Top 7 Do’s for Successful Improvisation

Do you think you can’t improvise? Nonsense! All you need are a few chords, the right attitude, and a piano or keyboard. Follow these seven principles and you’ll be improvising at the keyboard in no time!

1. Do listen to what’s going on inside yourself before and while you sit down to play – your inner state will determine the emotional quality of your playing

2. Do let go of the need to be perfect. Trying to “be correct” will defeat the playful attitude necessary for improvisaiton

3. Do believe that you are good enough to begin. No one person knows it all so you might as well jump in and experience the joy of improvisation.

4. Do realize that you don’t need a lot of theory or technique before you’re ready to play piano in the new age style. If you don’t begin now, when will you?

5. Do understand that improvisation is not some mysterious skill, but a game that can be learned and played just like any other game

6. Do enjoy the process and let go of the outcome. Trying to control what comes out of you is a sure way to stop the creative flow

7. Do stop playing when you become bored or indifferent. There is a natural starting and stopping point to playing. Just like anything, when you feel yourself growing disinterested, stop playing.

Helpful Tips For Calendar Printing

As the end of the year approaches, we get more inquiries about how to print a calendar. Calendars are a popular marketing tool, so many businesses will print a calendar for the holiday season, for a few good reasons.

Branded calendars make an excellent marketing tool and often a business will print these and hand out to clients as end-of-the-year thank you gifts, and it works because;

Everybody uses calendars
The sooner someone gets something for free, the sooner they will use it.
Make a great tool for brand awareness as it keeps your brand in front of your client all the time.

While you might think to go the DIY route, having your product manufactured by the professionals will result in a high-quality end result that will do your business proud and actually work out cheaper per piece. Keep these pointers in mind:

1.) The design should uniform and in-line with your brand

You want the calendar to serve as more than just a tool to track dates but also to be something that will show off your business and brand in the best light possible.

Choose typography, images, colour and layout that communicates and connects in a visual way with your business. For instance, if your business is a top echelon interior designer, you are not going to choose gaudy colours and cartoon images and fat childlike typography. You would choose muted, elegant colours, clean and elegant fonts and high-resolution images that showcase some of your work.

2.) A template design might do the trick

Finding a template online that is exactly what you are looking for, or at least, goes a good long way towards your envisioned design, is super easy. Using a template also eliminates printing challenges such as incorrect alignment and bleed and trim lines. Even if you give the final design work to a professional, playing around with a few templates will get your creative uses going.

3.) Images – size matters

Because of their size, this is especially important for poster calendars but also follows for other calendar formats as well. Low-quality images will often appear blurry or pixelated when printed. Professional printing services are capable of creating photo-quality prints, but you might not be able to make the most of it when you use low-quality images. When possible try to use only high-quality, uncompressed image file formats or vector images as recommended by your printing service.

Often calendars, such as wall mounted calendars, will require large images and it is crucial to use high-resolution images to avoid ending up with images that are pixelated, blurry and simply looks ‘yuck’. Using good quality uncompressed images file formats or vector images will do the trick. Whether your calendars are large or small tented calendars, the image quality will convey the subliminal message that your business is a quality business as well.

Also, keep in mind that most monitors use an RGB colour model while most printers use CMYK. This is automatically accounted for when you print. However, if your monitor isn’t calibrated properly, the colours you see on your screen might not match what finally comes out on print. Another reason to let the professionals do what they do best.

4.) What will the use be?

Consider where in the sales funnel the potential recipients are. Are they in the middle of the funnel and you are only trying to catch attention? Don’t waste money on expensive high gloss wall calendars but rather consider card calendars of even magnetic options.

In contrast, poster calendars and wall calendars would be practical for more targeted distribution at the bottom of the funnel. At this point, you’re fairly certain your customer is closer to a sale, or has already gone through with a purchase and may be close to buying again.

On the other hand, if you know your customers are at the exit-end of the buying funnel, they have purchased before and you want to keep their loyalty, then top-of-mind-awareness is key. Consider high gloss, superior quality calendars of large proportions that client would not mind hanging in their office because of the visual appeal.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

Signs of Poor Taxi Service

find it easier to travel on a daily basis now. The lines between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services have blurred. This assimilation has increased expectation for ride sharing services to operate more like a professional cab service.

For a smooth and non-stressful ride, it is recommended to watch out for these red flags before a service is hired.

Unusually high fares
Cut throat competition has forced transport sector to drive innovation and continue reducing fares. This has been true for taxi services too. Unless there is a shortage of drivers due to high demand or premium services being offered, there is no incentive to pay extra.

Questionable maintenance
Good taxi services walk the extra mile. They often partner up with local bodies to have their cars certifiably inspected for faults. This translates into a safe and relaxed environment for its customers and repeats business. Any taxi service failing to ensure such maintenance regularly will naturally lose credibility.

Resistance towards technology adoption
Without a shred of doubt, technology has become one of the most integral parts of our lives. Without it, our complex ecosystem will collapse. A good taxi service tries to stay ahead of the curve and employs latest technologies. While this does increase their cost in the short term, it brings more revenue in the longer term. As a rule of thumb a good taxi company will employ at a bare minimum: –

– GPS tracking

– online bookings

– dedicated platform for drivers and customers

– email confirmation

Inflexible payment solutions
In an ever digitalizing economy, less people are carrying cash with them for daily settlements. While a bad taxi service turns blind eye to this, good taxi services see opportunity to retain and expand existing customer base. As such, they offer customers the convenience of paying via not only credit cards but cash and even wallet systems.

Non-existent or poor customer service
A substandard taxi company does not feel obligated to ensure customer satisfaction. Instead, it operates on a basic, no-frills business model. An important pillar of customer satisfaction is during service or after sale service. This is done to ensure that customers have an option to provide feedback or complaint about the service. The underlying idea is to empower users to speak directly to a company representative; to share positive feedback or raise concern.

A taxi service operating without customer service could potentially turn out to be the single biggest red flag. It goes on to display the concerned company has for its users.

Unprofessional drivers
Demonstrating professionalism for a driver is myriad of, rather subjective, intangibles. Being a professional driver is not simply about driving fluidly but also ensuring customer accompanied does not feel uncomfortable in any way. A good taxi company should, therefore, have a system of metrics in place to rate the performance of its drivers.

The list is not exhaustive in any form. Indeed, many of the indicators might be trivial to one person but a deal breaker for other. At the end of the day, the service that focuses its energies on customer convenience and facilitation is likely to triumph over others. If you need the best taxi service then make sure that they don’t have bad signs.

Pop Music Producer Roadblocks to Success

Wannabe producers always have at least one fatal flaw. Now the flaw varies from person to person, but they basically fall under 3 categories. So to lets list out the rules to keep you in the game.

People Skills

Lets start with the granddaddy. This is a people biz hombre. You deal with people all the time, whether it be label execs, engineers, or the talent you are producing.

Because of this critical point your people skills will make or break your career. This may seem overrated if you come from the school of thought that says, “if I get a single it will be enough.” Honestly, maybe. But your success is so much more likely if you treat people in a way that makes them feel good.

That is what brings Rick Ruben success in this industry. That man is unquestionably the biggest thing on the scene. He has hits in all genres from Rap, to Country and people want to work with the cat because he makes them feel good, and alive.

Do you do this?

If not maybe its time to learn. Go get a copy of How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It could be a career changing book

Overshadowing

The second mistake that many produces make is to cast a looming shadow over an entire project. This is usually because the producer is a control freak. This type of producer has their fingerprints all over an album, and the artist feels suffocated by their presence.

Music is supposed to be an outflow of a vision. A song comes to life out of an artist, if they feel stifled by an overbearing oppressive regime you are not going to get the best production out of them. That is the truth.

Now, that does not mean that a good producer cannot point out flaws and errors, it just means that it should be done in a way that makes the talent want to change, not hole up and die.

Work on allowing the artist to breathe. Give them space to be an artist, but yet keep the project moving forward. Its tough, but hey that’s your job.

Limited Chops

The last area that hang up wannabe producers is a limited pallet of chops. This shows up in the inability to get the sounds, beats, or vocal takes because of lack of knowledge. A know-it-all attitude is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot.