Friday, 12 August 2011

Unity: A benefit for the children of the Japanese tsunami disaster

Unity benefit compilation

I submitted a song for a benefit music compilation to Engineer Records a few months ago for the Japanese tsunami disaster charity, a few months went past without hearing anything back and then I was quite shocked yesterday to find that I'd made the shortlist for the 25 track compilation.

I'm very honoured to be part of such a high profile compilation which includes mainstream acts: The Gaslight Anthem, Fightstar, Funeral For A Friend, Luke Pickett and my close friends in Call Off The Search and solo artist Mikee J Reds with 100% of the proceeds going to help the children affected by the tsunami in Japan. 

A few weeks after the earthquake and terrible flooding the news coverage of the tsunami event slowly came to a stop but almost 6 months on the country is still in a state of repair.
The scale of the disaster left 10,872 people dead, with 16,244 still missing. More than 387,000 people were forced from their homes, including around 74,000 children. They are now living in evacuation centres, and could well be living in them for months.
Engineer Records works closely with many recording artists around the world including a number of partners and labels in Japan. It has made a commitment to helping those children affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

We really need your help to publicise this compilation so that we can raise funds for this important and worthwhile cause. Any publicity that you can give to promote Unity will help us to make the lives of the children in Japan just that little bit better.

You can buy the compilation for only $8 (£5) and preview the tracks here:

Also check out Engineer Records on facebook for making it all happen, I have nothing but praise for them.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

10 Tips for new bands or artists

For my very first blog I'd like to talk about the first 12 months of a band / musicians life. This period can make or break your band, set your identity for the future and is really all about making an impression which will set you up for the long run. Think of it as an investment or taking an unpaid apprenticeship. (Yes its unlikely that you will make a profit during your first year)

1. Register with PRS. PRS offers musicians in the U.K real money for performing original material, the payments per gig may be quite small, think £4-£6 but multiply this over a year and the money soon adds up, you could use this money to make a debut recording. Join PRS

2. Don't burn your bridges - be polite to promoters and don't slag them off if you are not selected to play or are dropped from a gig, it will come back to haunt you! If you played a venue which had horrible turnout or the crowd wasn't paying attention, you are either playing the wrong venue or you need to work on your engagement with the crowd.

3. Show an interest in other artists material by networking with similar bands. A little niceness goes a long way.

4. Don't try to play gigs which are more than 50 miles away for the initial period unless you are supporting a breakthrough artist or you are been covered for your expenses. Spending £100 on fuel and over night stay to play in london to a room of 10-15 people isn't a good way of using your finances sensibly. Travel costs make up the musicians main costs so don't bankrupt yourself or put yourself into debt by being over ambitious.

5. Play as many gigs within your 50 miles radius as possible as there are no shortcuts to experience of playing in front of people. Don't turn down gigs because you cannot get travel costs, you are a new band finding paid gigs is very hard, but by all means ask.

6. Keep in touch with your fans by using social media, the main one here is a Facebook artist page. Let the fans know that you are serious by keeping up a presence, if people come to your page and they see a few out of date posts, they will leave.

7. Don't complain about how tough it is to get heard when you've not done everything you can for free promotion such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, emailed local press, played at open mic clubs, flyered the streets, etc By thinking 'I want this so bad' will not get you by.

8. It's inevitable that you will have quiet times when you are not gigging, use these periods to work on new material and record demos, youtube videos.

9. Create an identity. Decide whether you want to be an original band or covers band and stick to it. For you will be known for this. e.g a prominently covers band who throws in the odd original song will not be praised for their songwriting, and you're unlikely to have people sing along to your songs. Whilst playing a full set of covers can get you pub gigs and quite often paid this will more than often sidetrack you from what you set out to be. Don't fall into the 'covers trap' as I call it!

10. If you put the effort in by being proactive in your first year, you will get to a stage where you can start looking for paid gigs and be happy with a decent following. Remember gigging in the real music scene is not like X factor, it can take years to get noticed. Very few artists make it 'overnight' Most of all enjoy the early stages, it is somewhat of an eye opener.

I am Ben Parcell an Independent musician/producer/singer songwriter from Yorkshire. Please follow me on Facebook