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…
Just this past week I was in conversation with a young songwriter who said Yes to a project before he actually understood the expectations of the organization hiring him and was now mired in backtracking renegotiations. While consulting him on how to invoke a tardy “Win-Win,” I made a few notes for myself to follow and would like to share with you.
Before doing so, however, I need to acknowledge my inconsistency with these posts and apologize for any inconveniences I may have caused you. Over the past several months, I have had to take on Non Linear Employment to compensate for a Financial Shift in our Family. Now, by God’s Grace we are back at Ground Zero, and it is My Pleasure to Blog & Vlog regularly.
The First Challenge facing our Composer was a Failure to Know What He Was Willing to Offer. With respect to his capacity to do a great job, (he certainly has the chops), but he had no idea how to present himself as a professional who would provide A, B & C.
His second issue was that he didn’t want to say “No, Thank You!” Obviously grateful for the opportunity to have his music placed with this organization (or anywhere else for that matter) became a stronger emotion than whether or not he should look for a more appropriate advantage.
Thirdly, Once he Agreed, he simply didn’t ask The Right Questions to Gain Enough Insight Concerning their Assumptions. Compensation is Not Always the Most Important Question. There is the matter of Deadlines, Who Will Own the Composition once completed, how it will be distributed & marketed and the Exclusivity factor after the Agreement’s Term had expired. These and other questions were never addressed after he settled on “how much.”
The Fourth Challenge was that he never expressed the Necessary Requirements needed to provide the proper arrangement his client imagined they would receive. Nor did he set proper boundaries once production began, which caused them to constantly reimagine a bigger arrangement than he conceived, so the goal post kept inching away from him.
Finally and Unforgivingly, the Agreement was Never Clarified in Writing, so the many conversations about what could and might be were reduced to conjecture with less than two weeks to go on the expected completion date. And that’s when he decides to call…
To Recap, Remember these Five Rules of Clarification:
1. Know In Advance What You Are Willing to Offer
2. Know When & If You Should Say No and Stick with Your Answer!
3. Ask The Right Questions! Compensation is Not The Most Important One…
4. Know Your Requirements and Set Appropriate Limitations.
5. Always In Writing. Laymen Terms, No Small Print, But In Writing!
Today I am Incredibly Transparent with You.
I Trust You’ll Appreciate My Confessions.
Far Too Often, I become Extremely Discouraged as an EntreMusician. Especially in the Neighborhood of Lost Opportunities. If & When I Miss a Shot at an Important Gig, Submission, Audition or Project that would have either Paid Handsomely or led to an even Greater Opp, I get really bummed. Within the grueling peripherals of this past week, due to personal family woes, I’ve been ridiculously behind and absolutely unproductive – in every area! In fact, I had to rigorously talk myself out of an impulse buy of Izotope’s Music Production Bundle 2, credit card in hand, just to pacify myself (although Ozone 7 remains on My List)!
I find that If I do not get a handle on my thoughts, I can easily slide into a“Comparisonism & Lack Mentality” mode which are Detrimental to every Artist & Musician.
Exhaustive Concentration on the Equipment, Skills, Connections, Resources, Looks, ___________, ___________ I Don’t Own Quickly Deteriorates My Perspective on the Attributes I Do Possess and seriously hinders my Flow & Output.
But, When that Ugly Shadow begins to Overwhelm, I’ve Learned to Employ a Consistent Series of Well Placed “F” Words, Complete with Fiery Enunciation and Spit! This is what helped me put my credit card down…
Firstly, My Faith is Foundational.
Knowing that I am Forever Forgiven for Former & Future Failures by My God through His Son, Jesus Christ provides an Eternal Outlook and Completely Minimizes My Temporal Blunders. My Prayers, submitted to His Purpose & Plan for Me Settles My Calling and Seals My Destiny.
My Family, Beginning with My Adorable Wife of 22 Years and our Three Amazing Daughters are my Treasures in Life and Help Fasten My Focus on What Really Matters Most. Lori & I have walked Hand in Hand through Joy, Tears & Tough Terrain and grow more in love with each other and our journey with each passing hour. What Else Does a Brother Need?
I Have Absolutely Awesome Friends who although Few are Completely True. They Simultaneously Encourage & Challenge Me to Grow & Go Further than I could Imagine. Real Friends See Into You & See Through You. They are Bold Enough to Call Out the Occasional Foolishness and Call Forward the Authenticity Inside.
Finally, I’m Blessed with the Favor of Funk, for this is the Songwriter, Producer & Musician I Am!
Irregardless of the Genre! Being able to Swing “The One” either a millisecond Before or After the Top of the Measure Matters. Forging a humility to Stay in the Pocket although I’ve not honed the same severity of thrillingly Sick Tricks my counterparts have has kept me working, for which I am truly thankful – for just being able to be me!
Perhaps You Thought I was going to Litter This Post with “F” Bombs, which might release steam in a moment of crisis, but do nothing to sow gratitude into our spirits.
I Wish You Joy, Love, Peace, Harmony & Rhythms of Grace!
I Am Listening to Azymuth’s “Light As A Feather” On Vinyl while writing this post.
An EntreMusician is Always On
Although Acutely Aware of Proper Life/Work Balance and Extremely Protective of his Privacy and her Moments of Solace, a True EM is Spiritually & Creatively Constant.
Ideas Permeate the Psyche 24/7. You Unfailingly Keep a Small Leather Pad on Your Person, or a Voice Recorder at the Ready to Capture that Next Notion of Genius, be it at the Grocery Store, in the Middle of a Traffic Jam, the Big Game, the Beach or your Cantankerous Cousin Larry’s Boring Barbecue.
It May Not Be a Song, Poem or Screenplay. Often it’s a reminder to call that Booking Agent you met last week, or change a rehearsal date, or schedule an audition for that part you saw on Friday’s Flyer. It Seems Endless, but I’ve Never Met an EntreMusician who Could Successfully Shut It Down. The Switch is Broken and We Like It This Way!
I Remember Distinctly pushing my 2 Year Old Daughter (now 16) on the swings at Boardman Park and the squeaky chain created a odd 7/8 rhythm which produced “Hermeneutics,” one of SounDoctrine‘s Funkiest Spit Fire Tracks. I kinda regret not taking My Little One Off the Swings until I had the horns figured out. She was More Than Ready for Ice Cream Time and was Letting Dad Have It!!
In Reality, Our Roles in Life are Always On. Whether I’m Sleep, On Vacation, In The Shower or Away from My Phone, I’m Always a Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle, Nephew, Cousin, Pastor, Writer, Producer, Wannabe Actor and EntreMusician who keeps Setting Audacious Objectives and Aspiring to Reach As Many As I Can Before I Check Out Of Here – And Hopefully You Are Too!
Download My Free E-Book “50 Engaging Ways to Transform Your Fans in to Family” at TheEntreMusician.com and Join the Conversation to Engage, Encourage & Empower Each Other!
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.
In Today’s Tumultuous Climate, with Raging Debates driving Social Media & Talk Shows and the Extraordinarily Divisive Atmosphere pervading even the smallest towns in these so called United States, it’s often easy to Ignore the Anointing available to EntreMusicians and Creatives to turn the tide.
The Inherent Power we Possess in Pointing Others toward Peace, Honor, Dignity, Unity and dare I say, the Promise of True Brotherly & Sisterly Love Does Indeed Exists, If We’d All only take a moment to Step Back, Breathe, Think, Pray & Righteously Engage.
As EntreMusicians & Artists, it’s Not Enough to Document the Current Reality, but to Prophecy of the Possibilities we all have access to as Citizens of Planet Earth.
Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Shirley Verrett, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Joan Dresner Bernstein, Gloria Larry House, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder (whose lyrics from “As” were recently recited by Dallas Police Chief David Brown during the Memorial for the Fallen Officers) and countless others uniquely utilized their Art to Soar over Sadder Times, creating a Soundtrack of Resilience, Hope, Salt & Light to Keep Us both Grounded and Looking Up.
So what about You?
How will You employ Your Song, Your Story, Your Voice and even Your Life to Shine as a Beacon in such a tremendously dark time in our country?
Lift It Up! Let It Shine! Sing It Loud! Say It Proud and Show Us The Way!
I was listening to Jeff Lorber’s “It’s Fact” on vinyl while composing this blog!
Obviously I have waited for what I feel is a respectable amount of time to bring this topic up. And I No Way Feel a Disconnect from the Main Topic I have espoused for the last few months, beginning weeks prior to Prince’s Majestically Mysterious Departure.
I have been asking “How You Define Success,” “How Important Are You,” and slowly initiating an Obsessive “Psychology behind the Philosophy” Mantra for EntreMusicians to Rethink our Entire Dependence on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and the Upcoming Amazon Streaming System. Irregardless of the fact that the Grammys are now considering a Brand New Category for Streaming Music, If Artists are Not Getting Paid, They’re Getting Pimped! (Tweet That!)
But I Digress…
Reflecting on The Purple One’s Intense Fight for Independence from Warners, His Mysterious Death (You Mean He was Left All Alone, All Night In That Huge Complex After Almost Dying a Week Earlier?), One of the Speediest Cremations of a Body Not Dying by Fire and to Top It All, his Private Music Vault Drilled Open Less Than 10 Days After His Death?!?!!
In Considering He was a Single Man at the time of his passing, Intensely Private and that he Left No Will, One of the Single Most Important Questions EntreMusicians Must Ask themselves is “Who Is My Advocate?” It seems that Tyka and the rest of his half-siblings, along with the Well Intentioned Shelia E, Larry Graham, Morris Day and others who knew His Royal Badness Extremely Well have to Sit on the Sidelines while an Attorney & A Record Company Executive muses through his Intellectual Property.
If This Doesn’t Scare the Rhythm Out of You, You’re NOT A Musician!
Here are a Few Questions You Should Ask & Answer before the End of this Blog:
“Does My Spouse/Significant Other Know Where My Copyright-Publishing Information Is and Can They LEGALLY Speak for Me if I am Physically/Mentally Incapacitated or am Deceased?”
“Where Is My Will and Is that Sucker Updated?”
“Do Select People I Love and Trust Have the Necessary Passwords to my BMI/ASCAP/SESAC and other Pertinent Accounts”
“Have I Explained Very Clearly My Wishes for My Musical Equipment/Software?”
“Are My Collaborative Agreements with Other Songwriters/Band Members In WRITING and In Order?”
“Are My Trustworthy Attorney & Accountant Up to Speed on My Wishes for any Unreleased Music I Might Have?”
“Have I Backed Up My Hard Drives and Entrusted them to Safe People/Places?”
Hopefully, these are Enough to Encourage You to Become Very Intentional about the Inevitable. Taking Care of Business is Always of Ultimate Importance for the Intelligent EntreMusician.
I was listening to Bob James’ “Hands Down” on Vinyl while composing this post.
Dated chases Fads, Trends and the Latest Fashion
Timelessness contains Innovation, Creativity & Will
Dated is based on Beats, Loops & Sampling
Timelessness maintains Harmony, Natural Rhythm & Melody
Dated fluxes Gossip, Heresay & Innuendoes
Timelessness sustains Truth, Principles & Wisdom
Dated vacillates Fame, Fortune & Fears
Timelessness breeds Encouragement, Wealth & Security
Dated is Upgradable Technology
Timelessness is Ever Expanding Imagination that can’t be Bottled, Bought or Sold
Dated are One Hit Wonders
Timelessness is Music that transcends Generations
Dated is Hatred
Timelessness is Love
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.