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iOS

TAD: a new app to help musicians put artwork together quickly

TAD App

We've come across a new iOS app recently which may be of interest to musicians in need of a bit of help with creating artwork for online releases (as well as those who are short of cash for hiring a designer). It's called 'TAD' - short for 'Thumbnail Art Design' - and in a nutshell, it allows you to use your smartphone to create a cover, quickly and easily, for a digital release.

Aimed at 'time poor musicians who aren't designers', it allows users to add text and other art elements to a picture of their band (or something else) and create release artwork within minutes. Filters are available for the images, as are sleeve templates based on classic sleeve designs. You can export the finished artwork in various resolutions, including 3000 x 3000 pixels (making it suitable for use with iTunes, Beatport and Spotify).

The best way to get a sense of what the app does is to watch the below video, which gives a simple demonstration of what it does. You can also find out more about the app on the official TAD website.

Ultimately TAD is a nifty little app which I can see a lot of musicians using on the bus to band practice. It's not really suitable for creating printed artwork and as such won't entirely replace the need for a graphic designer any time soon, but it definitely has its uses - even if only for playing around with ideas for sleeves. Certainly bands who only ever release music digitally will find it a very useful tool.

The app can currently be downloaded from the iOS App Store for free until 14 December, after which you can buy it for $1.99.

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Using Instagram to promote your band

cat-chris.jpg

Chris Singleton's cat, with a 1972 sort of vibe going on.

As a self-professed digital sort of dude, I'm meant to be ridiculously ahead of the curve on just about every level, but given that musically my head (and haircut) is somewhere back in 1972, it's probably no wonder that occasionally I miss out on the rise of a social media craze every now and then. One such craze is Instagram - I've only recently started using it (hence my paltry following) but I must say I do love it - probably because it makes all my photos look like they were shot in 1972, which, as discussed, is where I feel most comfortable, even though I wasn't born then.

Anyhoo, I'm sure you're all more clued up than me on Instagram, and have been using it for ages to take and share retro pictures of your cat, but in case you haven't heard about it, it's a photo taking/filtering/sharing app for your iOS or Android device and it's great (for a full introduction, I'd suggest reading this Wikihow article). What you clued-up musical kids might not have considered though, is that beyond allowing you to take and share retro pictures of said cat, it also has potential to be a useful tool for promoting your band. This is because people can subscribe to feeds of your images, meaning that fans can follow your band, pictorially speaking, all over the place. In other words: on tour, backstage, at the recording studio, in the toilet, doing lines in the toilet and so on - in realtime. Which is kind of funky, and I'm sure would be right up the street of your die-hard nutjob fan (or fans, if you are very lucky). Alternatively, non-fans may come across cool pictures you've been taking of your cat doing coke in the jacks, and love them so much that they investigate your non-cat-narcotics-related activities (i.e., your music) a bit further.

So, why not steal a march on all the other desperate musicians out there by setting up an Instagram profile dedicated to your band, and creating a photographic diary of your musical life? Here's some quick tips to help you do just that:

  • Download the Instagram app (obviously).
  • Pick a good username that allows fans to find your profile easily.
  • Make sure your account is public, so that the great unwashed can see your pictures (you can do this under the settings option).
  • Only post your best pictures; don't put any old rubbish up there.
  • Don't just share pictures of your band - post other cool images that are likely to get shared / liked by other users.
  • Enable sharing of your pictures on Facebook and Twitter (and any other social networks you may use).
  • Always add captions for your pics and (VERY important this) accompany them with hashtags, so that the image is easily discoverable in Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
  • Follow other users and comment on their pictures (the 'find friends' options will help you do this), so that they think you like their inane, lo-fi, washed-out pictures of stag dos, and feel inclined to follow you back.
  • Embed your Instagram feed on your band's website and add a 'follow' button.

Hope that helps you on your way to musical stardom, and if not, well, grab the nearest cat.

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