not for me, sorry” Really? Now? Seriously?

A rare few of you reach the ‘pass’ conclusion very early and that’s cool. Actually we’re grateful and want to wish you the best of luck, we know we’re not for everyone, as everyone is not for us, and that’s fair, but as for you time wasters. . .. . .. . .

So where to go from here? Well we’re still looking and seem to have burnt out the losers (See Above) so I’m thinking/hoping that the real musicians are in the next batch and it’s time for another kick at the can.

Now for those of you we’re still in contact with we’re looking forward to the next step, and are about as ready as we’ll get. So in the next little while we can draw this little drama to a close and move ahead.

But in the meantime we’re not waiting . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .

Us ; Act together and ready for that last piece. Intangibles in place and background work complete. At this stage we’re doing COVERS exclusively

You: Can sing, want to front a band that’s ready to go and are not into wasting time.

Simple no? Well we’ll see

hml at rogers dot com

Too good to be true: A recording deal. – Mar 11, 2012

March 11, 2012
Scam Alert

Too good to be true: recording deals

I am just re-posting this from CL so that other musicians are aware of this scam. There are also follow-ups to the original post. It seems that these crooks think that they can pull their scams, off the sweat from other people. I hope know one has the misfortune to fall for this.

Just an FYI tale:
Many moons ago I was in an original band. I knew a great number of other original bands on a personal level, through gigging and what not.
An advert by an A&R guy stated he was freelance, looking to get behind new acts and with his contacts, (said he was ex Sony) get your band a deal.
So I submitted our demo and lo and behold we got picked. I met the guy, he told me we were great etc. So the next step was to re-record our demo ‘professionally’. Basically the guy wanted a few thousand to get us in a ‘proper’ studio and he would produce.
I was very apprehensive not to mention broke, told the guy we’d think about it. He was pushing along the lines of a limited time offer, which made more alarm bells ring.
Then chatting to fellow musicians in other bands it turned out that they too had the right stuff. So luckily none of us went ahead with it.
Some years later I got chatting to a duo…..they’d fallen for it. The guy took their money, they started recording. The guy requested more money for more studio time, the guys couldn’t afford it and asked for the recordings as is….he disappeared. The studio was not affiliated with him he had just hired it out…..they lost thousands and were left with an unfinished demo, of a re-recording of a demo they already had.
So now you know. It’s like those phone scams ‘You won a holiday, send us two grand’ calls. Anything asking for money is a scam. A gig that wants you to pay, guarantee sales or a producer with juno nods looking for talent to book his studio. In both cases, yes you get to play, but are you reimbursed for all the rehearsal fees, cost of instruments, time? You’re providing a service as are the bar staff. And lets not forget you can play for free on the street or your backyard. Yes you end up with a recording, but without the lies and hyped up pricing you can shop around and record or even these days in your bedroom or garage.
Just sayin’.

Re: Too good to be true:

I agree with the two posts I’ve read 100%. My guitar and amp got into a lock down when the sheriff slapped the lock on a club where my band just finished a gig. It was a nightmare getting my gear back. I had to get a sworn affidavit from a lawyer and even then it took 2 weeks before I could retrieve my stuff. I was young and stupid then.

The standards have dropped even lower now. The funniest offers are the ones that want you to sell tickets to showcase for an A&R rep. What a joke!

Re: Too good to be true:

Just to add the my earlier post (see below), another poster asked that add a little more information. If you find yourself in a position having to obtain a lawyer to get listed as a creditor to a bar that has gone bankrupt, it maybe helpful to have your name marked on the equipment. Clear photos of each piece of equipment and receipts from the original purchase could help.

It’s not my intention to scare off people from paying in cubs and bars. The chance of the bailiff showing up and locking the doors is very slim. But if it happens it’s very nasty. In my real life I’ve been on the creditor side of many bankruptcies. Reclaiming your assets can be expensive and time consuming. The bankrupt trustee has total control of everything on and in the premises. You’re now a creditor so get in line.

Just think first. If this ‘promoter’ tells you that he can get your band into a big time club, but they can’t pay you, who else are they not paying?

What’s the best venue to play/see live music in Toronto? Feb. 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

Devin Theriault band play the Horsehoe Tavern

One of the great things about Toronto is it’s music scene. Some of the greatest musicians in the world make there way to the stages through out the GTA. This provides ample opportunity for music enthusiasts to get out and see their favourite band at a variety of venues.

I have been too many venues to see live music in Toronto over the years and find that I have grown fond of some venues over others. I like the smaller venues, where you can up close and personal. One of my favs is the “Horseshoe Tavern”.  It is a small stage which is elevated maybe two feet from the floor. The area in front of the stage which could be considered the dance area is also quite small and measures approx 300 square feet.

I’ve seen many bands there and have always enjoyed myself. Maybe it’s the venue, perhaps it is the music, but It always seems like a good time is had by all. Another favourite includes Lee’s Palace with its tiered viewing area provides great vision from as far back, all the way to the front of the stage. Acoustics aren’t bad either.

Some other favs are the Mod Club, Opera House and  the Phoenix. A few of my dislikes would be the Sound Academy, with its long narrow viewing area and low stage make viewing from the back difficult. I don’t find the acoustics there are very good either. They seem to pack it full with little breathing room.

The Silver Dollar is quaint but the layout isn’t great, with only a small are in front where you get decent viewing of the stage.

What are some of your favourite venues in Toronto to see bands and to play live?

To Cover or not to Cover – That is the Question – Feb. 03, 2012

February 3, 2012

cover band musicians

I often wonder about what makes people want to be in a “cover” band as opposed to an “originals” band, or even those who go whole hog into a “tribute” band.

Is there artistic satisfaction in playing note-perfect covers of other peoples songs, or is it just gratification of technique to be so close to the original? If your covers are so far stylistically from the original (i.e. Speed Metal covers of Hank Williams tunes) could it even still be considered a “cover” ?

For full disclosure, I play in an originals band, and am of the opinion that I would rather gnaw my hands off than play in a cover band, but that is just me, no judgement. Lots of people play happily in cover bands, but why? Is it because it’s more marketable? Is it because it’s “easier” creatively (i.e. your songs are already “written” and possibly popular)? Is it the simple enjoyment of pleasing a bar crowd?

For the record, I choose an originals band, because I find it more creatively fulfilling to make all the pieces fit together from scratch..

This is not meant to start a hate war or anything, just want to gain some perspective by starting a dialogue.


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