They Say: “You’ll Never Make It in this Business”
They Say: “You Need to Go to This School and have That Degree”
They Say: “Only 2% Succeed in Your Industry, So Don’t Bother”
They Say: “You Need The Right Connections”
They Say: “You Have to Dress Like This and Play Your Trumpet Like That or Forget It!”
They Say: “No One Is Going to Appreciate Your Style of Music!”
They Say: “You Have No Right to Take That Position”
They Say: “You Don’t Deserve to Receive Those Accolades!”
They Say: “It Will Never Work!”
They Say: “Don’t Expect Much, So You Won’t Be Disappointed!”
Yes, They Say a lot of Discouraging, Mean & Nasty Things, often without trying to be Mean, Nasty or Discouraging.
Somehow They forget that the Celebrated Icons They Themselves Honor, Revere & Adore were Told the Very Same Things, Did Not Have the Right Connections, Money, Resources or Attend an Institution of Select Pedigree.
Icons are Pioneers whom Forge their Own Identities, Sounds, Art & Creativity onto the Global Landscape without Asking Permission or Seeking Solace in the Status Quo.
These Ambassadors of Innovation Shift the Platform of Public Paradigms into New Realities of Consciousness that Shape the Future and Transcend Life As We Currently Understand It.
With Constant Obstacle, Hurdles, Detours and Encumbrances at Every Level, Vanguards Chase Away the Proverbial They as These Climb Higher Toward Their Own Thrones, Created Just for Them.
Go and Do Likewise…
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…
Unfortunately, our Country and the World has recently had to endure the commemoration of the 15th Acknowledgement of the Atrocities which occurred on September 11th. Our Hearts continue to go out to the many families who’ve had to be reminded yet again – and embrace the pain of their magnificent losses.
Perhaps like You, Lori & I watched a significant number of documentaries that retold stories of Bravery, Heroism & Self Sacrifice in various moments of crisis. Interwoven within these tales were also a growing analysis of Skepticism, Controversy & Conspiracy which explain that we do not have All the Facts, nor have we indeed been told the Entire Truth concerning this Incredible Tragedy.
Amidst the Irony of these Painful Ceremonies is the blatant, crude and destructive political campaign season we find ourselves in, where it seems that the Twin Towers of Truth & Trust have likewise been destroyed, long before a plane – or a missile – crashed into the World Trade Center.
If We are forced to Choose, for the Highest Office in our Nation, between the One Who Lies the Least, it’s no wonder why America suffers from a Deficit of Reliability Worldwide- If & When Our Government Leaders, Present & Future are Unwilling to Stand On and Speak The Truth, then it’s clear why it may take decades, or longer, to rebuild the Tower of Trust.
Furthermore, if we as individuals find it difficult to Speak Truthfully, In Love, to our neighbors, next door, at work, in church, at the mall and/or online, we emaciate the right to accuse any leader of decimating the public trust.
Truth & Trust are Towers We Must Build Together.
I was listening to no music while writing this blog.
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!
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.
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!