Budget-Friendly Ways Indie Artists Can Enhance Their Photography

[Editors Note: This blog article was written by Michelle Aguilar.]


Photography is one of the most powerful modes of artistic communication. It conveys and reveals to us the raw and special details of life. It’s basically what we tend to rely on in those final attempts to visually describe, share and appreciate events that cannot otherwise be done in more immediate ways.

Just think back to a favorite artist or figure; it’s likely that you may associate them with an image in mind, the way we all might picture Jimi Hendrix shredding a guitar as he usually is in photos. It’s easy to see this especially in the digital world, where, as an artist, most of your searchability and promotional material is found.

So what can you do to make sure you’re giving your band’s/work’s photography the appropriate attention, even on a budget? Read more to learn various budget-friendly alternatives for adding an extra kick to your photo galleries.

Make use of your current network

As fiction writer Dan Simmons puts it, “It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.” Let’s reverse back to the early 1900s. During that time, the study of marketing had just begun to emerge and almost all strategies based on these studies had only an emphasis on tactics for simply selling more products and services with little regard for what customers really wanted. Thus word-of-mouth was the most effective medium. It was the only way people expressed and got what they wanted.

This is still very relevant today, considering that 90% of consumers are more likely to trust and buy from a brand that is recommended by a friend. How does this all connect to making use of your current network? By expressing your needs to those in your immediate network, you increase your chances of finding someone who’s a professional photographer, a freelance photographer, a photographer just starting out, etc. By doing this, you are broadening your resources, landing affordable prices and receiving better service.

Reach out to a photography class

There are plenty of colleges, schools and programs where students are training to become photographers. You can easily search up locations in your area and find contact information. Try speaking to staff and suggesting that perhaps someone from the class might be interested in doing shoots for a band, show, or event. Leave your contact information and depending on the conversation, you can even ask permission to come into class on a certain day to introduce yourself and make the announcement.

You may mention that you’re willing to offer a small payment, but maybe wait and see if it’s really necessary. Most of the time, students are looking for experience and opportunities to expand and develop their portfolios.

Teach yourself how to edit

While this might sound scary since the first thing that may come into mind is a time-consuming program like Photoshop, there is no need to fret. There are much simpler and cheaper alternatives. For simple creations, check out either of these websites to design digital banners, touch up photos and create collages.


Price: 7-day Free trial, $47.88 per year billed annually or $7.99 monthly

PicMonkey includes features like photo editor, portrait retouching, design maker, and collage maker. The photo editor has basic advanced and editing tools, prime photo effects and filters, and other tools such as text, graphics and textures. The portrait retouching feature offers touch ups for skin, mouth, it even changes hair colors and removes blemishes and wrinkles. The design maker offers a variety of templates for different types of content material. The collage maker allows you to combine photos in a unique way for any social media platform.


Price: Free basic account, $34.95 per year billed annually, or $4.95 per month billed monthly.

BeFunky features photo editor, collage maker, graphic designer, and touch up. Each banner template comes pre-sized for the dimensions required by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The neat thing about BeFunky is their emphasis on video tutorials, blog articles providing inspiration, tips, and solutions for challenges that are bound to rise with editing.

Post an ad

Craigslist still remains the most popular classified site in the U.S. It’s simple to navigate. All you need to do is create an account that only requires an email and the rest of the steps are self-explanatory. In your ad title make sure you use words that are straightforward. Start your search with “photographer” or “freelance photographer,” for optimal search results, rather than using extra words surrounding it like “need photographer” or “looking for photographer.”

As a freelancer myself, Craigslist has been a great client outsourcing tool, it spreads the message quick and provides a wide reach, depending on the timing of course. Sometimes you’ll hear back, sometimes you won’t. Just try to be consistent.

Ask your fans

Lastly, always keep in mind that fans can serve as a great resource for just about anything. Reach out to fans and see if anyone who is really into your music wants to help out by taking photos. Depending on the type of photos you need, and if you don’t have the funds to pay them you can mention to them the perks of helping your band out with photography, like free entry to gigs, photo crediting them on all your social media platforms, referring them to other bands, and overall continuing a professional relationship with future pay when circumstances are best fit.

Of course you can always try and negotiate pricing if they want to charge and you can afford a little pay. The goal is of course to help you stay within your budget.

Photography shouldn’t necessarily require expensive tools and equipment. With thorough research on available alternatives, you’ll discover the countless resources available to help customize and improve your photography. Your fans and those that so-fortunately stumble upon you or your band will appreciate you for it!

6 Things You Can Do To Get Your Fans to Take More Photos At Your Shows (And Why That Matters)

[Editors Note: This blog post was written by Hugh McIntyreHugh writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.]

These days, everybody is taking photos…of everything. Now that cameras are everywhere and anyone can upload their latest capture to the world wide web in mere seconds, there is no stopping the deluge of images that continues to grow larger and larger by the hour. Some musicians are upset about this, as it distracts them when they are performing and they feel audiences aren’t paying the sort of attention they want, but none of that is going to stop how people act nowadays, so why not make the most of it?

As a working musician in a social media-focused world, you should always be on the hunt for great content. You will find yourself constantly needing something to post or to save for another day, and snaps from a concert can be the perfect filler. If you’re in the beginning stages of your career, keeping a photographer with you at all times (especially when touring) probably isn’t an option, so why not rely on your fans to supply you with the pics you’ve been looking for?

Here are a few ways to get your fans to take more photos of (and with) you, and then to share them in a way you can find them easily and repost them…with their permission and proper crediting, of course.

1. Pose!

Young people these days don’t always need to be told to take a photo—it’s in their nature by now. Most under the age of, say, 30, have extensive experience with smartphones, and the vast majority of them have become used to taking photos of almost everything in their day-to-day lives. This is the generation that has had to think of everything in terms of content, be it for Facebook, Twitter, or especially Instagram, and they have a mind for this sort of thing. If you do something fairly obvious that says “take my picture!,” chances are they will understand the message in no time.

Pose for a moment on stage, stop moving for a minute or so, put the spotlight on just you, stand with your bandmates before taking a bow at the end of the night…you can be as creative as you want with this idea, but it’s really, really easy, and you may be surprised how popular those few seconds will be in the photos you search for later.

2. Make A Special Moment

Every concert and every performance should be fun and special in its own way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out of your way to do something extra during at least some of your shows. What this might be differs for every band or artist and it should vary by staging, but if you do it right, you could wind up with plenty of photos and perhaps even some press.

Shoot confetti out of cannons, bring a fan up onstage and sing to them, gather two fans together and arrange a marriage proposal (this is always a crowd pleaser), use a funny prop during one of the songs, or bring out a special guest that those in the crowd might recognize, if that’s possible. Any one of these would likely end up being the highlight of that particular performance, and it just begs everybody in attendance to whip out their cameras.

3. Create a Photo Booth

This option might not yield any photos of you and your bandmates doing what you do best (performing), but it can supply you all with a different kind of picture, which can wind up being useful in its own way.

Work with the venue before you arrive to set up some sort of area specifically designed for photos. This can be a “photobooth” of sorts (though you might not want to shell out the money to rent an actual photobooth just yet), or perhaps something as simple as a backdrop. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make this a reality, though it might cost your band a few dollars to have something printed with your band’s logo all across it, like what red carpets are lined with. If you’re meeting fans afterward, why not make sure to do so exactly where you want to, with this added bonus? It might help push a new song or album, or maybe just a hashtag you are trying to promote.

4. Suggest A Hashtag

Speaking of a hashtag, that is something else that younger music lovers are already familiar with, and once you’ve given it to them, they know exactly what to do with it (usually). You can print the hashtag, which should be easy to understand, make sense, and be as short as possible, and people will see it. Show flyers, event reminders online, and perhaps even posters placed throughout the venue can all feature the phrase, and you can even mention it while performing, but don’t be annoying here, because while most young people don’t mind being asked and reminded about a hashtag, especially if there is any incentive to go tweet it or Instagram it, they can very quickly become a nuisance, and once that has happened, nobody wants to be a part of the movement.

5. Post On Social Media

Since you are looking for pictures to share on social media later on, why not use the medium to influence more fans to start taking pictures in the first place? Start posting on your accounts telling everybody flat out that you are on the hunt for some really excellent snaps. This will let those who catch the missives know to go out of their way to do so when they are at your next show, and you never know what pics are already out there sitting on phones or in folders on computers, just waiting to be unearthed by those who are into your music who might not have realized anybody was interested in their digital souvenirs.

Also, once you begin posting pictures shot by concert attendees and tagging them (and thanking them in your tweet), it won’t take long for people to get the idea and start sharing openly. Who doesn’t want a little recognition for a well-framed picture and a thank you from a musician or band they like?

6. Ask Them

If all else fails, or if you’re feeling particularly lazy—or perhaps if you just want to be direct and honest with your fans—why not just ask them to take some photos and share them? While you’re on stage and chatting in between songs (if that’s your thing, which isn’t the case with every artist), casually mention that you love seeing pictures from your shows on social media.

You don’t need to beg or plead, and please don’t be obnoxious about it (nothing is worse than someone bugging you to snap an excessive number of pics of them), but if you’re doing a good job and entertaining those who paid to see you, and since some of them will already be taking photos on their phones anyway, nudge the rest of the audience to do the same, and you may be surprised to see how many come flowing in over the next few days.

Event Recap: TuneCore Live at Bardot 6/24

Nothing like packing a house of eager music fans and industry folks on a warm summer evening for our seventh installment of TuneCore Live at Bardot! With a nice spectrum of genres, show goers enjoyed delightful sets from the alternative electro sounds of The New Regime, indie pop perfection from FMLYBND, and a fun touch of hip hop courtesy of none other than Yacht City Drop Club. To top it all off, the crowd was treated to a surprise DJ set from William Lifestyle!

As usual, a huge thanks is in order to our awesome event sponsors Swisher Sweets, Mirrored Media and CELEBUZZ. Thanks to these brands, TuneCore is able to provide more and more fun, creative and advantageous opportunities to independent artists within our community to showcase their music.

Be sure to check out this month’s photo gallery – if you were at the event, you might be able to spot yourself! If you’ve got FOMO, hit up our TuneCore Live Facebook page to RSVP for our next event on July 29th!


SXSW 2015 Recap!

Amidst the crowds of flustered music fans, rows of bars with live music blaring out of open doors, networking industry folks, chattering panelists, and overwhelmed indie artists, the TuneCore team was holding it down during SXSW 2015! With one-third of all artists who performed this year having distributed through TuneCore, this was the perfect time to expand on our TuneCore Live event series and offer some of them the opportunity to get on stage and play for fresh faces.

We were also psyched to sponsor some day parties and showcases held by likeminded, pro-independent brands that put together equally killer line-ups! BrooklynVegan, Nettwerk Music Group, and CraveOnline provided SXSW attendees a chance to discover new acts and enjoy some of their favorites, and TuneCore was proud to partner with them. Thanks to the help of sponsors like Swisher Sweets, we were able to expand our presence with a street team, hand out some cool free swag, and put together an awesome event.

On top of the live events, we officially launched the DropKloud app! DropKloud, acquired by TuneCore in late 2014, is an innovative app that provides fans with access to exclusive, artist-curated “Kloud” content dropped at different locations. We had over 40 Klouds across downtown Austin including the world premiere of Angelique Kidjo and ZZ Ward’s track, “Bomba”. We encourage TuneCore Artists to grab free download of DropKloud, available via the iTunes Store and Google Play!

Being a leader in digital music distribution, SXSW couldn’t be all play and no work! Between meeting with store partners and artist services vendors, the TuneCore team was workin’ it to make sure our services remain ahead of the curve.

Chris Mooney, TuneCore’s Senior Director of Artist Promotions & Strategic Relationships said of the SXSW experience this year:

“It was amazing to finally see so many TuneCore Artists that I just discovered and have been working with over the years. The quality of the TuneCore line-up—Prinze George, Ultimate Painting, Sam Outlaw, Nova Rockafeller, Dear Boy, Devon Baldwin, G-Eazy, Olivver the Kid, and Derek Minor—is a testament to the amazing artists using our service.

Another highlight for me was wandering though Austin, and getting the shout outs from bands and fans when they saw me in my TuneCore t-shirt.”

Chief Creative Officer Joe Cuello on TuneCore’s presence at SXSW 2015:

“SXSW 2015 was amazing for TuneCore artists.  We had our artists just about everywhere and the talent at our first Tunecore Live Austin was incredible.
Independent music is alive and well and we can’t wait to continue offering opportunities for our artists to play live.”

To prove we didn’t spend the duration of SXSW 2015 drinking Lone Star and gorging on BBQ and fish Tacos, (though that sounds very pleasant), we’ve put together some photo galleries to browse through and relive some of the action!

Wednesday 3/18 & Thursday 3/19
Nettwerk Music 30th Anniversary Showcase & Brooklyn Vegan Day 1

Friday March 3/20
TuneCore Live Austin party sponsored by Mirrored Media, CraveOnline, & Swisher Sweets!

Winning Photos Selected From TuneCore In Austin Photo Contest

Congratulations to the following bands and photographers!

The Niceguys
Photo by Datubo MacHarry

Fang Island
Photo by Nina Mashurova

The Frontier Brothers
Photo by David Hall

Continue reading “Winning Photos Selected From TuneCore In Austin Photo Contest”