A way to get more gigs

Thanks to Ray who contacted me to say that although he’s loving playing Spanish/Flamenco style guitar, there seems to be less gigs around for this type of work.

As it happens, he’s right but not just about specialised niches like the flamenco area he concentrates in.

Pretty much all entertainers have been feeling the strain of less work around lately.

And don’t think it’s just the little guys in the pubs and clubs who are suffering. A few big TV and movie stars have had to take a cut in wages and plenty of TV shows, even popular ones, have seen their next season cancelled.

It’s just a sad fact of the current economic climate we’re living in. No-one is escaping the economic downturn.

So it makes sense to do everything you can to try to get yourself an extra few gigs if you can.

One way of doing this is advertise yourself (for free) on our YourSpace section:


If you already have a website set up for your act, then Google will just love a backlink coming in from a highly respected music website like mp3backingtrax.com to your website…

iPod click and pop problem

Pat contacted me and asked a question about using an iPod for backing tracks live on stage:

I read your article on putting in silent songs which is a good fit for us. There is still an issue of the iPod making a click or pop when you press the start or stop buttons. Can that be avoided? Also, do you recommend having the iPod charging while using it on stage? We have a stand alone charger from Best Buy. Is there a recommended way to look at or see a larger screen on stage?

Hi Pat

The iPod is set at default to make a click sound when you move the click-wheel so this is probably the problem you’re experiencing.

You don’t say what model of iPod you’re using, but you can switch the clicks off on an iPod video by going to Settings > Clicker and selecting “off”.

Regarding the charger, it actually doesn’t matter whether you charge your iPod on stage while it’s playing or not – charging it doesn’t affect the sound in any way.

I personally DON’T charge my iPod on stage, but this is only because the battery life of an iPod (if you’re only using it for audio like palying backing tracks) lasts for many, many hours so if you take a fully-charged iPod on stage with you it will more than last the duration of a normal gig no problem. Also by NOT charging my iPod on stage there’s one less cable for me to plug in!

As for making the screen bigger on an iPod, I haven’t come across any real perfect solution to do this. All the solutions I’ve heard so far usually rely on some sort of magnifying glass type device to “increase” the display which I just don’t find suitable. Be careful if you’re thinking of buying a DVD player with an iPod dock (they usually come with 7″ or 8″ screen and a built in iPod dock). These players are designed to play VIDEO from the iPod dock, so only VIDEO gets sent from the iPod to the players screen…audio WILL play, but with a blank screen(!) so watch out for that.

Best thing to do is try before you buy to make sure whatever solution you decide on will be up to the job.

Have you considered buying an iPod Touch?

The iPod Touch has a larger display screen so is a good option to consider. Unfortunately if you already have an older iPod it would mean buying another iPod (but perhaps you could sell your old iPod second-hand and recoup some of the cost that way).

When you consider that buying a new iPod Touch with a lovely big screen probably only equates to the price of a gig, then maybe that puts it a little more in to perspective and it’s not so expensive an option after all…



Installing the Lame MP3 encoder in Audacity

Kathryn emailed me to ask how to install the MP3 encoder in Audacity so that she can save her songs as MP3 files.

Hiya Kenny
Sorry to be a pain, but is it supposed to be tricky to download the Lame MP3 encoder? Or am i just a bit technically challenged??!!! Any advice?
Thanks, K

Hi Kathryn

Lame is a seperate company so at the time of writing this, Audacity don’t have the rights to bundle the Lame encoder in with their software.

So for now, at least, it needs to be installed seperately as a third party plugin. That basically means is that you have to install Audacity first, THEN download Lame and install it afterwards.

Like any software installation it’s not particularly complicated, but like anything else, it’s easy to say that when you know how!

So here’s how:

1. Go to Lames website and download the file libmp3lame-win-3.98.2.zip in the box headed “For Audacity On Windows”.

2. Unzip it and you’ll find a file inside called lame_enc.dll.

3. Remember where you save this file because the first time you select “Export as MP3” in Audacity, Audacity will ask you where the lame_enc.dll is.

You can find more in-depth instructions at:


However you probably won’t need them as it’s quite a simple process to install it and as long as you follow the 1,2,3 steps above you should be just fine.



Backing tracks of original material

Will from Australia asked a question about creating original backing tracks so he could use them to teach his pupils to sing or play an instrument:

I am looking for someone to create some custom play-along tracks for me to use with some of my students. I am looking to have some tracks made that cover some of the most common genres like rock, funk, jazz, etc.

So they are basically jam tracks that students can use to practice and jam along with. I want to be able to use the tracks for my students to play along with and practice their playing style and musicianship, as opposed to just playing along to a metronome.

Because I teach some different instruments like drums, guitar and piano, I would need the tracks to be recorded with all instruments and then made into separate tracks by taking one instrument out – ie a track for our drummers would have the drums taken out, etc.

Is this something you guys are capable of doing, and what sort of price would I be looking at per arrangement of around 4 minutes long. I don’t have any songs to base them on, I am looking for just some simple and original tracks to be recorded.

Also, I may end up selling them on a CD to my students – is that something I can do? Do I own the rights to the recorded songs to use them for anything I like? Look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,


Hi Will,

Thanks for getting in touch.

Yes, we do create special arrangements of songs for our customers but we never take on any work where the customer can’t supply us with reference material to base it on. 

When we take on special arrangement work, the customer needs to send us the original recording of the song. We then create all the individual instrument parts in our studio, taking care to make them all sound as close to the originals recording as possible. We leave out the vocals and/or any instruments that you may want to play live, and that’s pretty much how a special arrangement backing track is created.

But if you don’t have any reference material  that we can work from (i.e you don’t have an original recording), it makes it very difficult for us to actually quote you a price for the work. Without reference material we have no definite idea of exactly what you want so can’t estimate how long it will take us to produce.

One option would be to enter in to an open-ended type of deal whereby you pay us by the hour and it “takes as long as it takes” until it’s the way you want it.

However I’m not really comfortable with deals like that. I prefer to give a firm definite quote for work we do for customers before we undertake the work (and I’m sure you’d prefer that too). It’s much fairer to everyone involved and everyone knows exactly where they stand and how much it’s going to cost before a single penny has changed hands.

Regarding transferring rights to work over to you upon completion, that actually wouldn’t be a problem if that’s what you require. Under normal circumstances we retain the rights to any work we create, but for a price we would be happy to relinquish our copyright and transfer those rights to you.