Monthly Archives: November 2012

Know No??

Such an Easy Word. One Syllable. Two Letters. Such a Hard Word to Say.

Any Entrepreneurial Musician whose ever been on stage for more than 17 minutes may have a most difficult time uttering these words. Especially if she really connected with the audience. Especially if he sold more than 32 CDs after the encore.
But, have they really accomplish their Initial Goal(s)? Did they make their ‘Desired Profit’ (monies notwithstanding)?
Was a lasting impression worthy of a return visit to an equally packed house left with the promoter?
If Not, then pursing your lips, tightening your jaws, clinching your teeth with the “N” sound emanating from your gut and morphing into an “O” may be the correct response.
I remember when SounDoctrine’s Performance Schedule was filled to the brim from 2005-2007 –
We could do no wrong.
Or so we thought.
We played any and everywhere because that’s what an Indie Band should do! No matter how much it cost us. Mattered not if we were paid – or had to pay to play. We were on the upward grind. Promises were made – “If you do this gig for this price (or no price) this time, next year we’ll hire you at…$$!!” And the always excellent, “It’s for Charity!” with dinner tickets topping off at $250 per plate. Many People got paid – but not the band.
But, we were booked solid!
It got to the point where my accountant began to question my seriousness about becoming a success in this industry.
I remember distinctly him saying to me, “You would have made more money staying home and popping microwave popcorn with your daughters than playing these gigs.” To my dismay, he still charged me Top Dollar for his time, even while telling me I hadn’t made a dime!  That was the beginning of my ascent into world of NO. And although my schedule slowed down considerably, my decisions more accurately framed my goals.
Refusing to become involved in a project, performance or production that doesn’t present a clearly defined Win-Win is the BEST decision an Entrepreneurial Musician can make. And I repeat, It’s really NOT about the $$ alone. It’s about sticking to Your Original Plan for being in the game in the first place.
And it can be a Tug of War with your Ego.
Are You Willing to give up the screaming crowd for the appreciative audience?
Are You willing to Sit Out on playing the Big Music Fest, where you’re buried in between the Country Act and the Acappella Choir for the opportunity to organize your own event?
Can You bear licensing your music to a large agency who will pay you nothing for “exposure”, rather than entering into an exclusive deal with a regional filmmaker for his/her next four flicks which will put  a few dollars in your pocket?
Decisions. Decisions.
And the Opportunity to stand in a mirror practicing a word you haven’t said much since toddler hood!
The precedence for NO lies within Your Own Spirit. There are Sacrifices. It may take you longer to get “there.” And there are ALWAYS compromises. Just remember to play YOUR Game, Not Theirs…
Write back and let me hear what have You said NO to recently!
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Follow Up and Follow Through!

Last Time I was up to bat, I revealed a major flaw I had early on in following up with potential clients and collaborators. I was the process of offering advice that is helping me and will hopefully be of great benefit to you. We began with these four components:

1) You Listen & Take Notes
2) You Create Memorable Space(s)
3) You Make Great Use of Equalization and Dynamics
4) Repeat Until Finalized
In Review
1) Please Refer to My Last Blog
2) Note Everything about the first encounter you’ve shared with your potential gatekeeper. The Place, Environment    (i.e. Lighting), was food involved, was there a band or DJ?
What were they wearing? Note any unusual jewelry, cologne/perfume or a hat or glasses and mention it. You can always bring that comment back in the second and/or third meeting. It’s also a great idea that YOU too wear something memorable and unique that they can later bring up. Perhaps not too memorable.
If they are a musician with product out and you are a fan, mention your favorite work of theirs. If they represent other artists to whom you wish to be associated, mention them an their works you consider your faves.
My comments here are based on the premise that you’ve done your homework on the client BEFORE your initial meeting. If you have not, go back to the beginning and read Relationship Roundtable
Unless he or she persistently insists, pay the tab – if applicable. They Will Remember This.
3) Make certain a proper, delicate balance exists in the conversation. In fact, YOU should do LESS talking. Let them hold court, while you listen emphatically* – making sure they have your full attention.
When you do speak, do so dynamically. Be concise. Make Every Word Count. Explain Your Music, Goals & Intentions using your most powerful words – without being wordy. Display Your Passion, without appearing Needy or Begging for Anything. Remember You DO have an important specialty that will definitely benefit them.
4) Repeat Until Finalized
Follow Up is a Process – Not A Light Switch. There may be many conversations and meetings that need to happen, either before your association commences – or even during, while working out the shared vision. Make Sure You incorporate all of the previous steps each and every time you meet. Listen. Take Notes. Be Memorable. Employ Emphatic Listening. Speak Dynamically and Repeat.
And Don’t forget to Come Back and Discuss Your Experiences!
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Never Forsake the Follow Up!

OK, I admit it.

Writing about my Achilles Heel is quite painful. I’ve dropped the ball in this area more times than the Cleveland Browns and probably just as often (but I doubt it.) What I wish to share today is probably the most important piece of advice any EM should take advantage of.

Entrepreneurs, by nature, are most excitable, either at the prospect of a new opportunity, or during the incipient stage. Once we’ve made the first few big steps, gained appropriate momentum and accomplished initial goals, we immediately begin seeking other conquests.

It’s our inherent drive and ambition. But often we need a harness. A BIG One.

The discipline to properly follow up and maintain consistency with a contact, client or collaborator holds far more weight than the ability to enter into the relationship. The tenacity to ‘go the distance’ with your associates is the essence of true success.

It’s been said that most often, a potential associate, especially a gatekeeper, will intentionally NOT call you back – just to see how serious you are in the Follow Up Stages.

To effectively Follow Up with a contact, it is important that you’ve created a solid foundation in your first meeting with them. This strategy will keep you at the forefront of their minds as they work through their busy schedules. To establish this foundation, you should employ the same tactics you use when mixing a song:

1) You Listen & Take Notes
2) You Create Memorable Space(s)
3) You Make Great Use of Equalization and Dynamics
4) Repeat Until Finalized

Let’s Review:

1) Make Certain in your initial meetings with your client, you’ve heard and restated his/her needs. You ask questions and note how you may be able to provide the solution (if you can’t, you either bow out truthfully and gracefully or you immediately present someone who can!)

Once you begin the follow up process, you have your notes in front of you, so in your conversation you are ‘dead on’ as to what the focal point of your business is.

Now Please Notice Something Here: Most often, it’s YOU, the EM, who’s seeking help from the Gatekeeper – but you still need to present yourself – delicately so – as the one who is providing the solution -i.e. – they NEED Your Song, Band, Studio, Performance and/or Service. Without being arrogant or bullish, it is to their advantage to allign with YOU to create a Win-Win which takes you both to the next level, although they hold the key initially…

We will discuss items 2 & 3 in my next post – but until then, why not tell me which strategies you use to Follow Up with Your Resources – and perhaps – the opportunities you’ve blown by not employing them – We Live, We Learn, We Grow!

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Leading Influential Independent Entrepreneurial Musicians!!

…try saying that three times fast!

And while you’re at it, prepare to visit the sites of some of the most exciting EMs I am blessed to know and occasionally work with. I have learned a great deal from sitting on the sidelines watching and also from calling them up and asking: “Hey, how in the world did you do THAT?”
Not only have each provided me a wealth of information about staying afloat in this business, but continue to point me to resources that stretch me toward being the best I can!
I encourage you to support their music and reach out to them. You’ll thank me!
At the core of every EM is the realization that they MUST build their career from the ground up; Defining, Marketing, Branding and Increasing their Artistry founded on the sole support of their audience. Therefore every decision is executed in a way that cultivates total engagement. And these artists have it down!
Darrell Looney: Da Phat Funk Clique – Darrell was the first indie artist I began networking with back in 2002. He understands and appreciates the value of “Win-Win” although he has provided me more resources and favors than I could ever return. His band continues to enthrall New York with his funky brand of violin floating over absolute fusion! He blessed SounDoctrine by adding his beautiful violin to “Sacred Place.”
Marlon Saunders: He and I ‘co-won’ the Best Soul Album award from Soul Patrol back in 2003 and continued a dialogue that extended to jamming together in Philly in 06 and culminated in our collaboration on “Just Think” for Inspire. A graduate of Berklee, Marlon’s very core is innovation and he’s constantly off into some heavy duty things that includes teaching, arranging, touring, producing film and stage productions.
Carlton Smith: Soul Brother Number New – God Son of the One, Mr. James Brown, Carlton has spent the last six years burning through China with an explosive Soul Revue, which includes covers of his mentor and his own dynamic material. His is the voice that propels the legendary Edsels on our “Love Wins Again.” Carlton is an excellent resource if you are planning on touring internationally. His Sense of Humor is Outrageous!
Ginetta’s Vendetta: Talk about taking the bull by the Horns, this tiny vixen captivates her audiences with her trumpet, sensual mystic and a blazing band that swings the night away! A brilliant marketer, Ginetta’s selfless spirit keeps her on the road and at the forefront of the indie music community. We had the opportunity to connect in Philly in 06 and Baltimore in 09. It’s high time we choose a city and jam!
Cecil Ramirez: A soulful keyboardists who has worked with Brian Culbertson and a ton of heavy hitters, Cecil and I were blessed to tour together as part of an IJAMZ international jazz cruise. A stalwart businessman, his keen salesmanship and marketing approach make him the ultimate EM. I have learned so much about what ‘not’ to do from taking Cecil’s advice!
Nadir: Distorted Soul – Detroit’s Rock & Soul Triple Threat, Nadir is never short on ideas. Risk Taker, Innovator, Activist, Label Owner and Free Spirit, his mission is his music and networking is his science. I continue to watch in amazement as continues to build his legacy. He was cool enough to kill the guitar solo on SounDoctrine’s “That’s Why (It’s Called Love)” Nadir’s new CD “The Book of Jonah” just dropped & his website is the comprehensive blueprint for doing music right!
Victor & Bobbi Samalot: Rare Blend – Always twisting the phrase, “Whatever It Takes!” this Husband & Wife team know how to get it done and keep it movin. Whether they are rockin out as full blown jazz fusionists, or Vic is doing his solo acoustic thing at a downtown Cleveland bistro, their outstanding artistry is both accessible and abstract. They are masters at promotion and I appreciate all they teach about subtle ways to stay current.
These are just a few of the EMs I run to when I need advice or an opinion on a project on the front burner. And truthfully, sometimes I just visit their websites or listen to their music for inspiration and to become “unstuck” in planning my goals.
Each Artists here is completely accessible, extremely friendly and once you’ve had the opportunity to dialogue with them, come back and share what happened!!!
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U Got da Look

I bought my Beautiful Wife a new Mp3 Player for her Birthday and finally got around to adding   music to it. Because she and I are children of the 70’s, most of her requests were based from that era and into the early 80’s

What I noticed as I was going thru the earlier Albums and CDs to convert was how rugged the artists looked back then – not to mention how many people made up a band in those days (but that’s another blog). I mean to look at some of those faces – the men and the women – Yikes!
But that didn’t matter to us at all! As long as we could “Shake Our Rumps to the Funk” and Wiggle our Boogie Bodies, it didn’t matter if the artists looked like Mr. & Mrs. Freakalistic.
Most Did.
That’s Not to Say that Musicians did not have a certain look to it. We always have.
The Clothes
The Swagger
The Coolness
The Individuality
These were all inherent in the music and will always be. However, what was almost never a factor was a person’s physical features. I mean some of these dudes and dudettes sweated and barked on the record and on the album cover! Truly Gruesome and we loved every second of it.
Somehow though overtime, a pretty, chiseled face and a surgically enhanced body was all that was necessary to become a major star. For those of us who knew our instruments and could really bring down a house, yet had the bodies of deformed groundhogs and faces like   a…well….we didn’t see it coming! That is until Michael began morphing before our very eyes!
I know this is a well worn argument, but having THE LOOK is the ONLY thing that matters in the music industry. The gatekeepers have long fallen asleep and will only push and promote the beautiful people who can sell magazines and grunt loud enough for AutoTune to sing for them. Notible exceptions are rappers who are expected to be off pitch, angry and should look like they can create entropy at a moment’s notice.
The recent buzz over Rihanna and Justin Bieber’s (check out his hair??) performances at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show the other night seek to rival the bizarre caricitures of
Lady What’s Her Name appearances for bonifide stardom. Unfortunately, Rihanna had to reduce her performance to a strip tease, as if it were needed to keep her audience engaged.
Not long ago, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ contestant Susan Boyle proved the priority of raw talent over plastic antics, but still battled demons of low self esteem, publicly, due to years of mistreatment among her personal and professional peers. What’s encouraging is that her albums continue to sell by the millions and we can witness depth and progress in each of her releases.
We May Win After All!
Thank goodness for the talented, gnarled-faced Artists & Musicians who continue to bring the noise right to the door of a superficial, cookie-cutter industry lost in the squeaky clean backdrop of Photoshop.
What Do You Have to Add???
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The Legacy of Choice

A Great Snare Sound can really make a record! It has to have the right amount of Snap, Crackle & Pop! The reverb has to be dead on – a reversed gate may work wonders, but placing it in a tiny, warm room with a little panning to the right really makes that booty shake!

But You might prefer a drier, duller tone, hearing more of the center of the head than the otherwise simultaneous click of stick on the rim and because your song is based more on contemplation than housequaking, you’ve decided to pan that snare hard left and dial it down a decibel or three.
It really does depend on the song. 
Your Bass Amp Software literally models 64 sizes and 22 different mic placements (open & closed cabinet!). You may not have to juice that compression to the max to get that PUNCH!
Its all about the genre.
Either that piano will reflect Elton John battling Billy Joel or Dave Grusin in a quiet moment of reflection. During the bridge, You can always turn up that 5k for the Chick Corea fusion solo.
It’s all about what You’re trying to convey
The Strings, Percussion, Overall Groove and THE VOICE {or lead instrument} all work together to tell Your story – and the way You’ll blend and mix each tiny little element, not only adding & building, but subtracting and  reducing will have a profound impact on the legacy this song leaves on generations.
This song won’t be a passing fad. It will become a standard.
As You carefully sort and choose, sometimes spending weeks rehearsing and remixing, You are casting a vote to change destinies, yeah- the soundtrack of people’s lives!
And as You vote this Election Day, I trust that you’ve meticulously researched Your candidates, their principles, values and the integrity of their character. I trust You vote Your conscience, beliefs and ideas and not just the popular view.
It’s all about the world You want to live in and the legacy You wish to leave…
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