Archive for December, 2006

Tips for running an independent record store

How to successfully run an independent record store

Independent record shops are alive and well in downtown Urbana and Champaign, Ill. according to this walking tour by Leah D. Nelson of Buzz Weekly.

“People still like buying stuff like this at stores rather than online,” Jeff Brandt, owner of Exile on Main Street in Champaign told Nelson for the story.


Maybe so.


The Coalition of Independent Music Stores, including retailers like Plan 9 Music, Richmond, VA (early store pictured above), is dedicated to the survival of independent retailers in the face of challenges from the Internet and big discount chains.


Here, from music business coach Joe Taylor Jr., are some tips for successfully running an independent record store in your hometown:

  • Position (yourself) as an expert in one or more specific niches. When folks think you’re THE destination for emo/jazz/metal/reggae/yourgenrehere, you can go deep and superserve a grateful customer.
  • Focus on special events. Make the store a destination. Create lots of in-store concerts, signings, listening parties, and anything else that can get folks out at lunch time, after work, or around shows (if the store’s near a venue).
  • Make it easy to do business. Offer online presales with in-store pickup. Blog about upcoming releases and special events.
  • Create a space that’s fun to shop in. Ditch the fluorescent lights and use warm gallery bulbs. Make it easy to browse and listen to songs. CLEAN THE STORE, so folks won’t mind spending time there.

Here’s more on the indie retail scene from


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Seven recording tips for your next independent music project

Recording tips for your next CD project

So, you’re ready to record your band’s next independent release and are looking for some pointers.


Here, from Disc Makers’ Jason Ojalvo, are seven things to keep in mind while planning your next (or first) foray into the world of sound recording.


  1. Set realistic goals: Ojalvo suggests deciding first on the size and scope of your project. Are you after a CD to sell at gigs, to distribute to friends or for nationwide or even worldwide distribution?
  2. Set a realistic budget: The kind of recording you hope to produce and what you want to use it for will to some degree determine the budget as well. (For example, an album and packaging fit for national airplay and distribution will cost more then one you plan to sell to fans at local performances)
  3. Pick the right studio: Ask other bands who they would recommend. Choose studios and producers who have created recordings you would like to emulate. Interview studio engineers and producers and ask for samples of their work to be sure your goals and their approach are a good fit.
  4. Come prepared: Know your material, record rehearsals to identify problem spots, make sure you’re well rested and prepared to do your best.
  5. Make the right choices: Picking the right microphones, choosing whether to plug your electronic instruments direct or mic the amplifiers, creating the right mood for the best performance, planning out track arrangement and effects—all will have a huge impact on your final recording.
  6. Know what you want: Be sure the recording you leave with sounds as great on a simple car stereo as on those high tech studio speakers and evaluate the sound against recordings you admire
  7. Master mastering: Decide what format is right for your project (DAT, one-off CD, PMCD, reel-to-reel tape, or 1630). Hire a professional mastering engineer to give your final recording that professional sound.


To subscribe to Disc Makers’ Fast Forward E-newsletter click here or place your e-mail address in the window under “get our e-newsletter” at the above link for this article and hit “go”.

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Inexpensively create T-shirts for your band (Part 11)

Create your own promotional T-shirts and other merchandise




For the last step of my customized promotional T-shirt project, I uploaded the images I had created to, a site which helps clients create the type of online boutique you have already seen and T-shirts and other merchandise quickly and easily.



Here’s more about how I completed my online boutique project for the n10ah Online Music Network. and other similar sites provide a simple service free with paid upgrades available. also offers an affiliate program, to which this website now belongs, offering another option to help monetize that band or music project website.



For more on the process of creating an online boutique to promote your band or music project check out the entire series “Fill your boutique in about a week” at BootStrapMe.




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Inexpensively create T-shirts for your band (Part 10)

Free info on how to design a T-shirt for your band at no cost



Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best when dealing with any creative problem as I found when putting together promotional T-shirts for our online store.


For example, the scratched up top of an old coffee table and the embroidered surface of a bench for an old vanity provided great textures for the straightforward designs of these T-shirt and tote bag images.


They give, in my opinion, a great do-it-yourself look that is exactly in step with the ethic of our online music network. My eight-year-old came to the rescue again with a couple of holiday props.


That’s his hand in one of the photos we didn’t use on the T-shirts. Read more about the project here at BootStrapMe.



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Inexpensively create T-shirts for your band (Part 9)

Create your own T-shirt designs



And just as you and your band do whe n trying to figure out the best presentation for a song, remember you’ll have to improvise.


I had a situation very much like this as I tried to put together the final design for the T-shirts and tote created for the n10ah Online Music Network’s brand new Internet store.


Read about how my simple plan to create customized merchandise using printed out art and cut out lettering from periodicals went awry and how I improvised to finish the project in this post at BootStrapMe.



I hope it will provide inspiration for your own promotional projects for your band or latest musical project.  



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Inexpensively create T-shirts for your band (Part 8)

Design a T-shirt using your own artwork!



So, how do you go about creating customized merchandise for an online boutique to promote your band or musical project?


Well, the way I got started was by using two preexisting pieces of visual art.

  1. A cropped photo of a television antenna we had used as the photo for the first post on this site (seen here)
  2. A drawing I had made on an old Microsoft art program that had been originally planned as part of a design for a vintage t-shirt


What you use when you begin your project is really up to you and depends on your talent, creativity and ingenuity.


You might, for example, take some great photos of the band, or photos of some interesting scene or event.


You might just sit down with a graphic design program on your PC and whip up something completely incredible.


Here are the details of what I did and how. Your own project may, and probably will, differ substantially.



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Inexpensively create T-shirts for your band (Part 7)

Your own T-shirts totes and other promotional merchandise



Another reason you shouldn’t noodle with perfection is that that down and dirty do-it-yourself look may be just what you’re looking for.


That’s the decision I came to when creating the n10ah Online Music Network’s new online boutique. In this case less is definitely more.


In many cases, you’ll be in the same situation starting out with an unknown band and trying to make a name for yourself.


Why not use that quality to your advantage. If fans like the rough hewn alternative sound your band produces, why not give them promotional materials that create the same impact.


Today’s music listeners are sophisticated and aren’t always won over with a glitzy presentation. It’s the substance that counts.

Here are some other thoughts…


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