Category Archives: Conferences

THE PLAN UNFOLDS…

If You Were Unable to check out last week‘s post or perhaps even the week prior, you may wish to begin there to understand the need for the New Plan…

The Problem is too well known. Music Lovers have been Conditioned to Believe that Music is (or should be) Free. The CD is Dead. The Download is Dying. Presently, Streaming is King and the Existing Platforms are controlled by Corporations earning Billions of Dollars via $9.99 Subscription Fees with music served up ‘Buffet Style’ or what Dave Kusek long ago termed “Music Like Water.” This practice is now a decade old…

BUT, to quote his Royal Purple Lateness, “The Baker ain’t makin’ No Bread!”  but The Corps are and this particular EntreMusician is long growing weary of hearing moans & groans of heroes past and present protesting, instead of rerouting the flow of their own dough.

The Plan is Simple. Systematically Remove Our Music from Places that Don’t Pay and Replace in Our Own Formats, On Our Own Platforms and Do The Hard Work of Rebuilding & Re-Educating Our Own Tribes to Gather & Party in Our Own Backyards.

Every Musician has a Website, and Every Website hosts a server which allows Us to Upload & Sell Our Media. Most Allow Us to Set Our Own Prices and since we generally pay them a fee, they do not take a Percentage of Our Earnings (Most go directly to a PayPal Account).

With that said, the technology exists for the EntreMusician to begin offering a Personalized Streaming Service. This May Sound Oversimplified. But It’s Definitely Doable.

Three Key Components are Needed to Construct the Foundation.

The First Component is Confidence. Bands, Musicians, Artists, Creatives MUST Know & Understand that Our Work is Important and Fulfills a Major Need in Life which has been earning Multi Billions since the 1970’s – but for whom? Anyone of Us who’ve taken the time to learn all of those Major 9th Chords and spent Countless Hours Practicing Counter Para-Diddles can buy a copy of Quick Books and do a little accounting! We Can Do This!

The Second is Unity. As with Any Call for Solidarity, there will be the Silence of those who Wish to Wait & See, all the while bemoaning the $0.0007 royalty check sent to them by Spotify!

The Final Component is Bloody Knuckled Hard Work. An EntreMusician is a Forward Thinking, Effective Creative with “Results” as our Main Focus! Nothing Less Will Do. Perseverance, Endurance and Sweat. The Fans Won’t Just Flock to Our Website. They Won’t Just plunk down the Micro-Payment to PayPal. BUT, If Our Music is Important Enough to Us and We Develop the Courage, Determination and Marketing Ability to Persuade, WE CAN Engage and Create Our Own Thing and Not Need to Answer to Anyone.

That’s How It Get’s Done!

Let’s Begin the Real Conversation or Quit Crying!

My Old Sony 200 Disc CD Player was spitting out the Funk at Random upstairs, while I was posting this – I was also engrossed in the Free Webinar by Dave Kusek who was interviewing Dave Cool from Bandzoogle – and I presented the question to the chat room which was asked On Air. Thanks Chelsea! 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The No Comfort Zone

If Music is anything at all, it’s an Adventurous Journey into Amazement! Music is an Oasis of Emotions which ofttimes teasingly, lovingly, spiritually and at other times, violently causes the Listener to Experience a moment they could never imagine on their own. My definition is Completely Melodramatic, I know, but not without reasonable consideration for what usually happens in the Musician’s mind…or at least in my own.

Interestingly, in the course of time, that same musician, if not intentional, begins to Slide into the Frontier of the Familiar. They recycle Chord Changes, Patterns, Harmony Structures, Beats and Choruses that meander subconsciously without the least bit of explorative engagement. Usually this happens once the Artist’s fan base is well established and the season of scratching and hoofing out gigs while tearfully begging people to download their music has become a distant memory.

While it’s always important to maintain your own DNA and promote your unique style of singing, playing and performance antics that make you You, the moment you quit learning, taking risks and expanding your palette for the minds, hearts and souls of your tribe is the very moment you’ve filed for retirement. A Musician’s laurels never look as cute to their fans as they do to themselves and they can always smell when you’ve phoned in a gig.

A true EntreMusician graces the tender tightrope of keeping their identity while stimulating advancement, growth and progress in their art. No “cookie cutter” formulas and presumptuous phrases which undermine the intelligence of your audience will last for long. They will remember and they will defect in time. It’s an uncomfortable position to be in, but well worth the music that results if you stay on your toes!

Finally, an EM realizes that his/her music is not just for the entertainment of others. Our souls are also fed when The Spirit downloads into us the wellspring of New Life in Song. The more we return, the more deliciously refreshing we find the water and the more prone we are to resist pondscum.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Talkin It Out!

One of the most profitable things an EntreMusician can do, especially if she is the band leader is to hold regular meetings with her group. When embarking on a new recording project, every pertinent item should be discussed on the front end – outside of the recording studio – with no instruments in hand, so there are no emotional attachments.

If the bandleader is also the guy running the indie label, then you have to come correct, show transparency and reveal exactly what will happen before it does. Discuss collaboration, the agreements that will need to be signed and how royalties, if applicable, will be dispersed.

The four major topics of discussion include:

PRODUCTION: Who will actually Produce the Project? Is it a Collaborative Effort? Who has Final Say on a Song’s Arrangement? Who’s Paying for the Project? Picking the Studio(s)? Setting Rehearsal/Recording Times? Hiring Extra Musician/Vocalists? Paying Them? Construct The Flow from Conception to Manufacture to iTunes and then Pick the Person who will Oversee the Entire Project.

SONGWRITING: Are there One or More Writers in the Band? How will Song Collaboration Be Split? It gets confusing in the middle of the groove when you’re jamming and everyone is contributing to the main idea. Everyone should talk about it and then be fearless – Write the information down on a Collaboration Agreement – Sign It! – Don’t wait till you’re filing copyright online and an argument ensues. Do It Now!

PUBLISHING: How is this animal split? If you’re self publishing, with multiple interests among the group of writers, do as stated above: TALK, WRITE & SIGN the document. File Appropriately. Then Make Assignments so everyone is involved with the proper exploitation of the song.

ROYALTIES: How will the CD Sales be split, if at all? Does the One who shelled out the big bucks get reimbursed first? She Should – but she should also keep detailed records as to her expenses so that disbursement of funds begin once ground zero is attained. And it’s always better to talk in Dollars and Cents rather than percentages here – Ex. “We each receive $1.00 each from a $10 sale – $5.00 goes in the bank until we reach 2000 sales then we split $1.50 each” – whatever – just keep it simple, plain and in writing.

The Point is – being very direct and clear on the front end of a project will help you make better music together once you hit the studio and the street!

I’d love to hear from you if I have forgotten something or perhaps what your band has done before approaching big projects.Hit Me Up!

Oh Wow! This is my third post in a row where I wasn’t listening to music as I wrote…something must be wrong with me!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

At The CORE!

In my two previous postings, I’ve shared foundational resources which have helped shape my perspective in music and business (interchangeably). To put a cap on this ‘so called’ series, I wanted to open up to you a sampling of additional multimedia which have help shape me.

As you are well aware, I am a Man of Faith, a Follower of Jesus Christ. I am not one who shuns or abuses anyone for having a different belief system than I do. As I pastor, I am always open to discuss why I believe what I do and to really listen to others express their perspective as well. I feel conversation, not condemnation leads to true understanding and will stop a lot of the nonsense we watch unfold daily…

However, the purpose of this blog is not for me to sermonize, but to offer a few spiritual resources, that, if you are so inclined, will help steady the You within You. This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are plenty of others books which could’ve easily been included, but these few have helped me tremendously in my journey.

The Bible – Duh! Where else did you think I would begin? However in all seriousness, as a child & teenager, my Mom and my church stressed the importance of reading this book, which I felt then was totally irrelevant, complex and BORING! And for years – well into my adult life, I would pick it up and pick at it and put it back down. But when I truly began to follow Jesus, from my heart, without parental or church influence, I started to really dig in and my life has not been the same.

If you are not a Christ follower, I would recommend reading the Bible anyway. The Books of Genesis, Esther, Proverbs, the Gospel of John, Luke and the letter to the Hebrews hold significant keys as to how God reveals Himself to mankind and may cause you to ask deeper questions. And ALL Questions are good for the EntreMusician!

Howard Hendricks‘ “Living By The Book” is an excellent companion if you desire to do an in depth study of the Bible. It helps you navigate through customs, language and genre and provides wonderful insights on how to make the most of your reading and ultimately, implementing its teachings.

Prayers that Avail Much” is a collection of prayers based directly on scripture. At the core, prayer is nothing more than talking with and to God (providing you believe He exists). But the most impacting prayers, in my opinion, are formed out of what He has already said, promises and has fulfilled in the lives of others. As we become more aware of what His word confirms, our faith solidifies and we are better able to face life with confidence. This is an excellent resource that you will often return to.

In Pursuit of Purpose” by Dr. Myles Munroe and his “Potential” series were given to me by Lori when we were dating. I had to marry her! Myles has a way of cutting through the clutter and getting right to the heart of the matter with precision and clarity. If his name is on the cover, chances are it’s on my bookshelf. Heavy Duty Material!

Dreaming With God” by Bill Johnson is one I feel every EntreMusician needs to explore and digest. This book has a way of weaving itself into our creative zone and provides a glimpse into how The Almighty created us and wants to unfold His dream in us. I must admit, I had always felt these concepts were hidden deep within my spirit, but this courageous book not only confirms my original notions, it causes me to probe deeper. By the way, if you’re prone toward digesting unconventional thinking, pick up any Bill Johnson book. Next on my ‘to do’ reading list is his “When Heaven Invades Earth.”

Andy Stanley‘s “Visioneering” is equally important. Especially if you’re beginning a new album project, planning a tour or building that new interactive website. Viewing your artistry with the level of biblical prowess Andy provides, affords you a great opp to view your work from God’s vantage point!

Finally, I’ll conclude with William Paul Young‘s “The Shack” which I am still reading. My wife, daughters and most everyone I know have read it and it only took them two days each! I keep returning for small bites, because his concepts are so cool to me, I find myself re-reading passages just to make sure I got it down – like an exceptional melody!

As Always, feel free to share the books that have most impacted you here on this blog. I am always looking to expand my repertoire!

I was not listening to any music during the typing of this post, but I’m about to turn on some Pat Metheny as I upload this!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Head, Heart & Hands

Today we continue down the thoughtful path through “Average to Amazing.” As we travel along, we discover the curious interplay of our Head, Heart & Hands, which navigate our transition out of the quagmire of average living to the wellspring of the amazing.

Funny thing about the Head & Heart – whatever they agree upon is always correct, be it wrong or right!

Our Hands are merely waiting around to implement the impact of our decision…

For example: if we believe that whatever we are attempting to achieve is too difficult or that we’re too _________ to accomplish the task, then we are correct! Conversely, if our Head Acknowledges that in spite of any and every obstacle we face, we will Overcome & Succeed, the Heart Affirms and the Hands go into Action.

Outstanding growth occurs once our Head Accepts that we are indeed Amazing!

We are NOT average!

Average people may experience a degree of success, but very few make a sustainable difference.

Amazing people constantly increase their awareness of Who They Are and Why They are Here!

Immediately, the Heart steps in to plant those fertile thoughts deep within to make sure they take root.

It matters not how much talent, experience, connections or money we may not have at our initial disposal. Once the Head & Heart have made an agreement, Watch Out!! Our Hands obey and begin to acquire the necessary tools and resources needed.

The books, blogs and podcasts we absorb, the conferences we attend and the networks in which we associate all create a catalyst toward moving beyond the Average Everyman existence to an Amazing Life beyond our wildest imagination!

The Bible states that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (AMAZING) and that we are placed into this life, in this exact dispensation, to make an incredible difference and to leave a legacy. As we contemplate how Amazing we were born to be, let us pay attention to these three essentials, our Head, Heart & Hands gifted by our Heavenly Father to assist us on this incredible journey.

I welcome your Amazing Thoughts…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FROM AVERAGE TO AMAZING!!!

As a young boy in Sunday School, one of the most curious bible lessons that resonated with my little rebellious spirit was found in Matthew 7:13-14, where Jesus said (in my own paraphrase) “Travel on the narrower roads, where few travel and find real life. The ‘five lane’ highways are where you find the crowds and that path usually lead you toward destruction!”

I always liked lessons and phrases like that, because I generally never wanted to be counted in with the crowds anyway. Not that I was a loner, but because my perspective was that if a whole room of people were gravitating toward one opinion, vote or direction, I wanted to see, hear or navigate to the opposite view. Just Because…

Musicians are often faced with this dilemna, especially if they want to eat!

If a “sound,” “format,” or “genre” dictates that THIS is the Tempo, Feel and Structure you need to follow, then baby you better walk the line! I’m sure this is why I was totally unsuccessful in Cover Bands, held (and continue to hold) complete disdain for popular waves and fads and I loathe Smooth Jazz with every ounce of blood and oxygen in my body. It was painful to watch most of my heroes of jazz music dumb down their genius for Soccer Mom Airplay. I know the brief rewards were royalty checks in amounts I am still yet to see, but it’s just as painful to watch them try and scramble back to their core when this format was soon yanked from the prominence of terrestrial radio.

Average abounds. And It’s not just in the music business, but practically every industry boasts the illusions of granduer and spectacle to make Average appear far better than it is. Average is what is encouraged. It’s taught in the schools, from elementary to collegiate and more interestingly, in some of our neighborhood churches, which may not have read the aforementioned scripture!

Anyone can be Average. It takes little effort. If you have a remote control, you’re in. You watch from the sidelines, feeling all of the excitement of the game without particpating. Average is comfortable and conveinent. It’s also quite contagious. Entire families, whole people groups and many generations can live and die Average lives and leave lasting legacies of complacency. It’s a five lane highway and everyone is partying on it. It’s expected for you to join in…

Amazing is not necessarily your in your chops, fellow musicians. Amazing is in your choices. Amazing doesn’t begin with what you do. It starts with who you are – rather – who you think you are! Because if you Think you are amazing, it won’t be long until your heart agrees and your hands begin the work of implementation.

Amazing is deciding that it matters not where you come from, or your family heritage, economic status or physical limitations. Once You have discovered and decided Your Purpose, Priorities and Plan – Then, Brother, Sister – YOU’RE AMAZING and You Can’t Be Stopped!

This week, I have the great opportunity to share these thoughts with a High School Class of Amazing Students! My Goal is to increase each one’s awareness of their own Awesomeness!

Let The Games Begin!!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are You You??

In piggybacking off my last post on “B-ing VS Doing,” I want to unpack a few of the most important elements I had the pleasure of sharing with our group in Pittsburgh; not because I’m such a genius and delivered a slam dunk presentation, (…well, I sorta did!), but because I learned all of this from experience – The (VERY Hard Way!)

I’m sure you can relate that, as children, we are frequently told to Dream Big! IMAGINE!! that We Can be anything we want! Just Believe! Unfortunately, somewhere between 4th and 7th grade (if not sooner), those messages start changing and methods of shuttling us into society’s predetermined molds begin to emerge.  Suddenly, Education is no longer an imaginative learning Experience, but a-not-too subtle way of making us obey and parrot back pre-programmed answers without a proper option for further exploration. You may notice that I grew up in a Google-less world. However, now having two teen daughters in school, I know that the system hasn’t changed at all!

The gift of individualism isn’t freely handed out by authority figures, including our loving parents who can be among the first to reinforce the educational system’s mind numbing doctrine and the social order’s ‘One Size Fits All’ dogma. It’s no longer about a Dream – It’s a Job! Your Imagination is transformed into a stuck station where you eek out a living by the hairs of your… (go ahead, fill in the blank!) An Alarm Clock awakens you to yet another day of More of the Same, while The Real You, aching to Live, Breathe and Soar exists somewhere in the subconscious, silently admiring those who took the risk to break free. And wishing.

You. All of You and All You Were Meant to Be is ready to emerge. It’s the tingle you felt in third grade, where the possibility was Right Doggone There! You Saw, Felt, Smelled and Tasted the Flavor of Freedom and your classmates encouraged you to stay in the moment. Until the bell rang.

‘During my adolescence, I used to vibe hard to Steve Arrington‘s very funky “Nobody Can Be You, BUT YOU!” I sang that part loudly as I slung the mop back and forth down the halls of the Glenwood Salvation Army, where I worked as a summer camp counselor one year, well on my way to becoming what others felt I should be. I was smart, respectful, hard working, a good listener (Mom did a great job) and my manners served me well enough to accept the barely higher paying custodial position during the school year, humming and whistling as the music poured in through my headphones.

I was supposed to be the one creating the music, making some other mop slinger move to my groove!

And although I was in a great band at the time, my family, especially my grandfathers (may God Bless their souls), were more proud of the fact that I had a ‘real’ job, than that I was developing my chops on stage. I remember how proud Gramps was when I got a dime raise after just three months at my new delivery job. A Dime…

The day arrived where The Real Me couldn’t take it any longer! I finally gained the courage to kick off the cautiousness and dance in the danger zone, all the while fighting off the haunting spirits of my grandfathers who forbid me from their graves to risk it all. Who could blame them? In the era in which they lived, taking risks meant certain death or worse! Furthermore, I was married to an incredible woman, with three beautiful daughters, a mortgage and more to lose than I’d originally calculated.

Stepping out immediately taught me that I didn’t know who I was. I never had a chance to learn. But the temptation to step back in to the patterns of who I was became more fearful than finding out who I could become. Freedom demands responsibility…and discipline!

Who can really show you how to be you?

With the exception of The One who created you, there is no where else to turn.

Image

So like a toddler taking their first steps, you get up, fall, crawl a little, try again and with a smile as eager as it is unsure, you began to balance and find that if walking confidently enough leads to running, flying is going to be a blast!

Here’s to individuality.

Here’s to freedom.

Here’s to being YOU!

So Come Now, Share YOUR Story!!

Tagged , , , , ,

B’ing VS Doing!!!

A few Saturdays ago, I was in Pittsburgh where I was delighted to participate in Kevin Amos‘ annual “Each One Teach One Radio & Music Conference.”

Kevin is a dynamic radio personality on WRCT who plays Music that Matters! He has been wonderful to me personally and professionally. He often extends invitations to SounDoctrine to come on his show and when he began this conference several years ago, he welcomed me aboard as a panelist, although I was just a “newbie” then.

Having had the recurring opp to meet and dialogue with great minds like Jerome “Hawk” Freeman, DJ GoodnightJoanne Quinn-Smith (who has a great new marketing eBook available at Amazon), Soul Patrol’s Bob Davis and others is worth more than two platinum albums! I look forward to returning next year!

My topic was: “Winning Traits of the EntreMusician!”

But I twisted it up a little by discussing ‘The B’ ing vs The Doing.’  It’s very easy to just talk shop and bark about what a musician Could, Should and Must Do to have that slightly elusive Edge, but it’s ultimately WHO & WHY we are, that causes us to DO what we’ve chosen (or meant) to Do!

A Man or Woman of Integrity, Intuition & Initiative seems to gain a healthy advantage over the Irreverant, Indecisive person in the long run, even if the latter is a better musician or has more money backing them. A Man or Woman who practices honesty and sincerity as a lifestyle automatically watches it spill over into their crafts and eventually emerge as the most enduring artists.

Certainly, there are artistic exceptions to the ‘wholesome’ rule and it’s quite ironic, almost humorous, because those artists who are committed to practicing behaviors or lifestyles others may disagree with, are, in fact, indelible to their fanbase, because they are being – honest and sincere – and it shines through in their music.

To B or not to Jere B is never the question! I always am…

A few of the traits I espouse and live by include these I discussed from the podium:

B You

B Clear

B Teachable

B On A Team

B Intentional

B Courageous

B Healthy

I unpack a few of these in my next posts, but I would love to know what YOUR Winning Traits Are! and how You Live Them!

Post Them Here!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,