Band-Width: Making Music Online

The Internet may be causing the record industry a major migraine, but for independent musicians and music newbies, the computer age is a revolutionary time. Thanks to the Web, basement musicians have an unprecedented number of resources, reference materials, and potential collaborators; all just a few key clicks away. There are so many music tools online, in fact, that it can be overwhelming. As DLT’s resident rock star wannabe, I went on an online road tour to find the goods. Here’s what I found.

Getting Your Licks Down
Music lessons are a great way for established musicians to improve their skills and for those starting out to see what instrument they might have a feel for. Face-to-face lessons can be expensive, but luckily, you can find free tutelage online:

Assemble Your Supergroup
If you’re looking for someone to fill out your combo, be sure to check out one of the largest musician finders on the Net, MusicFind [http://www.musicianfind.com]. These are the same people who run the equally useful www.studiofind.com and www.clubfind.com.

Jam with the World
If you can’t find the right people nearby to help you realize your musical vision, check out Tonos [http://www.tonos.com/app1/jsp/index.jsp]. This nifty site lets you jam with other musicians in a virtual studio called the “Collaboratory.” Neat!

DIY Distribution Deal
Everyone knows about MP3.com, but there are other online watering holes that offer free band pages and MP3 hosting. Here are a couple hot spots worth checking out:

  • IUMA [http://www.iuma.com/] – This venerable Web institution started out as the “Internet Underground Music Archive,” grew into a large, popular portal for indie artists, folded, and then was recently purchased and reopened — so glad it’s back.

  • Garageband.com [http://www.garageband.com] – This site offers a unique opportunity for bands to compete for recording contracts. If you’re lucky, you might even get reviewed by one of the industry honchos behind the site, such as well-known producer and Talking Head Jerry Harrison.

The Business End
Garageband.com has a sister site, Get Signed [http://www.getsigned.com], that features tons of tools and tips for bands seeking that holy grail of music: the recording contract.

MusicAssist [http://www.musicianassist.com] is a non-corporate site that aggregates the expertise of a wide variety of independent artists. Their archives are extensive and cover everything from how to put out your own record to how to book your own tour.

Register Your Masterpiece
Need to find out who wrote a song you want to record? Want to register that hook-laden pop wonder you just wrote so that you can collect the big bucks when Madonna decides to record it? Head on over to ASCAP [http://www.ascap.com/] and BMI [http://www.bmi.com/], the two largest music publishers in the US.

Show the Pros
If all else fails, you might want to hail TAXI [http://www.taxi.com], a “casting agency for music.” Unlike the other sites here, this one will cost you (currently $299 a year), but unlike a lot of similar offers on the Net, this one isn’t a scam. TAXI is run by real music industry insiders who’ll get your music into the right hands if they think you’re on to something. If not, they’ll offer you an honest opinion about what (in their opinion) you’re doing wrong.

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