One of the Wisdom Proverbs says:
It’s An Incredible Statement for Every EntreMusician to Abide By as Most of Us Spend Many of Our Waking Moments Looking for Opportunities that Will Benefit US and Precious Few Searching Out Occasions to Benefit OTHERS.
If We Happen Upon the Good Fortune of a Great Promoter, Venue, Festival or Other Profitable Enterprises which Provide Advantage, Progress or Achievement in Our Own Careers, We Would Do Well in Seeking Such Favor on Artists, Musicians and Entertainers who would Never have the chance to Showcase Their Talents, Unless We Hold the Door Open for Them – Especially those Further Down the Totem Pole of Experience (Your Obviously Trusting that They Possess the Professionalism and Discipline to Handle the Gig!)
The Gift of What Comes To and Happens In You Is Immeasurable, the Wider You Open Your Heart. It Seems as If Platforms You Were Previously Denied Access To Suddenly Avail and Fees You’d Never Imagine Commanding Become Yours, with Less Effort on Your Part, Because You’ve Ignited the Miracle Circle of Blessings.
Of Course this Process Works Personally. I Must Confess that there was a Season in My Life Where I Held Tight to a Scarcity Mentality. When I Would Give, It Naturally Meant I Had LESS. So I Hoarded! When I Encountered a Disheveled Person at an Intersection, Holding Up a Cardboard Sign, I Rationalized 10 Million Hypotheticals as to How & Why They Ended Up in That Position OR That They Were Only Conning Me Out of My Few Wrinkled Dollars Tucked Away in My Ashtray. This Helped Me Justify Looking Away – and – Driving Away…
Thank God I Have Come to Learn an Abundance Mentality which Assures Me that Giving Really Means Planting! There’s Always ‘More‘ and at Some Point, in Some Scenario, My Seed Will Harvest and I Will Receive Exactly What I Need.
Open A Door. Create An Opportunity. Give and Notice All that Happens.
You Become the Beneficiary of Bountiful Blessings, the Recipient of Joyous Transformation You Would’ve Never Imagine or Appreciated if You’d Remained All To Yourself.
Interestingly, I Was Not Listening to Any Music as I Wrote This Post…
Americans this week Celebrated the Life & Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as a National Holiday. What is most intriguing about His Story is the Sacrifice He was Willing to Pay for the Manifestation of his Ideals, which ultimately and tragically outlives him.
Our Country, the luminous recipients of this Young Man’s Exalted Dream, in spite of the Current Political Turmoil and Present Challenges Cannot Deny an Improved America and the Monumental Gains we have made since the late 1950’s. Because of Dr. King’s Willingness to become the Spokesperson for Righteousness, Equality & Justice amid Bigotry, Racism & Violence, You and I Enjoy Opportunities our Grandparents Never Imagined, irregardless of Race, Color & Creed.
As EntreMusicians who Continually Vacillate between Quitting Our Craft and Staying the Course, we can absorb volumes from this Impartial Pioneer, who Did Not Refuse Jail, Beatings, Water Hoses, Police Dogs, Betrayal, FBI Surveillance and Increasingly Unabashed Hatred with Every Victory He Managed to Secure!
Step by Step, Song by Song, Project to Project we Advance Onward toward Our Personal & Professional Initiatives. Failure is Certain. Setbacks are Assured. Lack Of Resources, Lack of Respect, Closed Doors, Missed Opportunities, Miscalculations and Outright Bone Headed Mistakes Line the Pavement of Our Desolate Journey. Instances of Having to Begin Again and Again Evolve into recurring Nightmares that take us to the Very Edge of Who We Are.
But We Can Not Quit. We Must Not Give Up. There’s No Towel to Throw. There’s No Plan B.
It’s Not Time Yet!
They Will Say You’re Too Old, Too Poor, Too Slow, Too Fast, Over Qualified, Under Qualified, Too Fat, Too Thin, Too Dark, Too Pale, Unreasonable, Illogical, Crazy, Stupid and Toss More than Cursed Words and Tomatoes at You!
Keep Playing, Keep Planning, Keep Dreaming, Keep Climbing, Keep Pursuing, Keep Writing, Keep Singing, Keep Hoping, Keep Believing.
You Might Be Able to Quit When You’re Dead! When Your Heart Stops Beating, Your Brainwaves Cease and Your Lungs fail to Breathe. Then Maybe, Just Maybe, right after You’re Buried and Your Family is Scrambling Toward the Mashed Potatoes should you think about Laying Your Precious Dream Aside…
Because maybe, perhaps, by chance, possibly somewhere along the way you’ve Inspired Someone to Pick Up The Torch and Fan the Flame of Creativity that Ignites the Next Generation to Pursue the Promise of Music, of Joy, of Celebration of True Spirit, Of Heart, Of Peace and, Of Love…which Never Dies
While Composing this blog entry, I was listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” which help galvanize the country to compel President Ronald Reagan to sign the bill that made MLK Day a National Holiday in November, 1983.
What Do You Want Your Song To Do???
Now Let’s Go Get It!!!!
Happy Birthday, Tejai!
The First Week of January is akin to the Dawn of Spring. Creative Endorphins Dance and Sing. New Energy is Released. Fresh Vitality, Intentions, Goals and dare I say, Resolutions are made to Immediately Implement!
It’s a Brand New Year! The Reset Button was engaged at the drop of the ball and by golly, Absolutely Everything I Didn’t Complete Last Year, Multiplied by ALL I Endeavor to Achieve This Year WILL Get Done, or ELSE!
Too many years have passed with crushed pieces of my soul left in the dust, because of my Obsessive Compulsion to Overachieve. While I pretended to become smarter by trying to rearrange my madness as the decades swam by, I Managed to Employ Seven Approaches which have Helped Me to Complete My Goals with Greater Effectiveness.
1 ) Count Your Blessings
Begin with a Grateful Heart and Make a List of All You have Accomplished and the Wonderful Things that happened in the Previous Year. Believe Me, It make the Trials You May have Endured Seem Smaller and Provides Momentum to Finish What Didn’t Get Done.
2 ) Relax & Breathe
Resist The Urge to Plow Right In! Take A Moment to Pray/Meditate/Visualize the Process and Moment of Completion and Your Best Starting Options. Then Put On Your My Favorite Music (Or Begin Creating It) and Go To Town!
3 ) Always Honor Your Why
Expanding Simon Sinek’s Great Work “Start with Why” with Continual Intermissions of Remembering and Honoring Your Purpose & Reasons for Doing The Work. Utilize Daily Affirmations and Other Reminders to Keep You Focused and Pushing Ahead to Get the Job Done!
4 ) Limit & Prioritize
One of the Major Reasons Goals are Not Achieved is Because We Chew More than We Can Swallow and End Up Spitting Out The Entire Mouthful. Michael Hyatt Recommends No More than 7 to 10 Goals a Year, But Don’t Be Afraid of One, Two Or Three. If You Chose “Paying Off All Debt” as Your Only Goal, You’re Going to Leave Room for Several Wonderful Options!
Once Your Goals Have Been Identified, List Them in Order of Importance! I’m a Huge Fan of Dave Ramsey’s Advice to Begin With the Easiest Goal FIRST, Just to Kick Off Your Momentum and Build Confidence – Then Tackle the Next Easist and Onward!
5 ) Don’t Go It Alone
This was a HUGE Mistake of Mine for Years. I Had the Lone Ranger Syndrome, when I should have had a Team! Now I Know (And Do) Better! MAke Very Sure You have At Least One Person Holding You Accountable to Your Goals, Priorities & Deadlines! BUT…MAke Sure It’s Someone Who Absolutely Understands What Needs To Be Done, How You Plan to Do It and Your WHY!
6 ) Sharpen Your Saw
Dr. Stephen Covey‘s prompting to Keep Your Saw Sharp by Constantly Improving Your Education & Insight on the Work You’re Doing is a MUST!!! There’s Bound to Be a Book, Article, Video and/or Online Course You Can Utilize to Gain More Effective Efficiency! Use The Tools!!
7 ) Laugh Along the Way
You Are Going To Make Mistakes. You Are Going To Fall Behind. You Are Going to Become Frustrated, Confused, Overwhelmed, Angry, Afraid and Want to Give Up Every 147 Hours! Laugh About It! Lighten Up! Go Easy on Yourself and Simply Begin Again!
Happy New Year To You!
My Intention is To Be Here Weekly and Not Drop The Ball Once! Hold My Feet To The Fire!
I Wasn’t Listening to Any Music As I Composed This…
Everyone is Well Aware of the Two Most Important Commodities on Planet Earth.
Time & Money.
Both Can Be Wasted, Saved, Spent or Invested. Used Wisely, Each Possesses the Power to Obtain Greater Assets & Privileges and/or Provide Basic or More Luxurious Needs to the Few or Many. Frequently, Both Are Traded for the Other and Wisdom is Tested in How Well One Uses or Abuses Them.
EntreMusicians at Every Level Seem to be in Short Supply of Either. Walking The Narrow Tightrope of How to Utilize the Best of Both Pay Huge Dividends and Multiplies Our Successes Exponentially.
Although I Have Not Included any Hard Core Solutions to Our Conundrum, I have listed Three Tiny Scenarios that I have personally walked through in the hopes that they Motivate You to Think Through the Issues Before You Spend (Or Waste) Either Valuable Resource.
1) Music Lessons. Admittedly, I am the Worse Drummer I Know. Many Also Know This and Would Agree! I Hated Taking Drum Lessons in my youth and Now I’m Paying for My Embarrassment, When I Should’ve Paid for The Lessons…
I am a Far Better Songwriter & Producer, for which I also Didn’t Take Lessons, but Spent a Million Hours Developing My Craft, Buying & Blowing Up Gear and Listening, Listening, Listening to My Favorite Artists to Learn (read steal) Ideas from…Although there are Countless Conferences, Workshops & Seminars I could have shelled out for, which Others Attend & Swear by, I Believe My Time in the Basement was the Better Investment.
2) Buying Studio Time or Building Your Own Space. Purchasing Studio Time at a Reputable Place with a Knowledgeable Engineer is a Dream – When You Know Exactly What You Want, Have Thoroughly Prepared Your Music & Practiced Like Crazy! If None of Those Things Are in Place, You Might As Well Set Fire to Your Hard Earned Cash Right Doggone Now!
There are a few Compassionate Engineers and they usually have Small Digital Clocks next to their boards. If You See a Huge Round Audible Ticking Monster Hanging on the Wall Behind Their Chair and Two More in the Booth with a Blinking Count Down Mechanism, You had Better Gone to the ATM! If they happen to Hate Your Music, Well The Clock Theory Goes Out The Window with You & the Rest of Your Gear!
I’ve been Beyond Fortunate to Own several Tascam 4 & 8 Track Cassette Recorders in the Medieval Days of Home Recording, as well as Collaborating with Like Minded Musicians & Studio Owner/Engineers who were on their own quests to Learn & Grow. This saved Valuable Time and The Only Money Spent was on Better Gear (more on that soon).
3) Do I Really Need A Manager? No. Yes & No.
If You are Just Beginning, Embrace EntreMusicianship for All It’s Worth and Invest Your Time Learning Every Single Aspect of Managing You, Your Schedule, Your Band, Their Schedules. Make Every Phone Call. Send (and respond to) Every Text & Email. Learn Your Market and Learn How to Say “No Thank You!” when that Promised Exposure Only Benefits the Promoter/Club Owner. Become an Expert Negotiator!
As Your Band & Brand Grows, Spend the 5 to 8% on Loyal, albeit Inexperienced Managers willing to devote themselves exclusively to You and will work with you to decrease Your Blind Spots and Actually Help You Build Your Artistic Acumen. Professional Managers will definitely be worth the 10 to 15% but You Must Also Be Worth It To Them and the Way You Know That is NOT In The Way They Woo YOU, but what they have Proven to Have Done for Others! Still, You Should be Concerned about their Exclusivity to You and Not just another of the 16 acts on their agency roster.
The Most Efficient Way to Invest Time & Money at the Outset of Your Career is to Build A Team. This Includes An Attorney, An Accountant, A Social Media Director/Publicist and Your Own Hand Picked Manager/Booking Agent. Interview Each Carefully, Have A Ton Of Meetings, Individually & Collectively (Yes You May Have to Pay for Their Time). Make Sure They Understand Your Vision, Principles & Goals (Make Sure You Understand Them Too!), Iron Out Percentages on the Front End, with an Optional Earnings Elevator (i.e., The More You Earn Over Time as a Result of Everyone’s Efforts, Their Percentages Also Increase).
I Confess with Joy that this has been the Single Most Efficient Decision, which has helped me to endure even during the dark times or when SounDoctrine is Not on Stage or in the Studio. A Team helps Weather the Storms, Keeps The Vision Alive & Encourages You To Advance Ahead.
We’ll Discuss Three More Next Steps Next Week. Thanks for Taking the Time to Read This Blog! I Was Listening to The Crusaders’ “Images” on Vinyl while Writing & Posting here!
“Bah Dee Yah, Say Do You Remember? Bah Dee Yah Dee Yah Dee Yah!”
September!!…(for those not familiar with the classic Earth Wind & Fire anthem)
Parents are Delighted, Students Dreadfully Curious and Employees Everywhere Assemble to Swap Vacation Stories and their Sandals for Sweaters. As Autumn Dawns, Everyone Seems to Settle into a Greater Degree of Normalcy which soon Make Us Long for Careless Summers Once More.
EntreMusicians prepare to hunker down in various Studio Configurations. Some to Create & Collaborate. Others to Re-Design or Re-Define their Marketing Strategies. Several Summer Tour Ensembles will Break Apart in A Blaze of Entropy – Mostly caused by Laundry Issues or An Undisciplined Drummer Keeping Better Time with the Keyboardist’s Girlfriend than he did on Stage!
Either way, there’s a Rhythm to September that EntreMusicians can sequence into a funky pattern of productivity. If you’re anything like me, I’ve adopted these Intentional Habits (read obsessions) that help me settle into a Quiet, Music Filled Winter.
1) RESET My Ideal Week. Two years Ago, I adopted My Virtual Mentor, Michael Hyatt‘s suggestion to give Every Day A Name and a Theme for Efficiency & Effectiveness – For Example: Thursdays are Music Day (and Date Night with Lori), Fridays are for Meetings, Wednesday is reserved for Deeper Personal Bible Study and So On.
Generally, Summer takes on certain nuances that make for a looser grid and although I maintain my themes, not everything is so locked in. When September comes, I fine tune and tweak so my Habit Monster is Happy with me Again!
2) REVIEW & REMOVE: Certain Social Friends. I began this habit about Three Years Ago. It’s Time Consuming to Try to Appear Omnipresent, so I whittled down my Social Existence to Only Three Platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter. I then began looking at who I actually wished to engage with, who posted more interesting topics I would benefit from and those whom I could literally recommend to another EntreMusician or Creativewho might need their expertise. Again, during the summer, I tend to invite – or get invited to spaces without actually during the research to see if I (or they) need to be a connection. I never take it personal either way, I just Review, Decide & Remove if Applicable.
This Summer, I Did Something So Stupid, It Truly Fits in Items #1 & #2! I made a Promise to Periscope Daily at 8:30PM and found myself either in places not suitable for video or lacking any valuable content important enough to share! Well I’m Done with that nonsense and since Facebook Live is Already My Platform, There is No further Reason to Scope!
I Primarily Digest Business/Leadership Books, but in Autumn, I Get My Creativity back in Check by Reading Autobiographies. Here Are A Few I’m Taking Off the Shelf this Fall:
No, The Last Dude is Not A Musician, but My Eldest Daughter Tejai bought if for my 50th Birthday, So I Need to Check It Out!
4) REFRESH My Unfinished Compositions. I Listen to Absolutely Everything I have Not Released and Many I Have, just to see if there’s another angle or if it’s truly Crapazoid! (Especially the Unfinished/Unreleased Stuff). In fact, there are about 15 songs I have been breathing new life into which are about 30+ years old! They are getting off the hard drive and out of the Studio with Different Musicians, Vocalists and Arrangements! It does my heart good that they’ll soon hit the street. But then there are the others…
So This is The Way I Fall Back Into Autumn. I would Love to Hear How You Handle the Change of Pace…Post Them on My Facebook Page
Let’s Pretend for A Moment…
Say You’ve Invented a Brand New Universal Tool. Its Purpose is to Be An Important, Indispensable Standard that People of All Races, Ethnicity and Cultures will Appreciate & Enjoy!
This Tool Can Be Used In Your Home, Business, Car, Place of Worship or On Your Mobile Device while You’re On The Go. You Know that People Are Going To Love & Appreciate It, Once they are Aware of its Availability and Affordable Price.
You Own the Patent to this Tool and have Trademarked the Brand Name. Although You Do Not Own the Various Patents to the Equipment & Software You’ve used to Develop This Fantastic Gadget, You Have Patented & Control the Unique Processes by which Your Tool is Designed & Manufactured. You Are Aware that a Few “knock-offs” may be developed overtime, but Your Methodology Ensures that You Will Become & Probably Remain a Market Leader.
The Next Step is to Partner with a Distributor who can Help Market, Promote and Get Your Tool into as Many Hands as Possible. You Make What You Feel is A Great Deal with a Company with a Global Reach and Does Not Impede on Your Exclusive Rights & Control over the Manufacture of Your Magnificent Tool.
Overtime, You Notice that This Distributor’s Profits have begun to Eclipse Your Own. For Every $1000 You See, They have made $10,000 and in some cases and in a few regions much, much more, due to their ‘bundling’ of Your Tool with Lesser Quality Devices. Heck, They’ve even Developed a Subscription Model whereby the Customer is able to Use Your Tool As Many Times as They Wish, Without Even Purchasing It.
To Some Extent, You May Not Mind the Creativity of The Distributor’s Concept. After All, Your Tool is Available Everywhere & Absolutely Everyone is Using it and Appreciating its Functionality. Your Tool is a Bonafide Hit!
The Problem is You’re Not Getting Paid What You Know Your Tool is Worth – and – If It Were Not for Your Tool, The Distributor would Never, Ever See the profits they currently enjoy.
So, You Try to Re-Negotiate, Only to Discover that this Very Rich, Very Smart, Well Connected Distributor has successfully lobbied certain Members of Congress, The DOJ, Other Well Established Government Officials and even Similar Minded Partner Distributors to Enforce Laws & Practices that Keep the Big Bucks Rolling In for Them while You’re Left Counting Pennies.
However, Remember that because You Own the Patents, Trademark and the Manufactured Tool itself, which The Distributor Needs to Sustain their Business, You Have A Crucial Decision to Make.
A) Keep Things the Way They Are, Grateful That Your Tool Is A Worldwide Sensation, Even Though You’re Being Robbed Out of Fair Compensation?? (In Fact, You Are Planning to Make More, Perhaps Better Tools to Send Them to Rob You With)
B) Remove Yourself & Your Tool from The Agreement and Begin the Painstaking Process of Becoming a Niche Distributor where Less People May Be Aware of Your Tool, But You Earn Higher Profits with Each Sale? (the additional profit affords you greater opportunity to improve your marketing)
Obviously You Understand that I am Talking About Songwriters and Their Songs.
I Sincerely Desire for Every EntreMusician to Answer This Question Truthfully.
Before You Do, However: Check Out These Two Articles:
I Have Had Hundreds of Conversations with Artist/Musicians at All Levels and Each Answer Varies to the Point where I Needed to Simplify My Approach by Presenting a Different Business where the Creator & Manufacture Must Look At The Bottom Line to Determine Whether of Not He/She Could Remain In Business or Close Their Doors.
Music is Such An Emotional Tool that Fame Often Overshadows Fortune. An EntreMusician Can End Up Eating Bread Sandwiches while Everyone is Singing Their Songs…
I wasn’t listening to any music while composing this blog post.
Last week we explored 6 Reasons Why Motown is its Own Genre and what EntreMusicians can learn from their stellar examples. Today we open up the can of Maggot Brains and uncover the stanky P-Funk that only continue to get stronger!
1) Crazy Wisdom. Both Words Aptly Apply to the visionary George Clinton who has been able to juggle Multiple Concepts, Rhythms, Personalities (as many as 60 simultaneous band members) & Record Labels and remain Active, Relevant and Viable at 75 Years Old.
Yes, he’s also equally endured Multiple Business Failures, Drug Use and Almost Inappropriate Everything, but just when you think he’s going to Lick His Wounds from a Rocking Chair, He’s Back On Stage, Leading the Charge for The Funk of it.
2) Uncanny Innovation. Early On, George surmised that the quickest way to get the attention P-Funk needed was to separate from the Motown Melting Pot and Trash the Suits and eschew Doo Wop after a few years of trying to fit in. Taking a cue from Hendrix, Clinton formed Funkadelic and put the guitars on the front burner. Enter Singers, Horns and the first Major Bass Line to be dominated by a Moog.
Experimentation took center stage as the band destroyed traditional ‘verse-hook-chorus-bridge’ composition and pursued The One, first and foremost, using whatever sounds were available and took studio production to extreme levels.
3) Comedic Cast of Characters. Every Member of P-Funk was a Star and George arranged for most everyone to Shine by creating multifarious acts within the band. From Eddie Hazel to Bernie, Bootsy, Glenn Goins, Gary Shider, Bigfoot, Catfish, Junie, Skeet, Fratengelo, The Brides, Horny Horns, Parlet, Blackbird, Hamp, Boogie, Fuzzy and On & On, You Cheered for Each and looked forward to their Contribution to the Funk.
George introduced Imaginary Characters into the dramedy which held as much (or more) court as their human bandmates. Dr. Funkenstein, Sir Nose (and Sir Nose, Jr.), Mr. Wiggles, Star Child, Sir Lollypop Man (alias The Long Haired Sucker), Casper & Bootzilla (who were actual aliases of Bootsy) extended the Imagination and Mythology of P-Funk.
It’s a little know fact that George’s production of The Red Hot Peppers’ “Freaky Styley“ that truly put the rockers on the map. His offshoot groups like Jimmy G & The Tackheads, various guest appearances with artists like Xavier and Thomas Dolby and P-Funk’s long standing association with Prince help solidify their into the souls of Funkateers forever.
4) Expanding Narratives. Along with the creatures, real and imagined, are the vivid stories of a Chocolate City & its Vanilla Suburbs,an excursion through Downtown Bimini Road, the humiliation inflicted on Sir Noze utilizing the Bob Gun, the Essence of the Flashlight, the horror of America Eating its Young, Vietnam atrocities outlined in the Electric Spanking of War Babies, the sterile work ethic of the Children of Production in Dr Funkenstein’s laboratory and ultimately, the Landing of The Mothership continue to engage those new to the notion of Funkadelica.
5) Vital Visuality. Cementing the P-Funk Brand are the Neo-Psuedo, Part Comic Book/Part Novel Album Covers, designed by Pedro Bell and Overton Lloyd which carried over to the Chaotic Circus-like Concerts, where the clothing ranged from the Diaper Laden Shider to any number of Indians, Furry Space People, at least one Indistinguishable Animalistic Alien and a Sheet Wearing Clinton dominating the Stage.
6) Enchanting Motifs. Stopping the Show and shouting “Think…It Ain’t Illegal Yet!!” for 37 non-stop minutes reminded You of Where You Were and Why You Were There! “Gagagooga, gagagooga, gagagoogaga!” “Ha da da dee da hada hada da da!” “One Nation Under A Groove, Gettin’ Down Just For the Funk of It!” and countless chants uttered under the breath of bankers and executives in boardrooms, is foundational to the genius of P-Funk! You Can’t Help BUT Sing Along.
Equally Disturbing are the Infinite Infectious Bass Lines guaranteed to move ANY Head & Foot within 15 Feet! You Can NOT Resist (Even if You Don’t Particularly Appreciate the Song!) You Simply MUST Move! And With the Ever Present Spiraling Squigly Synth Lines Hypnotically Weaving Repetitive Motifs In & Out of the Groove, it’s Irresistible!
7) The One! Finally and Equally (if not most) Important is the P-Funk Approach to The One! Adapted from James Brown, who also accented the eagerly anticipated ‘3,’ P-Funk Stomped The One So Hard & Nasty, They Had to Write a Song About It! The One is the Nucleus of Every P-Funk Anthem.
A Famous George Clinton Chant is “It Would Be Ludicrous to Think We Are New To This, We Do Do This, This is What We Do!” Which is Precisely Why We’ve Been Diggin What’s Been Done for Decades and Why P-Funk is its Own Reward and remains in a Category of its Own!
I was Listening to George Clinton’s “R&B Skeletons in The Closet” while Composing this Blog.
After 57 years of Active Progress alongside Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Hip-Hop while witnessing the brutal demise of Disco, Grunge, R&B and various forms of New Wave; and even with a 10 year gap from the label’s last major release (Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship – India.Arie /2006), Motown may not be the Musical Institutional it once was, but it certainly remains a stellar, marketable genre most often spoken of in a category all its own.
Having digested Berry’s Official Autobiography, “To Be Loved“ numerous times, as well as the countless other books and documentaries on The Man, The Music and The Incredible Artists, there are at least Six Invaluable Lessons EntreMusicians can Learn and Build Upon.
1) Excellent Songs. Berry, Smokey, Members of “The Corporation” and subsequent Composer/Producers placed The Song as their Number One Priority. Nothing Else Mattered. Before they Considered 10 Weeks at #1 on the Pop Charts, the Song’s Lyrics, Rhythm & Raw Emotion had to be TIMELESS…which is why “Ooh, Baby Baby“ will still Break Any Woman Down to This Day!
2) Flexibility. The Next Step in Targeting Timeless Material is the Ability to Flex it to Any Artist who Flips it as a Hit Again & Again. Because Motown Boasted a Roster of Excellent Artistry, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Marvin Gaye all reaped gold from Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield’s powerhouse “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Not to mention everyone else from Creedance to Roger Troutman!)
3) Intense Training.Motown developed their Artists through rigorous physical & psychological training, to the Chagrin of Some and the Delight of Others. It Was School! Those who survived the process are Icons (deceased or alive). Each were Groomed, Choreographed & Positioned for Superstardom. This Acute Attention to Detail is what propelled Diana Ross & The Supremes from the Commodes of the Chitlin’ Circuit to Swanky, Glistening Upscale Showrooms.
4) The Importance of Systems. As above, The Motown Sound was a Calculated System, often utilizing the Same Musicians, Arrangers & Producers. While Other Studios and Labels of the era also employed the same model, Motown’s Approach & Techniques were culled from Gordy’s experiences at The Ford Motor Company where every worker did his/her job the same exact way, each and every time, growing more efficient & effective with each new release, thus earning Motown the well deserved moniker, “The Hit Factory.”
5) Interdepartmental Competition. Often, the Motivation that kept Motown pumping on all cylinders was not in besting outside rivals, but the internal battles that all the songwriters welcomed and championed. Let Stevie go up against The Temptations, or Edwin Starr‘s new tune arm wrestle The Marvelettes groove. They threw all the records on the table and Only the Best Song hit The Street. This kept ALL of the Artists sharp, engaged and at their best.
6) Ownership. As the Unfolding History on this National Treasure revealed, as long as ownership remained in the hands of the Original Visionary, Motown could do no wrong. But once outside investors began to chip away at the corporate shares, the Magic weakened and once the company sold, even ace architect, Smokey Robinson left the label. However, Gordy’s genius in Maintaining Majority Ownership and Control of the Publishing is exactly what Solidifies Motown’s Position as it’s Own Musical Identity, Now & Forever.
Let’s Go and Do Likewise!