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5 FREE Phone Apps That Help You Relax, De-Stress and Reduce Anxiety

Posted on March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

Our attention is pulled in more than a dozen directions daily. It can be hard to find time to relax or justify doing so when you have so much on your plate during a typical day.

Meanwhile, if you’re like the vast majority of multi-taskers, your smartphone or tablet is probably never out of reach. Why not make the most of it and use it for something other than checking your email for the umpteenth time in 15 minutes?

Believe it or not, these devices do offer apps to help you relax, de-stress and reduce anxiety for a change. Busy as you are, these can help slow you down even if you only have a few minutes to spare-waiting at carpool, in line at the bank, or just a brief time you set aside for your own mental health when it feels like the day is spinning out of control.

Here are five of my favorites:

1. Breathe2Relax (free). Breathe2Relax help you practice diaphragmatic breathing, with a video demonstration of and even a breathing timer you set yourself to achieve the maximum impact of deep inhaling/exhaling. There’s also a lot of great information about the biology of stress, its consequences and coping mechanisms.

How it helps: Diaphragmatic (belly) breathing helps calm the body and focus the mind. This app walks you through everything you need to know to practice the technique incorporate it into your daily stress management.

2. T2Mood Tracker (free). T2Mood Tracker allows you to rate how you’re feeling in areas including anxiety, depression and general well-being at any given time during the day.

How it helps: Sometimes just acknowledging that you’re feeling anxious, sad, lonely or experiencing other painful emotions can bring some relief-you’re not crazy, but you are suffering, and healthy to be aware of it.

It can also charts your mood over time, so it can help identify triggers for stress or depression. Meanwhile, if you are in counseling and your therapist asks about your feelings over the past week, you can give a more reliable answer than just relying on your memory.

3. Take a Break! (free). This app requires a little more privacy-but not much more time-than some of the other apps mentioned here. Just choose one of two meditation programs (“work break” or “stress release”), plug in some ear phones, close the door and your eyes as a narrator quietly guides you through several steps of meditation.

How it helps: When you’re busy and feel like you have a world of responsibilities on your shoulders, this app helps remind you that you’re entitled to take a moment for yourself. And the steps it outlines can be effective in bringing calm and perspective into a hectic day.

4. Relax Melodies HD (free, with paid upgrades available). Relax Melodies is self-explanatory, with almost 50 calming sounds to choose from, including several choices among nature, music, and others like “Zen” and “white noise.”

How it helps: It instantly transforms your environment, making it possible to remember that there is a world outside of your office, chaotic household or even 5 o’clock traffic. (Tip: users say Relax Melodies is also an excellent sleep aid.) The $2.99 upgrade offers additional sound options and removes the ads, though the ads are easily enough ignored unless you’re staring at the screen.

5. (free, with paid upgrades available). offer seven guided relaxation sessions from 2-30 minutes. Topics include: posture, mindset, mind/body connection, and breathing. Premium programs are also available with varied prices, mostly around $1/month. These include programs focused on anxiety, confidence, creativity, energy, focus, and sleep.

How it helps: emphasizes a no-pressure approach to learning the steps, with a guiding voice that assures the user it can be hard to find calm at first when we’re accustomed to living life in high-alert mode.

Try a few of these and see if there’s one you particularly enjoy so you’ll be more likely to keep with it. Whether it’s helping you be mindful of your breathing, slowing your thoughts or just going through the steps of a simple relaxation exercise, I encourage you to find some time for yourself today that is just for you to relax. It’s totally worth it!

Optimize Your Country Music Website – What Not To Include

Posted on February 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

In my previous article, Optimize Your Country Music Website: Part 2 – What to Include, I pointed out that a country music artist’s website is their online calling card. I listed the minimum information that should be on your country music website. In part three of this series, I want to discuss things that should be avoided when you create your site. Things to avoid include:

  • A splash page – Unless there is a REALLY good reason for it, avoid using a splash page. They usually serve no useful purpose and only make your visitor have to click another time to get into your site (people on the Net don’t like to click more than they have to to get the information they want). If you’ve just released a new CD, you could possibly use that as a splash page, but it would be better to place it prominently on your home page.
  • Slow loading animations – Any controls or animations that take a long time to load should be avoided. There are still a lot of people on dial up connections and if a page takes too long to load, they’ll go elsewhere. Even with a cable modem I’ve been on a few sites that have driven me nuts with how long it took to load a page.
  • Unintelligible navigation – Make your navigation easy to use and understand. First off, I need to know it’s navigation. Cute animations that only reveal that they’re navigation when a mouse pointer passes over them may look clever, but it can really cause confusion. Also make sure you have the same navigation options (in the same order and in the same place) on all of your pages.
  • Don’t trap me in your site – I use my Back button on my browser a lot. Sometimes I get trapped in a site because there is an instant redirect from the landing page to the actual home page. When this happens, I have to click the Back button two times quickly to get out. People who don’t know about this just get stuck in your site and I can promise you, it just ticks them off!
  • Make sure it works on all the major browsers – ou need to test your site on Internet Explorer, FireFox, and Opera at the least. More and more people are using FireFox and Opera, as well as other browsers, so you may be alienating visitors by having features that don’t work in all browsers. Again, it’s happened to me more than once.
  • Have a way to turn off the music on your site – Because you’re a musician, you want people to hear your music. However, if you have a player that starts as soon as someone lands on your page, make sure they can turn it off – you don’t know where they are and having music blaring from their computer may not be a good thing!

If visitors to your site find useful information and are not turned off by your site, they’ll be more likely to revisit your site in the future. Avoid the items listed above, and incorporate the ideas in parts one and two of this series, and you’ll be well on your way to a really great website and people will want to visit your site over and over again.

How to Market a New Music Band

Posted on February 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

When you start out life as a new band it is important to get out of your garage or practise venue and introduce yourself to the wider public. If you are seeking to secure a record deal and aim for a successful music career as a recording artist being able to perform live to a high standard, book your own gigs and gain exposure is essential. Starting a band is tough and becoming a professional band is exceptionally difficult to achieve, but it is possible if you get certain aspects of the process right.

This article will assume that you have the talent, you have tracks of sufficient quality and you have the drive to succeed. Now let us focus on how to get known in your local area where you will hopefully begin making a name for yourselves.

1. No Gig Too Small

Most bands begin in pubs playing to a very small audience earning zero fee. You should go and meet gig venues and offer to play a gig and emphasise that you will promote it yourselves. An Email is simply not enough and more often than not you will get no reply. Visiting the venue shows that you are serious and this will secure you many bookings.

When you are starting out the experience of playing live, dealing with your PA system and getting the sound levels right for your performance is an essential part of being a reliable and quality live act. Pad out the audience with friends and family and take constructive feedback on your performance from the venue owners. Hopefully they will invite you back and tell their industry colleagues in other venues what a great idea it would be for them to book your band for a gig.

2. Learn basic PR

Common sense is the way forward in terms of your PR. Contact the local press and invite them to attend each gig but do not get too pushy with them as they get many invites of this nature. It may take some time and many requests before a reporter comes to your gig. Hopefully if you keep asking, eventually they may have a free evening and come along. At this point you must have the talent to impress them.

Send out well-written press releases to local music websites, magazines and local events portals with a high resolution photo they can use as a thumbnail or avatar for their listing or article. This makes it easy for them to create an article in a short amount of time which increases your chances of getting exposure.

Another good idea is to provide small leaflets for the venue in advance and ask them to distribute the leaflets to promote the event. It is in their interests to get customers into the venue so they will often be receptive to this type of promotion. Let the local youth club or youth organisation know you have a gig as young people love music and are often looking for things to do in the evenings.

3. Fully utilise the Internet

There are many social networks dedicated to music and you should have a webpage on all of them, particularly the larger ones. You should add photos, video, event information and connect with other users who will hopefully love your music and become your fans. Having these pages helps create a really professional feel for your band and make you look very established. Mailing lists are fantastic for getting the word out about a gig or a new music release. The social networks can store playable mp3s of your band performing and videos of your performances. Ensure that any media you use whether audio or video is good quality or you will make yourselves look like amateurs.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking you are better than you are. There are thousands of bands out there and plenty of options for a venue owner that you offend either by accident or on purpose. Remember the worlds biggest and best bands can get away with bad behaviour because they guarantee big money and are in high demand. The majority of bands are easily replaceable if they prove too difficult to work with!

Your success as a new band in the early days is about is getting your band known, and creating a good first impression. That will open some doors which will put you in a better position to hopefully landing that big break.