Ever had that dream where you’re late for school, it’s time for final exams and you haven’t studied at all? It’s a common nightmare, but next time it happens try imagining this instead: You’ve just come home but your house is different somehow, finer, more inviting than you remembered it being. You know it’s OK though, because in this dream you have already completed your music education.
You’re in your front hallway, looking at the framed photos on the walls. You’re in all of them, different versions of you. You’re playing music, you’re performing to crowds, you are completely absorbed in front of a bank of lighted control panels in a studio. You are behind a mixing board, you are laying tracks inside a maze of soundproof panels, looking very satisfied surrounded by a group of people who are all smiling with you fondly.
Want to make your dream come true? You have some work to do first. Here’s where some real music education comes in. It’s not in some alternate universe where you were born to famous and wealthy producer parents. It’s not in some intimidating and expensive professional music school. It’s a dimension of practical industry education that you can access anywhere: Welcome to Vampr Academy.
Let’s look at the evolution of this new world and see what resonates with you. In the first module, Thinking About the Business of Music you’ll be introduced to your coursework, and the teaching philosophy that you’ll be interacting with while using the Vampr system of themed dynamic lessons.
This first group of classes is a great place to start to gain a deeper understanding of music business roles and the unique fit and function of artists within it. You’ll gain insight into a rich range of options and learn to work your own magic with the guidance of solidly experienced professionals you deserve. This is where you learn about the music consumer, how to get inside the listener’s head and propel your sound to a wider audience.
Legal Basis of the Music Business leads you with sure and steady steps through the complicated realm of intellectual property and copyright issues in music. You’ll learn how to think critically about copyright both domestic and international and spot the myths that throw many artists off. Knowledge is the surest defense against copyright infringement to protect your original work. You will also grasp an invaluable understanding of mechanical royalties, trademark, branding, domain names, social media and image rights. Assignment and licensing will be covered as well as the role of PROs.
The third module Understanding Music Publishing tackles the development and fundamental business side of current music publishing including synchronization, working with publishers and sync agents and how you can turn your songwriting into a steady stream of income.
Recordings and Record Companies will explore the four pillars of the recording industry and measure the impact of the digital revolution. You’ll be guided on a deep dive of lessons covering the functions of the record music industry, record music income, digital distribution, label services and much more. This module spans across 7 lessons and is the perfect stepping stone to help you along your path of truly understanding the inner workings of the recording world. You will be fully up to date on the recordings industry’s functions and terms. Also, one more little thing—collecting the money.
Contracts and the recorded Music Industry uncovers all the secrets to getting that elusive and lucrative deal as well as clear understanding of various types of recording and publishing agreements. You’ll gain insight on bargaining position and how to fine tune your internal compass for negotiation. You’ll be taught to reliably consider when you should “sign your life away” (or simply run away screaming), and you will know all you need to about the reversion of copyright and catalogs. We’ll show you why longer contracts or bigger money isn’t always better. We’ll cover advances, contracts for services and key clauses in recording and publishing agreements. You’ll learn the subtle martial art of defending yourself against any irrational or unjust behavior that you might confront on your journey.
Here comes another jungle to conquer in Module 6, with our Overview of the Live Music Industry. This will bring you into the arena of economics within the live music industry and to contemplate the concept of music as a perishable good. You’ll also study the main players in the live game, such as venues, venue bookers, agents, promoters. You’ll consider the truth about promoters and music as its own reward. The goal here is to give you the tools to establish your own live team.
Representation and Management is the core of Module 7, its legal basis and everything an artist looking for a manager needs to know. You’ll look at management business models, learn the role of a manager as well as the types of managers. Contracts of term, territory, commission and termination will be covered, as well as how to evaluate a management’s fee for service.
Here we are at long last with the final module of this series, Bringing Together Your Music Business, and you should feel proud of all your hard work as you approach your moment of groundbreaking. You’ll be ready to consider what it is you actually want to market, your artistic brand, your plan and publicity. You will refine your design for sustainable success, learn financial planning, how to build a solid business team, as well as what to do when as they say the honeymoon is over. Don’t worry too much, though. By now you’ll be prepared. For anything.
VAMPR Academy is the future of music education. Are you ready to get started?
As one half of the songwriting and production duo Saltwives, David Phelan boasts an impressive catalog with his partner Alex Oriet. The two have worked with some of the biggest names in popular music. Their most recognized singles include: Zayn and Sia’s single, “Dusk Till Dawn,” to Bebe Rexha’s single, “No Broken Hearts” ft. Nicki Minaj. The songs written and produced by Saltwives have garnered over 5 billion streams worldwide and the duo earned a BMI Award for the US Top 10 “Remind Me To Forget”performed by Kygo and Miguel.
London-based world-renowned music producer Phelan joined Vampr for a live Q&A session last month and shared his tips on making it in the music business. “Create, network and then create and network some more,” he advised listeners during the session. Here are a few more helpful tips he shared that can help you move your career forward.
Write songs that are catchy or elicit emotion. “I think the main things have to be emotion and catchiness. Either the song is so catchy it does not have to have strong emotion or communicates so much emotion it doesn’t even have to be that catchy! Normally somewhere in the middle of that is great. If you don’t have either, write something else.”
Use constructive criticism when collaborating. “I’m very grateful to have had an excellent working relationship with Alex for many years now. We have no set way of working, we just follow each other’s enthusiasm and have healthy arguments about who’s right. The best way to prove that is by coming up with something else rather than trashing what is there. That tends to mean you can stay friends.”
Be dedicated to songwriting & you will hit upon success. “Every now and then the stars align and I get shivers from the song, that’s when something has turned a corner and become very special. It’s a very rare occasion, but when it does, I have full faith in the song and won’t give up on it, no matter how long it takes to figure it out. That can mean changing the production 10 times or more, finding a different singer, tweaking the song, whatever makes it better.
Most career advancements come from a mix of luck with constant grind. “I think it’s a bit of both for sure. You can definitely control how much you grind and to a smaller extent you can create your own luck also. By trying to put your grind in the right situations, by contacting people, grinding in isolation is hoping only to get by with luck and that might not always play out.”
Stick with it. “I think the number one thing I notice when I work with new people is that the biggest determining factor in whether we continue to work with them can be their enthusiasm and stick-to-it-ive-ness. Cultivating those skills is so important. So many people starting I’ve thought were musically talented, but then after we worked together they never send me more ideas or follow up. They expect maybe I don’t want to hear from them or whatever, but the truth is I really value people who communicate ideas. Even if the ideas are not great, as long as they are improving then I’m interested.”
Take responsibility for the work: “I appreciate collaborators who have complementary skill sets, creative honesty, and people I enjoy hanging out with people who take personal responsibility for what we are making. Also sometimes when I’m working with new writers and artists, they can lean back a little and expect the more experienced people to take care of making sure the song is great. You should always aim to take responsibility for the song you are working on, even if you are a first time songwriter with the world’s biggest hitmaker people really appreciate that effort.”
If you didn’t know who David Phelan and Alex Oriet were, you do now. You should definitely take their advice when it comes to music and the industry because they certainly know a thing or two!
Criticism can make or break the way a musician feels about their own music. Letting music you’ve worked so hard on out into the world can be exhilarating but also give rise to uncertainty. Some people will love your sound, but others will have complaints and suggestions. You can rely on members of either camp being eager to share their thoughts. Take these constructive criticism examples and learn from them to adapt without getting upset!
Exposing your work to judgment as well as to praise is essential for creative growth but isn’t always painless. Hearing what other people think is good or bad about your sound, having your strength or weakness as an artist openly evaluated can be a dizzying process. The message of positive feedback is that no changes are necessary, that your song, your performance, is perfect as is. Feedback suggesting improvements could feel more negative, even discouraging. Recognizing an opportunity to use challenging feedback to make changes in your music can transform your career.
Any feedback is ultimately good because it means people are listening, but an uninformed critique isn’t always useful for a creative. Enthusiastic praise for a painting in an art show coming from the artist’s mother isn’t likely to be taken seriously, nor is a more scathing opinion of the same art offered by the painter’s angry ex. It’s criticism from an objective impersonal listener that can play a huge role in helping the artist improve.
Compliments and praise can fuel your drive to keep recording or performing, but it’s impossible to open the door for positive attention without also letting in your less adoring fan base of potential critics. It doesn’t take a degree in music theory for someone to express their opinion of a live show but absorbing feedback merely as good or bad does little to fertilize new growth. For bands without much experience playing live, or bands that mainly record without the immediate reaction of a live audience, constructive criticism examples can be extremely helpful.
It’s been said it takes 10,000 hours of practice in order to master a skill. Any musician can put in 10,000 hours of practicing their instrument, but it would be nearly impossible to spend that number of hours performing on stage. Learning to implement changes to your on-stage performance based on criticism can be a clever way to become more professional without touring as frequently as the Rolling Stones.
For any aspiring professional in the music business, learning how to accept criticism, to think of it as a gift rather than a judgment, is a vital ability if you want to succeed. To thrive in such a competitive field, you need to be able to turn an awful lot of people into fans. A painter doesn’t need 500 thousand avid fans trying to buy every sketch they make, or to follow them from city to city to watch them paint. A sculptor doesn’t necessarily need to cultivate a sizable audience in order to achieve acclaim. These artists only need a small group of wealthy art fans or a community that values their work enough to turn an empty space into an art gallery where people can come and take in their creation. To have a career recording and performing music, you need to appeal not only to followers of your music genre but also make converts out of those that would least identify as fans of the type of music you play. A jazz saxophone player would want not only jazz devotees to appreciate their sound but hope to be able to turn all sorts of music lovers from rock to hip hop into fans.
Successful artists will tell you that every new achievement builds on the last. The satisfaction they get from their work is equal to the amount of effort and passion they pour into it, using every tool at their disposal and all the help and inspiration they can possibly muster. The ability to improve your music through thoughtful consideration of the constructive criticism examples you receive can be almost like having a cheat code on a video game, a life hack from an unexpected source. Learning to gracefully process criticism and putting that information to good use is a skill that we could all learn to apply better in our lives.
In April we announced our first set of figures, reporting that Vampr users had swiped on each other 250,000 times and made 15,000 connections across 96 countries. We also kicked off our Vampr Stories series.
Well, in just 60 days since that blog piece, the Vampr community has exploded! We’ll let the above infographic do the talking 😎
With incredible traction comes frustrating growing pains. We are aware that there is a LOT of work to be done on the tech side of things. Our challenge is to juggle continued community growth while improving the app, fixing the bugs and speeding up our servers.
Rest assured, we’re on it. And we also have the most recent Vampr Story to share: