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…
Mastering the Art of Consistent Networking is Foundational & Essential if we are to Succeed as EntreMusicians. Advancement eludes us when we consider ourselves islands and isolate ourselves from community. Albeit, We bear the bulk of the Responsibility for our Careers, True Achievement is Not Created in a Vacuum.
Many EntreMusicians swallow the Myth of the “Self Made Artist,” who Writes Everything, Arranges, Produces & Plays Everything, but never ascends from his/her basement studio because they’ve eschewed human social skills and ignore establishing relationships with other bands, artists and creatives.
Even Musicians who’ve been fortunate enough to secure management, booking or some significant ‘deal’ which somewhat sets them apart from their contemporaries, find they have a much rougher ride and eventually hit a wall because they have set themselves (or allowed others to place them) above or outside the Collective Visibility of the Creative Culture. The Truth is that even at the Highest Level of Triumph, Connectivity Still Rules! So here are a Few Rules to Perfect the Practice of Networking at whatever Position You Currently Occupy.
1. Reach Out!
Take the Initiative to Find Other Artists of Like Mind/Spirit/Heart whether within your musical genre or not. Arrange a Coffee or Jam Session or Gig that’s Mutually Beneficial. Without Becoming a Pest, Be the One Calling, Texting or Messaging Periodically to Let Them Know You’re Interested in Them and What’s Happening in Their Career.
2. Give Out!
EntreMusicians are Extremely Generous. Any Valuable Information, Resources or Viable Practicality which can be freely offered, Give It! Go Out of Your Way, Be On the Look Out and Intentionally Create Opportunities to Be A Blessing to Another. Is there any Old Gear hanging around that you’ll likely never fire up again? Don’t Pawn It, Find an Up & Coming Hopeful and Give The Thing(s) Away!
3. Help Out!
Everyone Needs Help at Some Point in Time. EVERYONE! Even & Especially National Recording Artists. Find Out How You Can Assist – Yes You! Graham Cochrane, an Engineer/Producer I Follow & Highly Respect once said that every time he attends NAMM or some other Industry Function, he abstains from strolling up to higher profile Artists/Producers/DJs with Business Card & CDs in Hand, asking THEM to either Listen to His Stuff, Get Him a Deal or “Hook Him Up” in whatever way. Instead, He ASKS How HE Can HELP Them!!
Chances are They will be playing his City soon (he asks) and perhaps there may be some assistance they might need when they arrive and/or before they depart that he may be essential in accomplishing on their behalf. He Never asks for anything in return and Graham’s (and now my own) methodology is 85% More Effective that the ‘Star’ will remember His Name…There are a Million Ways to Help – Find Yours!
4. Throw Out!
Discard ALL Negative Motives, Attitudes, Thoughts, Words & Actions!* Live By The Mantra that You NEVER Compete, NEVER Compare & NEVER Criticize!**
Throw Out ALL Feelings of Envy & Pride! Concentrate on Doing Your Best Work and Find Ways to Assist Your Peers in Doing Theirs. Hold The Door Open and Help Balance The Ladder for Other, Again Expecting (And Not Asking For) Anything In Return! Overtime You Will See, by Osmosis, the Law of Sowing & Reaping bearing Fruit and Your Life & Career Blessed because You have Blessed So Many Others!
I would Love to Hear How You Utilize Networking in Your EntreMusicianal Pursuits and the Profound Results. Leave Your Comments Below.
Download My Free E-Book “50 Engaging Ways to Transform Your Fans Into Family” and Subscribe at TheEntreMusician.com for More Ways to Engage, Encourage & Empower Each Other!
I was listening to Spyro Gyra’s “Incognito” on Vinyl while writing this post.
* &** Quotes of Bishop David L. Thomas
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.
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!
Before Diving into This Week’s Topic, I’d like to bestow honor to the legacy of Premiere Vocalist Al Jarreau, a True Original who Forged and eventually Owned a Style Unique to Him which can never be completely copied (though some have tried). Although he did not invent the art of “Scatting,” framed masterfully by the great Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Scatman Crothers and others from the 1940-50’s era, Jarreau’s multilayered contemporary approach expanded the technique beyond spectacle and made it simultaneously romantic, passionate, fun, serious, silly, thrilling and most of all, thoroughly engaging. I was 16 when I fell in love with the album “Breakin’ Away” and immediately had to go backward to find all I had missed. Going forward only increased my impenetrable appreciation for his incredible artistry. He Made Me Feel Like Family!
GET SOME AIR!!
Evaluation is the Kissing Cousin of Every Serious EntreMusician. The Tendency to “Go, Go, Go!” without creating scheduled moments to understand Where You’ve Been, How You Arrived There and Appraising Your Journey Before Planning Your Next Steps will Certainly Cripple Your Progress.
Unfortunately, I have Failed more in this area of my career than I care to count. Whenever I’d Abort the Importance of AIR (Always In Review!) I’ve Found Myself in Free Fall, Usually Having to Begin Again.
This Destructive Practice is Subtle & Quiet, because EM’s are generally programmed to Only Think Ahead and Develop a False Belief that hints toward the practices and habits which worked successfully for us in a particular season will continue to do so. We then default to a “Maintenance Mindset” rather than “Coordinated Calculation” which comprises both Assessment & Strategic Advancement.
Taking Into Account even the Tiny items like The Structure of Your Band, Your Present Personnel, Your Genre(s), The Venues You Always Play, Your Rehearsal Methods, to the larger Whys of How You Spend/Save/Invest Your Income, or When to Update Your Website, Change Your Merch Selection, or perhaps Your Growing Tendency to ‘Let Things Go’ that Should Be Addressed, or conversely Constantly Address Things that You Should Let Go without valuating Your Reasoning in each situation will leave festering teeth marks in an otherwise promising career.
The Solution to Terrible Tendency Rests in the Security of a Sound Team. Schedule Regular Spiritual/Philosophical/Theoretical Visits with Your Manager(s), Band Members, Attorney, Accountant, Advisers, Mentors and Other Trusted Family, Friends and Associates to Ask the Tough Questions, Review Your Successes & Failures and Discuss the BIG WHYs. You will find Essential Wisdom in Pausing to Learn from Your Past before Plowing Ahead. Only What Makes You YOU Need Remain. Destroy Everything Else!
Remember, Your Life & Career ALWAYS Comes Down To Your Core Purpose. Your Laser Like Focused Answer as to Exactly Why You Are an EntreMusician finds its Foundation in Continual Evaluation. Applying AIR Continually Keeps You Grounded & Flying concurrently!
Download My Free E-Book, “50 Engaging Ways to Transform Your Fans into Family” at TheEntreMusician.com and while there sign up for a More Great, Encouraging, Empowering & Engaging Experiences.
One of the Earliest and Most Critical Mistakes Any New EntreMusician tends to Make in this Business is Relying Upon Verbal Agreements.
It’s Easy to Do Because at This Stage You’re Extremely Excited that the Phone Even Rang!
And Before You Know It, Your Enthusiasm Gaining the Advantage, You’ve Locked in The Band, The Date and Invested Precious Time & Resources solely based upon what some Stranger (or Friend) Said she was going to pay you.
There’s already a degree of embarrassment because you nervously negotiated a price and most likely settled for less than Your Original Fee. So with the possibility of losing the entire gig dangling in your imagination, you choose to forego any further timidity and agree to most everything else.
You arrive on time, perform magnificently (of course), only to have the venue owner congratulate you on a wonderful show but with apologies that he didn’t sell enough tickets, drinks or secure the amount of sponsorship he was hoping to receive (which has absolutely nothing to do with you – unless you were not listening) so now he claims he can only pay you…
The very best way to avoid this type of robbery is to Always Place Your Agreement in Writing and Make Certain You place this important piece of conversation atop your discussion.
The All Important Question “And What is Your Budget for this Event?” will provide you all of the necessary information you’ll need before continuing “Please Email Your Agreement to…”
At this Point Either Two Significant Events Will Happen:
1. The Reputable Promoter will make sure they’ve spelled your email address properly and send you the requested document or perhaps ask you to send yours (more on that in a bit)
2. She will begin making several excuses about why she doesn’t use/have one or a Written Agreement, or begin to use those infamous words ‘trust me…’
It’s Vital that You begin to utilize a Written Agreement the moment you’ve formed your act. Even if only charge $50 for the night, get into the habit of using a contract!
If the club owner doesn’t have one, present one. If you don’t have one, create one or download one from http://www.theentremusician.com, and don’t forget the include asking for a 50% deposit!
Serious Venue Owners take you far more seriously when You Talk Terms of Agreement and are prepared to document them even if they are not prepared to present one. The offer itself adds major validation to your professionalism.
And Remember, That’s Exactly Who You Are!
Next Time, We Talk About Getting Paid BEFORE Your Performance!
Although I wasn’t listening to any music while composing this post, I going to be listening to Stevie All Month!
With the untimely passing of Super Producer Kashif Saleem and the sudden sad news of Ultra-Compsoer Rod Temperton‘s death, I’ve been in Reflective Mode, remembering those who’ve most influenced me as a producer and in whose muse I most rely on when I am trying to make the best musical decision on a project.
As I explored my vast vinyl collection (one benefit of age), I began to notice a common theme among my favorites. For One, the Best Producers simply ‘stayed out of the way of the artist’ – even if they were the composer. Secondly, The Best are equally adept in multiple styles of music. I was often surprised to find their MusicPrints on a variety of different genre.
For that reason, I have NOT Included L.A. & Babyface or their predecessors Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis or even Teddy Riley, all of whom I highly respect and admire. But these teams ushered in an era of the Superstar Producer whose stature overshadowed both The Song and The Artist. Additionally, although they worked with Musical Acts outside of their immediate genre, the production itself never ‘dissolved’ into the style they were attempting.
I also stayed away from My Absolute Heroes, each now deceased George Duke, Maurice White & Prince. Since Motown is it’s own genre, I left them out (for now, but look out for a future blog). And I Did Not The Master Maestro, Stevie Wonder for Extremely Obvious Reasons!
It is extremely difficult to present a “countdown” as if One Producer is/was Better than the other, irregardless of the number of Grammys, Albums or Artists they produced. In fact, I’ve gone a little out of my way to honor several producers who are not necessarily ‘household names,’ but set standards of experimentation and truth many modern producers obey like the Ten Commandments.
So, Let’s Get Started:
My Personal Homage to Q is his ability to create an experience inside each song. He doesn’t look for the easiest way to the bridge and allows a chorus to build until it percolates, all the while leaving room for God to walk in the room (his words).
I tried to utilize this approach on “Meant2B“
My Personal Homage to Arif is Chaka‘s “What Cha Gonna Do For Me” album. It’s the Statement of the Century and clearly the reason she rose up the ranks from Funk Queen to True Diva. The Songs, The Musicians, The Arrangements, The Sound he created around her voice is probably the reason I most often seek female vocalists to sing my songs.
“Nohoour” is such an example
My Personal Homage to Russ is his total transparency in all of the work I have listened to. The Artist is center stage and Titleman simply gives them wings to fly and gets out of the way.
I learned this lesson on “Source“
My Personal Homage to Mr. Lipuma is rooted in the Casino Lights Album, arguably one of the best Live Albums I own. The Set features the aforementioned YellowJackets, Al Jarreau, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn and Neil Larsen & Buzzy Feiten. The album did what a great production should and made me a fan of each artist!
I was pretending to be Tommy when I produced Eric Tyus’ “Stop On By“
My Personal Homage to Mr. Wexler’s legacy is his commitment to Down Home SOUL, which is not a geographical location, but in the heart of True Musicians & Singers. Jerry Wexler Captured It and Archived It forever.
I attempted to do the same on “Blues Crossing”
I began this post by noting the passing of Kashif and Rod Temperton. Both of these men’s music enveloped, encouraged and inspired my formative years. I am deeply indebted to Kashif by dissecting his eponymous debut and equally seductive”Send Me Your Love.” And You & I both know that Every Single R&B Slow Jam since 1977 follows the law laid down by Temperton’s “Always & Forever“
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!