Monthly Archives: June 2015

What’s With All The Excitement?

A few weeks ago I was browsing the DIY Blog at CD Baby and noticed that A gleeful Christopher Robley was going on and on about the launch of Apple’s New Streaming System, the differences between this and their very well funded iTunes and how Beats fits in, etc. OK Fine, Yada! But then the gentleman had the nerve to ask his readership (90+% Indie Musicians, I’m sure) if they were “Excited” about Apple’s launch. I couldn’t help myself!        I had to Comment.

Below is what I wrote verbatim (in bold) although surprisingly, the gatekeepers DID Approve its posting!

Before You Read, Take a Moment to Answer These Questions:

How Much Serious Money Have You Made from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Tidal or Amazon as an EntreMusician? (I’ve Never Seen So Many Zeros follow a decimal point!)

How Much Serious Money have the aforementioned companies made off the back of Songwriters & Artists? (How Many Zeros are there in Seven Billion?)

Do You Think We Should Continue Down The Path of Poverty Just to Tell Our Fans They Can Find Us on Spotify Instead of Asking them to purchase directly from Us?

What Suggestions Do You Propose To Get Us Out of This Mess?

Seriously, the concept of any Artist being “excited” about Apple, Spotify, Pandora or even CD Baby making millions of dollars a year – on the very backs – of these same Musicians to whom they pay less than peanuts to is a clear Offensive Mockery to the Art of Music.

The Time is long past where all Serious EntreMusicians should concentrate on their own Fan Base (no matter how small) and Create their own Subscription Models through their Websites and Micro Payment Accounts through Pay Pal and begin this doggone thing again! The ability to interact directly with your own tribe, via Internet is old school and completely limited by your imagination.

The notion that ANY Indie Musician is going to get rich, be discovered and have access to millions of eyes and ears is pure fallacy. Do Your Thing! Don’t Be A Sucker! The Time and Money You Spend Rehearsing, Recording, Performing and Building Your Brand will be Rewarded if You Are Smart, Creative and Willing to Work Your Posterior Regions Off!

Call The Crap for What It Is and Don’t Believe the Blinking Hype! If You Only have 500 fans who give you $50 a year because you have brilliantly created Music & Merch they LOVE, You have Earned $25k. So Grow those 500 to 1000+ and Keep Moving. The Whole World doesn’t have to Know Your Name as Long as You are Making Music that Touches the Hearts and Minds of YOUR Fans. They WILL Support Your Artistry! Ultimately, It’s Our Responsibility – Without a Major Label, Distribution or “Connects” – Network with Other Likeminded Musicians and Make a Plan & Make Your Mark!

Excited About Apple? Please!

P.S. Derek Sivers started a great company. I believed and supported his original philosophy that actually helped make our music accessible on a global basis and we made $$. I started calling him (and still refer to him as ‘Uncle Derek.’ This subsequent “push” to ‘Make Sure Your Music is Here or Here or Here’ has long proven a bad decision. Jay Z Can’t Save Us – iTunes didn’t and Apple Won’t.

I Would Really Love To Hear Your Comments Here. Seriously, Lemme Know.

I was listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Future2Future” as I prepared this Blog.

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The Opportunity in the Obstacle

Obstacles are a Regular Diet of Every EntreMusician’s Life. They are Unavoidable, often Unpredictable and always present hidden Opportunities. Along with the stress that comes with Each Obstacle are Moments to Choose whether to Freak Out, Give Up or Turn Bitter in the process, instead of Zeroing In on the Possible Benefits this Obstacle offers.
I Must Admit that I have done All of These. 

Call it Age, but lately I’ve forced myself to stop and answer the question “What Does This Mean?” right at the crest of every perceived Obstacle. Whether it’s Lack of Resources for a Certain Project to downright Opposition while Carrying out a Goal, if we can Quell our Emotions, have a Team pow wow, or do Personal Introspection to Ask Ourselves the Meaning Behind the Obstacle, we create a Clarity that Allows Us to Better Focus on Acheiving Our Accomplishments. 

In Fact, What I Am Learning Most about My Most Recent Obstacles is that they were more about ME than the Thing, Person or Situation that presented itself. If I Did Not Plan or Execute Properly, I Invited the Obstacle. If I Do Not Adequately State My Goals or Explain to My Team Expected Intentions & Results, I Should Expect Obstacles. 

But What if I Did Do All of the Above? What if My All of My Ducks are in the Provrbial Row? I Immediately Stop Asking ‘How’ this Happened and ask ‘Why’ Questions- which are More Personal and Less Technical. Obviously, a Personal Lesson is Attached and I Need to Open Eyes & Ears and Learn The Lesson.

I Have Not Been Able to Overcome Every Obstacle. Often, I’ve had to work Underneath, Beside & Through the Obstacle. But the Perspective I’ve gained from being “Up Close & Personal” with the Adversity has drawn out a greater degree of Creativity, Perseverance & Wisdom that I would not have gained otherwise. Additionally, Some Obstacles have brought Absolute & Generous Blessings to My Family & I – Opportunities I Would Have Never Walked Into had I just stood there and cursed the blasted thing! 

Many of Our Greatest Opportunities Are Disguised as Obstacles. This Thought does not Minimize the real pain each can bring us, but the Hurt doesn’t have to Harm if we look the Issue dead in the eye, analyze it for what it is and formulate an appropriated response, all the while gritting your teeth and buckling up for the interesting journey ahead.

I’ve been Very Intentional to not discuss specific experiences here, as there are More than Many and I’d be here till Next Thursday trying to explain a few! Like any other EM, I’ve Blundered & Blown It, but Because I Am an EM,     I Learn and I Move On…

Keep Your Head Up!

I wasn’t listening to any music while wrting this, but Jon Thomas & I just collaborated on a track called “Maranatha” that I’m gonna finish tweaking as soon as I post this!

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The Art of the Interview

Inevitably, all EntreMusicians will need to interact with Multimedia to Promote an Event or Project. I have been blessed to be able to have access to Radio, TV & Print in my region due to my involvement as a former Radio Producer for the legendary, late Dan Ryan Talk Show on WKBN’s 570AM. Although this has been decades ago, the Tips & Tricks I picked up by being on “both sides of the glass” have been invaluable in helping me spread my message. Here are a few things I have learned:

1) Have a Voice. 

Be Able to Stylize a Tone, Sense of Enunciation and a Presence that whether People are Able to See You or Not, they are Sure that You are You! I will Never Forget the Excitement that My Brother-in-Law, Phil The Beat & I felt as Teenagers when we heard our hero, Roger Troutman being interviewed on Cleveland’s Power 108, WDMT. And, he had his Talk Box with him on the Radio! This left an Indelible Impression on Us and We Could Not Wait to get his New Album and go to the show. Listening to Bootsy Collins was More Exciting than hearing Frankie Beverly interview, although Both of their Music remains as some of the Most Enduring of the Soul era.

Also, Intelligence Does Not supercede Style On the Air – if this is in line with Your Overall Imagery. Some Artists prefer to appear Downright Stupid, ala Favor Flav, because their image is what Moves the Sales. The important thing is to Know Your Voice and Always employ it while Branding Your Art.

I developed a “Radio Voice” before going to work on the Dan Ryan Show, as I was previously an On Air Gospel DJ at WGFT 1500-AM. When I am being interviewed on Radio, I often, ‘go there’ by default – but it sounds trite on Stage and on TV, so I’m more comfortable in my natural voice.

2) Possess a Look

Tape (Hard Drives) & Cameras are most unforgiving. Ditto everything I said above, but apply it to the Visual. Have Your Concept DOWN and make sure you get plenty of opinions and a consensus if you can’t afford a fashion designer. Not all Colors, Blends and Fabric are You – again, unless Your Act is Stark, Shocking or downright Disgusting. Making Absolutely Sure that You are Captivating on TV is far different than Your Stage Persona (unless you’ll be performing live on TV!) often EMs dress according to the Artisry, just keep in mind that People will be Looking a Lot Closer to You on their Big Screen, Deciphering Everything about You – a mole, crooked teeth, earrings, etc., because these features/flaws either bring Your Fans closer to you or alienate them. 

I recall how crazy I looked going on TV once to Interview with Sunglasses on. I was Naive. It Was Stupid! I think I destroyed the VHS!

3) Have Fun!

Once You’ve Established Your Voice & Your Visual, it’s time to Relax, Have Fun, Be Confident and Engage Your Artist. Too Many Musicians come off as if their Guitar Chops are as Serious & Important as the next missile strike in the Middle East. They present themselves as aloof, unapproachable with devoid of a funny bone. These decisions contain poison that both the Interviewer and their Public repel. It’s Not That Serious! Your Mission is to Make a Connection, not Create a Chasm. Even Prince learned to smile.

4) Share a Story.

Personal. Profound. Transparent. Everything is Not Perfect in Your World and No One Expects it to be. Identify Your Humanity and Relate to Others. Reveal  Mistakes that have happened on Stage or in the Studio, Your Daughter’s Favorite Artist (which is definitely not you) or why your Bass Player really needed stitches right after the show are all great topics. By All Means, Share Your Dreams. I Always Do. They Compel Others to Dream With Me!

5) Ask Questions

Yep. The forgotten Secret. Every Interviewer wants to be Involved in the Process. Some will out talk their guests. Others will be straightforward and just fire away (after all there are time restraints), but Don’t be Afraid to Trade Places. Don’t Make the Interview just about You & Yours! Expressing a Genuine care in those kind enough to give You Airtime gets You repeated visits, puts all the participants at ease and provides the Audience additional insight to the program’s host.

I frequently turn tables on Interviewers, especially when I am feeling nervous. It causes me to build some confidence when I see how others handle the unexpected question. I am able to Relax.

6) Know What You Are Talking About

There’s Nothing Worse than Radio Silence or the Proverbial Deer in the Headlights look. You Avoid these discomforts by knowing Your Art, Abilities and Industry. Keep the Dialogue Limited to What You Do Know and If You Don’t Know, Do Not Pretend. Also, Do Not Avoid the Question or Play Politician, Be Honest and Say You Don’t Know, You May Not Have Heard or are Simply Uninterested in Answering that Particular Question. And Smile.

I put my Size 10 & A 1/2 in My Mouth Twice On Radio when I Pretended to Know More about the subject matter. I tried to Play Expert in a Den of Experts and the World knew (at least that one) I Was a Fraud. I Avoided Mirrors for Two Weeks. 

7) Don’t Lie

Ever. 

This includes Exaggerations. Read My Experience Above – Again. 

If You’ve Only Sold 1000 Downloads, don’t make it 2000. How Many Accurate Unique Hits do you get per week? Be Accurate. Stay Honest. Avoid Hype.
8) Get Over Yourself

At the End of the Interview, the Conversation should not be “about” YOU, albeit concerning You, Your Projects, etc. You’ll Gain More Ground and Respect by Intentionally Making Your Airtime about Your Host, Sponsors, Fans and Most Definitely other Artists You Admire and have influenced Your Career. If there is a Ministry, Charity or Cause You Champion & Support, mention them. Always Be Charitiable & Generous in Your Positive Comments of Others.

Hope This Helps. Below are a few links to Interviews I’ve done, including my Very First TV Interview.

Explaining SounDoctrine on Loose Change: http://youtu.be/zHfaHWvnEzc

Once Upon A Madonna: http://youtu.be/h7dqD3k3lGw

My First Time: http://youtu.be/B8xE7aF8-zw

Radio – Randy Allar, The Fusion Show: http://youtu.be/oK7hSbenFHo

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What is YOUR Music Worth (To You)?

A Musician I know entered our Studio a few weeks ago to obtain some advice on some software we use. While playing through the Music he had brought with him, I noticed that his Songs, though Very Well Produced, Energetic & Engaging, were Extremely Dated. His Drum Programming, Keyboard Patches, Quantization and approach to Sequencing matched his age perfectly, but not This Decade.

Knowing that his Intention was to soon release this Music to a Specific Genre, I fought (and won) the urge to give advice that had not been asked for. When he left, I began having a Conversation with Myself (you should try it sometime) on the Merits of Releasing his Music “As Is” or Redoing Everything to Make it More Contemporary. 

I Argued Both Sides of the Art VS Commerce Debate. EntreMusicians daily walk a very thin tightrope of Maintaining Each, even when One may be Sacrificed at times for the Longterm Benefit of the other. But for Some Reason, this Self Induced Discourse was Different and I admit, my own age was to blame. 

I Am a Bonafide Child of the Mid 60’s & 70’s. I remember the first Recorded Drum machines, the Robotic Stiffness of Kraftwerk and Soul Sonic Force’s “Planet Rock” to the many artists like the great Jeff Lorber (who ruined my life, ask him), Stevie, Herbie & Prince who were eagerly adept at Melting Genre & Technology because they absolutely kept the Art First. 

Not All Records Sold. 

Herbie’s “Dis is da Drum” VS “Future Shock” (which contained the monster hit ‘Rockit‘)

Stevie’s “Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants” VS “Songs in The Key of Life” (which Lori & I recently saw Live!) 

Prince’s “Around The World in a Day” VS iconic “Purple Reign

Ironically, from a Purely Musician’s Perspective, Each Work was Equally Exceptional, but only one of the two made the Artist significant moola. Various circumstances may have contributed to the Lack of Sales, including the Timing of the Release, Record Company Promotion, Management, Tour Support, Radio Politics and so forth. But for the Indie EMs who Begin Most Projects without any of these benefits, it’s critical that he/she think through the Real Possibility of Not Eating or Making Music that is Honest & Most Meaningful to Their Spirit First & Foremost, irregardless of the public’s taste (or lack thereof).

One of George Duke’s best statements before he left us was that early on he refused to make music to please the popular frontier of Radio & Record Company whims; that he was pleasing his own Soul first. B.B. King said he wouldn’t be satistfied until he heard ‘that sound’ in his head and would live his life trying to acheive it. In both of these instances, they kept searching and we kept listening.  

So after going Back & Forth and around the proverbial, I made up my own mind to ccontinue charting my own artistic course while rmaining on the tightrope. In fact, SounDoctrine has been and I’ll be releasing music which clearly shows our choices.

What side do you come down on?

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