MUSIC: Do You Really Need A Record Deal?

For a lot of aspiring young artists, there's one thing that they see as the light at the end of the tunnel, the gold at the end of the rainbow, the ultimate goal: the record deal. For a lot of artists, the aim is to keep building up your following until you can get the attention of a major label and get signed. The idea is that you will then have the kind of power behind you that can propel you from an up-and-coming artist to a household name. For a long time, this is exactly how things worked. You worked at the low level until you got picked up by a label and you were then skyrocketed to fame thanks to the kind of money and experience that they brought to the table. But is that they way things are now? There's a very good argument to be made that it's not. There are a lot of different factors that go into it, but labels may not have nearly as much power as they used to. Here are just a few reasons why you might actually be better of without a record deal.

You don't have to deal with contracts
Just about everyone feels nervous about signing contracts, no one moreso than an artist. When you sign a record contract, you're giving away a lot of power to the label in terms of the music that you make and the way that you present yourself. In an ideal world, a record label would simply put up the money and support that you need while leaving you in total creative control. However, that's not always the case. Instead, many record labels use complex contracts to back artists into a corner and manipulate them into doing what they want. By staying unsigned, you retain total freedom over the music that you want to make.
You can still make your mark without one

Needing a record label to get your music out there used to make a lot of sense, after all the only way to get your music heard was for it to be on the radio or on TV and most of the time radio DJs weren't going to play music by anyone other than major label artists. These days unsigned artists have dozens of different avenues through which they can expose people to their music. Sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp allow you to put your music online for anyone to see. Being able to build a following from the ground up is something that many artists weren't able to do before but now, thanks to the internet, it's surprisingly easy to build up a dedicated audience.
It isn't the best way to make money
When you're signed to a major label, that may mean that more people are buying your music, but it doesn't mean that you're going to end up seeing very much of that money. By the time everyone from record executives to marketing departments have taken their cut, artists are actually left with a very small percentage of their sales. By choosing to do things on your own, you get to keep a much larger cut of the money that you earn. Sure you'll probably have to invest a lot of it back into the music itself for things like posters and studio time, but at least you get to choose where the money you make actually goes.

7 Life-Hacks To Make Air Travel Easier

As anyone that has flown abroad for their vacation will know, air travel is a great way to go. Quick, efficient, and in if done well, relaxing, it is a good way to get from A to B. But as that last sentence says, only if done well. When air travel isn’t done well, it can mean delays, annoying people, high prices, and bad seats. As someone that flies regularly, I know that it doesn’t have to be like this; it can much done well, making the whole thing simpler and easier. So here are some life hacks that will make air travel easier. Are there any extras that you would add?

  • If you’re not a fan of turbulence, then look for flights that leave in the morning. As a rule, the ground heats up throughout the day. Meaning that there is likely to be more turbulence, as well as an increased likelihood of thunderstorms. So if you’re looking for a smooth flight or you get sick easily, then book flights in the morning where you can.
  • The same thing goes for sitting by the wings. If you can choose your seats, you’re less likely to feel the turbulence or get motion sickness if you’re sat by the wings. Just basic physics really.
  • If you want to get good prices, then sign up to various flight websites to get email alerts when certain routes are reduced, for example. A site like Kayak is a pretty good example, so could be worth a try.
  • If you find standing in lines for a long time hard or don’t like to hire a car when you’re away, then looking at mobility hire could be an option for you. It could also help if you have someone elderly in your party but you don’t want to pay extra to take their scooter or wheelchair on the plane with you; just hire at your destination.
  • If you find the price of flights quite steep, then look for a credit card that gives you air miles when you spend. It means that you will get air miles when you spend money on the things that you would normally spend on, like your groceries or fuel for your car. Then you can easily make your flights a reduced price or even cover the cost of the flights for you.
  • Having to deal with the stress of lost luggage can make air travel a problem. So if you can, try to only use hand luggage rather than checking any bags into the hold. Of course, this isn’t going to always be possible. But when you can, it can be much less hassle and save you time at the airport too.
  • One of the last things on your mind might be what you wear on the flights. But comfort, of course, is going to be key. The next thing that you’ll want to think about is your footwear. If you have to take your shoes off at security, do you really want to have to undo and then re-lace your ankle boots? Think about slip on footwear, as well as things like sandals in summer.

Follow Weather & Prepare For The Worst Before It Happens With Earth Networks

Follow Weather & Prepare For The Worst Before It Happens With Earth Networks

The weather has always had a major impact on humanity. In ancient times, humans were certain that the gods controlled lightning storms and sunlight. While modern humanity has learned to rely on meteorology instead of deities, the impact of a major weather event can still be devastating. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself and your family in cases of inclement weather: 

Stay Alert: It is important to remain connected to a, reliable, severe weather tracker like Earth Networks. Modern trackers use historical trends as well as cloud activity data in tracking storms which allows for accurate reporting and more advanced early warning systems. 

Know What to do: Educate yourself and your family about what must be done in a given emergency. Whether it’s relocating to a safe shelter as soon as possible, or staying put, you need to know the basic safety protocols. If you and your loved ones are separated during a disaster, you should have a safe place to meet and a plan for contacting each other. Cell phone lines may be down in the wake of a major disaster, so you should know where to go for information instead, and how to function without your phone. 

Pack a Bag: It is always a good idea to have all of your important documents in a portable case to ensure that nothing is lost or damaged during a crisis. You should also have emergency supplies either in a bag or in a part of your home you know to be secure. Your bag should include essentials that you and your family would need to survive alone for several days. Some things to pack include flashlights and batteries, water and nonperishable food that includes pet food if you have pets, medications, jackets and hats, and a battery-operated radio. 

While the weather can be unpredictable, a bit of foreplaning can help minimize losses to help you avoid a tragedy.

7 Things I Learned In London

London is by far one of the world's best destinations. For culture, tea on tap and of course historical buildings around every corner, it is definitely a fantastic place to have seen. Whether you're from abroad or from the UK, London is a city that represents so many wonderful things, yet isn't necessarily one of my favourite cities. After spending time in London, staying at the Clayton Crown Hotel 4*** I came to realise a few things about the city that I thought would be relatively helpful tips for first timers to the city. Here are 7 things I learned in London from culture, to food to the people!

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
1. Not all Londoners are cold hearted unfriendly folk!

It is a well known fact that the southerners are not known for their friendly behaviour like people in the north. London is now so integrated and multi-cultural that the very misleading phrase of Faceless London seems to be a little outdated. You will often find people holding doors open for you, people smiling, friendly shop staff and generally other like minded people who will smile and chat if the opportunity arises. I have many friends in the south and they are all lovely people who I have a lot of time for!

2. The Tube Is A Necessary Evil

As much as the tube gives me the chills at the thought, it does make every place in London incredibly accessible. Taxis are generally around 5% more expensive than most other UK cities, btu this is speaking from the good old fashion London cabs, Ubers may vary in price. The tube can get busy, definitely avoid it at peak times, because you will have a queue around the block of people trying to get down to the tracks after their shift ends at 5pm.

3. You Must Plan Your Trip Well

There are so many hidden gems in London, that can be easily missed without thorough research and planning. Many bars are hidden away, or in private courtyards or rooftops of buildings, so ensuring you have this planned beforehand is essential if you want to make the most out of your trip. Also anticipate the London traffic. If your train home leaves at a specific time, ensure a decent amount of time before it leaves; you'd be surprised how many road works, hold ups and slogs of traffic are in and around London!

4. The Chances Of Seeing Someone Famous Are Almost Nil

If you're browsing around in Harrods hoping to spot a familiar face, then it's more than likely that your dream will fizzle quickly out. If you are going to spot a celebrity, then it will likely be down streets that are being cordoned off for filming, and not catching them eyeing up the Prada bags in Selfridges. A lot of famous and influencial people do live in London but the chances of seeing them are very slim. You're more likely to spot them at a cocktail bar in the evening, but again, not hugely likely!

5. Taking Photos Can Be A Nightmare

In the tourist hotspots of London, it is impossible to grab a good photo opportunity without hoards of people drowning you out from the background. There is also a good chance that five people will walk in front of you just as you're about to click the shutter. It isn't ideal but if you want to walk a little further out of town, down the river, there could be a few cute photo spots, but it can be incredibly busy, so a little bit of improvising with your photography is definitely needed!

6. You Feel On A High Walking The Streets

London is a vibrant incredible city. Just walking the streets alone, you can sense the power and wealth of the city, it envelops you, and it's truly invigorating. I would say I felt it more in London than even New York; possibly because New York seems even more saturated with tourists, and London still remains to be a city with born and bred Londoners living there. The thrill of seeing the cabs and the shops. The buzz from people rushing to work, and the royal influence just makes London a very exciting place to be.

7. Without Knowledge, Finding Good Food Is Hard

Everytime I go to London, even with the masses of restaurants, I seem to pick badly. In the west of London, the high streets tend to have more general restaurants such as Zizzi's, or cafes such as Pret. All fabulous, but if you're wanting to try something new, I'd suggest researching first, because I have found myself in some incredibly dingy and strange places, with food that tasted less than appetising. I have found a few other people say the same, but as times are changing, some of the best restaurants are in London now. Research, find what cuisines you like, and attack!

CLICK HERE to read about 7 Things Learned In Budapest

BEAUTY: "Love Your Flaws" - Is It Possible?

Photo: Pixabay

The idea of loving your flaws is an intriguing one. 
On one hand, it’s a win/win situation. It’s not like it’s always possible to cover over the things you don’t like about your physical appearance. Sometimes, you’re stuck with a problem that you dislike, and that means you have two options. If you want to find any body confidence at all, then you have to find a way not only to accept, but embrace, the flaws of your body. 
On the other hand… in some cases, it’s just not possible. Sometimes, you have an issue and it’s so overbearing that the idea of “loving” it is just bizarre. In fact, it’s not just bizarre, but it’s somewhat immature to even expect it. There are numerous reasons we all have body confidence issues and those aren’t going to change overnight, nor are the societal expectations of beauty. Furthermore, you can also feel like you have somehow failed because you don’t love your flaws, you dislike them.

Here’s the real problem… why are we still calling these issues flaws?
If you tell people that they should love their flaws (as numerous advertising campaigns now attempt to do), then you’re still saying: “hey! You have a flaw! Look at that flaw! You should totally love it though, even though it’s a flaw.” 
That’s… a strange attitude to have, isn’t it? 
The simple fact is that we come in all shapes, sizes, and differences. Some of us are blessed with long, thick hair while others have hair so thin they can barely scrape together a recognisable bun. Others have a lifelong battle with cystic acne, while on the other sound, some women see clear skin as a given rather than something they have to aim for. We can be tall or short; fat or thin; curvy or waifs. That’s the benefit of being human; everyone is different. 
So here’s how a progressive attitude could take those “flaws” and actually embrace a positive, healthy way forward. 
If you want to change… that’s okay! 
If you want to do something about your perceived flaws, then you’re not doing anything wrong or failing to “fight the good fight” if you do so. If you have teeth problems and want dental veneers to improve your smile then go for it; if you want to wear heels to boost your height then that’s your business - and so on and so forth. The idea that you might want to conceal things about your body that cause insecurity isn’t wrong, and you should never feel guilty about doing so.

Accept your flaws = far healthier. 
It’s far better for your mental health if you strive to accept (rather than love) your flaws. The areas of your body you’re not happy with are a thing. They are not going to vanish overnight. And while you might never truly be comfortable with them, it’s important to accept them for what they are: a huge part of the puzzle that makes up who you are. This might take a bit of work to get to a point where you truly feel able to do this, but the rewards are rich when you get there.

HEALTH: Feeling Bloated? Give These Tricks A Go

Ah, the joys of being a woman. Regularly bloating is just one of those things we are taught we have to live with, like period cramps and PMS, but it can be a real drag. Well, it’s time for a revolution. Not only is it really irritating when it’s impossible to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, but it can also be genuinely uncomfortable. There are a few possible causes of potential bloating, such as hormones, digestive issues, or food intolerances. If you’re a sufferer, give some of these things a go and see if you can narrow down the cause, and relieve some discomfort at the same time.
Start a food diary
Bloating is often caused by intolerances to certain foods. These are not allergies, but they can be very uncomfortable. In order to rule this out or narrow it down to a culprit, keeping a food diary, along with notes about any symptoms or discomfort, can allow you to start to draw connections between certain food types and discomfort, which in turn may allow you to start to rule these foods out of your diet.

Give your digestive system a helping hand
Sometimes our digestion needs a bit of a boost, whether it’s for IBS or food sensitivities, and probiotic supplements are great for this. Probiotics for IBS help your body to get the good bacteria it could be missing, which can be a great help for a struggling digestive system. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of IBS, give it a go and see how these probiotic supplements can help.
Eat frequent, small meals
Often, people who experience regular bloating have a sensitive stomach and gut. This means, if you overload it with food it can start to struggle, creating lots of bloating and discomfort. People sometimes find that eating smaller meals more frequently puts less strain on their gut, and keeps bloating to a minimum. It can also be great for people who are struggling with low energy.
Avoid certain high-fiber foods
Some foods encourage your body to release a whole load of gas when they’re digested (ooh, lovely). Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are notoriously bad for this, as you probably know. Keeping your diet low in these foods, but high in other high-fiber foods such as wholemeal pasta and bread, might make a significant impact.

Keep your alcohol consumption low
Many of us like a drop of wine every now and then, but if you suffer from bloating, a single glass could help, but much more than that could be exacerbating your symptoms. If you’re a bit of a party animal, try having some time off and see if your bloating becomes reduced - you could have found your culprit right there.
Visit your doctor
Finally, if you can’t seem to get the symptoms to lessen, whatever you do, or you’re experiencing other symptoms such as discomfort or other digestive issues, a trip to the doctor might be in order. They will be able to advise on how you should proceed with your diagnosis and treatment.

HEALTH: Stop Ignoring Your Health Troubles And Become Happier

It’s so easy nowadays to get on with our busy lives and ignore any health worries we might have because we feel there's not enough time to address them, or there's a sense that we should just “get on with it.” Attitudes that push us away from seeking expert help when it comes to our health are only going to be of detriment to it in the long run and will cause unnecessary stress. It’s, therefore, time to take a big breath and be brave, and go and get professional advice on whatever health concerns have been sat at the back of your brain for months (step away from Google, that’s an order!).

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay
What’s On The Surface
Our skin is our largest organ and shields everything that’s going on inside, so why do we mistreat it so often? As the skin on our bodies is the only organ we can see every day; it’s usually easy to spot any notable changes in texture and appearance. However, we are quick to cover up a breakout of spots with foundation and concealer and don’t stop to think that our skin’s condition can be improved.
dermatologist can inform you of your skin type and look into reasons behind breakouts, dryness, and discolouration; they are there to advise you on suitable skincare products and even diet choices, which can have a significant impact on the overall appearance of your largest organ. Don’t shy away from good skincare, because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and the better you look after it, the healthier and happier you’ll feel.
The Inner Workings
Many of the troubles and pains that we experience on and within the lower half of our bodies are often ignored through embarrassment; however, it’s vital that whatever issue we are having is raised with a healthcare professional as soon as possible to avoid it becoming more serious. Maybe it’s digestion or bladder function that’s causing discomfort every day; it’s time to stop worrying, as it’s nothing your doctor won’t have seen before. More often than not, it won’t be anything to stress over, and over-the-counter items like incontinence products, painkillers, or remedies to aid digestion will be suggested or prescribed.
You don’t have to put up with daily discomfort or pain, especially when the problems are often easily treated and rectified. If you suffer from severe period pains, which affect your life for days every month; the likelihood is that the supermarket or pharmacy isn’t providing the relief you need; but you don’t have to live with it, as there are always different and stronger medication available. For more information on period pain, take a peek here. Imagine the feeling you’ll have when leaving the GP’s office, knowing that your life will feel better and become more manageable; you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing something sooner (but don’t kick yourself, it won’t help anyone).

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay
From top to toe, outside or in, you only get one body so be kind to it and stop ignoring when things feel wrong. Whatever specialist you choose to go and see, be as honest as possible, to ensure they provide you with the best resolutions for your issues.

A Film For The Strays

"A Film Tor The Strays" 

This November, a heartwarming film about the wonderful affection that stray dogs can bring to your life, will grace screens across Greece, and YouTube. A group of talented filmmakers and actors, some of them highly respected Greek actors, including Dinos Karydis and Tania Tripi being the headline actors for the film. The film has been created by my friends, Artemis Samothrakis and Alexandros Katsaris and was filmed in Athens, Greece - such a perfect setting for this homely story! The movie, "Re-action" specifically hones in on the importance of stray dogs, and how, if given the chance, they can change your life for the better. In essence, this Animal Welfare film is going to be the perfect companion to you during the upcoming cosy autumn evenings!

It will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, and appreciating dogs more than ever. In Greece and across the world, many stray dogs are left fending for themselves, some perishing as they try to survive in the big wide world, and others are euthanised. Stray dogs are an ongoing problem in Greece in general, although there are many incredible charities that offer shelters for animals, including food banks for pets. There is no need for more tragedy, if more people take the time to adopt a stray dog, and this is exactly what this film aims to do - give a substantial reason to adtop and of course realise the importance of #adoptdontshop. This month it will premiere in Athens, and what a perfect excuse to take another trip back!

Re-action follows the adventures of Roxy the dog, and the benefits that dogs can have on many people's lives, for the better. When a prominent actress realises the importance of stray dogs, it creates a new perspective for many. Official synopsis

"Helen Vrana, a famous actress, lives with her depressed father and her disabled son. After a torrent of negative media comments, she adopts a dog in an effort to save her image. How will the dog affect her and her father? Will her son react positively to the dog's presence?"

Some of the cast members include: Tania Tripi, Dinos Karydis, Joyce Evedi, Gianna Zianni, Gregoria Avgerinopoulou, Thodoris Anthopoulos, Giannis Frangiskos, Dimitris Papadakis, Vissarion Tsionas, Christos Karnakis, Tiffany Daniel, Jenny Kazakou, Andreas Stamatopoulos, Anna Adrianou, Giorgos Mavridis, Anna Kouri, Giorgos Mavridis, Dimitris Milivoglou and Elias Maraveyas, Anna Nikolaidis, Nikos Partsolis, Fotini Petrogianni and Joy Koumentakou and of course Roxy the dog!

With Tzeni Kazakou (Τζενη Καζακου)
Please take time to support their Facebook page. If you're a dog lover, this is going to be perfect for you! All views and all support will be so important to my friends, and a big shoutout to Artemis Samothrakis, Alexandros Katsaris, Chris Petridis, Giannis Efstathiou, Jenny Kazakou and Mary Paiteri. Click here to support them on Facebook!

HEALTH: Why Good Health Requires Clarity Rather Than Vanity

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay
Everybody wants to be healthy, but we’re not all motivated by the same reasons. Some people may want to be slim so as to avoid issues with their heart later in life, whereas other people may want to be slim simply because they’re unhappy with their appearance. Whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle is good no matter what the motivation may be, appearance can sometimes be the wrong type of motivator, as it leads people to opt for quick fixes such as fad diets or simply denying themselves food.
The key to a healthy lifestyle is clarity rather than vanity. This means that you should be driven by a desire to look after your body rather than simply looking after the appearance of your body. Good health can only be achieved by respecting yourself enough to take self-care seriously. Fluctuating between weights even time you feel like slimming down for photos or a holiday is more damaging than maintaining a consistent, healthy diet as will be discussed further. Here are some reasons further proving why good health requires clarity rather than vanity.

Your eating pattern should be a long-term habit

This is perhaps the most important element of a healthy lifestyle because so many people have a bad relationship with food. You might see food as a frustrating necessity because it always piles on the pounds, but that might mean you need to rethink your long-term eating pattern rather than starving yourself on a salad-based diet every few weeks. Perhaps you have a bad relationship with your weight and the food you eat because you’re eating the wrong kinds of food.
The solution to finding a balanced diet and maintaining a consistently healthy weight permanently is to find a consistent eating routine which doesn’t pile on those pounds. This all starts with a diet low in sugar and high in nutrients that your body desperately needs such as protein, carbohydrates, and many other vitamins. If you change your long-term diet to include such foods, cut out the bad sugars and starches, and start exercising more to keep your body active then you’ll definitely notice a healthy difference in your weight and general demeanour.

You should be looking after your face for the right reasons

Your face likely gives you no end of grief, as it does for many people. We are our own worst critics, and that means we often punish our bodies to alter our appearances when there’s actually nothing wrong with us. When it comes to looking after your face, you should be appreciating the way it looks on a natural basis but striving to look after your health on a practical level. You could also look into options such as Belgravia Clinic for safe skin care treatments, as cosmetics can be helpful.
Still, beyond looking after your skin, you might also want to start visiting the dentist more regularly if you’re self-conscious about your smile. Getting teeth whitening isn’t always the answer; again, your teeth may look nice but that doesn’t mean your mouth is healthy. You should be flossing regularly to prevent plaque or gum problems. You’ll be much happier with your smile when you have something to really smile about: a healthy mouth.
You need to remember that your mind and body are closely interlinked

Mental health is crucial to being healthy not just in terms of external appearance but in terms of internal thoughts and feelings. Your body can be massively affected by your mind, as stress, anxiety and depression can all lead to overeating, lack of motivation to remain active, and even other physical problems or illnesses directly caused by your mental state. A strong mind can lead to a strong body, and practicing daily meditation could really help you to re-center yourself and regain clarity on how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

HEAVEN: Hayfever Free Haven At Home

There is very little you can do to lift your spirits out of the depths of demotivation when hayfever strikes. Although a hugely common ailment that affects millions of people, it can be difficult to know what to try and what will be beneficial in the long run. Those warm summer days at home are joyful, but the second we open our windows for a welcomed breeze, we're involuntarily allowing all those pesky pollens to sweep through our homes.

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay
Keeping our homes free from germs and impurities can be a lengthy task; and searching for quick home remedies is key, especially as we all live such busy, hectic lives. Hayfever and allergies can strike all year round, and the sources range from pollen, grass, dust and mold.

We are constantly exposed to these things, and dust in particular is a stubborn problem that can't be avoided without vigorous and consistent cleaning. Here are some top tips to keep our home free from allergens that will make your life a little less stressful in the long-run and a little more productive!

As drastic as this seems, carpets harbour many dust mites and can be a huge contributory factor to allergies. Whilst redecorating and relaying wooden floors may be difficult and drastic, it is worth looking into for long-term solutions, and it also saves on having to clean your carpets.

De-clutter. Ornaments are renowned for collecting dust, and by de-cluttering, it is also a brilliant way to add a little Hygge into your home and life, as well as eliminating dust allergens around the house.

Potted plants can also be a culprit, so limit the types of plants you keep around the house. Begonias, cactus and geraniums are good alternatives and are still beautiful to have around the house. Succulents are also a good alternative which take very little caring for.

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay
Wash your dishes as soon as possible without allowing them to sit and gather dirt, and be sure to scrub your surfaces daily with water and detergent.

It's not just the dishes you should be washing too, on high pollen days, washing your hair and changing your clothes when arriving home can help to prevent spreading pollen to your home surfaces such as sofas, cushions and bedding.

Keep those windows closed when the pollen count is high, and allow your air to be cleansed. Purchasing a good air purifier, such as the Fellowes AeraMax range, will help to trap pollen and other airborne particles, allowing fresh clean air to flow around your house. This isn't just perfect for allergy suffers, fresher air keeps you healthier and happier. It's a great investment and proven to be beneficial.

Having your home too humid can breed unwanted bacteria too, maintaining a temperature between 68F (20C) and 72F (22C) throughout your home can help prevent this. Plus, if you're a smoker, ensure strictly, that you always smoke outside and not in the house.

In essence, the key is keeping clean and fresh air circulating through your home and if you happen to work from home, then this is definitely going to be a pre-requisite!