Behind the scenes of my Photo-shoot!

Hello readers!

The branding process continues to be exciting – last weekend, I had a photo-shoot to get new photos for the upcoming website! Okay, sure, I’ve arranged and assisted on plenty of photo-shoots for my clients, but have never been on the other side of the camera. So needless to say, I was both excited and nervous.

When I am asked to assist on a photo-shoot for my clients, it usually involves:
– Making sure everyone knows when / where the shoot will be
– Picking out outfits
– Assisting in carrying said outfits or props
– During the shoot, I just make sure my client is comfortable; I suggest angles if I see the opportunity, and basically keep up positivity for my client and make sure they are comfortable!

Never being the one being photographed, I never truly related to my clients or was able to say that I’ve experienced a photo-shoot. But now, I’m proud to say I can give some input and advice if you are going on your first (or 100th) photo-shoot!

Enjoy my story being on the other side for once, as well of some things I learned from the experience!

Surround yourself with positivity!
This was the most crucial thing for me the day of the shoot. I asked my friend, who graciously did my makeup, to stay while the shoot began for not only photo taking, but moral support. She was a close friend, so she was able to make me laugh and ultimately relax!
She gave thumbs up, said encouraging words, saying things I needed to here! Sure, they were subtle and seem silly, but it made a huge difference to have a friend or assistant to lighten the mood and in the end, relax and give you confidence. By the end of the shoot, I was making silly faces at the camera and twirling around!

Play upbeat and FUN music!
Getting ready, I kept it to a nice, chill, relaxed playlist. But, once the shoot began, I switched it up! I wanted powerful and strong pictures, not relaxed and sleepy!
Once we changed the playlist to upbeat, fun and powerful music (think: Beyonce!), the mood instantly changed! I shook out the silly nerves and we all started to have more fun! So put together a playlist of music to play during the shoot that reflects the vibe you want from you pictures. It’ll help more than you know!

Wear your favorites!
For this small shoot, I decided to go with just two outfits. One dress was a color I was using on my website. It was new and I never tried it on before, so when I put it on, I wasn’t absolutely comfortable in it. I was unsure how I looked, which made me stiff and more difficult to relax in front of the camera.

My second outfit wasn’t matching my brand colors exactly, but it was one of my favorite dresses in my wardrobe. It felt great on and also looked great on! Even the photographer reacted with ‘oh yes, I love this dress!’ once I put it on. I shook my hips and twirled around – I was instantly having more fun! Whodathunk! So, lesson learned: pick outfits that you know and love – it will reflect in the photo results!

Quick Pro Tip!
Here’s a ‘pro tip’ I learned on the shoot from my photographer. She said that between each shot, to change my pose slightly so I would end up with a variety of shots to choose from. So for example, in one ‘scene’, between each click, I’d change my head slightly: chin up, chin down, look up, etc. Now I have more to choose from and a better chance at finding the best shot!

Overall, once I truly realized we were really there just to have fun (along with getting that great photo), I could breathe and enjoy myself. So just relax, have fun! It is just photos!

I’ll be looking through photos this week and can’t wait to share them! So excited! 😀

Don’t let it slide…

Hey there!

I hate to say it again, but yes, we had another cold weekend (and a cold week ahead of us!) here in NYC. This has to be the longest winter I’ve experienced! Maybe if I close my eyes and click my heels 3 times I’ll appear on a beach?

Yeah, enough day dreaming. Let’s snap back to reality.

If I think too much about my big dreams or long term goals, I lose sight of my to-do list. Does that ever happen to you? You get so focused on writing and recording for a new album that you miss a deadline for the release? Or you are having a really great conversation with a top guy in the industry giving you priceless connections, and when you hang up, you already forgot that persons name he gave you?

It’s easier than you think to forget important tasks when you are trying to balance your business, your creative process and your life!

We’re not robots who have programmed reminders or alerts that will go off – we’re humans. We need to be realistic and set ourselves up for success in reaching our goals.

Whether you are tackling your to-do list on your own or with an assistant, here are some tips I myself use to keep me on track and crossing off things on my to-do list!

1. Don’t count on remembering.

If you are in a conversation and you are conjuring a great plan, say, book a tour next year, don’t count on remembering the conversation after you hang up. Write down dates, names, notes, ask for spellings while in the conversation so you will not forget! This saves a ton of time having to a) try to remember or b) having to call back and get the info again.

2. Use your resources.

There are a zillion apps that can keep you focused. I keep it simple by using Google Task Bar with my gmail account. Take a look at a snapshot:

I’ve blurred this mail account, but you can see the Google Tasks box in the bottom right-hand corner. To turn it on in your Gmail account, just click on the tasks link on the left-hand side of the screen. You can even make it pop-out and open in its new window.

With it, you can quickly create a list to check off for yourself. The great thing about it is that it stays open when you are in your email, so it’s in your face, every day, all day. If you have a to-do list, you need to put it where you will look, right?!

I use the task list to keep track of any emails I need to send, deadlines, quick tasks and more. It’s also my go to when I do need to be reminded what needs to be done – such a great way to keep focused.

3. Write it down!

Currently, I’m assisting a client release a new album along with the sheet music this summer and there are plenty of deadlines with both products. The checklist includes filling out a new release form by a certain date, submitting the cover art for both the album and the songbook, publish the music, get licensing for certain pieces, proof read the book, and the list goes on and on!

For a large project like this, instead of using a task list, I wrote down the deadlines clearly on an old-fashioned paper calendar so that I can see clearly the month(s) ahead and remind my client of the important deadlines. Visually seeing the timeline helps me immensely and I highly recommend it for anyone.

4. Delegate – The most important part!

There will always be more to do than you can handle. Delegate the simple & low profit work to your assistant, such as, sending a quick link to a person interested in booking you, searching for a flight to your next gig, sending rehearsal times to your band, etc. Allocating what you need to do will diminish the to-do list for yourself and get things done quicker.

I hope these short tips will help you keep on track of your deadlines so you can make this year amazing!

#TBT

Throwback Thursday to my violin playing days!

4 Ways to Spruce up your Facebook Page!

One part I love about my job as an assistant is helping musicians carry out their branding on their social media pages. Often, musicians have the branding in place on their website, but their Facebook page doesn’t match it. I can’t count how many times I go to a musician’s page and see so many small things they could do to make it look fantastic! I’ve become accustomed to updating musician’s pages for them so that their branding matches across the board, one of the many tasks I do for my clients.

Considering a Facebook page is most likely the place people will go to check out your music after your website, shouldn’t you pay more attention to make sure it reflects your brand? Short answer – yes.

Here are 4 ways you can spruce up your Facebook Fan pages.

1. Put a cover on it

Some pages I’ve come across feature a picture of themselves as their cover photo, along with a picture of themselves for their profile picture. Going that route doesn’t allow for anything to stand out and it can feel cluttered – like a bad photo collage. Do you have an amazing logo? Make it your profile picture and then feature a photo of you as the cover. Have a new album or tour? Make the cover about that, featuring dates and links, and choose a great shot of you for your profile picture. Keep in mind the size of the cover it 851×315 pixels and if you are creating a cover with information on it, keep in mind where the profile picture box will be on the left. I use this handy template whenever I am building a new cover.

Beyonce’s Facebook admin does it just right here, using her new logo and contrasting it with a photo.

2. The info under the profile picture.

For this info box, keep it simple and be sure to include a link! I’ve seen pages not utilize this space correctly by either a) not including a link or b) include too many likes! Choose one thing you’d like to focus on – whether it’s your new album, new website or your twitter account – and write a quick sentence or tagline with the one link. For example:

More than just a girl with a guitar – (link to website)

Get Kelly’s latest album, ‘Girl with a Dream’ here (link to purchase)

3. Choose the right Facebook Tabs

You’re a musician – you tour, you have merch, you have an email list, you want people to buy your music, right?. So why not feature those revenue streams as well as fan connecting streams on your Facebook page?


^On my page, I feature what’s important to my followers.

First of all, get rid of the ‘Number of Likes’ Tab. This is super unimportant to people visiting your site – plus, they can see how many likes you have under your name if they need to know. That tab can be used towards a link to your newsletter sign up, your blog or a link to your online store. One thing you cannot remove is the Photos tab, but find the apps you can include and use the space you have wisely!

4. Personalize your Facebook Tabs with Images and Text

Once you have the best Facebook Tabs picked out for you, it’s time that you personalize them to match your branding. You do NOT want to keep the generic tab cover or title. If you use Mailchimp for your newsletters, as many of us do, adding their app to your page gives you their generic picture / title:

So, instead of ‘Newsletter Sign Up’ which doesn’t even fit in the title, keep it short with ‘Email List’ or ‘Mailing List’. Then, get rid of the apps tab image and replace it with a branded text image (Note: the size of these images have to be exactly 111 x 74). Take a look at John Mayer’s tabs. His team created matching images that reflected his branding and is easy to read and more importantly,UNDERSTAND. Job well done by John Mayer’s Facebook admin:

So, how do you change the Facebook Tab Image?

Here’s a quick tutorial:

Take these four ways to freshen up your page and you will change the entire feel of your page for visitors in just a few hours. After seeing what it could look like after a few minutes spent with it, why would you go back?

7 Ways a VA Can Create Your Best YouTube Trailer

(Shared on Music Think Tank)

Ah, Youtube. Where more than 1 billion unique users visit each month and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth.

Chances are you have an account but since they upgraded all channels to Youtube One back in June of 2013, I bet you $10 you haven’t gotten around to uploading a killer promo trailer to drive in subscriptions to your channel. Did I just get a free lunch?

So, why is it important to have a YouTube trailer?

A YouTube trailer is your moment to create a new fan. And with booking agents and festivals looking at social media numbers, you want to be able to grow your following whenever you can. Plus, you could probably use this trailer to promote yourself – a video EPK if you will – which can make you stand out from the other applicants.

I am all about musician’s finding support in their careers, sharing the importance of having an assistant as a musician and how they can create time in the day for you.

Having a virtual assistant could make creating a Youtube trailer practicallypainless, quick and effective. While you are writing a new song or practicing a new riff, your VA could be taking care of this with minimal direction.

Today, I’m going to show you the best way to work with a VA to get you a great video promotional trailer in now time. With free and low cost tools like iMovie and Final Cut Pro, even if your assistant isn’t quite a pro, they are very user friendly.

Here are some tips to make the process go smoothly for you and your VA:

1. Make sure they are comfortable with a video editing program.

They don’t need to know how to create flashy effects, but make sure they can fade in / fade out, add text, and trim clips. These are the very basics and what you’ll need to make a great video. How do you make sure? ASK! If they say yes, ask to see examples. If they say no, ask them if they are willing to learn. You can ‘test them out’ by asking to clip a video you have to make it shorter, or ask to combine two videos fading in and out of each other.

2. Select what videos you want to feature.

One client I work with has over 180 videos on his channel. Another has 8. With either situation, you can create a fantastic video. What to focus on is quality, energy and what best reflects you as an artist! With my client with nearly 200 videos uploaded, we focused on the top 10 viewed videos of all time. I’m going to assume you don’t have nearly that many and we’ll go into what you need to include from the videos you do have.

3. Find the following in your videos.

  • Live footage – Quality is key here. Find your greatest, powerful and most beautiful moments on stage.
  • The crowd and/or fans – Get footage of fans excited to see you. Of crowds jumping up and down. You want their energy and enthusiasm to convert visitors to also become a fan.
  • Your top viewed music video – Show a successful video that made it mainstream or a well produced music video. This shows professionalism to your fans.
  • Your personality – Do you have any clips of you on the road, joking around with the band? How about backstage jokes or interview bloopers? Show your fans a glimpse into your personality so they can relate to you. Double points for showing something entirely unique, like a trick or special talent other than you music.

4. Give exact clip markers of what you want to use to your assistant.

Give exact time markers, for example:

“In my music video, “Seven Stars”, pull 1:29 to 1:56.”

This will guarantee you will see exactly what you want.

5. Order up the clips

If you know the order you’d like to go in with the clips you’ve chosen, give your assistant those directions. If not, let them be creative and put something together first. Sometimes it is easier to know what you want going that route and after you’ve seen something, you can arrange it to exactly what you’d like.

6. Add any text

Once you get the flow of the video down, now is the time to add any intro or outro text, press quotes within the video and/or links to your sites. You don’t want a ton of this, but if you’ve got an awesome quote from New York Times saying you’re the best show in town, you’ll want to tell that!

7. Keep an eye on the clock.

My final piece of advice is on the length of the Youtube Trailer. There’s no exact length limit, but the shorter the better. I would recommend nothing over 2 to 2.5 minutes and with that you should be able to fit only the best clips within that time frame.

Put your assistant to work and create a fabulous and unique video that you can share to get noticed!

What can go wrong, will.

Hey you, I hope you realize January is already over.

Seriously, how did the month go by already? SO much has happened that it’s just exciting to see what the rest of the year will bring! Currently, I’m undergoing a branding and picking out my brand colors, finding a graphic designer and nailing down the plan for a new website. Check out my Pinterest of brandspiration and below are some potential logos!

But before I entered the fun world of branding, I had quite a crisis to handle, specifically when the big snow storm stopped Manhattan a couple weeks ago. Oh yea, if you are near NYC, you remember. I was lucky enough to have a group scheduled to fly the very day it hit...and it went something like this…

(Preface: A group of 4 musicians are trying to fly to Missouri the day before the performance. The members names are Joe (lead violin), Sarah (violin 2), Chris (viola) and Katy (cello) *names changed)

The morning the snow hit, I started my work day per usual, when I get a call from violinist, Sarah. She tells me that she tried to check into her flight and it was cancelled. I checked online and confirmed with her. I told her to keep heading to the airport since there’s a chance they could still fly. She then added that Katy is already in security, they took her checked bag, so there still could be a chance. (I already knew, there was no way since flights don’t go ‘uncancelled’ after they are. Fun fact.)

I call the presenter who’s arranging their pick up at the airport when they arrive in Missouri to give him a heads up that the flight is cancelled, a lot of them are, and I’ll try my best to get them on the next flight. He needs to know what is going on because a) he needs to know if the show will go on and b)he’s agreed to pay for flights! So any changes has to be through him. I then contact the travel agent and speak to her about changing their flight and she can only find a flight for the NEXT DAY, leaving at 12noon, allowing the band just enough time to arrive, get to the venue, rehearse and perform. I say, “We have to take it!”. It’s settled, everyone go home, and we’ll try again tomorrow.

Except, you might remember, they took Katy’s bag. Turns out – they FLEW it to Missouri without her! How? Why? It didn’t matter. I told Katy to give me the tracking and I’d make sure it got there so they could pick it up when they arrived.

That evening, I’m having dinner in my apartment, and I suddenly have the urge to check their flight status…do you want to guess what I saw? YES. IT WAS CANCELLED. 15 hours before it’s supposed to leave it’s already cancelled?Sweet Jesus, I had to start all over again.

I emailed both the presenter and agent that evening to give them a heads up so that they would read it first thing in the AM and hopefully make it a priority to find a new option. I called the airline myself and there were no choices for a flight with 5 empty seats to Missouri. It was disappointing. A late convo with Joe, he said he hasn’t missed a performance in decades. I thought to myself, we’ve gotta keep pushing!

The next morning, I get a head start and start calling the agent the minute their office opens. I literally beg her to find us SOMETHING. I don’t know what sort of magic she had in her fingers, but she found the only flight that could work, leaving that afternoon, getting the band just in time to the performance but with no time for rehearsal…I tell her to hold them immediately until I got an okay from the band.

Joe, being down and out thinking he will miss a performance, tells me YES, LET’S GO. Joe calls the shots so I quickly text message the rest of the band that it’s ON and be at the airport in 2 hours. Woo!

I call the presenter and tell him the good news – yes, they were cutting it short, but they were going to make it! He told me he moved the concert back half an hour to help us out which was immensely appreciated. There was a ray of hope for this concert!

Now, I had to figure out Katy’s bag situation. Luckily, her bag DID make it, but it was in a different terminal than they were going to arrive in. Knowing they had no time to spare, I cleverly asked the driver to pick it up for them. They were happy to do it and I set it up right away.

Did the group make it? YES! Funny thing though, they were 15 minutes late because the van that picked them up from the airport in Missouri broke down. When I heard that, I only thought, OF COURSE. But they made it to the performance, played to a full crowd, and celebrated with a late night pizza. I poured myself a glass of wine to virtually ‘cheers’ them from NYC to a safe trip and successful performance!

MY TAKEAWAY

There are few things to learn from this story.

1. Stay persistent – Yes, even I was close to giving up when I have the internet telling me 1000s of flights are cancelled, but knowing how much it meant for the group & the presenter to get there kept me going. I asked about leaving from different airports, having only 1 person go solo, etc. Take the time to stop and think of options and you just might find one…or just enough time will pass where you will get the answer you were looking for! Keep your promises and don’t give up.

2. Have support. – Do you think this could have happened without a person acting as liaison between the agent, airline, band and presenter? Let me sum it up for you kindly…NO WAY. Without having a designated person on your team, crisis like this won’t be handled correctly and they would have missed their performance. If you don’t have a lovely assistant holding the fort, ask a trusty friend to help you figure out a sticky situation.

3. Know who to call. –  knowing who to contact helped make things run much smoother during a crisis. While traveling, make sure you have contacts at the venue handy!

4. What can go wrong, will. – Well, not all of the time! But, I’ve learned to prepare for the worst. Booking the flight the day before the performance was smart to allow exactly what happen not totally crush the plans. So, when booking your flight, give yourself time and cushion for delays if you can.

So, I hope you enjoyed my story of excitement and suspense from the week – I’m looking forward to warmer months so I don’t have to worry about snow storming through travel plans for my clients! 🙂

Shipping Wars

Being a musician, having to organize mailings and send out materials happens more often than not. Whether it is albums, merchandise, promotional materials, hard drives, sheet music…it all comes with a price.

Working with various levels of clients for years, I learned my way around shipping and also became a familiar face in the post office, at FedEx, at UPS..(and even at the other FedEx a few blocks away) visiting all of them at least once a week!

Being in New York, at first, I would always choose whatever is open and what is closest – but after a few years of doing this, I have become very selective in how and from where I send anything for my clients because if you get lazy, you can end up paying way more than you have to to get those posters to a venue in time.

It’s important to understand your choices in mailing and who will give you the best value. Mailing costs add up and are usually forgotten in budgeting, so you should strategize on how you are mailing your materials!

United States Postal Service – www.usps.com

PROS
Media Mail – offers the cheapest way to send media, including CDs, Books, Movies, etc. If you have the time to ship it and are in no rush, go to USPS first and ask to ship ‘Media Mail’. It usually will get anywhere in the United States in a week, if not sooner.

Cheap tracking – always recommended to get tracking with USPS. It doesn’t come standard like FedEx or UPS. Don’t waste your time, don’t take the risk, spend the extra few bucks (literally a few bucks – tracking starts at $1.95) and have peace of mind you can find a missing box or letter.

Lowest International shipping – if you are shipping internationally, USPS has consistently given me the best rates.

CONS
Limited hours – The post office is only open a limited amount of hours during the day – MondayFriday, 7AM-5PM, closed on holidays. It doesn’t leave you with a great window of time and certainly doesn’t help you in emergencies.

Crowds – Because of its limited hours, you can find yourself standing in LONG lines, wasting precious time in your day.

UPS – www.ups.com

PROS
Gives you options – One perk at my local UPS is that they offer USPS services as well as the standard ground and air shipping of UPS.

Online Shipping Services – It’s incredibly easy to use!
While on tour, I had to ship about 8 boxes when our tour bus left us. The hotel recommended UPS – which I hadn’t used before. In a matter of minutes I had created an online account, printed and labeled the boxes and were able to give instructions for them to pick up the next day at the hotel lobby. Extra plus, even though I didn’t know the size or weight of these boxes, an estimate is good enough for them!

CONS
Comes with a cost – They tend to be the most expensive out of other shipping companies in my experience.

No Media Mail – They do offer USPS services, but that is strictly for Priority and Express shipping. When I brought up Media mail, they gave me a blank face.

FedEx – www.fedex.com

PROS
Always open – A lot of their stores are open 24/7 and I have several locations walking distance from me. They recently saved my ass when I needed to ship a package ASAP!

Reliable – I’ve never had an issue with a package getting somewhere. In the 3 years of working with them, it’s always gone well.

Ground Shipping is fast – Usually Ground shipping means a week or more, at UPS and USPS, however, FedEx seems to work some magic and ground shipping gets anywhere in 3 days.

CONS
Not for rush mailings – If you are in a rush, it will cost you going with FedEx. One overnight envelope can be $30-$40!
My recommendation?

My experience has put USPS and FedEx in the lead as a close tie. USPS is great for when you are in no rush with what you are shipping. Also, if you have an emergency and can make it before they close, it’s great for overnight and 2-3 day shipping as well! But, if you are in a bind and need something to mail quickly, FedEx Ground is just as good, fairly priced and most locations are open 24/7.

Each mailing is going to be different, depending on where it’s going and when it needs to get there, but knowing a few secrets can help you save hundreds in the long run. And always, always, always, get tracking!

To happy mailing! 🙂

Open the window to your fans.

I hope you are surviving the cold this new year has brought – at least if you are in the east coast. I’ve turned myself into a bear hibernating whenever I can. As a Texas girl, me and winter don’t play well!

I did muster enough courage and bundled up last night to go see the Broadway musical, “Once”. Wow, what a great show! The talent that is in the cast – simply amazing. All of them were singing, acting AND playing the wonderful music. Musicals aren’t something I always get to go to, so it was such a treat to take the time and see the spectacular show.
This got me thinking, how many fans want to see their favorite artists but can’t because they aren’t performing where they are? As a musician, you don’t really have complete control as to where you play, so there are always fans that miss out. What a treat it would be for my client who lives in New York be able to play for his fans in Chicago, in Canada, really anyone in the entire world! But, booking doesn’t always happen, funds aren’t always there and your time isn’t always available.

In today’s world, there are ways to make performances happen anywhere, simply by live streaming.

We all know there is nothing like a live concert, but branching out and doing live streaming makes your followers more aware of your show, your vibe and will get them more excited and more involved in what you are doing, making them an even bigger fan!

Also, if you throw in a Q&A, you nurture their need for immediate interaction, something very important in today’s social media society. Gone are the days of the ‘we’ll get back to you in 24-48 hours’.

Online tools and platforms, most of them being free, are out there making it very easy for your fans to tune in, and more importantly, very easy for you to set up and manage!

Imagine, opening up your laptop in your living room, grabbing your instrument and logging on to play 30 minutes of new tunes and to answer questions from your fans while earning a few extra bucks if you wanted…and you didn’t have to lug your equipment on a bus or plane or have to spend dollars on a hotel.

Interested? Here are my recommendations to get you started in the world of online live streaming your intimate shows. I only went for free companies and I’ve tested out each of these platforms so you are getting REAL reviews here! There’s some good info here you won’t find anywhere else, so check it out! (Too small? Click here)

My choice?

In testing and comparing, my choice for a live stream concert and Q&A platform would be Concert Window. I love the ease of use, it was built to stream concerts specifically and it’s all online so no downloading of programs on your computer. However, I know some musicians would find it hard to give up the fact that it doesn’t record and archive the video. I would have to say that I think it gives the event more of an exclusivity – giving more incentive for fans to watch. They won’t be able to see this at any other time (which is ah ha!, similar to a live concert experience!).

It’s such an intimate and exclusive performance that there’s not reason why your fans wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see you play from anywhere in the world.

You can do anything you want with your set, so get creative!

– Host a live 30 minute Q&A (yes, you can charge for this).

– Preview some songs for a new album release.

– Play and then also teach fans to play one of your songs.

– Why not turn to your followers and ask them what they’d like to see for more ideas.

I highly recommend whichever platform you do use that you test it out in advance. If you are planning a huge event, like a launch, be sure to start testing out these platforms at least two weeks in advance. You want to be able to be comfortable with the technology so you can sit back and enjoy playing for your fans!

Cheers to opening your world to your fans!