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Do you want help?  You are an unsigned band and want to be in recording studios - writing hit tunes and making hit records.  Do you want to write a number one?
Are you a musician in the Music Industry and you want to be a Movie star or Soap star...an actor? Are you performing and you want a recording contract, a record deal?





"My 2008 update on the Best 

way to 



get a band up and running."

  This is my current best advice for getting a career moving in the music industry, songwriting, record deals.

How to go from broke to making sizable dosh in the shortest time - publishing deals and making hit music.

  Dec only mixes with the best ... Bobbie Davro - not only a huge comedy star in the UK but starring in the biggest soap "Coronation Street" .... long time pals!  Here appearing together at York Racecourse.


Question from a Member: Should I start by hunting down and auditioning musicians as band members?

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  

What you read in the music mags. and what the real story about record deals tends to be, at most times, completely different.

I am the luckiest guy alive because I listened to every bit of advice I was given about songwriting, performing, publishing and actioned it without question.  So I saved myself months and years of 'doing it the wrong way' ... or trying to 'reinvent the wheel' as I have heard it described.

"The most important thing is to learn how to learn"

You see, I was a great learner, I devoured books on any subject, especially making music.  I was a double scholar at school and still advise guys to get the best education they can ... all the top guys in the music industry are super educated.  Mike Jagger is more comfortable with a calculator in his hand than a guitar!  Surprise you?

songwriting|record deals start with a mouthorgan

Even at age 14, I was making money from music - here playing a mouthorgan for a Boston Radio  programme.

So why do I advise against using musicians in your band?

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  

I started this article by saying 'getting your career moving fast' ... yes?  So, it goes without saying that joining up with pals at school or University means that you will be joining up with guys at 'start level' ... they may be doing it for a laugh, to pass time and I would almost guarantee will not have the 'climbing over dead bodies' attitude to make serious dosh in this cruel and hard, knowledge and skills based business.  Record Deals and Publishing Deals do not come easy.  

Nope - that method is far too slow.

So back to musicians ..... First, with enormous respect, you are insane to employ musicians at your early stage of the game. The calibre of musicians available will be sub standard, poor readers, quite old fashioned, look like sh*t and will play their version of your toons ... not the hit versions you envisage. I will not even mention the age of the instruments they will play [and try to convince you that that is what Kanye West uses].

They will dress as musos always do [dreadful!] Behave as musos do [dreadful] and drink like musos do [again dreadful]. Turn up late, smoke and leave every dressing room like a tip. They will also have the physique of your grandfather. Altogether not what you see on MTV. [The top musicians do not behave like this ... mostly herbal tea drinkers, work out daily, immaculate and behave like vicars .... but cost a fortune to employ]

songwriting|record deals

Your average 'muso' band ... how do you like it?

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  My advice is to have you toons made into top Hit potential tracks by the best 'today' programmers/producers you get to know or can afford, guys who adore 'making hit music' ..... any producer worth his salt, if he is excited by the prospects of your songs will practically do this for free ... or for a small percentage of the action. [My best advice would be to check your toons with my Demo Consultation Service ... I can also put you in touch with arrangers ...http://www.makehits.co.uk/demo.htm ... that will save you a fortune in misspent money]

songwriting|record deals|songwriting|publishing  

The Demo Consultation pack tells you exactly how good your material is - on CD plus a 17 page written critique and a copyright certificate - the BEST!  the most comprehensive commercial evaluation you can get.  Saves you fortunes in  wasted demo making studio time.

What mixes should you have?

Make sure he does 1) full finished mix 2) mix with no lead vocal [for TV and Radio work] 3) mix with lead vocal and drums missing [for use on TV and radio where you can use live drums] 4) lastly a mix with all those who you envisage will be on stage eventually with you missing. This will leave all the samples, special effects not available on stage, special echoes, reverbs, choirs etc. This is called in our business an 'added instruments track'. 90% of the major bands use this system.


songwriting|record deals|songwriting|publishing|making music
One guy can produce what a bunch of musos will take a week to do - with accuracy, flair and commercial money making feel.  Because he just loves doing it.

Make sure he does not provide you with a 'click track' version [too complicated to explain] ... all the music cues should be on the track for the live band. My band use precisely this system [I invented it 30 years ago] ... we do not have live bass on stage and the whole band latches on to the bass on track - just as in a recording studio.

You then perform this material, in public, on your own, with a couple of speakers, a radio mic. and a mini disc player. This will prove that the music works or not with an audience - [having musicians with you does not add one jot!]

Can you feel a record deal coming on already?  Oh, make sure you are song writing at this stage and include at least 30% of your own material.


songwriting|record deals|songwriting|publishing|making music   On your own for the first time - scary?

"Nerves about the gig means you care about the gig"

 - Dara O'Brian

When you realize what stagecraft is and how to handle an audience [without talking and waffling] then add a keyboard player, playing sparsely from the original guide sheets used on the original session [those sheets are gold dust ... never use the originals, keep them in a safe ... use copies].

So where do you learn this stagecraft?

Stage school can be useful, but rarely have they turned out solid long career mega talent [Phil Collins - an exception?]

If you feel you could use help in perfecting your stagecraft then have a look at 'The Art of Live Performing' .. the ten month audio performing programme at www.liveperforming.com ]

performing|publishing|making music  Ten months packed full of the greatest methods, tricks and techniques to make you a true world class performing talent.

The Keyboard Player:

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  

The keyboard player has to be gorgeous, perform like a dream, preferably dance, black is best and if she/he back sings that is better..... but must sing the back singer notes on the track.  Hey, listen, it may not be a keyboard player?

You are earning money now ... not much, but more than you were last month?


Better than the balding pot bellied guitar player with the pint of beer at his feet?

Or how about this?  Keyboards, Back Singing, then out front in dance routines and working the lighting console [that looks like an extra keyboard?]


Whoever joins your band has got to provide 'entertainment value'

Next, start to improve the equipment ... lights are so important ... [check out the new LED type low voltage lights] .... then add another person on stage [you notice I did not say 'musician' - keep well away from them]. It does not matter whether they can play or not ... they simply have to learn to mime ... and mime accurately [as accurately as you see on MTV]. It is looks and performance you want, if they can play, that is a bonus.  You are dealing with reproducing the hit music you had done in the studio and this is the way to do it.

This game is 80% visual - 20% music

[This is assuming that YOU are a stunning performer, killing the audiences, sold-out signs and the managements are increasing your fees - other gigs should be flooding in, at least three extra offers per gig]

If this is not happening then you ain't doing it right!  Simple as that.


Easily achievable with the smallest outlay for stage lighting.

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  

Now ensure that the act is looking 'costumed' ... as in trendy and colour coordinated .... no primary colours, no browns .... white / silver / pale colours are best .... no jeans [unless Dior or Versace] ... no Tee shirts... no dirty trainers. Check out Black Eyed Peas, Scissor Sisters, Killers. Be careful of 'Stage Costume Designers' ... they are mostly steeped in the Sixties. Best scout around the ultra trendy shops and then add gloss to the outfits, bling, ribbons and sown on tat work great. Primark is a goldmine for stage clothes .... by the way, stage clothes are only worn on stage. They go on immediately before a show and are taken off the second you come off stage and carefully hung up and covered ..... a golden rule. NEVER sit in a stage costume.

Remember you have to coordinate - never leave it up to individual band members ... trust me they rarely have a clue ... go for a themed look .... check out the pop mags.

Make sure the audience ask: 

"Wow, where did they get those outfits?"

Think you couldn't achieve this?  think again .... easy peasy!

This works for Rock, Pop, Hip Hop ... even a classical music presentation.

Now add a great conga/roto-tom/octo pad player [again not a muso] ... enthusiastic, great performer, hopefully a back singer, loves the audience, the audience loves him/her .....

You could even add a drummer if you are brave enough ... but drummers, notoriously do not understand 'performing'.  They want to sit in the dark behind their drums and practice what they learned from the latest jazz drumming DVD they bought ... if you don't believe me, try putting a light on them when they play .... have you ever seen a drummer freak out?  Not a pretty sight!

  This is my band's current drummer ... and no .... you can't have him.  He gets to travel the world with us [pic. taken in New York]

Now add changes of costume ... if the band are 100% behind what you are doing great ... if they are not sack them fast .... individually or together. It is hard to find folk who understand all this logic. You only employ performers who ADD to the show .... in fact they should be ESSENTIAL to the show.

By this time, you will be selling your latest white label single CD's of your song writing - your potential hit music ..... albums, posters, photos, tour brochures .... Polaroid photos in folders ... all pulling in serious dosh. You will be collecting database and email addresses ... taking digital photos and promising the audience that they will be uploaded tomorrow .... 

"give us your email and you can see yourself on our site!"

Now the weekly newsletter with the gig list and the MySpace/UTube with new toons and gig lists ..... DO NOT put naff amateur footage on UTube ... it will come back to haunt you in years to come!

music making  Now it's starting to work ..... the band are doing a 'costume change' while she does an Accapella. Then she will change ...what will she come back in?







And all this success is because you did not employ musos. 

If you are a muso, don't take this to heart .... just realize that thinking like a typical 'muso' is the quickest way to ensure that you will have no success, no money, no career and end up at 55 moaning that it is all 'fixed'.

Think like a 'successful' muso who loves his job, loves to perform and entertain, loves to 'look good' and knows the word 'certainly' when asked to do anything 'theatrical' like miming or posing plus having 27 1000 Watt lights blazing on him?.

  Costume changes work?

By the way, a record deal HAS to come .... it would be impossible not to. Purely depends on writing and writing ... checking with the demo consultation service until you have the 'dead cert' Number 1. You see, you have the ideal vehicle to check out the songs ... your own killer act. The audience tell you immediately whether you 'have one, or not'.

The Record Companies will actually find YOU for a Record Deal ... think about it ... selling 2,000 albums a month, packing every venue with sold-out signs? 35,000 database? Come on? Half the audience with your Tee Shirts on?

record deal is easy looking like this

Looking like this? C'mon?  

By the way, musos do not write arrangements ... arrangers do ... a bunch of musos with simply play an approximation of your toon in their own 1976 style! And moan all the time that they hate the chart. They will argue that they wrote/co-wrote the songs and cause you huge grief when success does come ... if it does - dragging them with you kicking and screaming.


record deal is easy looking like this

The ultimate dream ..... remember it is 80% visual - 20% music .... despite what Charlie down the pub says "who knows a thing or two" and had a very minor hit in 1962.

Lastly you MUST have you own publishing company - see "How To Start Your Own Music Company For Less Than £100" www.makehits.co.uk/publishing.htm  that way you get to control your own music and get to keep 100% - not the 50% which a Publishing Company will offer you ... keeping 50% just for collecting YOUR money.

publishing deal 

The best Publishing Manual to start your own business ...   all for just £87.50

This all works for world class Rock 'N Roll, Hip Hop, R 'n B, Soul, Country, Pop ..... this is dosh making show biz .... not for 'locked in the pub circuit' no-hopers.


The idea for this article was from songwriting and music making members of The Serious Writers Guild.  It gives an idea of the benefits of belonging to the Guild.  You can join simply by purchasing the ten month programme 'How to Make A $Million From Your Music' at www.makehits.co.uk/swgappsecure.htm


This Article was written by Dec Cluskey

Email a question? contact@makehits.com

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