Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What does it take to be a musician?

  What does it take to be a musician today? I think fifteen years a go if you asked me that question, you would got completely different answer than today. Back then of course in my young naivety I thought I knew everything... No I know heck of a lot more, but still I would openly admit that I have so much more to learn. Back in the day it was all about the music, nothing else than the music mattered, and of course i knew how to best play it... Now I know that the music matters, and I need to practice every day more, but that is not enough at all. I have had to learn how to manage my own career. I have had to learn how to run an cottage industry. I have had to learn how to record albums, as the studio time was out of our budgets. I have had to learn how to design CD covers and how to prep them for printers, as graphic designers were well out of our budget. We had to learn how to organize tours, budgets, travel arrangements, advertising, design websites, social media, video editing, Poster design. We had to learn how to get by with only few hours sleep, several hours drive in a crammed car and at the end of it set up a sound system and do a show with a big smile on your face. And this is only scratching the surface. You need to have an attitude, where nothing is impossible, just sometimes something that no one has done before. I have also learned the hard way, that if you want something done your way, learn to do it your self. And always build a good team. What I have got to do with Sliotar in the past six years is not far from a miracle, but a miracle that took us lot of hard work. And by this hard work I mean the kind of hard work where you spend every waking minute on something for weeks. Something that every one told you could not be done, but you just kept going. I know there are those old stereo types of sex, drugs and rock and roll, where musicians all just party all the time. But maybe next time you see something like this, you might consider the possibility that the musician might just had weeks worth of work culminate in to one night, and I think it would be only fare to let them blow off some steam. There was a time in my young days, when I wanted to concentrate only on music...Ahh those were the days... Little did I know about the learning curve I had a head of me:-D. So as you can see, if you just want to play music, I would recommend you do it as a hobby, but if you are willing to spend most of your waking hours thinking about every little detail and aspect of your career and you are not shy to work extremely hard year after year, being an independent musician can be one of the most rewarding jobs out there:-)
 So today Sliotars hard work once gain is bearing fruit in form of Sliotars fifth album Fine Friends:-) Here is a sneak preview for you: Tinkering on the bridge by Sliotar
 For more info go check out
It is miles apart from what I do with JPKALLIO.COM, but that's what makes both bands so interesting for me.
   Talk to you next week:-) J.P.

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Have you signed up for RoadRunners SMT yet?

Part 73

   If you were to do one thing in 2012 for your band, I would sign up for RoadRunners Sign Me To web site: Now that is assuming your band is rock, punk, metal or otherwise on the harder side of things. This really is a great promotional tool if your band is ready take things to the next level. And if not, you might learn more than you bargained for. This is not just another social media site where you post stuff and start spamming every one else, but quite cleverly it is a music web site, where you get what you give:-) What I do like about it is that from time to time I see bands trying to use the site like the other social media sites, but the community on the site sets them straight very fast. The way it works is you first need to sign up as a scout. As a scout you write reviews and and rate other bands music. Then you get to open your artist page, where you can upload up to three songs, upload handful of photos and bio. You can also embed few videos.

    To me the best part here is that sure you can get your friends to sign up and review you, but that wont get you far. RoadRunner have developed a very clever point system, where all your actions on the site, combined with other peoples reviews and ratings count for charts. You have daily, weekly and over all. There are three categories, Metal, rock and alternative. You can find out more info on how the charts work and other info here:
So for you to get reviewed, you need to do the same. For me this has been a great experience as I got to hear some great bands:-) The musical talent on the site is unreal! Also many bands have made contacts for gig swapping and so on. I suppose the ultimate idea is that RoadRunner would sign you, but also other record companies have come to this site to look for acts:-). But I think if you want an A&R scout from RoadRunner to hear your demo, this site is by far the best bet. But it does take some work. And in the process a lot of people will get to hear your tracks and your bands name will get around. It is all about networking in this business and this is a great place to do it on line. So if you were to sign up for one website this year, let it be this one. You'll thank me later;-)

Check out JPKALLIO.COM at SMT:
Also you can find our good friends SKETCH! in there at:

    Now on a quick side note, as some of you know, what I jokingly call my “day job” band Sliotar has a new album coming out next week. Sliotar, even though it is a folk music band, really embraces the DIY music business to extreme. We Do all our own promotion, websites, record and release albums, book tours and most of all, tour a lot. We have an album launch in the Porterhouse in Dublin, on Wednesday the 25th of January and you are all welcome:-). Now hope you have great week, and I will talk to you more next week.


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Music before Business

Part 72

    We get so often lost in the world of all this modern music marketing, your YouTube views, twitter followers, Facebook likes and so on, that sometimes we can forget what is the most important thing. You need to have a good song and a band that can make them sound great. I do wave the flag for all the tools of modern music business and for your DIY recordings and all that, but this is only going to work if you have good product to start off with and by this I mean well rehearsed kick ass songs. Only then can you set out to record them. To do this you do need some skill. I know you can buy a Pro tools set up for next to nothing compared to what they used to be, but all that fancy gear means nothing unless you know what to do with it. I am not saying that this is something you cant learn and do, but sometimes we just assume if we get the gear then it all gets done.

    You have to remember that music business very often can be all about the first impression. Sure there were bands over the years who were not so great to start with, but learned to play along the years. The thing is that there is so much music out there today, that for you to stand out, you really need to be better than good, you need to be great. You need to stand out from the crowd. Ok again there have been exceptions to this, where some acts get past it all by some freak elements. But I personally don't think you can create any sustainability by blowing through YouTube charts with great visuals, but no substance in the music. There is a reason the music comes before the business;-)

    And I would also go as far as saying this comes down to individual members of the band. Your band is only as good as its weakest link. So man up and take responsibility for your own playing. If it needs work, put the hours in to it! Only way to get better as a musician is to practice. You won't find the answer to the almighty question of how to get a record deal on the net if your music is not ready yet. Make sure you can play in time and accurately. There is nothing worse than listening to some one try to play a guitar solo when they just can't... If you can't play it note to note perfect slowly, what on earth makes you think you can play it fast. Oh yeah, and lets throw in as much distortion as there is on the tap to cover up any fluffs... I think over thinking your own abilities can be sure way to slow down or even stop your progress, trust me on this one, I was there once. The day you admit to your self that you know very little and you need to learn so much more, is the day you start the road to real development. There is that old saying that it takes 10000 hours to get good at something. So if you worked 40 hour weeks on your playing, it would still take nearly five years before you could even think getting close of perfecting an instrument. And personally I don't think any one can perfect an instrument, as music evolves all the time.

    You know, it is one thing playing in front of all your friends and them cheering you on, but until you play in front of lets say thousand strangers and they all think you are amazing, only then you will be moving heads and it will be a matter of time when you either get offers for record contract, or you have the required skills to put out your own records.

    And to go back to the “product” meaning your songs, it is exactly the same thing. No one is the best songwriter in the world naturally. It takes work. You need to work on your song writing as much as you work on your playing. “Ah, but songwriting is an art” you might say. Well yeah, but it is also very much a craft that requires some serious skill.

   So if you want to take your music seriously, start practicing seriously:-)


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello from Warsaw

Part 71

    New year and new tricks. The second of January always fills my inbox with all sort of fun stuff from all the other blogs I have subscribed to, and then you get all the usual junk... But on top of this I tend to get lot of what I would call music business junk... I know it sounds harsh of me to call it that, but it was one of the first things that got me writing this blog. You get those “get 10000 dedicated subscribers” Emails and let me just say this, under any circumstances do not pay for service like this! These are not real fans. If you don't have any connection or interaction with your fans, they are as good as no fans at all... There was a time, back in the days of Myspace when I thought that having a huge amount of followers actually accounted for something, but it does not. Even if some promoter decided to book you on the bases of your so called “ huge following”, you would only piss them off by turning up to do a gig and there was no one in the audience and I'd be pretty sure that would be very short lived relationship. Where as if you have lets say only 150 friends on your Facebook, and you even manage to bring 50 of them to your live show, then you are on to something. And I think that would be a good way to describe the importance of the numbers, it is the percentage of the fans that you have, that you can mobilize that counts for lot more. So work on your fans, collect them at gigs, keep in contact with them, have fun with them:-)

    I am actually writing this blog in Warsaw. I have been on a bit of a longer holiday. I decided to spend the Christmas in Finland with my mom, brothers and sister. Sometimes it can be hard as an independent musician to find the time to take breaks, and it had been just too long since I'd been back in Finland for a break:-). Then I was off to Warsaw for another week, where I am at the moment. I've spent a quite bit of time in the past year here. I know lot of people have very mixed opinion of this city, but there is something here I like. Now I've taken on the task to find out what is going on here in the underground punk and metal scene. It can be surprisingly hard task as my Polish is crap... But I am working on it;-). Still, little things like language barriers never got on my way before. All my friends know about the punk rock show we organized in Dublin. I am starting to have a growing hunger to organize another one here in Warsaw. Obviously organizing a concert in a town where I don't live, let alone speak language, will be a crazy task. But that's the kind of challenges that helps you learn and grow. And before every punk band under the sun starts sending me Emails about getting a gig on the bill, I need to refer back to the first part of this blog. Part from being an excellent band, You need to be able to bring in a crowd in Warsaw, so more than likely I'd be looking for local bands. Now you might wonder why am I sharing this with you, well I think this could be cool to share the ins and outs of this process with you guys as well. It is a big task and I am sure I will learn lot on the way, so why not share some of this with you. Also some of you might have some contacts that you can help me with.

    So as you can see, holidays just get me thinking and planning more;-) I'll be back in Dublin on Friday and gigging with Sliotar on Saturday, nothing like hitting the ground running. I hope you all had a great start to 2012 and I'll be back for more next week.


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio