The Indie Musician: The journey on making albums and how to do it!

Julian Bachlow – Musical Artist and Writer

Our family was always playing music at gatherings, my dad would be on the accordion, my grandma would be singing with my aunt whilst my uncles were playing guitar and piano. It was magical, I started to join in at times with my cousins and we would jam out for the whole night. I wanted to learn the piano and my parents encouraged me go to lessons. Often times when I played a piece of music the piano teacher would slap me on the hand with a ruler when I hit a wrong note, talk about discipline!? But I kept going anyway…

I never told my parents until after. I kept playing classical piano from when I was 4 until I was about 15 years old when I decided that I could start making my own music. I was given a keyboard by my Dad and started making up songs on it using floppy discs to save the things that I composed. I started playing in front of school and at parties, talent shows and I never stopped playing in my room, when I think about it it must of made my family bonkers. I was fortunate to have found something that I was good at. As well, being surrounded by it with a family that is musically skilled and a brother that played as a DJ on turn tables, music was everywhere. Time could only tell when I would start playing shows with my keyboard and getting paid for it and I started doing just that. Venues in my hometowns would book me to play, sometimes crowds of people would come see me. I was 19 at the time. Once you get the feeling of being in the limelight on stage, it’s surreal. You are sharing a part of yourself, your vulnerability, with everyone that is watching you. It’s cerebral, in a way that you are connected with the people watching for those few minutes. Sharing the same beat and rhythm at the same time with the audience- being involved interactively. If you perform on stage just a few times and actually make that step in your career, you’ll never want to stop doing it.

Music is a “Emotional Sanctuary”, that being in the zone when playing and listening to music is a place where I can let out frustration, happiness, sadness, anger out all at once. A place where endless thoughts, ideas and concepts come to surface. Especially when you involve language and vocabulary. Every sentence and word, has a music structure linguistically and that words and sentences include a rhythm, cadence, tone, time signature and beat etc.Visualizing and creating a song is like coming up with the solution to a sonic puzzle and putting together the pieces, a universal language that everyone in this world can speak. Music has saved my life during rough times and I gravitate towards it, it has really acted as my best friend in life. Listening to other artists is important to me because I can be influenced and I can learn things that my ear hasn’t heard before . The formulation of a song and the structure of the chords of a bands song, the way the beat sounds and the tone of the lead vocals, sometimes when I would listen to music, it would influence me enough that I would start sounding similar. There were times where I thought this great pretentious idea that I shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s music because I didn’t want to really sound like anyone. I always imagine living deep within a forest in a small cabin for seclusion and getting a creative build up and coming up with something… out of nothing, I like to call it. The music that influence me, from garage punk, alternative, pop, indie rock, R&B, Jazz and hip-hop all has made it’s mark in the way that I create music. The amount of influential bands in my life are endless. My brother was a little older than me so I would always be in the now of what was happening in the latest trends in the music scene. Almost every time I came home late in the evening, my brother would be blaring all kinds of Jungle, electro,hip-hop and dance beats. Adam would be crab scratching on his turntables, creating a crazy mix, loving every minute of it and I knew where home was… especially when you are 16 and you hear wu-tang blaring for the first time outside your house. My brother Adam was the one who introduced me to music, not just classical music that I learned on the piano. What he taught me really was to have an open mind, and that it was important to experiment with music and to appreciate it as an art form. Seeing my brother crab scratch and mix on those technic turn tables was wild, it literally changed me and I am sure everyone else who saw it!

I want to give the reader the opportunity to listen to my work and read what I’ve written so they themselves can establish themselves as an artist more efficiently. I believe it’s important! so please read the whole blog and you can learn some things that took me years to overcome and realize.

Keyboard Jam from when I was a kid!%!@#?

I started composing young, I remember coming up with a 4 song cd when I was in 14, burning the songs I created with just a old school microphone and my keyboard playing to disc and selling them at lunch in high school.

The release of “Paradigm in 2010”

Paradigm cover1

When my first album came out in October 2010 called “Paradigm”, it took a long time, I have to say. All the concepts and ideas that I created on my music program, Cubase, had to be listen to over and over again until I determined which 9 songs I wanted to finish and focus on. I would get creative and develop song structures and and try and get a person here and there to get involved in the project, including my uncle and cousin, a few of my friends and singers Kathryn Kearns and Janine Smienk. The song “Desolate Place” was played all over the place, it charted campus radio stations all over Canada in 2010. I’ll explain how I did it later in the blog, “The process of making an album”

Desolate Place:

This song took a long time to make, I kept listening to it at least once a day for a year or so. It was a really cool experience creating it. Looking back, something I should of done would of been to shoot behind the scene footage.

Listen to the album “Paradigm” here: http://www.soundcloud.com/julianbachlow

Good times running:

I played with the band,

Good Times Running’s music: https://www.soundcloud.com/goodtimesrunning

Beggars at the Door

Beggars at the Door’s music: https://www.soundcloud.com/beggarsatthedoor

The release of “Family Ties” in 2015

Julian Bachlow - Family Ties

I Say Hello – By Julian Bachlow

Wanderer – By Julian Bachlow

Can You Feel It – By Julian Bachlow

Family Ties – By Julian Bachlow

Don’t Go – By Julian Bachlow

Do Whatever I want – By Julian Bachlow

Temporary Love – By Julian Bachlow

Run – By Julian Bachlow

The Review of “Family Ties” by The Scene Magazine: http://thescenemagazine.ca/julian-bachlow-family-ties-album-review/

Obstacles being an independent musician:

The struggle of being an independent musician in this day of age, whether you are an amateur or professional is getting harder by the minute. There are more bands popping up then ever and the whole evolution of how music in terms of how it is going to be distributed, marketed and promoted is becoming more inventive and yet more diluted with more and more talented and eager people wanting to make it in this industry. With every obstacle being from not having enough money to promote a show, getting people in the venues and keeping them interested, on top of finances when creating, marketing, promoting, distributing and sustainably surviving solely as a musician is becoming increasingly difficult. Sometimes I feel like major labels don’t want other people

Back in 2009, I had the chance to be get involved with George L. Smyth who hosted and created segments called One minute How-To podcasts in which he had many guest speakers who would have experience in their type of work and try to tackle some meaningful questions. I was asked to cover the topic “How to overcome the obstacles to becoming an independent musician”

Have a listen:

How to overcome the obstacles to becoming an independent musicianOne minute How-To with George L.Smyth guest speaker Julian Bachlow.

My process of making an album:

CHECK IT OUT

STEP 1: Recording your album

If you intend on doing it yourself…

Recording Hardware:

I bought a Tascam US122 hardware system (around $100) that came with a driver disk for the computer in order for the hardware to be recognized from a music store for my computer, it was a PC but it also comes in MAC. The Tascam US122 came with Cubase SE demo version, luckily I was able to use that and create this album without paying for the whole program (Which is $600) I got an engineer to mix and master it afterwords. I advise buying the new Tascam US122L since it has been 10 years, it might also come with a demo version. There are a lot of different hardware out there for a beginner at recording as an indie artist but I always found Tascam was reliable. After using the demo version of Cubase SE, I decided to ultimately buy Cubase 5 because it proved to me how good it can be, I just wish I took more courses.

You can use this type of hardware and anything similar with any music software program, this is just what I used.

Instruments: Guitar, Keyboard, Microphone, Bass, Drum Mic(s), Drums, anything using a patch chord really that can be recorded as sound.

Know how: Learn how to use the the programs like Cubase or ProTools by going to sites like YouTube and Vimeo. There is a lot of free lessons out there to begin recording your tracks. I may even start making some tutorials as well.

STEP 2: Getting your album mixed and mastered

If you decide to create your recordings yourself thats one thing, where you can have someone mix and master your recordings for you in the post-production. OR you start from the ground up with a sound engineer for recording, mixing and mastering. This doesn’t necessarily mean having to go to a studio, though now a days you can have sound engineers rent a car, put there gear into the car and drive an hour to meet you at your parents house. That’s that happened to me anyway. Or sound engineers have their setup already in their apartment. There are many ways and different people to connect to, the internet has forums and different sites popping up everyday, it’s all about getting something out there. If I didn’t create my album in my room, I would have songs to even show anyone, so who knows which path it go. It’s always up to you! Remember that. Don’t let me determine what you want to do with YOUR music. I don’t intend to say anything like that. Technology is changing everyday and is so so fast, I am eager to see how we are going to be recording in the future… first analog, then digital, then what? Quantum Sound Engineering Mechanics or something?!?

Do your DD and research on sound engineers to mix and master your album.

STEP 3: Creating your album art

If you have a friend that is in Graphic Design, see if they can create Album Art for a modest price. Or if you are low on funds, do it yourself! Arts and Crafts is fun, and it’s positive.

STEP 4: Legalities, Royalties, Organizations

Canadian Intellectual Property Office:

You can register your song, album, lyrics and more by using the Canadian Intellectual Property Office though remember that it does cost money.

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home

I have heard of many people doing this, I have also done this many times and that is to just E-mail the song to yourself just incase. I take caution with my music and I believe everyone should.

SOCAN

In order to gain access to royalties for when your music gets played on the radio you need to register with: SOCAN or the equivalent in your Country.

There are lots of different organizations and groups that you can be a part of out there that is a good way for you to market and promote your music. You just have to look around and do your research.

STEP 5: The Physical and Digital Album

There are websites such as tunecore.com where you can register your album and have your music in 35+ stores online. They take a percentage obviously, but trying to get your music sold on online stores without have data about your sales is difficult.

Look up CD Duplication on Google and you will find many businesses in your area or online that will give you a template for your album, what kind of casing you want for your physical CD and the amount of albums.

STEP 6: Promoting and marketing: Having social media presence

Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud by downloading there apps or going online is a must:

Here is mine:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/julianbachlow – Julian Bachlow on Soundcloud

Twitter: http://twitter.com/julianbachlow – Julian Bachlow on Twitter

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Julianbachlow – Julian Bachlow on Instagram

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulianBachlow/– Julian Bachlow on Facebook

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/2LineProductions– Julian Bachlow on YouTube

There are always sites and companies that can help you with your promoting such as: www.indiecampaign.com who would do it for a reasonable price if you don’t have the time keeping everything updated.

STEP 7: Getting your press-kit prepared

Cover Letter: Creating the cover letter

Use a cover letter to introduce yourself, think of it as a first impression. Describe who you are, why you are contacting them (By them I mean the Radio Programmer or someone of interest)and explain what the contents inside the package are, why your music relates to this radio station and who your influences are. Don’t forget to state 3 -4 songs that they should listen to when listening to your album.

For example, start a cover letter as follows:

Dear (Radio Programmer)

My name is Julian Bachlow and I am a singer songwriter from Toronto, I have recently released my new album “Family Ties” and believe that you may find that my songs, “Family Ties”, “Don’t Go”, “Run” and “Temporary Love” sounding mesh very well into your radio programming. Attached in my album, “Family Ties”, my biography, a band shot as well as a couple reviews from some online and trending music websites and blogs. I appreciate your time and please keep in contact, any other information that you need please do not hesitate to contact me.

-Julian Bachlow
Biography: Creating the biography

When writing a Biography state who you are, what you do, what you play, what you have achieved, what is happening in the future as well as your influences and what you have done outside of music that would resonate with people. Also, do not lie about anything in your biography because if you were go into a studio doing free lance work and you didn’t know how to play the piano for instance, they would fire you on the spot. Make sure that it is at least 100-200 words and remember that the least words you use the more interesting it has to become.

Julian Bachlow is a musical artist- writer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist who can play the piano, keyboard, synths, bass, electronic drums, guitar, loop pedal and sing. Julian Bachlow’s 1st album was put out in 2010 called “Paradigm” which reached underground success across the world. “Family Ties” was the 2nd album released in late 2015. Julian Bachlow is currently working on new material and music videos right now and to released in late 2016. Julian Bachlow’s influences are The Cure, Joy Division, Tragically Hip and Prince. Julian also plays at fundraisers and is involved with community events throughout the years.

Band Pic:

Every Band is different, often it’s good to get an idea of what you want by looking at a photographers portfolio.

2

STEP 8: Getting them ready and sent out across the world. I.E Blogs, Radio Stations, Newspapers etc.

Before going on and sending your stuff to literally every station that you want to, you have to remember this: that your genre of music, or whatever you seem to call it, meshes in with the type of radio station that you are sending it to. You have to keep in mind about all of your resources (Album,Pics,Bio) and if you have sending a press-kit to a radio station that plays country music and you play indie pop, you have literally thrown your album into the fire.

*Keep your receipts in order to write them off. Didn’t I mention registering your own business? – I.E music label? that is 15% of money spent on packaging, postage stamps and album cost.

*Make sure to take off the plastic wrapper off your album before sending, it’s better for the person receiving it so they don’t have to open it on there own and waste more of their time. They (Radio don’t have much time

*Take your Biography, Pictures, Cover Letter and Album (EP, LP or Demo) and put them into the envelope.

Please submit to my newsletter and you will have access to my music contact list I made..an excel sheet with label information and radio stations across Canada. Send your album, EP, LP, your single with a press kit. Which includes, A biography, Band shot/ Head Shot, and a cover letter. Be sure to point out what songs you want the stations to listen to. Also, there is a lot more things such as sales data, press, and other media sources if you want to look into sending to major labels. r.

It’s hard at first but you can get the hang of it. It’s just really tedious.

STEP 9: What about Music Videos?

I have to blog separately about one one because creating them is a BIG process sometimes, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

I was doing some Music Supervision, Acting and Writing at a show called Late night at the Plaza in Calgary in 2015 and when I released my album, “Family Ties” We decided to make a video for it at the theatre. Creating the music video was so much fun, and if you are ever Calgary, go to Kensington Rd and go to the Plaza Theatre every Wednesday at 10:00PM. Late Night at the Plaza is sure to have a show brewing. This is “Do Whatever I Want”,

Raymi The Minx http://www.raymitheminx.com and I sing “Run” from “Family Ties”, one of the songs playing a set at Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

Disco J…Disco..J… huh?

We also did a crazy laser show that night. It was a real wild night.

That’s it for now… thanks and come back soon. Please leave a comment for me!

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