“Saturn here usually brings heavy responsibilities with the parents and the family. For instance, you may have to care for your parents in their old age…One of your parents may have been very stern with you when you were young and consequently you have a rather suspicious or even fearful aspect in your inner nature. You feel you have had a hard childhood. Whether this is true or not, this is the way you see it…Liza Minnelli and Bette Middler both had a difficult youth with Saturn in the fourth house. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are also on this list.” – Robert Pollini, Astrologer
After hearing the marching bands during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that night I watched Drumline with Nick Cannon on DVD. It’s the story about a young Harlem drummer with a college marching band scholarship. He’s a gifted natural drummer, with the attitude to match, but he can’t read music. Orlando Jones (in a more serious role) is the Band Director, Dr. Lee, who insists on nothing less than dedicated musicianship. This is a lively movie with lots of exciting marching band action a la the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) marching band style, and I’ve enjoyed watching this DVD many times.
While I’ve often told other people that I did not come from a musical family, watching Drumline Thanksgiving night reminded me that I had TWO first cousins (sisters) that played in their high school marching band. One played flute, and the other played clarinet. Even though they haven’t played since high school (they’re 10+ years older than I), that still counts as musical family members. And their youngest sister also sings in the choir.
Then I recalled that two other aunts played organ for their church in some capacity, and I was definitely pushed to go in that direction myself (However, I was allergic to practicing piano).
So while it seems like I’ve enjoyed the idea of being the only musical person in my family, it seems that I’ve rewritten history, haven’t I?
It’s Black Friday, and I am nowhere near a fishing pole or shopping mall. I’m gonna take a “wellness break”, and return soon – fresh and recharged!
Please be kind to your holiday salespeople (so glad those days of selling clothes at Victoria’s Secret, OakTree Menswear, and Lord & Taylor are behind me)!
To anyone reading this real-time tonight, Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m grateful for my health, loved ones, and music. Here’s a photo blog of my Thanksgiving in NYC for 2008.
My boyfriend and I left home around 8am to go the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Perhaps we should have left home earlier.
There were a couple of big tow trucks sitting in the middle of the street, and the kids were happy to get a good spot to see the balloons
At the edge of the crowd, even CEO Warner Music Group Lyor Cohen was right there!
I have to admit, I felt like a kid myself when I saw the huge balloons and heard the marching bands
I did say heard the marching bands, since I couldn’t see them, but they sounded great. I have to admit that I got a little misty-eyed thinking about all the bands performing in the parade today, who had come so far, had bake sales, car washes, and all kinds of other kinds of fund raisers to get to New York City to represent their school or hometown at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Their parents and grandparents are going to be glued to the TV, and when they see their cousin, sister, grandson performing in one of those Macy’s marching bands, it’s going to be an exciting moment. Love that!
When evening came around, we decided to go to one of our favorite Asian restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner. But when we arrived at Saigon Grill, it turns out that they were closed for the holiday. Now what?
While driving down Riverside Drive, we noticed that the George Washington Bridge was lit up for Thanksgiving. Since this bridge only lights up on major holidays (the electric bill must be crazy), we drove around and took pictures of it
By then we were hungry for Thanksgiving dinner, but didn’t have a clue where to go. We drove around the neighborhoods of Manhattan, Bronx, and Inwood, seeking inspiration. On thing was obvious, though. Christmas in NYC had arrived
I remembered a deli we had visited earlier near the parade, called Great Farm Deli. They had a $7.29 per pound food bar, and I remembered that they had even had a whole turkey that morning. After we arrived at Great Farm, I actually wasn’t in the mood for turkey, but their salmon looked excellent. As a matter of fact, all of the food in their all-you-can-eat-if-you-don’t-mind-paying-for-it food bar looked pretty darned good, and I couldn’t help but compare their plentiful offerings with the Pilgrim’s original Thanksgiving
All in all, every Thanksgiving that I spend as a citizen of New York City, as a musician living in the greatest city of the world, is a good one.
And I am most grateful.
I was first introduced to marketer Seth Godin when I downloaded his free Ideavirus eBook years ago, and it changed the way I thought about marketing in general, but especially music marketing. His article below makes a lot of sense, and I’m excited to share it here.
When Did the Beatles Become THE Beatles?
by Seth Godin
When did the Beatles
I was looking through a day by day biography of the group last night, and it quickly became clear that the image that we have of the four youngsters running away from their screaming fans didn’t happen overnight.
At the beginning, they were playing two or three clubs a day, dives, making a few pounds if they were lucky. Not for a month or two, but for years and years.
As they got more traction, the thing you notice is how often they showed up on the radio. They were constantly on one radio show or another, or one multi-billed concert or another. The marketing picture probably looked like this:
Outbound marketing in every possible direction. Auditions for record labels, rejections, pitches to media outlets, concerts on spec, concerts for anyone who would show up. This is classic marketing, stuff that’s easy to forget when we listen to the Shea Stadium concert or see the flickr guys on the cover of Newsweek. It’s easy to imagine that suddenly, everyone knows you, wants you and makes it easy for you.
The next stage was brief but essential. That’s when people started noticing them, started showing up, started screaming. At this moment, the Beatles didn’t stop marketing. They didn’t stop doing radio shows at the BBC or flying all night to play a concert in Denver (empty seats) or Kansas. During the transition stage, in fact, the Beatles and their management really poured it on.
One of the most misunderstood and misused phrases in marketing (okay, in business) is Malcolm Gladwell’s, “the tipping point.” The Beatles didn’t tip. Nothing magical happened. Instead, gradually, they shifted from being the chasers into being the chased.
These were the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and the Beatles on tour and the Beatles making wigs and the Beatles making movies and pioneering music videos. It was the Beatles in a frenzy, not sure what was going to come next, but pretty sure that it could all disappear in a heartbeat.
Many organizations reach this stage and stop. They harvest. They take profits and remind themselves that they are geniuses, all powerful and immune to the laws of boredom.
Only by pushing through this stage and by using their newfound power to create the last stage of their career did the Beatles actually become the Beatles.
When we rewrite history (and we do it every day) it’s easy to imagine that Starbucks and JetBlue and all the other poster children for new successes just got blessed. It’s almost never the case, though. It’s just that it’s easier to think of them as winners.
Seth Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. He is responsible for many words in the marketer’s vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.
Seth’s latest book, Tribes, is already a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It’s about the most powerful form of marketing–leadership–and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter.
Seth is a renowned speaker as well. He was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century by Successful Meetings and is consistently rated among the very best speakers by the audiences he addresses.
Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry’s leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998. Godin worked as VP Direct Marketing at Yahoo before leaving to become a full time speaker, writer and blogger. Seth is also the founder of Squidoo.com, a fast-growing recommendation website.
He holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called “the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Business Week.
While reading a recent TAXI music newsletter, I read an interesting music column by Cliff Goldmacher, a successful Nashville & NYC record producer. While I was familiar with Cliff’s production work (thanks to Mary Beth Stone and my other pals in the Nashville Songwriters Association), his column explained how he is able to record Nashville musicians while he is in New York City by using audio streaming software and hardware. This kind of technology blows me away!
While Cliff is a pioneer in virtual recording sessions now, the future recording possibilities for session players are endless. I couldn’t wait to interview him, and find out how he does what he does.
The Rock Star Life Lessons Interview with Cliff Goldmacher
by Carla Lynne Hall
Rock Star Life Lessons: How do you have recording sessions with “virtual” session players?
Cliff Goldmacher: I’ve equipped both my Nashville and NYC studios with a combination of streaming audio software and hardware so that I’ve essentially turned my studios into internet radio stations. In other words, I can broadcast the session from Nashville (where it’s actually being recorded) to New York where it’s being monitored. I’ve also wired things so that my voice going through a talkback mic in New York feeds into the players/engineer’s headphones in Nashville. In essence, I’m producing from another room but that “other room” is my New York studio 1,200 miles away.
RSLL: Is there a difference in recording quality when the musician is not in the same town?
CG: None whatsoever. I simply bring a great session musician into the studio in Nashville, record them there and monitor from New York, I then transfer the high resolution files back up to New York for mixing.
RSLL: How does a singer or musician get started in virtual session playing?
CG: Well, in my case, I’ve been working with most of these session musicians for years. However, I’m always looking for new players and singers. The way I usually hear of them is from friends of mine that have used them on their own projects. Also, my Nashville engineers are always scouting new talent for me.
As a singer or musician getting started doing session work, I’d suggest working as much as you can for very little or no pay at first. Then, as you get more recognition and get busier you can start charging the going rate for your services. The key is getting your name and good reputation out there.
RSLL: What kind of recording equipment is needed for this type of recording?
CG: The recording equipment is the same. I use ProTools in both my Nashville and NYC studios along with high-quality tube microphones and pre-amps. The difference comes when I transmit the audio from the Nashville session up to my New York studio. For that I’m using a combination of software and hardware that allows me to stream the audio. At this point, I’m under a non-disclosure agreement with the hardware manufacturer as it’s brand new technology but it should be more widely available in the not-too-distant future.
Cliff Goldmacher’s Bio:
Cliff Goldmacher is the owner of recording studios in both Nashville and New York City. A multi-instrumentalist, Cliff has recorded, played on, and produced over fifty independent albums and thousands of demos for most major and independent publishers in Nashville as well as New York.
The songs Cliff has demoed and performed on have ended up on major label album projects, in feature films and on television. Most recently, a song Cliff demoed in his Nashville studio is on Dan Evans’ album “Goin’ All Out” which recently cracked the Top Ten Billboard Country Album Chart.
As a songwriter, Cliff worked on staff for Wrensong Music Publishing in Nashville and is equally adept at creating his own music and lyrics or collaborating with other writers. Cliff’s song “The Light Inside of You” was recorded by the Irish tenor Ronan Tynan on his Universal Records release Ronan and his song “Table for Two” which Cliff also produced, was included in the movie “Trust the Man” starring Julianne Moore and David Duchovny. Cliff’s song “You’re Lyin Through Your Tooth” was recorded by Universal Music Country artist Big Mike Callan.
As a teacher/instructor, Cliff has served as a panelist on engineering for NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers) and teaches songwriting demo workshops for BMI, ASCAP, The Songwriter’s Guild of America, The Nashville Songwriter’s Association and Taxi.
Cliff is also a regular contributor to EQ Magazine.
At the musician website Hypebot, agent Bruce Houghton has been leading many discussions to help define what the musician middle class looks like. As these debates are very encouraging for musicians who seek to make a full-time living, I’m including one of my favorite articles of his on the subject, which was a two-part series. Feel free to chime in below with your comments.
The Emerging Musical Middle Class
by Bruce Houghton
I wrote on Monday about the emerging Musical Middle Class – a world populated by more artists selling 20-100,00 copies and making a living through direct sales, touring, merch and other streams; and because there are fewer outsiders taking a cut. They are empowered by the viral marketing and direct sales that the net enables. In my work as an agent, its a new paradigm that I see clearly even though its just starting to take shape.
Fair points, but the bands I see forming the emerging musical middle class are not the indie buzz bands that go it on their own and fail to sell the units that label bands do. Those were acts of trying to play the old game with new rules. The bands I’m speaking of (examples in the original article) are flying below the industry’s radar and by selling via gigs and their web site, the majority of units never reach Soundscan.
The skepticism may also come in how we view the term middle class. I see it defined as having “a comfortable standard of living, significant economic security, considerable work autonomy and rely on their expertise to sustain themselves.” We may not know exactly what the Musical Middle Class looks like or how they will get there. We do know it’s not about limos and private jets. But that still beats having to make music only on weekends.
Bruce Houghton blogs daily on the new music industry and technology at Hypebot.com. He is also a 25 year music industry veteran who owns booking agency Skyline Music and the tour marketing company Skyline Innovations.
With Pat Woodward and Duncan Freeman, Bruce also co-hosts ArtistDish, a 30 minute podcast about the state of the indie music industry, its trends and tools impacting independent artists, labels, managers, etc.
Bruce also consults on the topics of Music Industry & Technology, and serves on the Visionary Committee of MidemNet.
Are all of your eggs in one musical basket?
After all of last week’s hustling, I’m pooped!
Which brings us to this week’s tip of working smarter, not harder: DIVERSIFY!
In last week’s post “Diversify Your Bad Self”, we talked about why it’s important to develop multiple skills to help your musical career. This week, I’ll be sharing practical ideas that you can use to bring in multiple streams of musical income.
I’ve had my eye on a number of successful musicians, producers, and marketers who ROCK at what they do, and I used my “Hustle Week” to interview many of them. This week I’ll start publishing my interviews for the Rock Star Life Lessons readers. Sweet!!!
And if that wasn’t enough, this week will also feature a couple of guest blogs, one of which is from the marketing master himself, Seth Godin. Seth wrote an article about music marketing that is so perfect for Rock Star Life Lessons, that I can hardly contain myself! Keep checking Twitter and this blog for announcements.
But wait, there’s more!!! This week I will also announce my first BLOG CONTEST!! To celebrate Rock Star Life Lesson’s first year, readers will be asked to choose their favorite blog posts from “The Recession Proof Musician” series, and the winner will get a US $25 gift certificate for iTunes or Amazon.com. Keep your eye out for a blog post with the details, but for now, read through this month’s awesome blog posts, and choose your favorite(s).
Today’s article is an updated version of an older one that I wrote for MusicDish.com, originally titled “How to Quit Your Day Job”. I suppose it may seem odd to include it now, but in my own experience, people don’t always leave their day jobs by choice, and these ideas still apply. This year marks the second time that I’ve ever been laid off in my life, but this time I was planning for it. I had declared that I wanted to work for myself, and the universe generously made that happen 😉
If you find yourself without your former day job, that means it’s time to try something else. In a year or so, you’ll be saying how getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to you. But in the meantime, here are some ideas for alternative ways to create a living.
How to Leave a Day Job
by Carla Lynne Hall
Wouldn’t it be great to quit your job and do nothing but music? Sure!! Just tell your boss to shove it, and kiss your cubicle goodbye. The possibility of pursuing music full-time exists, but you have to plan your strategy carefully. Many musicians get dreamy-eyed when the subject is discussed, but their eyes glaze over when it comes to doing the math. Being a well-fed musician is a reality for some, but it’s not a move to make impulsively. If you’re serious about pursuing nothing but music, you will need to consider similar guidelines before diving in:
If you find yourself without a job suddenly, do not panic. Remember that many successful people have found themselves without a job at one time or another, and that this time will eventually pass.
Do Your Research
Find out what other musicians are doing to create full-time income. The best time to find out is while you’re still employed, and can try things out on a part-time basis. Do not quit your job without having a solid plan of action that you have already put into motion.
Create a Budget
How much money have you made annually from your regular job in the past three years? Where does your money go? Find out exactly how much money you’ll need to live on. Don’t neglect considerations like health insurance and future CD recordings.
Decide What You are Willing to Do
Would you consider moving to a smaller city with a lower cost of living? Will you live with your parents, have a lover support you, or seek investors? Are you willing to cut some luxuries in order to lower your overhead? Are you prepared to spend a lot of time “working the phone”? Can you turn down gigs that pay little or no money, and hustle for the ones that will fill your pockets?
Create Multiple Sources of Income
Would you consider wedding bands, cover gigs, being the occasional side player in order to pay the bills? If you’re computer-savvy, could you build websites or design graphics for others? If you have office experience, perhaps you can be a virtual assistant who works from home. Can you produce CDs for other bands? Make a list of all your talents and offer them to people who need them. Craigslist.com is a great start for this.
Learn Something New
Why not diversify yourself, and learn a new skill that can bring in more income? Computer-based skills like graphic or web design are always in demand. And learning these skills help you save money when you use them on behalf of your music.
Stay Within Your Budget
Avoid “retail therapy”, or other bad spending habits in order to make yourself feel better. This creates more debt, that will only cause you to feel worse in the long-run. As personal finance maven Suze Ormond says, “I don’t care what you do. Go take a walk. Fly a Kite. But do not spend money you don’t have.”
Have Backup Funds Available
There will inevitably be times when your month lasts longer than your funds. Maybe you’ll need extra money to record new demos. Or to take care of an unexpected expense. It pays to have skills that you can use occasionally to get through the lean times. Make sure that it’s a flexible job that pays well without sucking you back into the corporate world. Excellent jobs in this category include: carpentry/handyman work, temporary office help, waiting tables, virtual assistant, and nude dancing (I’m only half joking).
Create a schedule
When your music becomes your source of income, you will need to spend a lot of time working on your business. If you want to use an agent or a manager, remember that their cut will come from your pocket. You may be better off handling it yourself. Nerissa Nields, from the acoustic rock band The Nields, developed a schedule of working in her home office three weeks a month, managing the band’s business. The remaining week was spent writing new songs. Her husband, also in the band, held a teaching job. They also chose to live in Connecticut instead of New York. Their expenses were relatively low, and they were close to their New England fan base. In the late 90’s, their band toured constantly, and had a mailing list of over 20,000 people. Your choices may be different, but business time will be a necessity.
Other important things you’ll need to have are persistence and determination. Without those qualities, your dream is nothing more than a wish. But with them, you’re on your way to becoming your own boss.
One of my best recent finds on Twitter is @artistshouse, also known as the team of Andrew Goodrich, George Howard, Brett Cooper, and Evan Stoudt from the indie musician site Artists House.
When I found this article of Andrew’s on the Artists House site, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in the indie music world. Andrew is currently studying music business at Loyola University in New Orleans, and by the looks of his writing, his future is promising. Enjoy!
Focus on a Few
by Andrew Goodrich
My proposition to you is to spend less time worrying about the number of friends or followers you have on social networks. Instead, focus on fewer but more valuable people.
Online social networking tools can be powerful, but numbers are just numbers and don’t necessarily represent your real “reach.” Does having 500 friends on Facebook mean that 500 people are paying attention to what I do and value what I say? Maybe. Maybe not.
At worst, putting your faith in the stats can mislead you into taking steps you (and your bandmates) might not yet be ready for (e.g. We have 5,000 MySpace friends in Chicago, so we should divert our tour there!). Do those numbers really represent the group of people that will actually show up to a show when you make it into town? Or if you are leveraging your friend stats to try to get a label deal, do those numbers actually represent how many people will fork over the money to buy your album when it finally gets released? If not, do you know about how many will?
You know what I’m getting at. Even though it’s extremely tempting to use your friend statistics to measure success and reach, in reality I think those numbers are typically misrepresentative because the systems are so highly diluted.
Consider another scenario: I could fill my Rolodex with thousands of music industry contacts that I’ve managed to scour from websites, e-mails, chance meetings, etc. These people represent the movers in the industry, but unless I have developed relationships with those people on some kind of meaningful level, their information represents absolutely no value to me whatsoever.
So instead of trying to befriend the masses, just befriend the individuals you can build genuine relationships with.
Pay attention to these people first and foremost, because they are the people that will go out and spread the word about what you do – especially if you have convinced them that you are a real, authentic, and valuable person. They are the ones that will actually show up to your shows and purchase your albums.
Plus, if you spend your time developing good relationships with smaller numbers of people, you’ve effectively reached thousands. Each one of those unique people that you now have a personal rapport with has the ability to reach and influence possibly hundreds of others. If you give them the tools to do so, they probably will. Now that you’ve developed a really core group of committed people around what you do, you can rely on them to represent you to more people than you could have ever reached by mass marketing in the beginning.
Don’t waste your time trying to reach the masses – that’s what your friends are for!
Andrew Goodrich is currently studying business and music industry at Loyola University New Orleans. He’s an aspiring music business entrepreneur, casual musician and photographer, and an avid supporter of artists.
He has interned at Alan Ett Creative Group and 20th Century Fox’s Newman Scoring Stage and Post Production Department. In the future, he hopes to find himself where film and music meet.
He currently resides under the roof of Artists House Music as a video editor and regular contributor to the Artists House Music blog. Artists House Music is a free educational resource for musicians and music entrepreneurs.
The $52.45 Music Marketing Plan
by David Rose
If you’re a musician working to build a career in the music business hopefully you have already covered the basics like getting your own website, setting up a MySpace page and signing up for distribution through a company like CD Baby or TuneCore.
There are numerous solutions now available for marketing music at a minimal cost but keep in mind that none of them can offer a magic bullet for success in the music business. Below are a few categories and companies worth considering when you sit down to develop your music marketing plan.
Online radio is growing quickly in popularity among music fans as many of the providers have greatly improved their music recommendation technology and added social networking options to help their members discover new music. Here are two popular online radio providers that accept submissions directly from artists, have a large base of listeners and feature links that allow fans to buy the music they are enjoying.
Pandora – Accepts artist submissions only via mail but it’s definitely worth the effort. They only add songs into rotation that meet their quality standards. Their address is: Music Genome Project Submissions, 360 22nd St. Suite 440 Oakland, CA, 94612. Cost: $2.50 (for postage)
Last.FM – Artists can directly upload their music to the site, create an artist page, join genre based groups, add friends and build their own station. Cost: $0
Licensing music for television, films, video games or advertising has emerged as one of the best ways for independent artists to actually get paid for their work plus gain exposure from a wide audience. If you control the rights to your music, a non-exclusive agreement can be signed that typically pays 50% of the licensing fees collected. Two of the leading licensing companies that accept submissions directly from artists are:
Rumblefish – Rumblefish features an online music licensing store that makes it easy for buyers to search and purchase licenses directly from their catalog of available music. They also allow artists to keep 100% of their PRO royalties Cost: $0
PumpAudio – PumpAudio was recently acquired by Getty Images and is now able to offer Getty’s existing customers access to their music licensing catalog. Cost: $0
Playing live shows is one of the most important things an artist can do to build a fan base and create momentum for their career. Of course it’s very difficult to get booked if you are not widely known, regardless of your talent level. A couple of online tools that can help artists improve their chances of getting booked are:
Sonicbids – Sonicbids allows artists to create an electronic press kit (EPK) that can be submitted via email instead of mailing costly and environmentally unfriendly traditional press kits. They also feature a list of promoters and gig openings where artists can submit their EPK for consideration. Cost: $49.95 annually.
Eventful – Eventful is a leading provider of local community events calendars where artists can upload their tour dates. Their unique approach allows fans to create demand for a specific artist to play in their town. Artists can use demand information to help them plan a successful tour. Cost: $0
Many music fans now spend more time on their mobile device than their PC: It only makes sense to develop a mobile strategy for promoting your music. Mobile marketing solutions can include text messaging, ringtones, ringbacks, full track downloads, wallpaper and mobile fan clubs. Two solution providers that make it easy for artists to start marketing their music through mobile devices are:
Broadtexter – Broadtexter lets independent artists easily create mobile fan clubs plus text fans with artist news and regionally based tour date alerts. Costs: $0
MyxerTones – MyxerTones allows artists to create mobile phone ringtones and wallpapers that can be bought directly from a mobile device or the artist’s website. Artists can set their own prices and keep 60% of the revenue collected for their content. Costs: $0
Building a strong fan base is the key component to a successful career but simply finding a way to get noticed by fans can be quite challenging. There are a lot of great options for promoting your music on the web and here are a few that you should definitely consider:
OurStage – OurStage features a monthly competition where fans use a voting system to determine the best song and video by genre then select an overall winner. There are several monthly prizes, including a $5000 grand prize. Fans of your specific genre will get exposed to your music and even have the option of purchasing it. Cost: $0
Artist Data Systems – ADS can automatically synchronize an artist’s information, news and tour dates across several social networks and music related sites. This allows an artist to expand the number of places where fans can discover their music without the hassle of individually managing the same information on multiple sites. Cost: $0
ReverbNation – ReverbNation offers a vast assortment of promotional and viral marketing tools for artists including email newsletters, media players, street team programs and embeddable widgets. They also provide detailed reporting and statistics on fans, songs, traffic and widget use. Cost: $0 (they actually pay artists a share of ad revenue from their site)
David Rose is a former technology industry and music business executive and currently the Managing Editor at KnowTheMusicBiz.com