Tag Archives: Advice

Your Year In Review…Today

EntreMusicians are Excellent Planners & Keen Executioners. We are Faithful at Follow Up and Process our Visions to the Nth Degree. We Face Forward and Effortlessly Advance to our Next Scheduled Items without Losing the Groove.

All Good, but…

EntreMusicians are also challenged with an Acute Inability to Pause and Review our Work. We fail to Properly Index our Calendars to Scrutinize our Previous Performances & Projects and Ascertain their Effectiveness.

While most of us maintain the habit of waiting until the Final Week of December to sit with our Old & Shiny New Planners, the Wiser Move is to Consistently Schedule Weekly, Monthly & Quarterly Reviews (the More Obsessive EMs Implement Dailies) to Appropriate Our Goals, Sharpening Our Saws as We Meticulously Slice Away.

As We Approach this Fifth Month of the Year (already!) let’s take a day or two to Glance Back at the Rear View to Make Sure We’re Not Adrift of the Course we launched in January.

 

I was listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Mr. Hands” on Vinyl while composing this blog.

 

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7 Fresh Approaches to 2017

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…

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How Important Are You…?

Face It.

You’re Only As Important as You Think You Are.

You can Either Live By & Under the Expectations & Evaluations of Others – or – You Can CHOOSE to Create & Model Your Own Principles or Ideals.

You Can Either Agree to The “Usual” Pay Scale of the Masses or CHOOSE to Negotiate Your Fee.

It’s Up To You.

Your Self Importance is the Sum Total of Your Own Thoughts, Experiences & Esteem.

Your Self Importance is Directly Tied to Your Own Vision & Goals.

You are Either One Who Sees Him/Herself as Having Very Little to No Worth – or – Someone Who Envisions Endless Possibilities. You Either Settle or You Set Out.

It’s Up To You.

Although Present Options may be Limited, Important People are Always Creating Opportunities to Change that Present Situation and Improve Their Positioning.

EntreMusicians MUST Embrace the Realization that Our Art, Music & Creativity is IMPORTANT. We Must No Longer Accept or Agree to Selling Ourselves Short and/or Out!

It’s Time To Set A Price For Our Shows & Songs that Reflect Fair, Equitable Standards which Put Money in Our Own Pockets or Refuse to Participate on Their Platforms & Stages.

Important People Know How to Say “NO.”

How Important Are You?

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The Plan in Perspective

I have a friend named Joe (real name) who started a New Gym in Youngstown Ohio 18 Months Ago. Geographically, Joe’s Gym is about 2.8 miles away from that Other, Better Established, Open 24/7, Only $10 a Month Gym that Most Everyone Frequents. Joe’s Gym is only open from 5:30am to 9:00pm, has far less equipment & space and his Monthly Memberships begins at 5x more than that other place. Yet Joe has a startling slew of clients and continues to add Specialized Sessions & Trainers to his Growing Roster.

The Secret to Joe’s Success is Joe.His Gym Provides Intentionally Focused Workouts in an Exceptional Environment that Provides Optimum Results to its Members. Joe’s Gym is called The Train Station.

I often think of Joe as I talk to Musicians and Software Developers about this Unfolding Plan I’ve proposed. In case You are Unaware, I began a Post several weeks ago concerning EntreMusicians readdressing the Direct Sales & Digital Distribution of their Art. I continued to Add Thoughts & Emotions and will continue to discuss & work with EntreMusicians to formulate a workable plan. The Conversation is Growing!

In short, I Believe that ALL EntreMusicians must utilize their ability to Stream their Content Directly to Their Own Tribes on a Subscription Basis, without the need of a Billion Dollar Corporation paying them less than a penny per stream. The Technology is Available, but must be Personalized in a format best suited for both Artist & End User. 

Dr. Nelson Harrison, a very forward thinker and founder of The Pittsburgh Jazz Network has proposed an Alternative through Millennium Music Media which I am currently checking into and awaiting a callback from a known Artist Currently on their roster.

Joe’s Success in Starting  & Growing The Train Station is in His Initiative to Customize a Service & System the Larger Gyms simply cannot and markets his personal touch accordingly, without railing against them – and Word of Mouth is growing.

Every EntreMusician Must Go and Do Likewise. The Excuses are Over. Other Options Are Available. The Ultimate Option remains in Controlling & Distributing Our Own Songs on Our Individually Owned Platforms and Doing the Hard Work of Marketing Ourselves Appropriately. That’s The Truth of Being Independent Artists.

I wasn’t playing any music while blogging, but I’ve just finished practicing the drums to the “Dreamland” CD by YellowJackets. William Kennedy, ALWAYS WOW!! 

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Thanks!

This has been a very transformative year for me. This day has been one of great reflection and great anticipation. As I type this, my band SounDoctrine is just hours away of releasing our new single, “After All” written by our friend Jim Couchenour and featuring our good friends Michael Austin on Sax & Mike Donadio on guitar. It’s an exceptional tune we had a blast working on and we hope you all download it from our website. By the way, we ARE avoiding Spotify – but that’s not the point of this post…

I just wanted to truly name some people who have been a major factor in helping my family and I progress forward this year. I understand if you are not inclined to read thru my personal expression of gratitude – but it is necessary and needful that I say ‘thanks’ and show my gratitude for their blessing in and on my life.

I am not at all ashamed to say that I am a passionate follower of The Lord Jesus Christ. in Him I Live & Move and Have My Being. All that I am and aspire to be is because He, by His Mercy and Grace has allowed me to pursue my dreams. I understand that all who read this blog may not subscribe to my faith, and that’s OK – I just want to begin with giving thanks to whom the foundation and source of my life is based upon.

My beautiful wife, Lori has stood with and for me through lean and trying times. Without her Love and Encouraging Spirit, I could have never become who I am becoming or accomplish all I have been blessed to reach for. Our daughters Tejai, Nia & Ayana are the brilliant and beautiful cornerstones of our journey together and for them, I continue to strive.

Our team, Seven Hykoo, Dana, Michaela, Felicia, Demetrius, Donna, Pam and my dear sister Roz & Brother-in-Love, Phil The Beat mean far more than these words can say. Thick & Thin. Highs & Lows. Learning, Growing, Laughing, Crying. Loving – we are determined to succeed as we surrender to God’s plan, climbing the Entertainment Mountain – determined to stand at the top. Thank You Fam!

Thank You Rosie for the daily 8AM Meetings and keeping my days so organized!

Jerry Thompson is without fail, far too kind and an extremely major contributor in my dreams coming true. A Confidant, Friend, Brother and Frequent Prayer Partner, we share life together, determined to finish strong. Thanks Man and All My Love to Ma Bea!

So Grateful for the SounDoctrine Family – Members Past & Present. I know that I Know that I could not have so much as accomplished one single song or show without your blood on the tracks. Frank Walton, Dylan Waters, Mitch Lawrence, Ken Bell, Rick Young, Jonnie Austin, Nate & Cliff Barnes, Jim C, PTB, First Lady Janis Jones, Janet Write, Tara Amil, Paul Douds, Michaela Write, Bea Bea Bentley, Mike Austin, Keith McKelley, Rob White, Chris Rhodes, Angel Lopez, H. Wade Johnson, Trendle Thomas, Regina Perry Lisbon, James Herod Jr, posthumously; Kim Hines and the many guest vocalists and musicians who helped keep the train on the proverbial tracks. SO GRATEFUL!! Put YOUR NAME HERE _______________________________________
If my stupid head forgot your name! With Apologies!

My Spiritual Dad, James Couchenour, Sr is an unlimited fountain of wisdom, counsel and much more. I don’t know what I did to deserve his favor in my life, but I am so grateful to be counted as a son among his family of true men and women who are swinging for the fences every time they are up to bat and always scoring! Can’t thank you enough, Dad!

To My Spiritual Father, Bishop David L. Thomas, Mom Kathie Thomas and the incredible Elders, Campus & Associate Pastors and collective family of Victory Christian Center. Our family is so blessed to be a part of and serve alongside this wonderful community of believers. Your presence in our lives continue to shape, transform and challenge us toward excellence in fulfilling the call of the great commission. Onward & Forward! God Bless You All!

Trish Hennessey, Chris Mann, Darrell Looney, Dennis Johnson, Kevin Amos, Bob Davis, Guy Dastalfo, Brian Picard, Carol Boswell, Wanda Best, Madonna Chism Pinkard, Ode Aduma, Derek Sivers & Courtney Young are Friends which I can always call and ‘pick it back up with,’ no matter how much time has past from our last conversations. Thanks, Ya’ll Know!!!

Finally, I truly want to Thank YOU and let you know that your reading this blog, supporting our music, visiting the website and most importantly telling someone about SounDoctrine Music is the most valuable asset we could possibly possess. Thank You. Thank You So Very Much.

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A Resourceful Community

Maintaining a viable edge as an EntreMusician has more to do with establishing community than being competitive. Building a healthy network of resources to instantly draw from provides a synergy that both nourishes and propels your artistry forward faster and further than you could alone.

There are so many valuable, informative books, sites and forums to consider, it becomes a daunting task to comb through them all. Below I share three organizations which have educated, advised and helped me create a community of fellow EntreMusicians I frequently consult and consider as I do my work.

Brian Austin Whitney created Just Plain Folks as a base for Songwriters to network with and learn from. He set up chapters throughout the country and watched his idea grow into a community of 50,000+ Songwriters who collaborate and build upon the strength of the other for a very vibrant, pure sharing of information and resources. I’ve only met Brian once, in Cleveland, in 2006 for a Just Plain Folks showcase where my band, SounDoctrine performed. Since then, I must have emailed him a thousand times for advice and insight and he’s always responded promptly and earnestly, providing just the right answers or pointing me in the direction for the solution. I have also benefited from the direct camaraderie of select songwriters with whom I stay in touch. This is the right community to join, learn from and grow with.

I read the electrifying “The Future of Music” back in 05 and was radically transformed by the ideas Kusek & Leonhard’s work generated. While I would like to take credit for my part in evangelizing this firestorm, little did I know a movement had already been formed in early 2000 which looked out for EMs, whether Independent or signed to a major. The Future of Music Coalition holds many conventions, stays abreast of Net Neutrality, changes in Copyright Law, Licensing, Publishing and is a Loud Voice in DC for the protection of Music Creators. Aligning yourself with FOMC is the most sensible action you can take to insure the rug is not pulled out from under an industry that deserves fair compensation at every level.

I consider Cliff Goldmacher a future friend and prolific Songwriter, Producer and Author whose new e-book, The Songwriter’s Handbook is unique, witty and poignant. Even if you’ve been composing for a longtime, you’ll discover fresh approaches to your craft. His Site, The Educated Songwriter is a One Stop of pertinent information to keep EMs on point. Right now the e-book is free and I’ve found Cliff to be very accessible in spite of his busy schedule. He’s a believer in sustaining resourceful communities!

I am listening intently to Pat Metheney & Anna Maria Jopek’s impeccable “Upojenie” which unleashes another wonderful side of Pat’s careful melodies. A beautiful offering!

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Specificity

A major area where I’ve fumbled the ball as an EntreMusician were those occasions when I lacked clarity. Whether in defining, explaining or processing a goal, being obsessively thorough (some refer to this biologically) really does matter most.

Naturally a “Big Picture” thinker, I’ve needed to surround myself with teammates who are extremely literal and intricate toward every detail of the project at hand. They’ve taught me that visualizing, planning and massaging every component, especially the tiny ones is the correct path toward greatness. Although I’ve yet to perfect this, I am practicing daily.

Specifying every aspect of your vision also provides a means of eliminating disillusionment. When you are able to face your challenges long before they manifest, you’re already ahead of the game. Details, Analysis & Strategy before the Performance, Recording Session or Video Shoot are just as important, if not more so, than rehearsing, wardrobe, lighting and who will mix your new single…well, that mix better be ‘The Bomb!’

I wasn’t listening to any music while posting today, but was taking direction from my youngest daughter, Ayana Symone, who turned 14 today. She didn’t like the photo of her I posted on FB and ordered it deleted immediately. She promptly sent me an approved pic. Divas….

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