Tag Archives: Christians

The Twin Towers of Truth & Trust

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.

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Ask Yourself The Hard Question!

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.

Would You:

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)

Or…

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:

STREAMING NOW MAKES SONY $25 MILLION A WEEK

SIRIUS OWNER SAVAGES SPOTIFY BUSINESS MODEL

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.

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POWERLESS??

SPOTIFY AND APPLE ARE AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS…, Apple in Talks to Acquire Jay Z’s Tidal“…, YOUTUBE’S DOMINANCE TAKES A BEATING“…, & The Music Industry Just Lost a Big Fight with the Government Over Royalties” are just a few recent Headlines glaring in the faces of EntreMusicians. And the New News is Spotify Tops 35m Subscribers which continues to support the David & Goliath mock-up we’ve been fed for decades.

Sure, there are Certain Things that Intimidate Us, Most of Us are NOT Millionaires.

But Are We Powerless?  Or Do We Merely Think We Are? Who Convinced Us of This?

Are we Really in No Position to Change this Music Game and Reroute Our Artistry Directly to Our Individual Friendbase while Bypassing The Current System?

Is the notion of An Independent Streaming Model Available to Each EntreMusician Intelligent Enough to Create Continual Content too Difficult to Imagine?

If a $1.99 / $2.99 Exclusive Access Tier from Our Own Individual Channels were Created & Maintained, a Far Fairer Form of Compensation, and perhaps Appreciation, of our Art would be Enjoyed. Obviously, We’d Bear Sole Responsibility for Building & Nurturing our Tribe, but the Truth is We Do This Now while Reaping No Advantages

These Are the Questions I Continue to Ask, Conversations I Constantly Engage and the Plan I AM Currently Implementing.

In Numbers 13 (OT), Moses sends out 12 Spies to Investigate the land The Lord had appointed for them To Conquer. Forty Days Later, 10 of them returned with a Thoroughly Wimpy & Faithless Answer – even confessing that they felt as small as grasshoppers amidst the citizens there and must have looked the same way to them! 

If You’d keep reading, You’d find that the other two spies, Joshua & Caleb Radically Disagreed with the 10 punks and Courageously Inspired the People to Take The Land!

Now You Can Guess Who The Lord (who is a Staunch Rewarder of Faith) Was Ultimately Pleased With…

So, Are You a Joshua or a Caleb?

Or Are YOU Powerless?

 

While I wasn’t listening to any music while composing this blog, Earlier I was digging on Ahmad Jamal’s “Blue Moon

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Systems

This Week I take a Break on My Lone Diatribe of the Current State of the Music Industry and that which I feel EntreMusicians Can/Should be Doing to Alter the Ugly Tide. As I Reflect & because I Am Quite Passionate, It seemed I was beginning to Sound like a Whining Polemic, which was/is not my intention.

My Goal here is to Engage, Encourage & Empower EntreMusicians Everywhere to Embrace their Artistry with the Highest Level of Significance & Inspiration.

To that End, Today I wish to share the Importance of Creating Systems in Your Day/Week/Life which Propel You toward Consistently Attaining New Heights in Your Career.

If You’re Anything Like Me, or the Millions of Other True Creatives, Our Souls Find Meaning in Abstracts. We tend to “Feel” More than We “Reason.” Creatives are More Apt to Be “In The Moment” than “In The Long Run.”

As a Intense Jazz Lover & a Participant in the Genre, the Sheer Intention of Improvisation is Always Intriguing and a Blessed Experience, but without the Foundation of a Steady Rhythm, Chord Patterns, Motifs & Melody, the Magic Mercurially Melts.

EntreMusicians Understand this Balance. We Incorporate Habits, Rituals & Systems into Our Days/Weeks/Lives to Provide Security for the Spontaneity. We Emphasize Structure so our Creativity Soars.

Although Creatives Understand the Disciplines that Apply to Our Craft, and subsequently Practice our Fingers Off, We Rarely Develop Regiments around Our Art to Promote, Sustain and/or Catapult Our Careers & Influence.

Here Are A Few Questions for You To Consider:

a) Do You Have a Daily/Weekly/Life “To-Do” List?

b) Do You Maintain a Morning Ritual?

c) Have You Established Boundaries on How You Spend Time in Each Sphere of Your Life?

d) Is there a Proper Balance for Personal & Professional Relationships & Goals?

e) Have You Formed a Team to Keep You Accountable to Your Aspirations?

The Way You Answer these Questions Will Help Shed Light on what You Need to Do to become More Effective & Efficient in Harnessing Your Creativity & Accomplishing What Truly Matters.

Below Are A Few Resources which have over several years helped me form Significant Systems in My Quest to Create Extraordinary Work I Pray Makes A Major Difference in the Lives My Spirit Reaches.

Time Will Tell the Ultimate Extension of My Influence, but Time Will Certainly Find Me Constantly Improving My Serve!   I Pray The Same for You!!

Michael Hyatt – My Ideal Week 

Dr. Steven Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Dr. Myles Munroe – In Pursuit of Purpose

David Allen – Getting Things Done

John Maxwell – Talent is Never Enough  (Or Any Other Doggone John Maxwell Book!!)

The Bible (An Indispensable Tool in My Systematic Arsenal!)

I was not listening to any music as I Composed this Blog and am Suddenly Wondering Why!

 

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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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The Psychology beneath The Philosophy

Last week I targeted the Next Battleground facing EntreMusicians. Even this Morning, My Inbox was replete with Nasty Headlines on Google Music, YouTube & Spotify, with regard to Piracy, Royalty Fairness and the Scores of Angry Superstars upset with the status quo.

I’ve pretty much had it. I am formulating a Plan with My Team & I and  will be sharing with you in the hopes to create a dynamic which will champion Our Artistry and Recapture the Music.

Beforehand, I Must disclose the Imagery and Concepts We Are Discussing. The Plan is Not Perfect and is already rife with its share of challenges, but contains Very Necessary Components in which to Move Forward. The Process Begins Within.

  1. Absolute Fearlessness. I recently read an e-book by a certain music marketeer who bluntly stated that since the current streaming genie is out of the bottle, never to return, all artists need to quit whining and complaining and just conform, posting their music as many places as they can “for the exposure” and should be giving as much music away as they could. Mind You, His E-Book cost $5.00. EntreMusicians at Levels Must Begin Refuting this Nonsense Vigorously, although the Marketing Dollars Are Against Us. If we Truly Worked Extremely Hard – And Are United, We Can Completely Change The Game. That Little Fear Monster that just whispered to You that ‘It Can’t Be Done,’ Needs to Die the Death of Disco!           
  2. Define Your Own SuccessKnowing Your WHY is the Single Most Significant Factor of Your Entire Career and Your Life! Bob Dylan, Joan Boaz and Others began Writing & Singing for Completely Different Reasons than Lionel Richie, Stevie Nicks or You and I . Each had/has different audiences, levels of success, notoriety and platforms. Adjust Your Career Accordingly. Know EXACTLY What Your Art Is, Who Its For and Why You Occupy this Planet! Your WHY will save you from Unrealistic Expectations and – worse – Someone Else Telling You Whether or Not You’re Successful, based upon another Artist’s number of Downloads or Streams. Do YOUR WORK!                                                                                                                                                            
  3. Place Immediate Value on Your Art. While the Old Adage holds true that any item is only worth what the buyer is willing to pay, the EntreMusician is still responsible for Setting a Price. WHO Set the $0.99 price tag per download? You or Apple? Is Your Song Worth More? Who set the price splits between the Company and the Artist? Certainly Not the Artist. Have You Ever Asked Why – or More Importantly, WHY THE (MILD, GENTLE EXPLETIVE) NOT?   Yet, if You Formed Your Own Platform where You set the Price Point, perhaps lower, on some of your Art than current market price, but you were able to keep all of the pennies, how much quicker would you make and sustain a profit?                                                                                                                                                   
  4. Network. Unhealthy Competition is a tool of The Devil in the Arts. There is Someone in Your City, State, Genre and Demographic who is doing the Exact Same Thing You Are. Build a Mastermind Group, Form an Association or Guild. Target the Promoters, Venues and Agents in Your Area who are Unfair to Musicians and Collectively Avoid Them. Create Platforms that Engage Your Fans on Alternate Levels. Create Your Own Festivals and Invite Bands of Similar Style, Principles & Values. Work Together! Play Together! Sing & Dance Together!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The premise of My Team’s Plan stands on these four tenets, plus another component I will discuss next week. Currently we are setting up a new website, theentremusician.com which will be up and running in about two weeks and we can begin this work together. I trust I presented thought provoking situations to engage you in the conversation. Let’s create a dialogue to further think through these and other initiatives as they arrive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Let’s Change The World!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I was Listening To Azymuth’s “Cascades” on Vinyl while creating this post.
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Taking The Tiger Out of Taxes

By this time, most of America has made significant payments to the college education funds of children belonging to certain CPAs and other Tax Preparers. Some of us have already blown through our returns, others are crying because we won’t receive one, or angry at the amount we must pay or are calculating just how many cheeseburgers we can buy with the few bucks Uncle Sam will bestow on us. 

I could easily segue into a rant of how much taxes bite and my personal views on what “we oughta do” about the tyrannical, corrupt government who constantly invent new ways to keep their hands in our pockets. But I won’t do that. Today.

For The EntreMusician, understanding the nature of taxes and meticulous record keeping help reduce their bites to mere barks. Since I already hear the yawns beginning to start, including my own, I assure you this is not an in depth analysis, but 3 quick tips on how You should think about Saving Taxes for the year ahead.

1) It’s Very Important to have a knowledgeable, experienced tax preparer – who understand the nature of musicians and this industry on Your team. This person doesn’t have to be a CPA, but they must know ALL of the angles of the expenses of an EntreMusician and the various forms of income derived from Your work.

At the outset, this can be a Very Expensive Partnership. But You should prepare to enter into it, so that by playing Sam’s game of itemizing every single thing you are allowed to, from equipment purchases & rentals to vehicle repairs & fueling for touring, to recording sessions to paying band members (yes paying them) to burrito lunches to just about every other thing associated with Your career, You save plenty pennies in the long run. Make sure this person knows these things and get excellent references before hiring them.

2) Establish Your Artistry as a Business. Kill the Sole-Proprietorship Mentality Today. Especially if you are a Single Artist. While this has far more legal ramifications, forming a corporate entity better insulates you from paying certain taxes and in most cases, separates your personal assets from your professional liabilities.

3) Give Your Band Members – or any other entities You’ve hired for Professional Services the correct tax documentation. For example, in the State of Ohio, if I paid Katie Jones more than $600 in a given year for playing the kazoo in my band, I give her a 1099 at the end of the year for her to file as an independent contractor and not as an employee of my company. Your state may differ. Check it out and follow the rules.

There are a myriad of other tips I could add and I may drop another from time to time, but I’d rather be writing songs! The point is, The EntreMusician does not have to suffer the ‘ouches’ of the IRS, if he/she begins to put a system in place for making sure the proper documentation is covered. I wish you a pain free career!

I didn’t listen to any music while writing this post. You can imagine why!

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About Being “BOOKABLE”

Are you an absolutely excellent band or awesome musician who can’t seem to find the amount of, or quality of gigs you’re after? Chances are, in spite of your incredible talent, you aren’t ‘bookable’!! 

To explain, there are thousands or more artists, with superior skill, musicianship and playability, but they have not put together the necessary essentials that would make for the kind of experience agents are trying to sell to their audiences. 

For example, DON’T be an Artist or Band who possesses ZERO:

*YouTube Performance Videos (videos of your studio recording with the CD cover jpeg showing won’t get you on stage) 

*Website or page with a Schedule of Past/ Future Events (Promoters want to know if you’re working)

*A Well Written Bio (Excellent Grammar, Crisp & Truthful)

*Your Story and/or Other Useful Promotional Media (Have You Won Any Awards? Played with Anyone Famous? Overcome some huge setback? Everyone wants to know!) 

*Viable Contact Info (other than your email & number on the bar napkin) 

*CDs or Merch to Sell (Any & Everything Memorable to Sell works – try toothpicks!)

 

Other Artists, especially Newcomers have Zero clue of:

 

*What to Charge (Free should not be an option and paying the club should be outlawed)

 

*What Back-line Is (Immediately after talking to Club Owner/Promoter, befriend the Sound Guy/Gal!)  

 

*Appropriate Load In / Stage Time / Load Out (Timing is Everything and Your Respect for it Should be Absolute!)

 

Education for the EntreMusician is First Base. Knowing What – and When to do What should be in place before you make the call or send the query email. Your business sense should be as tight as your act.

 

A cautious “Catch 22” is for promoters to book an act that has all of the aforementioned elements in place and do them very excellently, but lacks the talent to move a crowd…they will usually work with this act first, knowing they must sell the sizzle.

 

We’ll talk about additional bookable components next week. Like “Are You Reliable?”

 

If you have a question, comment or disagreement about “Bookability” please respond! 

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Substance. Abuse.

The Grammy’s. The Academy Awards. The Super Bowl. 

These and similar events threaten to be occasions which will change the very nature of our very lives and if missed, shall abandon us to the meager status of societal outcasts. Yet, year after year, they prove to be no more than spectacles of hype and disappointment, devoid of any real value.

A more defined mocking irony is that of a profoundly prolific actor who gave the world so much, continually expressing the absolute brilliance of his craft, now found dead with a needle in his arm, ultimately revealing how empty life must have been for him.

The Entertainment World promises to deliver the highest value, engagement & quality. Those lauded are presented as experts, professionals, cream of the crop, top of their game, worthy of the highest accolade, honor and respect. Keenly scripted “Reality TV” elevates gross dysfunction to super stardom while simultaneously berating other famed reality faces who would speak their minds on personal, spiritual issues true to their own hearts.

Double, triple and quadruple standards abound and it’s often difficult to navigate through the cluttered glitter of fantasized ecstasy from that which will truly bring life to one’s soul.

Unless you’re intentionally seeking.

The purpose of the EntreMusician is to define truth. Whether using symbolism, figurative language, hyperbole or literal form, the pure artist never distorts or abuses real substance. Art lives and breathes. And Gives. She makes her aim crystal clear. He points true north and brings us along for the journey.

We constantly ascend during the process.

I was listening to Dave Holland Quintet’sPrime Directive” while constructing this blog. 

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TOYS

I am sure you have observed many a musician who always has the best, newest, latest…

Drummers with 14 different snares, Guitarists with 30 axes, Keyboardists with a basement full of vintage gear from the 60’s & 70’s, but neither have been on the road or has released a record in three years or have made any plans to do so in 2014. These are the very ones who complain about the state of the music industry, the lack of good paying gigs and how the producer (from three years ago) didn’t return their one phone call. But they continue to spend.

EntreMusicians have learned that every dime counts. Especially when it comes to gear. I remember going to the studio of a very well known smooth jazz artist and immediately felt as if I was a museum. I swear I saw a Commodore computer, two first generation midi boards and an aging 16 Channel Mackie. I had (then) prided myself in downloading all of the latest software with up to the minute upgrades into my superfast computer in a rack full of everything necessary for the Grammy.

He was High Atop the Jazz Charts. I was not. I was there for his Help.

I learned an enormous lesson. I got off the Merry-Go-Round.

It’s cool to have great gear. We’re all into wanting to sound our best. But we don’t need to continually shower ourselves with every plaything manufacturers tell us will make us sound like Clapton.They won’t.

We don’t need 12,000 drum and bass samples. One or two really good preamps and/or compressors will do the trick and chances are you’ll migrate to only using your favorite toys on most of your tunes, because they capture “your” sound.

An engineer friend once told me, “Before you upgrade your software, learn a new feature on your old version. That will keep you busy – and will keep the money in YOUR Pocket!”

Excellent Advice!

I was listening to Charlie Haden’sAmerican Dreams” with Michael Brecker on sax while writing this.

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