On Wednesday 25/6/14, I attended a free for members event organised by the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) titled ‘Marketing Your Live Gig 101‘.

Due to afternoon/evening private teaching commitments in previous years, this was my first time attending one of APRA’s events. So before I outline the night, let me just say how happy I am to have a service like APRA available for the Australian music community. As I mentioned above, this event was completely free for songwriters registered with APRA (free membership) – including beers and finger food prior to the actual Panel Discussion. Good form APRA.


The night was made up of 3 unique industry players:

Joe Gould

Drummer and key organiser in Sydney-based ‘The Crooked Fiddle Band’. These guys are completely self-managed and have done huge things as an independent act over the past 8 years.

Adam Lewis

An industry all-rounder, Adam has been a long running FBi radio presenter, venue booker and gig promoter, as well has having significant experience in A&R , media and communications, music writing and DJing. Adam is currently the full-time Booker for Goodgod Small Club on Liverpool St in the Sydney CBD.

Nik Tropiano

A music veteran of over 17 years, Nik has owned and operated his own independent label and is currently working as a manager and publicist. His credentials are pretty huge. For more info, look him up.

The Event as a whole:

The event in total went for 2 hours, with 1 hour for networking, free beer and snacks beforehand and the second hour for the discussion. I would highly recommend attending future events for the entirety of the 2 hours as I met and traded contacts with some great people. I see this as a hugely important ingredient to success in any industry.

The Panel Discussion:

The speakers that APRA organised for this discussion brought some great knowledge to the table and I found myself leaving the building with a stronger understanding in this area than I had walking in. Each of the speakers answered questions and points raised by Greg Morrow, who coordinated the flow of the discussion, openly and honestly. The only area that I thought could have been elaborated on a little further was the actual process that can go into marketing an independent artist’s gig (or more specifically – tour) campaign on a very low budget. When I asked a question regarding the use of a checklist, the speakers (Nik directly) responded that there ‘was no simple checklist’. I was pretty skeptical. Surely there was some protocol that you could follow to guarantee heads at the door, assuming your music is any good and you have some descent recordings. I guess this is something that you have to figure in the end through experience.

Resources by Joe Gould

The point from above did get cleared up later by Joe, who mentioned a fantastic eBook by a NZ artist called Blink. The book is called ‘DIY TOURING THE WORLD‘  costs whatever you’re willing to pay. I’m just about to start reading it, so I can’t vouch for how great it is just yet. However, fellow panel speaker Adam also raved about the quality. If that’s enough for you…


Click here for a Review of the Book by NZ Website ‘The Corner’.

Joe, as the legend that he is, also mentioned a page that he made on his website with some fantastic resources. Among these is a checklist style spreadsheet, which can be used as part of a marketing campaign (just what I was looking for) and some other useful links.

I highly recommend this page: Joe Gould from The Crooked Fiddle Band’s Resources

The Importance of Quality Engagement:

A strong recurring point being raised amongst the panel was the importance of engagement in various mediums with the community that your music exists inside. This means going to gigs and making contacts relevant to your genre or style and following them up digitally as well as physically. This is the main area that I plan on resolving with my own music career. I mean, how can you expect to build and grow an audience without some performer loyalty and reliability. From today onwards, I will go to at least one gig per week. I am going to meet people and become a frequent and active member of the Sydney Music Community. While I did feel this as important before, APRA’s event has cemented my feelings.

Another related area of engagement that the panel emphasised, was the weakness of the Facebook Like. The speakers wanted to make sure that the audience understood that all marketing campaigns must make use of various mediums and Facebook is no be-all, end-all solution. Nik even brought up the point that while one of the bands that he manages, ‘Regular John’, had sold more than 20,000 copies of their previous record, they only had 2,000 Facebook Likes. Following this fact, Joe jokingly put forward the idea of messaging every one of his Facebook Fans (The Crooked Fiddle Band) and telling them all to Unlike the Page if they weren’t actually emotionally invested in the Band’s musical endeavours. While his idea of ‘cutting the fat’ from the area of social media engagement sounds tempting (my thoughts on the ‘Like‘ is pretty much in agreement with Joe), I dare him to follow through. No matter what anyone says, Facebook Likes still look impressive. And perhaps if there was a better way of personalising the gaining of a Like, it’ll carry more weight. What if fans were contacted directly once the Like occurred? Would this be too time consuming for the artist? Or perhaps too pushy from a Fan’s perspective?

Marketing Your Live Gig through Blogs:

While a simple google search can yield some great results if you’re looking to start pushing your music out to the tastemakers of the industry, Nik Tropiano mentioned a fantastic website resource that is so good that I’m kicking myself that I hadn’t heard of it before. It’s called Hype Machine. This site is an aggregate for a number of influential music blogs out there. It tracks song plays across these blogs and can work as a database to find a musician’s niche audience. The blogosphere is definitely an area that I am looking to get my music out into.

The Importance of a Mailing List

The final point that this Panel discussion pushed, which is one that I’ve only recently been trying to improve myself, is the use of a Mailing List. If there is one thing that someone can take away by reading this post/reflection or attending the event, it’s that the Mailing List is the only true way to directly engage with fans on a digital spectrum. From my experience, Mail Chimp is the best one around.


Be sure to Sign Up for mine on the right —> 



I hope that my reflection on Wednesday night’s APRA event will be of some benefit to other artists looking to get their music heard and people at their shows. I believe that Marketing Your Live Gig is an important step towards a successful career as an independent musician. If you have any extra thoughts on some of the topics that I’ve discussed, feel free to share them below.

A Big thank you to APRA for continuing to be an awesome part of the Australian Music landscape.


Speak soon,


Towards the end of last year while I was overseas, my housemate sent me a message to notify me that he had brought his grandma’s record player home… I didn’t know how to react. While I was really exciting about the prospect of delving into the wonderful world of vinyl, I also knew that it would mean the beginnings of a very expensive and addictive hobby… No, not hobby. Passion. As expected, I returned home with an assortment of great records picked up at various Brooklyn flea markets. Vinyl records have been making a massive comeback over the past few years. The tangible, physical value of vinyl over CDs, in addition to the superior listening experience that a good home setup carries over digital audio is more than enough of a reason for this.  In my trip to the USA, including New York, I was amazed to discover that many of the independent artists out there aren’t evening bothering to press CD’s anymore. What is becoming more and more apparent, is that a new release will be pressed to a limited run of vinyls, which include a digital voucher of the CD, as well as regular digital distribution. To me, this makes perfect sense except for the whole “recorded in digital, pressed to analog” thing. I’m curious whether the sound quality will be all that better.

Our HiFi Setup

So after working for a short time with my housemate’s grandma’s basic 90’s Kenwood vinyl setup, we both decided that it would be a sound investment to buy some more expensive gear and do this thing for real. So off we went to get a vinyl player. Pat (housemate) picked out a nice Sansui P-50 from Classic HiFi in Newtown up the road. Next, was a decent amp. My dad is an electrical engineer and he happens to have lots of nice gear just ‘lying around’. So he lent me his Sansui 555a on a permanent basis. Finally, Pat and I went back to Classic HiFi and picked out a pair of nice sounding Dali Speakers. All setup! …. Except for one thing. A few weeks later, the vinyl collection was getting a little out of hand.

The great vinyl setup in my place, including our new storage solution
The great vinyl setup in my place, including our new storage solution


Storing Vinyls

After scouring the internet for worthwhile vinyl storage solutions, we decided to go basic and collect a bunch of plastic milk crates. We would spray paint black and it would all work out. Cheap and easy. However, it didn’t work out. The records did not fit into the crates with their protective plastic sleeves. Aargh. That was it. The final straw. So I proposed to Pat that if he bought the materials, I would make us some nice DIY vinyl storage. Another project and an opportunity to get my Handyman-Sam hat on. And so I am lead to writing this post. Here, I’ll put up all of the measurements that I came up with and detail the experience that I had in making this basic storage solution. I’ll warn you, I’m no expert. So I learnt a few lessons along the way. All of which I’ll share with you. If anyone else decides to make something similar, please let me know so I can see how it looks! Feel free to use my design in any way that you wish that isn’t aimed at commercial gain.

DIY vinyl storage

Plan of Attack

I wanted my design to be simple, stackable and sturdy. It is shaped like a cube, but a little wider to allow for more records + browsing space. On the back, it has to planks of ply that run over the top and bottom with the aim of added extra strength and squaring the box up to proper 90 degree angles. It uses 30mm pine wood with a walnut varnish and has 2 strips of wood on the bottom and one on the top to allow it to be stacked. All in all, very simple.

Things you’ll need
  • An electric or battery operated drill.
  • An assortment of drill bit sizes including a phillips head attachment.
  • Fine sandpaper. Use either 240 or 320 – no smaller than 240. It should look a grey sort of colour. I made a mistake and got some sandpaper that was too course. It ended up OK though because I was able to smooth out bit of wood that had splintered when it was cut.
  • Turpentine.
  • Stain & Varnish – Pick a colour that you like. I used Walnut Satin.
  • Paintbrushes.
  • 8G x 50mm Timber Screws – 50 pack will be sufficient.
  • Sanding block. You’ll need this. Trust me. Better yet, get an electric sander.
  • Newspaper to put the wood on while varnish dries.
  • Tape Measure.
  • A slab that is a sufficient size for your project. Mine was 900x2100mm.

Materials needed1

slab type


The Process

1. Pick out the type of wood that you want to use. As cheap as ply is, it warps fairly easily. And unless you get anything thicker than 16mm, it might not be sturdy enough. My own research has also lead me to the conclusion that varnish is no good on ply. So if it’s the woody-texture that you’re after, ply is no good. The big slab of ply that we picked out was $89 from Bunnings. In my opinion, that isn’t too bad at all. After all, this is the most important ingredient.

Picking the slab

 2. Cut the wood to size. For our two vinyl record boxes, here are the measurements:

  • Top and Bottom panels = 410x325mm (x4)
  • Side panels = 330x325mm (x4)
  • Back supports = 410×150 (x4)
  • Feet = 325×100 (x2, unless you want both boxes to have them – x4)
  • Top connector = 325×50 (x1, unless you want both boxes to have them – x2)

If you’re lucky, you’ll get all of the measurements cut to size and the friendly guy working at Bunnings won’t charge you for it. I don’t have a table saw, you see.

Slab getting cut
What a legend!
Excited POG
Pat is a mixture of excited and nervous as he hopes all of my measurements are correct.

The panels are cut

The planks are cut

3. Time to get sanding! Whip out that sanding block that I mentioned earlier and sand up the wood until it is nice and smooth using either 240 or 320 grade paper. REMEMBER: SAND WITH THE GRAIN.

4. Paint your first layer of varnish. Make sure you stir the tin before you begin. Don’t layer the brush too thick, otherwise you’ll get too much drip going over the sides of the wood. Paint one side, let it dry and paint the other. This is the part where you have to be the most patient. When you set it up to dry, I would recommend against lying it flat on the newspaper like I did. It increases the possibility that the wet parts will stick to the newspaper which is a massive pain to peel off. Best set it up on an angle like you’ll see a bit lower.

varnish layer 1

5. After the first coat is all dry on both sides, time to get sanding again. This is also an opportunity to look over the job that you did and sand out any drip or remove brush hairs that you didn’t catch during the first layer.

sanding block

sanded layer 1

6. Once you’ve sanded this layer back nice and smooth, get painting on another coat. Same drill as before, where you’ll be really careful with any drips and lose brush hairs. Slow and steady, my friends. Don’t rush it by slapping a whole bunch on the wood at a time. Here is where I decided to start laying the drying wood against the wall on an angle. Much recommended, so long as the base is on about 45degrees to the floor.

varnish layer 2

varnish layer 2a

varnish layer 2b
Yes, I was playing some guitar in between working on this project. The fumes were pretty strong.

7. Guess what, time to sand again! If you’re doing a really good varnish job, your main goal here should be the smoothness factor. For me, I was happy with two layers of varnish. So after sanding, I commenced the fun part – puting it together!

sanded layer 2

the final pieces all varnished
My finished pieces, ready to assemble.
Project mascot, Angie
The finished pieces with my project mascot, Angie. As cute as she is, she would make a great tradesman’s dog. She is more than content with sleeping on the rug beside me while I work.

8. Sitting the top or bottom panels above the sides, estimate some good spots to screw in and mark them with a pencil. Using a drill bit around the same size as the screw, drill in accordingly. I think the one that I used was about 3mm. After the pilot holes are all made, get a larger drill bit and drill into the wood just a little bit to be sure that the head of the screw won’t stick out at all. This is essential for a final, polished look.

pilot hole drill bit

screw it together

pilot hole

9. Once the top and sides are all screwed in, attach the panel supports on the back. Don’t be shy about being forceful when squaring up the corners with the boards. This part will be necessary in making an equal box. Drill in screws as before and use as many as you feel you need.

screw on back

screw on back 2

10. The final part of this project is attaching the wood that will allow the boxes to lock together. I had a whole bunch of trouble with this part because my friendly Bunnings cutter didn’t do too good a job on the dimensions of my pieces of wood. Even still, do the best with what you have and be sure to use that tape measure with plenty of patience.

11. All finished! Carry your handy-work inside and set it up somewhere that all of your vinyl-collecting friends will be sure to see, and be jealous of. Well done!

Here is my finished product:

The finished product 1

the finished product 2


Final Thoughts

You know what they say… ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself.’ And so far, I’ve yet to find any DIY vinyl storage solutions that are simple, cheap and long-term. I’ve managed to make a set of quality boxes for less than $120 with less than a day’s solid work if you don’t count all of the time spent waiting for the varnish to dry. They also look greatEnjoy!

You know those things that we intend to do, but don’t often get around to doing? Those tasks that slowly eat away at both our sanity and patience until we finally reach a point where we say “no more”? If you don’t know what I mean, see the following video:

Recently, on a return trip from the Blue Mountains to visit my sister, a friend of her’s mentioned that he had just built “one of those IKEA Pedalboards”. I was intrigued. We discussed some of the basics and I spent the rest of the day scouring forums and doing some research on it.

Here are some of the great resources that I came across in my research:

* Harmony Central – Official IKEA/GORM Pedalboard Appreciation Thread

* The Gear Page – My IKEA Gorm Pedalboard Build Thread

* End of the Game – DIY Effects Pedalboard

For a long, long time I’ve wanted to get my pedalboard situation sorted. I’ve got some nice gear, but the board itself has always been the weakest link. I currently have the CnB Pedalboard/Case:


It isn’t entirely bad. It can be done up with a lid which has a handle and acts as a sort of flight case. The exterior is also sturdy enough for most forms of transport… I would be dubious about putting it on a plane though.

The main shortfalls with this board are:

  1. The sides of the base have a lip, so unless you are using a lead with a right-angled plug on the input and output of the board, space is wasted.
  2. The board says it will fit 8 pedals, which is fine – if you only use the one standard size pedal in addition to right angled plugs on your leads (see above). Unless mounted on some woodblock or something, I’d say the board fits a max of 5 pedals.
  3. In an effort to allow players to velcro their pedals straight to the board, the base is lined with this carpet-sort of material. It is thin and nasty and no pedal will stick to it – ever. Good thought, bad execution.
  4. Since the board is basically just a flat box, there is no room to fit a power-brick and nowhere to hide your cables and wiring. When the pedals are in and (unsecurely) placed, it looks bad.
  5. Aesthetics are important. (see above).

A couple of months ago, I had considered getting a Pedal Train… but with a price-tag of around $300 for the one that I wanted, I just couldn’t justify it.

Enter, the IKEA Gorm Pedalboard.


What is it?

The board is based on the IKEA Gorm Shelves. They come in packs of two and can be purchased with either 3 slats or 5 slats:


  • As a softwood material, the completed pedalboard will be cheap, light, and with proper support, strong.
  • Due to the fact that the board comes in pack of two, there will also be plenty of extra wood to angle the board comfortably and brace any weak sections.
  • Finally, the slatted design of the shelf is useful for tidying cables and hiding power, which makes the board good to go with very little effort.


Plan of Attack

Before we begin with the process, let me outline my intentions with my board.

Firstly, I decided to purchase the set of 5 slat shelves, with the plan to create 2 boards – A large one (4 slats) for my electric guitar setup, and a small one (3 slats) for my acoustic guitar setup. I want to make my board look as pro as possible which means sweet carry handles, a glossy colour finish, and all power and cable routing as out of site as possible. I want these boards to last me forever… Or at least until I’m motivated enough for another similar DIY project.


What I Used
  • 2x Cans of Spray Paint – I picked green because it is a badass colour. If you are only making one board, 1x can will do fine.
  • Velcro – This is a really important ingredient for this project and if skimped on, has the potential to create a whole heap of unnecessary frustration. I got 2x 5m rolls of loop and 1x 3m roll of industrial strength hook. Again, if only doing one board, 1x roll of 5m loop will be sufficient.
  • Rubber Feet – 2x four packs should do the trick. Black is a good colour for this.
  • 4x handles – Two for each of my boards. Different boards, different handles.
  • Right-angle brackets – I only bought four but had two lying around. I used six, so you should get six.
  • Sand Paper – You’ll need this to smooth out the wood for painting, and to strip back the paint for the Velcro adhesive.
  • Cable-Ties – get a packet of medium to large ones
  • Power board – get one with surge protection (most have it) and wider-spaced plugs. The wider spacing will be useful for those vintage pedals with large power-supplies. You’ll need two of these if you’re doing the extra board, obviously.
  • A device that can power many of your pedals from a single source. I have the Artec SPB-8 Power Brick. Well regarded examples include:
  • Saw – This is required to cut the wood.
  • Cordless Drill – To make holes in the wood for screws cable-ties.
  • 2x 77x51cm Gorm Shelves – Get the smaller one if you like. For me, the more wood to work with the better.






The Process

 1. Cut your shelf according to how large you want your board. Since I’m making two, I cut one with 3 slats and one with 4. Keep the off-cuts.


2. Cut the 2-slat board so that you now have 3 individual slats (with the end still attached). Two of these will be used to wedge the board up, the third will be cut in half and used as braces to strengthen the board.


3. Sand everything. The smoother you do it, the cleaner the end result will be. I used an electric sander – which kicked ass. In hindsight, I was a little lazy on this area so do it well.


4. Cut the single slat to size by firstly measuring it to the larger board and then the smaller. You should have the perfect amount. With a hammer, knock off the end pieces of this slat to give a bit extra in length.


5. Securely screw the brace to the board and sand it back further. Now we have strength!


6. Now attach the right angle bracket to the single length slats. This will wedge our board up at a comfortable angle.



7. For better weight distribution and for the sake of the board’s back rubber feet, I decided to sand off the base a little. Necessary? Not sure. Seems to work though.


8. Time to paint! I decided to use spray paint because I figured that it would be cheaper ($10 per can) and it is touch dry within 20-30mins. One of my favourite colours is green, so I painted my boards that colour. You will need to do several layers to make it nice and glossy.



9. In between paint drying sessions, I decided to mutilate the base of my pedals – which is essential if you want the Velcro to stick properly. All pedals come with rubber underneath and for some, it covers the entire base. Peel this off with a flat-head screwdriver and attach the industrial-strength hook velcro.


10. The multi-layers of paint have now dried and the board looks great. (It was a very sunny spot where I took this photo, so the white bits are reflections of light.)


11. Time to add the handles… I didn’t screw mine on directly in the middle. I moved them up a bit to support the added weight from the wedge and from the power supply that will sit below.



12. Apply your rubber feet. I’ve seen a few builds of this where they added upwards of eight but I only used four. Drill the back wedge end on a bit of an angle so it works with that extra sanding that you did.


13. Sand back the sections of your panels where Velcro will sit. The adhesive will stick better to a matte surface.




14. Run along two rows per panel of the loop Velcro roll. You will very quickly discover why we bought 10m.


15. Attach power-board and power-supply by drilling any necessary holes to the back and using cable-ties.


16. Figure out where you’re going to place your pedals and wire them up! FINISHED! (For more information on position of effects in the chain, click HERE. I’ll write up an article on this at some point in the future…)

Figure out their order and wire them up


Final Thoughts

The end product is sturdy and practical. I’ve still got a few more pedals on order/loan that I’ll need to add to the mix at some point soon which will be no issue as this board can more than handle it. This project was fun and beneficial. Highly recommended if you have the time and motivation!