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Written by JENNI O'Nyons   
Friday, 29 April 2011 13:00

Local singer details how to become an online musician

As an aspiring singer, Melissa Martens, 19, was pleasantly surprised by the process of recording her first EP. Martens finished recording her six song EP, titled “Standstill,” at the beginning of April and plans to release it on iTunes soon.

Martens says she wanted to record for years but didn’t know how to. She decided to turn to an expert: Elijah Lucian, founder of EvoLucian Music.

Lucian, has worked with various up-and-coming artists, including Internet sensation Tay Zonday, who is known for his YouTube song “Chocolate Rain.” Lucian built a recording area in his Cochrane apartment seven years ago and developed EvoLucian music two years ago.

Local artist Melissa Martens,19, who describes her sound as folky pop-rock, plans to perform at open mic nights to promote her new EP.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Butz

Martens says that thanks to Lucian, what she thought would be a painful process turned out to be much easier and more gratifying than she anticipated.

Here are Martens’ top eight tips towards becoming an online artist:

1. Write Songs

Martens has been writing songs since she was 11 years old. “I had hundreds of songs written," she says. "It was just the process of going through and choosing good ones.” She mentions that she doesn’t necessarily write about her personal experiences but is inspired by them. The melody usually comes first for Martens with lyrics soon to follow.

 Lanny Williamson, owner of Beach Advance Audio Production in Calgary, says that when it comes to standing out, “a killer song always helps.”

 2. Know What You Want

Martens says the whole recording process was experimental for her and that she learned a lot about what she wants creatively from her music. “I realized that what I thought was my sound, wasn’t.”

She adds that although she learnt a lot along the way, she would recommend that for a more focused and efficient experience, new artists should know the sound they want beforehand.

3. Rehearse

“I get people calling ‘I want to come down and make a record,’’’ says Williamson. “I say ‘Are you well rehearsed?’ and they’ll tell me ‘We get together every now and again.’” He says rehearsing religiously is important not only because it makes for a more efficient studio time and shows commitment, but also improves the overall sound.

Along with rehearsing comes confidence, says Lucian. While recording he told Martens: “Be confident no matter what you’re doing – performing or recording. You need the confidence to follow through and pursue it. Unless you’re serious about it, you’re just an amateur. To be respected and to have some kind of career and recognition, you’ve got to work hard.”

4. Find a Studio

Martens was approached by an acquaintance of Lucian’s after she performed at an open mic night at Café Koi last spring.

Lucian says: “My goal or mission with the company is to help starting artists like Melissa to come out with their first demo or album. I like to familiarize them with the recording process because a lot of big studios aren’t going to spend time with you to do that.”

5. Record Instrumentals

Martens says the recording process lasted from September 2010 until April 2011, with a few breaks in between. She says after a trial and error process, she and Lucian decided how the acoustic guitar should sound for each track.

6. Record Vocals

Martens says that after she was satisfied with the instrumentals, she recorded her lead and backing, and continued changing and tweaking her songs along the way.

Williamson warns, “Anyone can record, but not anyone can record a good song” and that, “the average recording project takes 1-2 years."

However, “You can get something quick and dirty recorded in a few weeks,” he jokes.

7. Have Music Produced

Lucian says you can find someone to produce your work or produce yourself, which requires technical knowledge. Martens says that Lucian produced her EP, but she was pleased with the creative input she was afforded during the process.

8. Get on iTunes 

“Recording and releasing onto iTunes is absolutely a lot easier than people think; distribution has changed because of the web," Lucian says. "The last time I checked, it was $35-$40 to release your stuff onto iTunes. The whole industry has been revolutionized in that way.”

Williamson adds: “Releasing online still is as competitive as it’s always been. If you want to be in the marketplace and be professional, than you have to really do a good job. There’s a big difference between just throwing something out there and focusing on releasing the best album possible.”

Martens says she will continue to perform at live events to promote her music, as well as “test the waters” in terms of her sound. The advice she offers other young musicians looking to share their music is “just do it.”