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music-questions-answeredDo you have questions about how to independently produce and promote your music?

Questions about songwriting, recording, how to make your albums sound professional, and ultimately growing a fan base?

If you do, then you’re not alone.

A few weeks ago, I put out an offer to answer questions from my loyal subscribers. I wanted to do something special for those that have subscribed.

Well, the response was great, and to make a long story short, I ended up making 15 free videos for you…

Here’s how this all started…

I get a lot of questions every day about how to record an album, make it sound professional, and how to get others to hear it. When I recently announced I quit my day job to focus on my music full time, a lot of you were inspired and had questions about how I organized and balanced my time to get it all done.

All great questions, the exact purpose of this blog, but not enough hours in the day for me to answer everyone individually.

With so many people wanting help, I turned to my subscribers first and asked them to fill out an online survey to ask their most pressing question.  I read all of them, boiled them down to their essence, and consolidated the questions when more than one person had asked the same thing.

When all was said and done, there were 15 distinct questions for me to answer. So I cleared my schedule on Monday, and spent all day making the following videos. I hope you enjoy them and learn a great deal from them.

Getting Started:

self confidence, experience is key, and the basics

1. Where should I see myself amongst all the other performers on the Internet stage? “Sometimes my motivation is rocked by the massive amount of talent out there and it gets intimidating to think I need to ‘swim’ in this.” (asked by Mark)

2. How early on should I start putting my music out there? “Do you think it is better for an aspiring musician to put their music online regularly or wait until they are very good at making music before they start putting it online?” (asked by Joe)

3. How do I get my music out there on a very limited budget? “I have struggled with recording and getting good sound quality with my limited equipment.” (asked by Stephen)


songwriting tips, overcoming writer’s block, and finding your inspiration

4. How can I improve my songwriting and get over writer’s block? “In what way do you stay focused and organized with your song writing?” (asked by Christoffer, Mark, and Michael)

5. How do I find inspiration and what role should music theory play? “I quickly discover my key, time signature, general chord progression, and I find that keeping these things in mind helps me to developed the song further. Do you do something similar, or do you just write freely?” (asked by Austin, Brandon, Dan, and John)


EQ tips and recommended software

6. How do I EQ different instruments to make a “fuller” sounding mix? “I really love your sound and am interested to know if you have specific tips about EQing and mixing guitar.” (asked by Andrew and Ben)

7.  What drum software should I invest in to go along with my DAW? “I find that not having a easy way to make electronic drum beats/samples halts my writing process.” (asked by Mark, James, and John)


The basics, finding your niche, creating a following, and giving away your music

8. How do I grow my listeners and how long should I expect it to take? “Sometimes I get overwhelmingly scared that what I’m doing won’t pan out. My instincts tell me it’ll be a success, but at the same time the fact is indie musicians sometimes have a really hard time making it big.” (asked by Anthony)

9. I have no following yet. How do I get my music known outside my circle of friends and family? “I’ve gotten great feedback from the people I know, but I just don’t know the right people to send it to to spread it around.” (asked by Ethan, Hunter, Magnus,  and Michael)

10. What should be my first step in getting people to hear my newly released album? “We have no following or fan base whatsoever and are aiming to start from scratch once the EP is finished. We want the EP to reach the right people but are unsure how to go about this.” (asked by Colm)

11. How can I benefit from giving away my music? “I am looking at giving away several albums. I have a couple ways to do this, and am considering using Bandcamp if it helps my rankings under ‘Best Selling’.” (asked by Tracey)

Balancing Music & Family:

Managing your time, setting priorities, and measuring your progress

12. How do I balance my time as musician, husband(wife), and father(mother)? “There seems to be days when there is simply no time…” (asked by Joel and Charles)

13.  How do I continue to focus on my music with a full-time job? “How much time a week or day do you think I should be spending on music with a full time job?” (asked by Casey, Dylan, and Keven)

BONUS Videos

The big picture, and being ready for next big opportunity

Just some more unsolicited advice from me :)

14. How to start bringing it all together, NOW, with whatever you have!

15. Identify your dreams and be ready!

So… was this helpful?

Well, that’s it for now everyone. Thank you so much for your great questions.

Now I have a question for you. Did you have have any “Ah-ha!” moments while watching these videos? Let me know in the comments below what you feel like you have taken away today. 

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  • http://twitter.com/niclake Nic Lake

    Awesome. My first EP comes out next week, so all of these tips are going to be SUPER handy. Thanks for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheOneAndOnlyBrandonJoswick Brandon Joswick

    This is fantastic. Thanks for all the time you put into this!!!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      You’re welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/raelene.bly.9 Raelene Bly

    Wow! This is soooo Good!!! I only had time to watch a few but this is so helpful! I will definitely make time later today… Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

  • http://twitter.com/skyflyingby sky flying by

    andy, thanks for doing this. i was wondering if you would be thinking of doing this semi-regularly? in that i had a question, just never got around to posting it. mostly around audience apathy. how do you even deal with that. i have a very small audience that i try to engage with, but that it either goes unnoticed or there’s just such a strong sense of apathy that yeah, no one just seems to care. i wonder if you ever had to deal with that to any extent. i’ve been doing my best to ignore it, and 99% of the time i just keep on truckin’ but like any other person who does this music thing, that 1% of time causes some consternation.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      There’s a chance I might do it again! Regarding your question… honestly that’s kind of the nature of a fanbase. At least I’ve also noticed the same phenomenon. For anything you do, only a very small amount of people will interact. And that’s ok! I think you have the right idea in just truckin’ on. Your fanbase will continue to grow and hopefully you’ll see more and more engagement.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Andy. This was a great reinforcement of a bunch of things that I kind of already knew, but needed more encouragement to really understand and believe. Very excited to begin applying your advice to my music and promotion. :-)

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Awesome! I’m really glad this was helpful!

  • Tracey Chattaway

    Thanks for sharing some of your insights Andy. Your openness and honesty is a breath of fresh air! I remember you mentioned the “release your music quickly and more often” in a previous blog, and this has helped me relax more into my music writing process. Currently, I’m working on a couple small music projects with tighter deadlines and limitations on number of instruments used, which was partly inspired by your comment above. I’m treating it like a bit of an experiment. So thank you!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      That’s so great! I’m glad to hear that some of these tips are helping!

  • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

    This is a great idea. Thanks so much for doing these videos. Love how articulate you are and how concise your answers are. Perfect for the musician in a rush :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.swirsky Stephen Swirsky

    Thank you so much for taking your time to help me and many others! I’m sure everyone would agree with me in saying you are truly a great inspiration not only musically, but character wise as well! You have a great and willing heart to help others and we are all incredibly grateful!

  • Mark

    Wow! Thanks Andy. My question answered first! Your answer affected me deeply and opened up questions that were needed to be addressed. I have made music for 30 years, bedroom, recorded and live. Your answer has helped me decide on whether to follow the audience and give them what they want or do what I feel is right. A great weight lifted off me as I decided to do my own thing and start properly on the path to creating sounds that have been with me a long time but was more scared at what others may think. Thank you. Mark.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ihor.chalapchi Ihor Chalapchi

    u are awesome!

  • River

    No ‘aha’ moments personally but still useful and informative for which I’m just very grateful. Above all it serves as inspiration for me and I thank you for that.

    I think that questions about the what/where/how of inspiration are probably harder to define than practical process (euipment, technique, process of recording etc). In that light it would have been interesting to hear if you have managed to develop any particular processes that make things easier for you or at least make it more efficient so that you can maximize the use of your time in creating music/songs.

    If someone’s been at something long enough they tend to develop some successful patterns or processes that help and makes them more efficient. As regards how you go about making music and more. It could be how you layout your room and instruments, how you maybe structure your songwriting and maybe use some kind of music sheets or such. How you structure your time etc. It’s easy to know, as you stated in one of the videos above, that we all need to take our time and that maybe some sacrifices are required etc, but what about the practical processes and ideas? What processes of your own can you identify and what structures do they follow?

    Generosity requires courage :-) Thanks for being someone who shares openly and freely!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.john.359 Tony John

    These videos are great, man! I agree with documenting musical ideas. I often come up with ideas only to forget them as soon as I put my instrument down! Also there are so many more outlets to get your music out now than there were just a few years ago. There are a plethora of internet radio stations that accept all kinds of new music. Each may have their own submission standards or procedures. I only wish they were around when I was first starting out. Keep up the good work!

  • Mike

    I noticed the first video is missing (unless I missed it somewhere ha)

  • Braden

    Watching these, and getting through the first module of the Music Passage Project, gives me an odd feeling of simultaneous terror and excitement that is comparable to the feeling I got years ago when the reality hit me that I was going to marry my girlfriend. I didn’t fully believe it would ever happen, I didn’t think I was ready, but all of a sudden I know I’m moving forward and, to whatever end, it’s happening. If I may be so ending-of-an-inspirational-90′s-movie.

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