Category Archives: Kenny Rogers

Insanely Committed…

Twice in previous posts, I cited instances where I’ve needed to Discontinue a Project and a musical relationship; in the former, prematurely; with the latter, after enduring several difficulties I choose never to repeat. So Today I turn my attention to those Areas and more importantly, People, to whom I’m Insanely Committed and from whom I thankfully receive the same devotion. Yup, this does double as an appreciative “Shout Out” to them!

The Vision of SounDoctrine with members past & present. Despite the various iterations this experiment has taken both on stage and in studio since 2002, I keep in regular contact with over 95% of the guys and gals even as life has moved on.

Phil The Beat is not just my brother in law, he’s my BROTHER and his faithfulness In & Out of Music has been 24/7. Janis Jones, whose star shines brighter with each passing day remains forever the First Lady of SD. She’s ready to sing at a moment’s notice, but deeper still, she’s a True Friend & Sister I’ve known since fourth grade. We’re on this journey together.

Jim Couchenour, Songwriter Extraordinaire, always carries a Ballad in his Pocket and Warmth in his Heart. Dynamic Brothers Cliff & Nate Barnes are the initial thread in the SounDoctrine fabric and remain a huge part of the future thought. Frank “Alowishus” Walton, Mitch Lawrence and Dylan Waters each carry brightly lit torches alongside me as Brothers and into SounDoctrine‘s tomorrow. Big Ups to Janet Write, Tara Amill, Paul Douds, Rob White, Rick Young and Michael Austin – each just a text away.

Chris “Thumbper” Rhodes. Enough Said. If You Know Me, You’ve Met Him.

Jerry Thompson, with whom a near decade of intense brotherhood, transparency and integrity weaves thoroughly through our journey. I can’t imagine being involved in anything personally or professionally where his wisdom, advice and influence doesn’t weigh in heavily. Iron Sharpens Iron.

Michaela Write absorbs my obscure, abstract musings and tries (hard) to put some order to them so I may get the work done. She’s more than an Executive Assistant; she’s a Little Sister who both challenges & inspires us to keep the train on track.

While my focus here was toward the EntreMusicianal area of my life, I must confess, I have the best ‘day job’ in the world, along with the best ‘boss,’ Bishop David L. Thomas and the spectacular team and congregation of Victory Christian Center, where I serve as an Associate Pastor. The Life Lessons, Love & Leadership are immensely foundational to Whom I Am & All I Do.

My Heart & Soul To My Lori Lynette (talk about Crazy Love) and All My Devotion to Our Daughters Tejai, Nia & Ayana. I’m Tremendously Blessed. What More Can a Man Ask?

 

I was grooving on The Crusaders’ “Unsung Heroes” & “Second Crusade” while writing this.

 

Dated VS Timelessness 

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 

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What’s With All The Excitement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excited About Apple? Please!

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

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

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

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The Opportunity in the Obstacle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Your Head Up!

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

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Then When?

Many EntreMusicians are Professional Perpetual Procrastinators. You may practice saying that three times fast!

The Creative Inside Explores Each & Every Rabbit Trail of our Projects. Frequently We Stop/Start/Start Again or Run to the Other Extreme and Binge on One ‘Thang’ or One Specific Aspect of A ‘Thang’ until we have Massaged the Life Out of the Doggone Thang! 

Guilty As Charged.

Deadlines Do No Good when Music is Involved. 

I Must Listen to 9,874 out of 11,023 Cowbell Samples I have. And Don’t Get Me Started on Choosing The Right Kick Drum…

I Completely Obsess Over The Mix. I become too Preoccupied with Reverb & Delay Settings and More Often than Not, I find myself stripping the Song Back to the Bare Bones Time & Again, which provided the Original Inspiration and the Compulsive debacle begins again.

You Too, Huh?

It can get to the place where seasons will fly by and You (and I) are so involved in The Work, we ignore our Ultimate Goal of The Result! Obviously, I am not suggesting we corrupt the Spirit of Excellence or Perform beneath Our Peak. I am talking about our tendency to be so Pessimistic & Critical about the minor details that our Art lacks the Joy and Blessing it was intended to become. Berry Gordy used to say that he loved to leave mistakes in Motown Music (a young Michael Jackson shouting “Just look over your shoulders, honey!” on  ‘I’ll Be There‘) or My Friend & Fellow EM, Ohio Player Billy Beck screaming in the middle of “Love Rollercoaster” and leaving it In The Mix. DJ’s would later begin the rumor that a woman was murdered during the session! Talk About Emotion that produces Gold Records!

The point is to make sure we have captured all that needs to be in a compelling, thought provoking and engaging way and move on. Besides, there is ALWAYS the Remix!

But if you don’t Release It, Ship It, Launch It, Market It or Sell It While It’s Hot, Then When Will You?

The Truth is, There will Never Be Enough Money, or The Right Time or Season or Conditions or Circumstances or _________________________________________! Make The Decision. Get It Out The Door and Begin Again!

What I’ve learned to do is place Human Buffers in my life who have the Undisputed Right to begin Interrogation Procedures if they feel my Obsessive Compusive Behavior  (Note I did not say “Disorder!) is getting the best of me! My Co-Pilot Jerry Thompson, Executive Administrator Michaela Write and/or Beautiful Wife Lori can yell STOP at anytime and listen themselves to determine if I am over the edge. And I trust their ears!

I’d Love To Know Your Tips & Tricks to Getting That Thang Done!

I’d  Also Like to Know where you might be struggling!

Hit Me Up!

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT SONG (BASS OPTIONAL)

Monday Night I sat mesmerized with millions of Americans, paying homage to the genius of Stevie Wonder whose music has been the soundtrack of our lives for the past 40+ years. You don’t have to look deep into a SounDoctrine track to realize how personally my artistry has been influenced by his innervisions.

Although I got into the show about 20 minutes lates, right smack dab in the middle of Lady Gaga’s rousing performance of “I Wish,” I posed a question to myself concerning this man I’ve grown to love like a favorite uncle. If you were to dissect Steveland Morris into various components of his muse, what, for me, would be the most compelling?

Right off, he IS the total package. But which attribute wins me over first and foremost?

Is it his multidimensional musicianship?
His hypnotic voice?
His profound production and/or forward thinking technology applications coupled with his humanitarianism and completely selfless spirit?

As I pondered the many great voices from Jill Scott to Andrea Bocelli to the outstanding Tony Bennett to the myriad of musicians who adorned the platform, not least of all, musical director Greg Phillinganes, I wondered, what is this One Thing about Stevie that unites all of these exceptional stars?

I concluded: It’s All About The Songs

Always has been. Always Will Be. Always Should Be.

Musicianship, Showmanship, Vocal Talent, Production Skills, Arranging, Dance Routines, Million Dollar Light Shows and Superior Sound do play their parts, but each element must bow down – all the way down – to the raw emotions, contemplations and motivations prompted by a great song.

If Stevie were to somehow lose, or were not as proficient in any of the aforementioned talents, his songwriting has set him further apart from any of his contemporaries in the last four decades than anyone and his legacy will cast him as the Bach of the next few hundred years to come.

This is why we celebrate his genius.

This is why true EMs must make writing great songs a priority above all else…

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DECEMBER 31, 2015??

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the launch of another excitingly wonderful, optimistically bright-n-shiny year! By the time you’re reading this, you’ve no doubt already broken 2 of of your 22 resolutions, but since they are left overs from last night, this digression doesn’t count!

If you’re like many of us, you’ve reviewed last year and framed an initial strategy for this one. Your calendar contains a third of this year’s important dates & deadlines and you stand ready to pencil in peripheral events which will help propel your life and career forward. Most EntreMusicians do.

What many EM’s don’t, however, is apply Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s method of “Beginning with the End in Mind” which is a more holistic approach to the Day/Week/Month methodology of navigating the year. If You were to adorn 2015 with a Single Theme, and live everyday accordingly, you would accomplish far more than merely segmenting various components to achieve your myriad of goals.

Most Importantly, placing a greater emphasis on whom you wish to be, or are becoming by year’s end, will provide a more excellent governance over your activities, than placing your “To Do List” as First Priority.

Think About It. Who Are You at the Very End of 2015? What Did You Accomplish? To Whom did You Add Value? What Work Did You do that Truly Mattered?

Now, Let’s Get Started!!

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Follow The Stars

Smack Dab in the Middle of a Non Stop 90 Minute Earth Shaking P-Funk Romp, General George Clinton will abruptly stop the music, partly to give the band a break to prepare for the next 90, but moreso to sublimely lead his audience in a majestic mantra of “THINK!! IT AIN’T ILLEGAL YET!! Over & Over…10, 20, 30 minutes or more, repeatedly. Stronger & Faster until he’s sure the phrase sticks and the crowd is one accord. THINK!!! IT AIN’T ILLEGAL – Key Word – YET!!

As EntreMusicians, we are right now, Smack Dab in the Middle of both the Best & Worst of Times. The Ability to Click a Mouse provides access for our music to reach the world and beyond. Opportunities for placement in TV, Film and Gaming arrive in our inboxes daily and we have unlimited options to stream our rehearsals and shows directly to our fanbase. The caveat always being, however, that the server space, terms of agreement and price points are always controlled by someone else.

Net Neutrality and the woes of Spotify, Pandora and others loom larger by the hour.

By now, all EMs are well aware of Taylor Swift, Aloe Blacc and for many years now, David Byrne’s outspoken comments and actions against these companies who are making BILLIONS off the backs of Songwriters, Musicians, Engineers and Producers who see less than a half penny for each stream.

There are many who argue that since the proverbial cat is out of the metaphoric bag – and ain’t returning – EM’s should just shut the expletive up and be happy for the vast exposure they have across the solar system.

But the fact remains that Access, Exposure, Publicity & Promotion don’t immediately pay bills. In fact, the last time I tried to hire a publicist, I needed to decide between paying the mortgage or paying her. Furthermore, glancing at the last statement from my aggregate, CD Baby and my PRS (I used to call this a royalty check…) coupled with the other expenses of remaining in business, it becomes extremely difficult to continue playing their game.

Now, before I’m accused of whining, I chose to get into this business. I know there are a variety of ways to compound my pennies from multiple sources and where I feel I am competent, I do try each one, winning here and losing there. But continually realizing that all of my very hard fought efforts don’t even earn me a single penny from several services that put their kids through college has me rethinking my strategy for the three projects I plan to release in 2015.

EM’s Must Plan Better Strategies without depending upon the current structure.

We’ll soon be hearing the true story of the Wise Men who followed the Star to a tiny manger in Bethlehem, which contained the Absolute Solution to bring complete Joy to the World and free us from spiritual tyranny and bondage. Perhaps in the case of living as a true EntreMusician, we should be following the stars who have decided they’ve had enough and pull our music out of the oppression of a system designed to take advantage of our gifts without sharing the wealth we produce…

I’d LOVE to Hear Your Comments, since I have been dialoguing on and offline with other EM’s of various opinions.

I have been constantly playing Phillip Bailey’s (EWF) solo CD from 2002 “Soul on Jazz”

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Navigating the Seasons

Well it’s Official. The furnace is on and I’m extracting leaves from our property quite frequently. Before we know it, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a New Year will be upon us. I already miss Summer!

Living in Northeast Ohio all of my life has taught me the firm attributes of anticipating and navigating through predictable weather patterns. But I became a wiser EntreMusician once I learned how to traverse the creative seasons of my musical journey.

This lesson has nothing to do with age, although the older I get, the more capable I am at recognizing what doesn’t work for me faster than when I was younger. I am speaking here about how creative methods formulate and how you can learn to embrace your seasons for greater effectiveness.

Once I was of the mindset that the level of energy I saw in others should dictate my own workload and output. Or worse, that my level of energy should be the absolute model for musicians in my camp. This brings nothing but frustration, confusion and shall we say, interesting, relational issues! While there are clear advantages to the “Work, Work, Work” & “Write a Song a Day” philosophies – if they don’t Work for you, they shouldn’t be employed. Conversely, there are methods and strategies that I would not adopt, which work very well for other artists. It really is about finding your own groove. Transformation happens when you can work well with others who are comfortable in their unique seasons of innovations.

I have learned how to be in the season I’m in. When I’m the Songwriter (Winter into Spring), knowing my methods take several weeks, I don’t push. I allow the juices to flow and bloom into the process! As the Performer (generally Summer & Fall), becoming a solid player and engaging with audiences both on and off the platform, take center stage. When I am the Producer, (Fall and Winter) I revel in the recording, editing, overdubbing & mixing. Although I still must dawn the business hat during each of these seasons, My Entrepreneur truly awakens in the dead of Winter; planning, plotting, reviewing and setting goals. Thankfully, my Incredible Team keeps business on target year round, freeing me to be the best EM I can and should be.

I would love to hear how you navigate your various seasons and what works for you. Feel Free to Comment!

While writing this, I am replaying the remix of “Izidreal” coming to a groove near you early next year…

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Your Band is a Virus (Book Review)

Since September is typically the “Back To” Month, with people returning to school and other norms, I’ll take these next four weeks to share educational resources for EntreMusicians to further encourage, inspire and expand our knowledge base.

I was recently contacted by Matt Bacon of Independent Music Promotions about reviewing its founder, James Moore’s best selling book, “Your Band is a Virus.” I must admit I was a little skeptical, as I have held and shared my suspicions about our ever changing industry and how to navigate through it. I wondered if anyone could accurately define and set forth appropriate guidelines EM’s should follow. The last book I read which included such mind blowing dynamics was Kusek and Leonhard’s now archaic but still brilliant “The Future of Music.” The community their work spawned continues to thrive, educate and provide necessary awareness to issues musicians very serious about their business should address. Their insight on ‘Music Like Water‘ salted an ocean we’ve been swimming in for the past 15 years.

Stalwart composer/musician Bill Withers once said that the best songs, in his opinion, are the ones he hears and wished he had written. I feel the same way about “Your Band is a Virus.” This book is the proper and logical way for any artist, from beginner to seasoned professional, to rethink his or her plan for creating success in the Brand Newer New Music Think Tank.

Moore’s delivery is straightforward, precise and builds an incredible platform for “the why” in applying the instructions he suggests. If you are a fan of Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt or Ariel Hyatt (no relation to my knowledge) you can hear their precepts in his writing, but the content is contagiously original and you immediately understand that he’s not just echoing material he has read or heard, but has himself lived. Learning from his experiences will save beginners a fair amount of bruises.

Admittedly, I still have my concerns about the mindset of giving music away with such a cavalier attitude, but Moore says, “Get over it! The cat is out of the bag” and won’t be returning. He then provides strategy for doing so to increase your fan base. A few of these I do agree with and will experiment on. He also brilliantly addresses ‘branding,’ ‘crowd funding’ and the proper way to build and maintain your website, create a newsletter, podcast and also license your music. This is a book that I will return to over and over to revamp my own platform, at least for the next 15 years when everything changes again!

Additionally, this book has a ton of resources to explore and wonderful articles and interviews in the appendix for greater perspective and insight.

There is, however, an approach I’d like to address and digress toward, although Mr. Moore repeatedly notes his suggestions should be customized to the reader’s specific genre. Most Music Marketing Books are written for the average pop rock band. As I have read through most of these for the past 30+ years, there have been extremely few which have addressed the specific needs of jazz, blues, fusion, folk and gospel artists. This book is no exception and it would have been cool to place some concrete applications for these types of musicians to follow. But, as already stated, the author is writing from his own experiences and knowledge base.

That opinion aside, I highly recommend “Your Band is a Virus.” I don’t have a rating system, but if I did, this book would be off the charts for the wisdom and experience that bleeds through every page. It’s a Wonderful Read!

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