5 Women Who Changed the Face of Rock and Roll

Here’s a guest post from Zac Green, editor-in-chief over at popular music blog ZingInstruments.com.

The stereotypical rock ‘n’ roller is often a long haired man, clad in leathers. However, as we’ll see in this article, women rockers have contributed just as much to the history of rock and roll music.

In this post we’ll showcase five women who have changed the face of rock and roll and shaped the landscape for those that would follow them. We will also provide a brief bio of each of these interesting and extremely talented female rockers, as well as some words detailing their rise to super stardom.

Pat Benatar

No list of women rockers would be complete without the name Pat Benatar. A former bank teller turned American rock star, Benatar is one of the first females to delve into the hard rock scene. Benatar’s success can be traced back to 1979, when she released her first album, In the Heat of the Night. This record was followed by her extremely successful Crimes of Passion LP and chart-topping mega-hit “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” which was regularly featured on MTV and won her the admiration of millions of fans on her rapid ascent to fame.

Joan Jett

An accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer, Joan Jett and her band the Balackhearts burst onto the music scene in 1981 with their hit album and single “I Love Rock and Roll.” The immense success she earned from this LP came after nearly a decade of performing with her former band the Runaways, with whom she established herself as a one-of-a-kind rocker, musician and vocalist.

Janis Joplin

With music that was borne out of the mostly-male dominated 1960s rock and folk music scene, Janis Joplin broke the mold with her raspy sound that endeared her to music fans around the world. Known mostly for her raw rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and the song “Mercedes Benz,” Joplin got her big break in 1967 when, backed by the band Big Brother and the Holding Company, she performed at the Monterey Pop Festival. Her success at this performance led to an invite to 1969’s Woodstock Festival in New York, where she wowed the mostly-hippie crowd with her original voice and lyrics. Addled by drug and alcohol problems, Joplin died tragically of a drug overdose in 1970.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks, a major vocal star and songwriter extraordinaire, first found success as the lead singer for the band Fleetwood Mac, who she joined forces with in 1975. While she was still (an ostracized) member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks launched what would later become a hugely successful solo career in 1981, performing songs like the enormously popular “Landslide.” Many of today’s most successful female rock and roll artists cite Stevie Nicks as one of their primary inspirations for pursuing a music career.

Deborah Harry

The lead singer for the popular band Blondie, Deborah Harry boasted one of the most recognizable sounds of any female rock and roll artist since Janis Joplin—a sound artfully demonstrated in the band’s mega-hit “One Way or Another.” Although Blondie was officially considered a New Wave band of the 1980s, Harry, with her wide and beautiful musical range, steered the band into many different musical genres, including rock and roll and an extremely early version of what would later become modern hip-hop.

 

10 Self Care Tips From Olivia Wik That Musicians Can Easily Adapt To Their Regime

Meet Olivia Wik, a pop singer-songwriter with over 250 original songs in her multi-genre catalogue. Olivia has written with more than 100 songwriters from North America, Barbados, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Japan and England and has a publishing deal with Cymba Music Publishing.

Songwriters are used to becoming vulnerable by exposing their feelings and personal experiences in their songs. You could say it’s “a part of the job” to open up about past heartbreak and emotions.

Olivia caught our attention when she bravely started opening up on a new topic, and not just in her songs. Olivia began utilizing the power of words and social media to make artists and creatives suffering with mental illness feel a little bit better.

Every Sunday she would share one tip that has gotten her through the week, labeling it “Self Care Sunday.”

To follow Olivia Wik on Instagram, click —> HERE

Amongst the constant deadlines and expectations that come with working in the music industry, it is easy to to put self care at the bottom of your list. Olivia advocates that that not prioritizing your mental health can create some major roadblocks in your career down the road.

Here are 10 self care tips from Olivia Wik that musicians can easily adapt to their regime.

1.) Have a hobby: having a hobby allows you to emotionally invest in something else other than music. If your musical career isn’t going as you hoped, having a hobby lets you create some normalcy around another part of your life that you really enjoy.

2.) Don’t do anything you don’t want to: musicians may often feel like they have to compromise themselves in order to sound more “main stream” or commit to gigs that aren’t in line with their personal beliefs in order to gain exposure. Stand for what you believe in and commit to yourself and your convictions. You will be so happy you stood strong in your beliefs.

3.) Take lessons if you are nervous: if you are afraid to perform, get a performance coach. If you are wanting to improve your guitar skills before playing in front of anyone, take lessons from a guitar teacher. Don’t be afraid to want to improve and accept/seek help from those who can help you improve.

4.) Stage fright: Try some grounding and breathing techniques. There are many different types of breathing techniques that help quell anxiety. A quick google search will give you a multitude of breathing and grounding techniques to choose from. Experiment and see which ones work best for you!

5.) Have a journal so you can get your emotions out (not just through song): songwriters often pour their emotions out in songs, but sometimes, it’s good to journal about what you’re feeling instead of focusing on making something rhyme. Just let your pen hit the paper and write whatever you are feeling – free of the confines of melody and rhyme schemes.

6.) Take care of your body: eat right and make sure you get enough sleep. When you are on the road, it gets so easy to become complacent with diet, exercise, and stay up extremely late. Many musicians have become very familiar with the “road diet”. When you eat as healthy as you can and maintain some level of exercise, your body will thank you with increased energy levels and allow you to perform on stage to the best of your abilities. This is a HUGE self-care tip. Take care of your body in whatever way you can.

7.) If you want, have a day job: people in the music industry can often judge someone if they aren’t doing music full time. If you want a job, have a job. It adds structure and balance to your life and gives you a sense of fulfilment coming from somewhere else other than music.

8.) Learn to say no: many musicians have a difficult time turning down gigs, saying no to writes, and over-committing themselves. Even though it is great to hustle in order to further your career, make sure you don’t burn yourself out. You are allowed to say no in order to take care of your physical and mental self.

9.) Don’t compare yourself to others: everyone has their own journey. You will get to where you need to go in due time.

10.) Don’t feel bad about having your music evolve: You music will change and grow with you. Never apologize for who you are, express yourself through your sound, and accept it fully. Don’t let anyone dictate what you should sound like. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the way your music sounds. Be unapologetically you!

Tips for Playing Outside

By Laura B. Whitmore

The weather’s getting nice and if you’re like me, you have a bunch of outdoor gigs that you’re getting ready for. Playing outside presents a unique challenge. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about sharing music in the great outdoors!

Tuner Uh-Oh
If you have a LED readout on your tuner and it’s a sunny day, you probably won’t be able to see anything. The bright sun makes the readout, well, unreadable! You’ll need a tuner with a needle meter to tune in the sunshine.

Cheat Sheets
If you use any cheat sheets or lyric books, you’ll want to make sure you have a way to keep your pages in place, Even a light breeze can send those papers flying. Some kind of clip or even some tape might help. I often use an iPad as my cheat sheet and usually putting it in reverse mode (white type on a black background) makes it more easily readable outside.

You Might Sweat
If it’s hot out, your palms could become sweaty and impede your playing. You’ll want to have a small towel around, like the ones you’d use at the gym. I little bit of baby powder can help too, and a little clip on mini fan that puts you in control of the breeze.

Sun Protection
Aside from the usual things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, you’ll want lots of water. If you are playing on a black stage, it can turn into a frying pan, so make sure you have thick soled shoes!

Hear Comes the Rain
A couple of years ago I was doing an outdoor gig and a sudden squall blew in so fast that no one had time to get any gear out of the rain. The PA, amps, pedals, etc. got soaked. They dried out ok, but the gig was over. Luckily we had a small pop up that we could run under and our guitars were spared. Look around and have a plan. If the weather goes south you’ll need to make a fast decision about how to get you and your gear out of harms way.

Sound Scenarios
Outdoor sound can bounce of buildings or get swallowed up by large open spaces. Make sure you have an adequate PA to carry your sound into the crowd and close monitoring so you can hear yourself and your band mates. The PA system you usually use indoors may not cut it.

You’ve Got the Power
If you are playing in parks or public spaces, you may not have access to any power. That means you have to bring a generator. I’ve rented small generators that worked just great for this purpose. Just make sure you have extra gas. It’s a bummer when you run out and that’s the end of the fun.

Laura B. Whitmore is the founder of the Women’s International Music Network and a singer/songwriter based in the Boston metro area. She’s pictured above with her writing partner, Jenna Paone.

10 Tips For Aspiring Musicians by the Command Sisters

19 and 22 year old sister duo, known as the Command Sisters, have been performing together for over 10 years. No strangers to the music industry, the young duo have been on many adventures with their career! Touring Shanghai, being invited to meet Prince William and Princess Kate, and performing at our She Rocks Awards!

As indie artists, social media fanatics, and overall music lovers – they have learned lots in their short career span.

Here are 10 tips for aspiring musicians by the Command Sisters!

1.) Never doubt your age.

For years, people told us we were too young. Now, they are warning us about getting too old!!

When an older musician/industry individual looks down on you because of your age, laugh it off and move on.

Charlotte and I really started getting inspired and motivated when we focussed solely on ourselves and our own vision. Blinders on and move forward!

Everybody has the same opportunities. It’s up to you to go up and grab them! Regardless of age or gender!

2.) Two words: social media.

Almost every second day we have musician friends asking us about social media!

It can be hard as an artist to dedicate the time and commit to a strong social media presence.

But I promise you, it has transformed our career!

Think about this: how many famous artists do you know of that you’ve never seen physically in person? Feels like you know them, right? That’s the power of the media!

There are millions of fans, friends, and inspiration at your fingertips! You should definitely utilize social media.

3.) Treat your music as a business.

For some, this can be the most stressful part of being an musician. But trust me, it can be fun!

I would suggest going to the library and picking up multiple music business/branding books.

Read your favorite artists success stories and get inspired!

The reason why I say branding books is because that’s how we found our identity.
How will people remember you? Do you dress a certain way? Do you look like how your music sounds? Maybe you always wear this one type of hat or wear sunglasses!

Basically: How can you make people recognize you in a crowd of other musicians?
I like to push out this brand on social media 24/7! It’s a great way for people to know what kind of artist you are at first glance.

4.) Business may be cool, but the music is always #1!

At the end of the day, you are using social media as a free advertising tool for one thing: YOUR MUSIC! Prioritizing your time to fit in the important stuff is key. I would write down a list of 3 things you need to work on in order to get to that next step. (Whether thats guitar playing, vocal practice, or songwriting!)

Everyday work a little bit on these skills simultaneously with social media. Use social media to push out the talent you’ve been working so hard on! You cannot have just one or the other.

#5: DON’T TAKE IT SO SERIOUSLY!

OK – so to totally contradict everything I just said: don’t take everything so seriously.
Minus the stress, being an artist can be so exciting. You’re able to be constantly creating!

Music videos, photo shoots, branding, music, yourself!

You can create an alternate universe that people can get excited about! How amazing is that!

Have fun creating your world so your friends/fans can live in it!

If you aren’t having fun, they won’t!

#6: Always. Thank. Everyone.

If someone says good job on a new cover or messages you a compliment, try to make time to appreciate every single one of those people!

Everybody has their own life to worry about. It’s amazing when someone takes the time out of their day to support you and your passion!

It always blows my mind.

Make them feel appreciated/loved as much as you can because without them music just isn’t as fun!! Why release your music to a crowd of 1!

#7: Surround yourself with open minded people 🙂

As musicians, we’re weird. Like, really weird. Super expressive, we always say what’s on our minds, and we love geeking out over people like Hanz Zimmer or Joe Satriani.

Growing up, we surrounded ourselves with people who didn’t understand the music industry. It was really hard being understood and accepted.

Being in a community of people that inspire you is key! Try finding like-minded friends by joining a local music club or going out to open mics!

#8: Decide the “why” in your career.

Let’s face it… this has got to be the hardest one of all.

The truth is: for us (and many many musicians), we aren’t creating for “fame.”
Forming projects and writing music is something that we’re programmed to do.

Music has so much purpose, and it matters. Your music can matter too!

#9: Take constructive criticism but be VERY cautious.

There has been so much (potentially dangerous) advice that we have been given over the years.

If you know yourself, your heart, and your vision – that’s all that matters!

With that being said, advice is awesome! Take what you want and ignore the rest. Again, don’t take it so seriously!

#10: It’s up to YOU!

So many people (including ourselves years ago) think that if they will get signed that’s when their career begins.

No different than people going to university, you need experience.

Play a million shows, record albums, work on your social media, and have a BLAST!

Don’t wait for industry to find you before you start taking your career seriously. Because, they will see that you ​aren’t ​taking your career very seriously! Work hard, love what you do, and strive to make every day more productive than the last.

Connect and learn more about the Command Sisters on their social media platforms:

● Instagram: ​http://bit.ly/2ipJAi1

● Facebook: ​http://bit.ly/2lEisxs

● Website: ​www.commandsisters.com

Tips for Showcase and Contest Submissions

By Laura B. Whitmore, Founder of the Women’s International Music Network 

It’s that time of year. Spring has sprung and music is in the air. Along with the season comes your opportunity to play farmers markets, outdoor festivals, fairs and other showcase type events.

As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network, I have reviewed hundreds of submissions for our She Rocks Showcases, and am about to launch into the process again for our summer showcase at The Listening Room in Nashville on July 13. While our submissions are free of charge (go here to submit: http://www.thewimn.com/summer-namm-showcase/), many do charge a fee to submit, so make sure you make the most of it by following these tips.

A perfect fit

Do a little research on the showcase you are submitting for. What types of bands or artists have they selected in the past? Does your music fit the type of venue or program that they seem to favor? For example, The Listening Room is a singer/songwriter showcase venue. While we do deviate from that format for our She Rocks Showcase, we don’t stray too far. You won’t see a metal band on that stage. So yes, we do like to rock, but no, we probably won’t select your kickin’ electric act for this type of event.

Be concise

Have your short bio ready to go and keep it to the point. Make sure you call attention to past experiences that fit well with the goal of the event that you are submitting for. Is it a benefit for animals and you volunteer at your local shelter? That might be something you’d add this time for this particular submission so that the reviewers feel an alignment that goes beyond your music. But do keep it short and on point.

Stay on target

And speaking of short, the folks who review these types of submissions don’t have a ton of time to read through each one. So please submit exactly what is asked for. For example, our form requests a link to a video of you playing live, because we want to make sure you can deliver in that format. Your studio demo may sound great, but how is your stage presence? If you don’t have a good live video, shoot one in your house or rehearsal studio. The production quality doesn’t have to be amazing, but you do!

Production quality

So, yes, while your video doesn’t have to be a three-camera pro-edit, your audio should be great. Please don’t submit a low volume, distorted audio or video recording with lots of mistakes. I know it sounds crazy, but those types of submissions do come in. Make sure you are sharing your best possible self so we can see how you shine!

Dive right in

Because we get so many submissions, it is unlikely that we’ll have time to listen to an entire song from you. So, please, please, please, lead off with a song that dives in pretty quickly to the melody, chorus or whatever else we need to hear to get a taste of what makes you special. If I can’t hear that in 60 seconds, I might not hear it ever. So while your best song may not meet these characteristics, the best song for you to submit should. But also, don’t be afraid to include links for other songs that you think represent you well. If I like you I will do more research to see what you are all about.

Give me more

And that leads up to what happens if you get put on the short list. Typically after I sort through all the submissions, I dig deeper so that I feel confident that putting you on the program is the right move. Make sure you direct me to a website or other landing page where I can hear more music, see more videos, read more about you, etc. The harder I have to dig, the more chance there is that I am going to give up and go to the next artist on the list.

Materials are a must

If you are selected to be on the program, I’m going to ask you for a short bio and a good, high-resolution photo. Please have that ready before you submit. Usually I’ll have a short window to create an ad, news release or other promotional materials for the event, and I’ll need that from you ASAP. So don’t wait until you get selected to have those items ready to go.

Be willing to do it

This seems logical, but several times I have selected an artist who has decided they can’t make the trip or they have a conflict with the date. Please don’t submit if you won’t follow through if you get selected. We devote a considerable amount of energy to selecting just the right program. If you bow out we may have to rethink several elements to our event, not just your slot. And that also may make it harder for you to be accepted in the future for events by the same organization.

Keep in contact

This may seem obvious, but I occasionally will get a submission from someone I like but I just can’t seem to get in touch with them. Make sure your email address, links, phone and more stay consistent, and check them regularly so that you can get back to me in a timely manner.

Laura B. Whitmore is the founder of the Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN), an organization that advocates for, educates and creates opportunities for women in the music industry. Find out more and join their mailing list at www.thewimn.com

Know Your Brand, Know Yourself: The Importance of Artist Branding

By Cassandra Popescu

One of the most important things artists tend to overlook as they carve out their careers is the creation of their image. As superficial as it might seem, an artist’s image and smart, cohesive branding plays a big role in achieving success.

In a social media-dominated world, potential fans often come across your image before even hearing one of your songs, and a profile picture or Instagram post might be the thing standing in the way of getting more listeners. With resources like social media sites and apps, easy website builders, and graphic design tools, it’s not only possible—but necessary—for artists to begin building their brand. Creating your brand might seem a bit daunting at first, especially if the thought of selling yourself doesn’t seem all that punk rock, but it’s important nonetheless. Good branding reveals the artist’s style, interests, personality and aligns with their music, beliefs, and overall message. Whether its album covers, profile photos, website bios or merchandise, it’s important that artists establish a recognizable, interesting image with which to align themselves.

This is where traditional advertising comes into play — ensuring you have good promo photos, eye-catching album designs, and memorable logos. These factors will always be important, but in today’s digital media landscape, artists have the ability to go beyond the typical tropes of advertising and have some fun with branding. No matter what the product, consumption doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s part of a larger culture and people use brands to construct their identities. This couldn’t be more true with music, and social media is a great tool to construct your own identity, as well as see how consumers react to your image.

Nowadays, branding is more about connecting with your fans in a unique way than it is about slogans and logos. Social media allows artists to reach out to consumers in a more authentic, engaging manner, eliciting strong emotional reactions that will ensure fan loyalty. From a large scale to small, cohesive branding is important for all artists. Let’s take a look at three musicians that are killing it right now with their artist branding.

Lorde

In anticipation of her new album Melodrama, the moody tones of the album’s watercolour style imagery is already recognizable as distinctly Lorde. The photo appears across all main social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Each platform has its own purpose, with Facebook and Instagram offering a balanced mix of artsy glam shots and more personal posts like photos with friends or selfies. Personal posts are great for engagement. For example, a photo of a tattoo had fans commenting and sharing photos of their own tattoos on the page. Twitter hosts a number of tweets highlighting the singer’s witty, sincere personality and creates an authentic brand that allows fans to connect with her in a way they couldn’t do by simply listening to her music.

An important thing to note here is that just because an artist is branding themselves, doesn’t necessarily mean the identity constructed through that brand is fake. I have no doubts that Lorde is just as witty in person, but she has mastered the art of translating her personality onto an accessible, digital platform.

FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs’ branding is flawless, and frankly I could stare at her Instagram and website forever. Her brand is all about capturing her art, both visually and sonically. She even worked on a campaign with Nike featuring captivating choreography and stunning cinematography that made it feel more like a music video and less like a commercial.

The caption on one of these videos says the goal is “to marry an athletic and spiritual ethos.” The few personal posts she has show her working out and doing yoga, proving that she practices what she preaches. Her website greets viewers with a bombardment of images that express her unique style. The seamless integration of art into her branding is what makes her stand out from other artists, and will continue to draw in new fans.

‘i practice everyday, everyday i practice’ @paletacalmquality styled by @matthew_josephs

A post shared by FKA twigs (@fkatwigs) on

Brooklyn Doran

Not everyone has access to the same resources as bigger artists, so I wanted to include a mid-size artist who is working just as hard on her image. Toronto singer-songwriter Brooklyn Doran keeps her Instagram strong with engaging personal posts and identifiable imagery. The lead up to the release of her EP These Paper Wings included teaser clips and lyric videos that each had warm tones, beautiful outdoor shots, and the same bold outfit (bonus points: she wore the outfit the night of the release show).

These images, along with a cute bee logo, led the way to a successful release. Following the release show, Doran continued to keep up her personal posts to engage with followers using the same warm tones in her images and showing off her quirky personality including selfies on tour, record stores, and bunnies. While not everything always has to do with music, she shares a ton of content that fans could easily relate to. Her Instagram bio, “music. love. folk & hustle,” sums it up pretty perfectly.

Cassandra is a photographer/writer based in Toronto, Ontario. Her focus lies in concert photography, music journalism, and publicity. She’s currently studying Communications at York University, shooting for Canadian Beats, and programming a local indie music festival. Her passion for the arts has led her along a number of paths including songwriting, musicals, event planning, and of course photography. Follow her work at cassandrapopescu.com.

Curing Writer’s Block: 7 Day Inspiration Challenge

By Cassandra Popescu

As a musician, writer’s block is probably the worst thing that could ever happen to you. It can be frustrating and discouraging, especially if it lingers around for a while. You could be itching to get your new hit single out into the world …but when you sit down to compose, your brain won’t cooperate.

It may seem like those blank pages or noteless scores are taunting you, but pulling yourself out of writer’s block is possible with a little push. Here are some tips to get your brain back up to speed and get that new single out in time for the summer. Hopefully by the end of the week, you’ll have no problem whipping out those tunes.

Day 1: Just play something, anything!

How many times have you sat down to write a new melody, only to get too “in your head” about how it should sound? I’m here to tell you to forget that nonsense. Just play and trust yourself. You’d be surprised what the power of improvisation can do. Challenge yourself to play your instrument for 10-20 minutes nonstop and see where the music goes. Record yourself while you do this. Maybe the tune to your next song will come out in this session.

Day 2: Face the music.

What album makes you feel all your emotions at once? Put that album on and listen to it in its entirety with no distractions. While listening, try to write down any specific memories, feelings, or thoughts that come to mind. Listening to the music that inspires you most is a great way to get your creativity flowing. Maybe one of those jotted down notes will be the theme of your next song.

Day 3: Write down the lyrics to your songs in creative ways.

Take a day to revisit and celebrate your past lyrics. This can include writing your lyrics down in creative ways. Whether that’s posting them on a Pinterest-worthy vision board or writing your favorite verse around some doodles in a sketchbook, appreciating your past work is a great way to remember what you’re capable of and will motivate you to create your next masterpiece. Bonus points: add a picture of your creation to Instagram to increase your following while fans wait for new music.

Day 4: Read your favorite poem or book and compose a theme around it.

Pick up your favorite book or anthology of poems and write a theme for it, whether it’s a set of lyrics or a melody, just turn whatever you love about the book into a new song. Maybe you can write some verses about a character’s path or a tune that musically conveys the emotion of a poem. This doesn’t need to be long or take up too much time. Just a short verse or a 30 second melody will do to beat the writer’s block.

Day 5: Write something in a weird key or time signature just for the sake of it.

If you usually write folk rock tunes in 4/4, give into your inner music nerd and compose something in whatever key signature your heart desires. Give 5/4 or 7/8 a spin and see what happens. If anything, you’ll improve your skills as a musician even if you compose the weirdest sounding music ever.

Day 6: Just write something, anything!

I once had a professor who told my class that the secret to writing is “ass in chair,” meaning that you just have to sit down and start writing. Now that you’ve taken some time to play your music and indulge in all your feelings, start writing and don’t stop for one minute. If that feels too short, see if you can go for two minutes. Don’t let anything stop you, just free write for as long as you can. There could be some gold hiding in there when you don’t let your doubts get in the way.

Day 7: Reflect on the week and begin writing your next album.

By now, you should have loads of material to help pull you out of your writer’s block. Go back to the recording of your improv session and see if you want to explore anything further, or maybe you want to continue the melody you started about your favorite book. Reflect on all the mini melodies and lyrics you wrote and see what sticks, then let the ideas start flowing!

Cassandra is a photographer/writer based in Toronto, Ontario. Her focus lies in concert photography, music journalism, and publicity. She’s currently studying Communications at York University, shooting for Canadian Beats, and programming a local indie music festival. Her passion for the arts has led her along a number of paths including songwriting, musicals, event planning, and of course photography. Follow her work at cassandrapopescu.com.

Love Yourself and Your Music: 5 Self-Love Tips for Musicians

By Cassandra Popescu

Let’s face it, sometimes musicians tend to fit the brooding artist stereotype all too well. As an artist, you tend to be your harshest critic. Whether you’re working on a new song, prepping for a big show, or giving your all each night on tour, it can take a toll on both your body and your mind. It’s important to take a breath, step back, and remember to give yourself a break. Here are five tips for taking care of your most important asset: yourself!

1. Reflect on what your music means to you.

Take some time to reflect on when you first discovered music as a means of expression. When you’re feeling doubtful of that song you’ve been working on for ages, or start comparing yourself to others, remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of my music?”

Some songs are meant to make us cry or seek to change the world. Others urge us to bust out our most embarrassing dance moves. Whether you want to tell a story or write a stellar pop hit, your purpose is valid. Take a moment to remember why you love writing music, what you want to achieve and then write for yourself.

2. Remember you’re only human.

So you got nervous and forgot some of the lyrics on stage, or didn’t put your best foot forward at that big audition. I’m not going to ask you to say “so what?!” and brush it off. That’s easier said than done, but there’s no need to beat yourself up. Even our idols have made mistakes, and growing as an artist is all about failure. Don’t let your mistakes consume you. Acknowledge they happened, be kind to yourself, and learn from the experience.

3. Celebrate your accomplishments.

When we’re feeling discouraged, it’s easy to knock ourselves down. Keep track of all your accomplishments and remind yourself that there’s even more growing to do. From daily to yearly plans, check lists and calendars are great tools for keeping track of what you’ve already accomplished and what you want to achieve. When you see all of that you’ve done, it will encourage you to keep going and working hard.

4. Eat your veggies.

As great as it is, coffee is not a food group. Musicians are some of the busiest people out there, often juggling multiple projects and commitments. It’s an admirable quality, but sometimes busy schedules get in the way of taking care of your body. Whether you’re a vocalist or an instrumentalist, playing music is physically taxing on the body.

Eating healthy and staying in shape will give you the energy you need to power through late sets and side hustles. There are lots cookbooks with quick, easy to follow tips. Realfoodology blog has loads of amazing recipes. As for exercise, check out yoga and pilates videos online to help you tone and destress. My favorite is Blogilates!

5. Indulge in self-care.

No matter how cliche it sounds, allowing yourself to indulge in self-care is important. Sometimes you just need to take a break and turn off for a bit in order to perform your best. Find what works for you to clear your mind and help you relax. You can read a book, go for a walk, or take a long bubble bath. You can even let out your inner kid with adult coloring books.

Whether your self-care routine involves aromatherapy and meditation or curling up on the couch to watch Netflix and drink tea, give yourself some time to power down and destress.

Cassandra is a photographer/writer based in Toronto, Ontario. Her focus lies in concert photography, music journalism, and publicity. She’s currently studying Communications at York University, shooting for Canadian Beats, and programming a local indie music festival. Her passion for the arts has led her along a number of paths including songwriting, musicals, event planning, and of course photography. Follow her work at cassandrapopescu.com.

Putting Yourself Out There: 5 Tips for Submitting Your Music

by Amy “Drea” Dorman

It’s that time. You’re itching for the world to hear your music. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this music, spent countless hours and bucks on the tracks, and can’t wait for the wildly positive reception the world will have for your creative masterpiece. Before you send your musical baby into the blogosphere, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

1. Make sure your product is ready for the world.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be honest with ourselves before the submission process. We may be super amped about how our music sounds, but when it comes down to it, is it truly at the level of other music you hear on the blogs and radio circuits?

If not, back to the drawing board. Be sure you are putting your best foot forward.

If yes, dive in! But buckle up, because ready or not, it may not be a smooth ride.

2. Know your genre and the genre tendencies of the blogs you are submitting to.

Everyone’s busy these days, but bloggers are busier than ever. On any given day, an online magazine may receive 100+ email submissions, and many of these blogs only have one person fielding these messages.

Do your research and know whether or not you are a good fit for this blog. Also, know that this extends beyond genre. If a blog only covers brand new music, don’t send them music outside their specifications.

This will save both you and the busy bloggers precious time.

3. Use the blog’s official submission process.

Some blogs will encourage you reach out via social media, but for the most part, bloggers prefer you use the official submission process. This is usually through a submission email or online form on their website. Again, do your research.

Reaching out personally through social media when you have had no contact with them on social media before can have a negative effect on your request.

Follow the rules, and send a follow up email for the best results. Of course, if you have been mutually interacting with a blog on social media, you can use that to your advantage, but otherwise, it is typically frowned upon to stalk a blogger’s personal pages.

4. Use a blog source like Submit Hub. (No, they aren’t paying me for this. But maybe they should?)

Submit Hub allows you to reach out to hundreds of blogs (that they are connected to) at once for free, or, for a small fee, reach out with Premium status, which requires the blog to listen to at least 30 seconds of your song AND respond to you with a short message as to why they are not moving forward with your song (if they reject the submission). If they don’t follow these rules, you get that credit back and can use it to submit to another blog. Pretty handy, and a time saver.

It is geared mostly for song submissions, vs. video submissions, so if a music video review is what you’re after, you may need to reach out organically. Keep in mind, Submit Hub is not connected to every blog in the universe, and there are still some pretty great ones outside of its reach, but it’s a good place to start.

Note: Rules 1-3 still apply when using a source like Submit Hub.

5. Be honest with yourself, and stay positive.

Your music may be the most amazing thing since sliced bread (or the doggy filter on Snapchat), but musical tastes are very subjective to the listener. Take criticisms with a grain of salt, but also take what you can from them and learn for next time.

You may get 75 no’s, 23 no responses, and two yes’s, but that’s normal.

They say you only need one yes in the sea of no’s, and hey, you’re in the sea, so you’re doing more than the people still on the shore. It is a brave thing to submit yourself and your music to others for critique, which is essentially what you are doing when you are sending it to blogs.

Hopefully the above tips will help lessen the blow of inevitable rejection, and in the process you will find some music lovers who just happen to be on the same wave length as you.

In the meantime, remember, a few no’s (okay, A LOT of no’s) does not mean the sky is falling and your music career is over before it’s begun. Keep your chins up, and keep creating.

Minnesota native Drea is a recording artist and songwriter based in Los Angeles, CA. Her debut EP No Vacancy explores her deepest questions and longings, within the framework of catchy and electrifying dance pop songs. Drea’s music has been featured in blogs, podcasts, and dance videos around the world. The EP’s highly anticipated music video “Take Me Home” is set to release in 2017. To learn more about Drea and listen to No Vacancy, head to www.dreaxmusic.com.