Tips

What is Our Goal?

Our goal has been the same since we got started way back in 2004 as AK Music Scene. We have always believed that the music scene in southwestern Pennsylvania provides the best music available today, and our goal is to get it out to the masses. We have so many ways for you to be introduced to it.

Build the Scene, Leechburg Lights, & Pixel Pro Display collaboration

As some of you may or may not know, Build the Scene shares a homebase with Leechburg Lights & Pixel Pro Displays, a phenomenal computer animated Christmas light display. He is willing to take submissions from our group of fantastic musicians for a chance to have their music featured in his display. He is looking for Tasteful, clean, non-hardcore, up beat traditional or orginal music that is family friendly.

The song must be a 192kbps 44.1khz mp3. Submission deadline is July 15, 2018. You can send him tracks at: leechburglights@gmail.com

If the song is good enough (quality production & marketable) Leechburg Lights will add it to their list of sequences for sale to other decorators across the world on their business site, Pixel Pro Displays. You have a chance for International exposure. If a client purchases the sequence, they must also purchase the audio directly from you.

 

Music is a Universal language

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

Albert Einstein   

 

 This is one of my favorite quotes because I understand it so very well. While scientists see math as the universal communicator, I see it as music. I am not a musician, but my life is intertwined with them. I’m a self proclaimed ‘Music Addict’ and I hope I’m never cured. I’m a writer and photographer and I enjoy using these skills to create a way for people to see the music, a way to translate what I feel when I watch shows. I try to be an artist of this language that all can understand. I watch my friends work so hard on their skills, finding their place in the melodies they play. They harmonize in ways that make my soul take flight and when they close their eyes I know they feel it in their soul as well. Those are my favorite moments, as well as when they break out into smiles as they feel the energy of the crowd. These are things I remember well… and apparently for good reason.

 

    Music moves us emotionally but it wires us to the moment. A study from Stanford Medicine (http://stan.md/2vxRNKA) shows that while we drift in our emotions, caught up in the music surrounding us, during moments of quiet or changes in the movement we become very aware. Our minds push to grab onto the next moment and we remember the things happening much more clearly. That time you looked at your love during a concert and watched their eyes shine, when you saw your best friend smiling and throwing horns as they delighted in the sounds of their favorite band… perhaps the moment the lead guitarist seemed to lock eyes with you in the crowd. These are times that will burn into your memory so that you can recall the emotional state surrounding it.  

 

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”

Victor Hugo

 

    The emotions of music connect us to each other and to certain times in our lives. Think of it this way, when you meet a person at a concert and find that they are fans of the same band, you have just made a connection and an important discovery – this person is wired just like you in a way. This goes beyond age, race, lifestyle. Once, sitting outside of a venue, I met a man who had just retired. His wife was shopping and they were visiting Pittsburgh. We began to share music tastes, each looking up songs we loved and sharing them, finding elements in the songs that moved us. I’m metal, he’s country, but we shared something and when his wife came to collect him I heard him telling her, as they walked away, about the band I would be seeing that night, the venue and it’s history, the song he loved that I introduced him to that he wanted her to hear. The connection causes ripples. Shared experience. Even at your loneliest times, you know that you’re not really alone. Happiness, love, sadness, rage, music expresses when we can’t fully put into words things inside of us that we need to let out, even when we can’t find a way. It’s the reason our movies have a soundtrack. Our advertisements have songs written for them.  

    Your life has a soundtrack too. It changes as you do, the days are happier, angrier or more determined and so is the music you look to hear. Whether you are washing dishes, driving, sitting at work, music helps time go faster. You can find it all around you. You were born with music in you. Your heart beats in drum-like rhythm, breathing creates a supporting pulse like a bass, you began to coo as a baby and delighted at the sound the sounds you made. Music creates it’s own world, a place you can feel everything, live countless lives or remember moments in time. My life is backed by a soundtrack of varying artists, different genres. I may start my day with something classic, end it with something hard. As I write this, I’m listening to Starset – It Has Begun https://youtu.be/XZp3Mtn-YsI. Do you feel the connection? What’s your soundtrack like?

 

Spotlight on Endeavor After, LLC – AKMusicScene.com

It has been a while since we have put out a “Spotlight” article. This one is for Endeavor After, LLC. They are a Direct-to-garment Custom Apparel Printing Company. Something to note about this company is that they are owned by local musician, Robbie Perrone, and his family. Robbie is the front man and bassist for East End. You can use our coupon code “PAROCKSHOW” to get yourself 10% off of everything in your first order!

Most band members already know this, but part of being in a band is marketing yourselves. Let Endeavor After, LLC help you do just that!

From the Endeavor After, LLC Website

We are a family owned and operated, direct to garment apparel printer, specializing in t-shirt, sweatshirt & hoodie printing, located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA.

There are many differences between DTG printing and screen printing. The main ones being the extensive color options we offer in order to deliver the maximum detail in your designs. Also….although you will receive our best pricing if you order by the dozen, we offer NO MINIMUM QUANTITY!

Adult and Youth Sizes
– Single or Double Sided
– Any color combo from Single to Full

File requirements for customer supplied artwork:
Between 300-500dpi at size desired
PNG or TIF preferred with transparent background

Other items we offer: Full Color Business Cards, Brochures, Vehicle Magnets, Bumper Stickers and more….

Music is passion to us all

As I write this it is very late at night. I just finished my outline for bands and other things I want to tell you about but I finished my tasks and checked out Facebook, and then I had to write. There’s this drummer I know, really a down to earth kind of guy, and he doesn’t post anything but memes really. Musician memes to be exact. I have never seen anyone be so poignant and touching without saying a word. Today I saw one about being a musician and being passionate about it. I made me start thinking about how passionate all of you are…and do you even know it?

See, I’m a people watcher as well as having a pretty large amount of schooling in psychology and mental health. I don’t just watch, I kind of study the people around me. It’s why I love live shows. The last show I went to was Saturday, in this nice little bar not far from my house. The crowd is a mix of family, friends, fans, strangers, and regulars. It gets pretty interesting. At the start of the night everyone is in their little bubble – groups formed of those who know each other well and they really don’t mingle. The regulars just wanted a beer and good food. Some of them had just gotten off work and this was a stop along their way. It was packed though, that’s for sure. A quick look around and I see people who are rather uncomfortable as checklists are gone over for the show and people in the crowd try to decide if they want to stay, some thinking they want to leave before that weird kid with the long hair gets up there – (Is that face paint?? Ugh, and that one in the hoodie has on eyeliner.) Other musicians who are part of the crowd feel anxious for those about to take the stage. Especially the one in the hoodie, he’s been sick with a fever of over 100 degrees the last few days and they are worried for him. I get my camera ready and scan the crowd waiting for the magic I know is going to appear. I watch it happen every time and never get sick of it.

The band takes the stage and some people prepare to leave. Then those first chords are struck… and so are they. Even out of the corner of my eye the reaction in the crowd makes me smile to myself. People ask all the time why I always look so happy… How can I not? I watch these people who have never heard this band pull out money to pay their tab but when the music starts, they sit back down. They look to the stage with surprise or they close their eyes. Some of them blink a few times and seem to look inward at their own reaction. All of them are touched. As the night goes on those little closed off groups begin to loosen and by the end of the night you don’t know who belongs with who. People chatting about this being the first show or one of five hundred, discovering new music, new musicians, new friends are made, new fans are found.

Do you know that you do this? I don’t care if you are a musician or not….do you know the passion for music inside of you? Some people like books, some like movies…there is not a person alive who doesn’t like some type of music. It’s inside of us.

If you are a musician, think about it. You tap into a part of yourself that not everyone has. It’s a gift. At times you think it’s a curse because it is so much a part of you that you live and breathe it above all else…but that…that is a passion burning in you that no one else can touch. You live with a flame inside of you that cannot be fed in any way other than you giving in to it and becoming even better at translating it’s desire. You think of music so much. You don’t just make music, music makes you who you are. If you are not a musician, you are a fan of music. You grew up making sounds that you liked. Hitting things to create a beat, stopping in wonder at the loud noises at parades, festivals. Maybe you listen to water and nature, but that is a rhythm all it’s own. We like different types of music, but we all like music. For people who don’t play, live music is the closest they get to the fire that burns so many. A friend once told me he mourned “The Death of the Rock Star” and I think we all do. Singing in the shower isn’t singing to ourselves. Our mind wanders and takes us onto a stage. We channel our inner rock star….even if the neighbors are using earplugs because we can’t sing a single note well. The magic is in the energy from that flame inside these men and women and the talent they have to connect us all. Flame or not, we whistle, hum, sing. Tap pencils in cubicles, feet in elevators. Our very hearts beat in time with some special cosmic beat. Music let’s us feel the connection. We are freed and connected because there are others who share our emotions and our needs. This isn’t just life, this is nourishment for our souls and I want you to start watching people yourself. They move with a rhythm. Headphones aren’t put on to stare ahead motionless and unblinking. Eyes close, smiles begin, heads move. Factory workers pick up the pace and mailmen get a spring in their step.

Music is powerful. It is inspiring. I think our souls were made with music in mind and at the end of this journey we are greeted by sounds and tones and beats that we have tried to mimic in life. These will resonate within us, and this will be Heaven. Until then, live music is the closest we will get. Passion is within us, and it is stirred by those first chords that reach into us and wake us from every day slumber. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to. Find some bands that interest you and be part of the crowd touched by their energy and warmed by their flame. I’m not here just because the music scene needs you….I know how bad you need the music scene. Get out. Have fun. Make memories. Above all – LIVE.

Let’s begin at the beginning

Who remembers Kindergarten?? Let’s see those hands. Criss-Cross-Applesauce to sit down, Duck Duck Goose (seriously, though, who came up with that !?!) Yep, that’s what we usually remember. That and any tadpoles we watched turn into frogs and such. However, that’s not ALL we remember. Those are our memories but our actions show the world what we learned. We are brought into this world kicking and screaming, totally selfish, but also totally dependent on others. Feed us NOW, change us NOW, that’s MY toy. Of course, parents never really allow that. Yes, the basic needs are met immediately but that ego? The selfish part of our brains that doesn’t want to share? Nope. We are taught from the time we have some understanding that those things must go. Kindergarten is normally our first experience playing in large groups, learning to be silent, attempting to make friends. We are given examples of how to act but we also had other kids going through this with us at the same time. Kindergarten is usually held away from the rest of the school, an isolated bunch really, but as we grow we are put into bigger systems, with basically the same rules – just learning bigger ideas. Middle school happens and they start to change things again, move around the people you are used to. Your best friend is in another home room. You have to decide…do you sit down and shut up and stay apart because it’s new, or do you reach out and adapt to the change in your surroundings? I think some of you see where this is going.

“Forever ago” musicians were great celebrities. They have always lived this slightly off the beaten path type of life, always had stories surround them, too many parties, too much booze, too many women, but always good people to their fans. Always appreciating their social status, teaming up with newcomers to help them in the business. Trying new things and adapting. Somewhere along the line, they went off track. The music became more wild and energetic, persona’s were born to reflect that and the lifestyles became so extravagant that some of them just…well…died. Literally. Suddenly they saw the real face behind the musicians – what I call Beautiful Madness. The most creative artists of any type are touched with madness, tempers, confusing thoughts that wouldn’t make sense to so many. My temperamental musicians is how I think of them. So angry but so in need of love and understanding. (Cue Sarah McGlaughlin “In the Arms of an Angel”….Just saying..) But a funny thing happened when this side was revealed – the fans understood! They finally got why they felt so caught up in the music because they had been there too at times in their lives! But then came the ego’s again, those things we were taught from Kindergarten, if not before, to let go of. A generation of music was born again, this time still wanting THEIR TOY. Ridiculous clauses were put into contracts for all green rooms to have a large bowl of only blue M&M’s, 1003 yellow and pink tipped roses and someone to fan them as they were fed grapes. The egos went unchecked, the demands and lifestyles became so ludicrous that one day someone looked at the demands and said…No. Of course, by this point they were lip synching to songs to save their voice (though I don’t know what they were saving it for), and they worried more about dance routines in undergarments than lyrics. And this is what the nation saw. An entire generation of music that somehow forgot what we were taught in our formative years. Suddenly music was a joke. One song-writer wrote for country, metal, and pop bands, it was all watered down to try to save the image. Poor promotions in the way of “Win this music battle and we will make you a star” were televised. Do you know I get people from other countries contacting me because the world thinks that in America as long as you don’t suck horribly they will make a star out of you? I can’t convince them otherwise. Now there is so much mechanical engineering that you can sell millions of records and not know how to carry a tune. “I’m a musician on stage but not in real life” is being sold to the entire world!!

So, what can little old me do, right? I mean, we are just one city. Just a few hundred bands in the world. Just a handful of promoters and venues.

Well, we don’t have to change the whole world. We just have to light a fire under our own butt !! Let’s get this down to basics and start it over. Remember, you were taught to share (the spotlight), you had to adapt to the new rules (promoting others, giving credit to others, building up others, changing the way you’ve been doing things). I really am not certain when this will be published but I was inspired to write this today. I issued a “challenge” of sorts to the music community to share other bands pages for likes on Facebook and I was NOT disappointed. Some simply shared one or two. Others spent their free time posting pages every few hours, more stated they plan on making this a regular thing and one guy even listed 30 bands in one post !!

I told you there was a movement in this city. I told you it is the simple things like finding a station playing local music, sharing bands. I’ll tell you another thing – this isn’t over. Not by a long shot. We are going to change this music scene and we are going to let the public have their Beautiful Madness minus throwing egos around. They crave what you can give them, not perfection but feeling. You need them to hear you. Guess what…sharing your fans is ok. Sharing that spotlight is awesome! You talk about others who in turn talk about you….and we watch the tadpoles turn into fully developed musicians in a high functioning music community. We meet new friends, new contacts, and we adapt…..because when you hit it big you will be FORCED to adapt. So start now. Stop telling everyone how you hope one day you might get seen and be a gleam in the eye of a national act, and begin grooming yourself for when YOU are that act. If you have decided you’re happy being Pittsburgh Famous, that’s fine, but support the one’s getting started. Show them the monkey bars you already climbed and give them tips on getting to the top. Like it or not, this is happening. If you are mired in the old ways of thinking, if you are guarded and jaded….look at your kids. What lessons are you wanting them to learn? And why aren’t you acting the way you want them to? This doesn’t begin with the next generation of music. It began the day you were born with the ability to make music. The moment you heard those first chords and were hooked. The things you need to make this scene great are already inside of you – get back to basics isn’t just an idea. It’s the thing this scene needs the most. Beautiful Madness and a love for each other will bring this whole city to a new level.

With social media, Do you need a band website?

I am a firm believer that a band should have a band website. At first, I thought it was because I designed websites and have a love for local music. I’d also bet that a lot of people would have the same opinion. Back in November 2014, I wrote an article on this very website about how to build your own website on a budget. I believe that you need a website so whole-heartedly, that I wrote an article telling you how to get one without paying me to design it! I even wrote an article on how to choose your web hosting to help you take the guessing game out of that process.

So what I did next was do a little research on the topic. I’ve found many websites that agree with me and I wanted to share a few of them with you, the bands, some reasons that you may want to give a website a shot again.

The first site I came across was CD Baby, which I would considered a pretty good resource for bands. They gave 5 reasons why a band should have a website:

  1. Having your own website/domain makes you look professional.
  2. People want a one-stop destination: a place that is ONLY about your band and is a guide to where you and your brand can be found online.
  3. You are at the center of the experience: this isn’t the case on social media, people can easy find another band to move onto on Facebook.
  4. Your own site gives you total control: You control everything from the look, updates, what is available, you don’t have to pay to advertise your shows, etc
  5. Social Media Platforms come and go: Think about how huge MySpace used to be. What about the current move of the younger generations from Facebook to Snapchat…

You can read more about what CD Baby believes about your need for a website at their DIY Musician section here. Moving on I found an article on Make It In Music’s website that provides 13 reasons (some of them repeated) on the importance of having a website versus just using social media.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying replace your social media homes. Social media is definitely a necessity and helps you get your information out to the masses, but as we all know, what your post on your Facebook pages isn’t even seen by all of your followers, which brings us back to being able to control your content and what is available to your fan base (and future fans!)

As the owner and operator of several websites based on the local music scene, it is hard to track down all the information that I would like to share about your bands. This is because that informattion is scattered amongst 3 or more social media websites. Having a hub of information for your band and brand is important. It not only helps you get valuable information out to you fan base, but it allows the media to to find it easily as well.

I have designed quite a few band websites and websites dedicated to furthering the music scene over the years. I am willing to help you with your websites. That could mean that I design it for you, or you design it. If you partake in making your own site, I am available to help you for free. I have been working with bands and their websites, as well, websites that help drive the local music scene since 1995

The Challenge… Unite the Scenes and Share the Family!

.It’s time for me to channel my inner Hilljack and rant for a few moments! There is a movement happening on the internet right now to unite the music scenes throughout the tri-state area. I think that the AK Valley and surrounding areas have done a great job creating an amazing scene, no make that family of bands that work together for a common goal. I am so happy that the scene has allowed me to interact with them as a blogger and podcaster for over 20 years! You are not in this alone. There are many resources out there willing to help, and many of them are free to help promote the scene. What I’m trying to get at it, is USE them!

Social Media

Social media can be both a detriment and a godsend when it comes to bands. You should be posting about your band and their upcoming shows, news, cds and so on, BUT, do not rely solely on Social Media. It can help, but it isn’t the only answer. When posting on social media, I suggest tagging the other bands playing the show with you and using hashtags so that people can search the show easily. You need to have a website or some sort of online presense, you need to be posting flyers (PS Venues I’m talking to you here, too!), you need to be sharing shows and resources with other bands and people in the scenes. Together we can take our scenes to higher places.

Our Part in This

When I started AK Music Scene and the Pennsylvania Rock Show back in 2004 my goal was to help build the scene, I have some growing to do still too, BUT the scene has grown and it has began to prosper, and it will get noticed! But why not work together and speed up the process? Why not start linking some local scenes and trade some shows, you’ll make John Lane happy by doing that. John is a staunch support of the AK Valley and Pittsburgh Scenes while he’s out hitting the road in the Akron scene! Lady Jay can help us pull in the West Virginia scene, too.

Would you like to have your music played on the Pennsylvania Rock Show. We’re always looking for guests, just drop us an e-mail. Do you have an upcoming CD Release, epic event, shows, want a cd, show, or song review,  have a tip or trick to share with our scene, want to do a guest article, or just some information that you’d like to get out to the masses? We have AK Music Scene at your disposal to disperse information about our scene. If you have something you want to discuss about the local music scene, that’s where our new website/podcast, Podcast your Scene, comes in. We are also using Podcast your Scene as a home for podcasts that feature local music.

AK Music Scene and the Pennsylvania Rock Show had over 1 million hits last year alone. I’m offering that to you, for free!

Podcasting?!?

As far as my call for interaction goes, we’ve been doing a lot of that around here lately. John Lane, of The Hellfire Club, has started to kick his podcast, The American Hilljack Files into gear. We’ve helped him get it setup and into some directories. Bill has even guest hosted it with him. His podcast is a very to the point look at the OH and PA music scenes.

We have also been involved in the evolution of another podcast called, The Weekly RockBlog. It is hosted by Brian Shaffer of The Free Peanuts Band.  The Weekly RockBlog is devoted to new up and coming music from across the state and beyond. It will review new music of all genres, talk about current musical trends, offer insight into local scenes across the country and provide some tips and tricks on promotion.

First Angel Media

In the Pennsylvania Rock Show’s last episode we interviewed Jana Lee Macheca of First Angel Media. First Angel Media was founded to help promote the Pittsburgh music scene. It has evolved to photography, promotion of shows, written articles, and CD as well as show reviews. Working behind the scenes to help bands find venues as well as helping to promote a supportive and positive environment for all musicians. There is also an element for national and international bands, reviews and articles have reached across the USA and into other countries. Contact First Angel Media if you can use these services, fees stay low – it’s about the music. Jana is a staff writer at The Heavy Metal ICU and Adrenaline 101 Radio. In the coming weeks you will see her start to provide music articles here on AK Music Scene under her writing name, Lady Jaye, as well.

Let us know in the comments, how we can help you! Or let us know how you feel about this article, or even some of your own ideas to help the unification hit the ground running!

– Bill

Photography: Reina Peli – AKMusicScene.com

Some of the awesome photography, that I’m sure you’ve noticed, on akmusicscene.com and parockshow.com were NOT taken by me. I know what you’re thinking.. wait what?!?

Concert Photography

In recent years, a concert photographer has emerged in the South Western Pennsylvania Music scene. Her name is Reina Peli and she does amazing work. From concert photography and band sessions to cover art and logos, your band needs to contact her! While social media and cell phones can help bands get their presence felt, bands need to have professional photos for their press kits & online presence. In today’s music scene and business, image is just as important as your ability to master your craft and that’s where Reina is your savior.

OK, now what?Photography

In recent times I have posted some how-tos for your websites such as how to select your web hosting and how to create a website for you band while on a budget. Here is an article that you should check out from Band Zoogle telling you how you should use photography on your website and why you should hire a professional photographer: 8 Ways you Should be Using Photos on Your Band Website and here is another one to help you prepare for a band photo shoot: The Definitive Survival Guide for Band and Musician Photo Shoots. Here are 11 more tips for band photography.

Here is where you can find Reina:
Reina Peli
Facebook
Flickr

Hosting: Choosing a Web host for your Band Website – AKMusicScene.com

Some tips for choosing your band’s website host

web host pythonI have been designing websites since 1995. I have seen web hosts come and go. I’ve been hosted on big name website companies and on small do it your self hosts belonging to friends and everything in between. I have ran an online radio station, I’ve designed digital signage for businesses, I teach computers, and am currently 11 years into creating my own online/fm Radio show & podcast called the Pennsylvania Rock Show (www.parockshow.com).

I have had sites (both mine and clients) hosted all over the place www.gigarank.net, www.webhostpython.com, www.bluehost.com, www.siteground.com, www.dreamhost.com, www.1and1.com, www.greengeeks.com, www.godaddy.com, www.hostgator.com, www.networksolutions.com, www.vodahost.com, www.flatlinesystems.net, www.seanic.net, www.ipower.com, www.comcast.net, www.yahoo.com, www.geocities.com (yes geocities), and many many more. I’ve been hosted on private servers, VPS servers, and shared hosting. I’ve designed personal sites, band sites, animal breeder sites, small business sites, large business sites, podcast sites, radio station sites, and more. I’ve hand coded websites and I’ve used content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, FrogCMS, SharePoint, etc. My clients and I have paid as little as $0 to as much as $69.99/mo for hosting.

I start out with the biography to give you some background before I bring up my point about the question I’m about to touch on. What web hosting is the best? You see this question constantly when searching the internet. And there are a ton of websites about it. Let me first caution you about using those “top” 10 webhost type of sites. On these types of sites you’ll find sites like www.bluehost.com, www.siteground.com, www.dreamhost.com, and a ton of other shared hosting. I’ve used a lot of them and still do use a lot of them. I see those more of a paid advertising type sites or popularity contests. Web hosting isn’t about either of those things. It’s about finding a web host that can serve your website the best. Also keep in mind that “unlimited” is a gimmick. There is always a limit. Read the fine print.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that you just have to try and try again. I’ve stayed on hosts for years. And then one day something happens to sour me. I’ve stayed with hosts for a lot less time, too. I’ve been on hosting accounts that worked great for static websites and terrible for content management and the reverse. Being a freelancer without my own server to host on, I try to have a few hosting options ready to suggest to new clients. I have the advantage of being at this for about 20 years.

Here is my advice to those of you that do not have that same advantage. Read reviews, ask current clients of the webhosts, go to forums like www.gigarank.net/forum/ & http://www.webhostingtalk.com/. When I start to decide that it’s time to move on to a new host, I spend months searching for new hosts to vet. Once I narrow it down to the one’s I want to check out, I start searching for and reading reviews. I then narrow it down further still. Then I start trying to find websites that are hosting on this set of web hosts and seeing how quickly that are served. I try to find website owners that are hosted by these hosts and ask them what the pros and cons of said hosts are, read the terms of service, try out their hosting panel if you’re not familiar with it, contact their support and ask questions that are important to you for your website… basically do your due diligence.

So I leave you with the final answer, there is no 1 best web host. You need to find the one that works the best for your site through hard work.

For those of you are not tech savvy and do not want to hire someone (note I have not tried most of these):