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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.

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List of the Top 10 Platforms, Tools and Networking Opportunities For Artists in 2018

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Here is The CAB Portal's list of the Top 10 platforms, tools, and networking opportunities that you can utilize to stand out from the crowd and ensure success in 2018 for your music and brand. Whether you are looking to enhance your social media marketing, take your songs' sound quality up a notch, or find opportunities to network with music industry insiders and other artists, these are our selections for the best available resources and venues that you can use. Many of these listed, we utilize on a daily basis, and have attended ourselves, so we are speaking from experience and can attest to their relevance to brand growth.

1. Best Social Media Platform for Artists - Instagram

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The world’s favorite photo-sharing app is a must for artists and bands looking to grow their fan base in an exponential way.  With almost a billion users worldwide, musicians can’t afford to not be “trending” on the mass that is Instagram.  Notably, vigorous posting habits (at opportune times), fresh hashtags (specific for your music) and analytics tools (like Iconosquare or using a business account) are all surefire ways to inflate your audience on social media.    

Instagram


2. Best DIY Website Builder - Squarespace

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For visual sleekness and friendly functionality, Squarespace offers the modern musician do-it-yourself freedom at a nominal price.  The site’s versatility for overall multimedia management, and stylish design options, boast pro stature in the world of website building.  On the flipside, with many major-label artists now onboard, Squarespace has taken liberties of charging a flat monthly fee for usage, as well as a cut of merchandise revenue generated through the online store feature.  Top to bottom, though, it’s worth a few of your beans to grow the stalk.

Squarespace


3. Best Digital Music Distribution Service Provider - Ditto Music

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Want to make 100% of the royalties to your distribution rights?  Ditto Music doles out your jams to hundreds of digital music stores (iTunes, Spotify and Amazon) and counting.  It even helped Ed Sheeran peddle some of his debut material before he got signed.  In addition to providing annual rate packages, with no commissions and unlimited songs,  Ditto has been a pioneer by launching its “Record Label in a Box,” which gives you the wherewithal to start your own independent label.

Ditto Music


4.  Best Artist Merchandise - Bands on a Budget and Merch.ly (two way tie)

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For the entrepreneurial musician on-the-move, merch is a key component.  Luckily, both Bands on a Budget and Merch.ly deliver all the salable goods your act could possibly vend.  They have your branding empowerment needs met with custom-made apparel and accessories.  Merch.ly strictly focuses on wardrobe, generating silkscreen t-shirts, hoodies, hats and canvas totes, whereas Bands on a Budget has all that plus: CD packaging/duplication, stickers, vinyl banners, and even puts your logo on pint glasses and beer koozies. These companies each have great bulk prices, free shipping and quick turnaround, so if you want your outfit looking chic and raking-in the dough, check out what these merchandisers can do for you. 

Bands on a Budget

Merch.ly


5. Best On Site Networking Opportunity - SXSW, ComplexCon, and A3C Music Festival & Conference (three way tie)

Before the origin of assembly line entertainment, there was the festival.  This triple tie for fests is a close one, but each of these events has something unique to present. 

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SXSW (South by Southwest) is Austin, Texas’ granddaddy of showcases, having grown meteorically since it’s inauguration in 1987.  Encompassing music, film and tech, it’s a half festival, half interactive media conference.  SXSW continues to serve as a relevant medium in earthly entertainment, shedding light upon up-and-coming technologies, filmmakers and songwriters.  With more than 2,000 musical acts, hundreds of conference speakers and over 300,000 goers rousingly in attendance, one can expect to discover the best of the best.  

SXSW

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ComplexCon has Long Beach, California astir in early November with its cultivated convention and almost Comic-Con-esque motifs.  Created by the mighty Pharrell Williams, and a handful of other creative-forward thinkers, this venture scintillates the senses with music, art and fashion like no other — the curators have deemed it “This is our generation’s world fair.”  ComplexCon is a veritable who’s who of hip hop, dropping by like one big block party, conversing panels of intellectuals, and millennials camped-out, waiting for the “shoes to drop” (literally), by being bestowed with the latest trends in urban street wear.

ComplexCon

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A3C (All Three Coasts) is Atlanta, Georgia’s hip hop haven, wherein one can expect not only to bear witness to the biggest names and legends in the game, but emerging emcees, producers and DJs, as well.  A3C is truly an artist’s artist gathering hell-bent on exhibiting the comprehensive culture of hip hop, and its many facets.  It is also a technological conference-holder chalked full of industry gurus and thought-provoking leaders in the forefront of their craft, brought together to help conduct in-depth workshops and tutor the next generation of aspiring rooters.

A3C Music Festival & Conference


6. Best Music Feedback Platform - DropTrack

 
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DropTrack is a quintessential tool for real-time feedback and promotion of your packaged music. Whether, you’re an artist, DJ, producer/label, or a blogger, industry connections are at your fingertips with this handy integration-based software. DropTrack offers a free 30-day trial of its services so you can test the waters; thereafter pricing runs from $19 to $199 per month — a small price to pay for the sheer number of contacts and campaigns you’ll have access to, not to mention, the ability to share and stream previews of tracks, plus personalized bundling and promo of your completed material.

Droptrack


7. Best Online Music Mastering Tool - BandLab

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Mastering is the proverbial “icing on the cake” of your finished work, and BandLab has the design features to properly finalize your product.  Multi-tracking is breezy with user-friendly mixing and editing controllers, and track storage is unlimited through the cloud.  Furthermore, they offer a new Link series, utilizing high-end mobile interfaces, making the out-and-about player’s recording experience that much more useful.  It syncs as a collaborative online service, as well, so you can share your recording journey with other creators and get direct feedback as your project develops.

BandLab


8. Best Music Marketing Platform - Feature.fm

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Aren’t ads always nothing but ear pollution?  Feature.fm changed that with their innovative style of music marketing.  This Israeli-based company found a way to arrange musical advertisement within streaming radio.  That’s right — songs instead of wordy ads.  Feature.fm’s network implements a singer or band’s jams through genre-appropriate stations for the artist’s style — therefore, exposing them to audiences that will potentially dig their stuff.  What’s more, the first 30 seconds of your song ad is free, and, it only costs mere cents more for a full ad stream.   

Feature.fm


9. Best Social Media Management Platform - Buffer

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No more poor social media time management skills.  Buffer is a free, easy and all-enveloping scheduling tool that completely organizes daily posting on multiple social media accounts.  It calendars several timeslots for your profile posts, and supplies detailed analytics with optimal posting times during peak network activity.  Since this savvy app provides your schedule for you, and helpfully hints to the least/most effective social media placement, it makes it easy to focus on your artistic endeavors fulltime.

Buffer


10. Best Cover Artwork Tool – Canva

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You don’t need to be a pro artiste to deliver topnotch cover art.  Canva makes graphic design and the visual aesthetic of your music tangible with its simple drag-and-drop setup.  You’ll have numerous stock photos, graphics and templates at your disposal to create album covers, flyers and posters that’ll catch the eyes of fans and record industry execs alike.  It also has great editing tools and filtering options for videos, as well as customized images for banners and website/blog layouts.  Canva is free for most all its features, though certain pics may cost ya, but, one certainly doesn’t need to be a well-to-do designer to illustrate here with the best of them.  

Canva