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Vote for Tone Box Digital in WIRED Magazine’s Small Biz Contest

Posted in A Day in the Life, Carla and Goliath, The Great Give Back 2008 | 1 Comment »

Tone Box Digital, the online music label run by Jason Bradford, has made it to the TOP 5 finalists of WIRED Magazine’s Small Business Contest, and I want to help him WIN.


In my opinion Jason’s nomination is awesome for a couple of reasons: A) Tone Box Digital is the only music company listed, and B) Tone Box Digital is the “smallest” company of the five finalists. While it’s an honor for Tone Box to even be nominated, I would like to help him win the whole enchilada. By rallying the die-hard indie music fans, I know we can do this.


1. A win for Tone Box Digital would not just be for him alone, but for any indie artist that dares to go up against a major label artist.

2. Tone Box Digital is a company that helps indie artists market and sell their music, and if he wins, indie artists will also win because it is further proof that indie musicians can make a living from their music.

3. PLUS, it would just be really cool!

I recently interviewed Jason, who’s also a musician, and l was impressed with his mission to empower the artists on his label, Tone Box Digital. If you believe in indie music, please go to’s Small Biz contest page and vote for Tone Box Digital. It only takes a click. Voting ends December 31, 2008 at 12:00am.

ALSO – Jason has also started a group on Facebook for the fans of Tone Box Digital. If 200 voters join his group, he will give away a $30 gift card to a lucky winner!
Says Jason:

Here’s The Deal:
I’ll be selecting one random winner to receive a $30 gift card from Amazon, iTunes or Starbucks– Your Choice!!! All you have to do is tell me where you posted the info! Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, your blog, your website— that’s it! Just pass it on!!!

Use the wall to tell me where you posted it and you are entered to win!!!

If you believe in indie music, vote for Tone Box Digital by December 31st, and help empower indie musicians everywhere!

Tone Box Digital Intro from jason bradford on Vimeo.

To learn more about Jason Bradford and Tone Box Digital, read the Rock Star Life Lessons interview!

Interview with Jason Bradford, Tone Box Digital

Posted in A Day in the Life, Interviews, The Great Give Back 2008 | 1 Comment »

I recently interviewed Jason Bradford, musician and owner of Tone Box Digital, an online music label, and l was impressed with his mission to empower his artists.

Indie Artists, Musicians, Bands, please go to’s Small Biz contest page and vote for Tone Box Digital. It only takes a click. Voting ends December 31, 2008 at 12:00am.

Rock Star Life Lessons Interview with Jason Bradford, owner of Tone Box Digital
by Carla Lynne Hall

Rock Star Life Lessons:You recently received attention from Wired Magazine for Tonebox Digital, your indie record label/distribution service. What is that about, and what was it like to be recognized for that?
Jason Bradford: This is actually going on right now. started a small business section on their website and to launch it they began the search for new businesses that would line up with the Wired mentality. We were chosen in the top five and I was flown to NY to do an video interview, which is live on their site right now. Now it’s up to the public to determine which of the five should win the program. It’s been amazing. I know there are many labels big and small who are trying to find there way in this industry and for Wired to recognize our business model and plan as a good one is truly amazing. (Tone Box is also the underdog in this program. We’ve never had backers or investors so it’s all come out of my pocket– small pocket! The other four are pretty well funded and have some great ideas, good company to be in.)

RSLL: How does Tonebox Digital differ from the old school music business model?
JB: Our model is pretty simple. We make sure that no matter what, the artists makes more money than anyone in the chain (the chain consists of artist/label/distributor/service). We partner with artists and get them placement in all the major online sales outlets then help them connect with bloggers, social media sites, music review sites, podcasters and any other outlet we can manage to find.

We also do everything online. We do not print physical CDs nor to we promote to traditional radio…However, our artists may do these things on their own and we advise/consult on placement but normally do not go that route unless we have a proven artist/music piece to work with. The word “label” can be misleading because I feel like we are more of a partner to the artists and what they are trying to do.

RSLL: How did you decide to start a label?
JB: I had dreams of running a major label one day… I went to school and got a Music Business degree and knew that I would work at a label one day. The funny thing is that I never worked at a label besides my own. I’ve been told that’s a bad thing because I “needed” that experience but I can tell you that I’m glad I didn’t. It’s been fun building my own thought process of what the music business should look like and I know that I haven’t fallen into any traps that the traditional or big labels would have “taught” me.

I’ve had opportunities to work at some big labels but the timing was never right. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there now, with the shift in our digital world I think some new thinkers and idea shakers could do a lot of good at a major label… who knows, I may end up there one day or I may not! 🙂

RSLL:Why did you decide to go digital?
JB: It was simple for me. I was an early adopter for buying music online and knew that there had to be a way to get indie artists out there. This was in the early 2000’s… by 2003 I was prepping Tone Box and by 2004 one of my artists had spent over $100K trying the traditional model (photo shoots, lots of CDs, clothes, video, radio promotion). It wasn’t fun- even though he had backers, I wanted it to work! I immediately started thinking there has to be a better way. I started working with another band and we spent less the $5K on the record put it out digitally and starting making money right away. They went on to sign a bigger deal but had the credibility from the stuff I did with them. That was two different artists with two different approaches and you see which one worked. I’ve been full on digital since then.

If you believe in indie music, vote for Tone Box Digital by December 31st, and help empower indie musicians everywhere!

DIY Band Holiday Crafts

Posted in Articles, The Great Give Back 2008 | No Comments »

Holiday Band Ornaments

Thanks to a tip from Pitchfork (via Artists House), I learned about Oregon’s Glass Caster Union offering up its second year of indie rock themed holiday ornaments, featuring bands like Built to Spill, Bright Eyes, and Iron and Wine.

I found this to be a cool idea that any band can use to treat their fans to a special treat during the holiday season. While you don’t have to use glass like the Glass Casters Union, you can use other materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments for your fans.

Band Holiday Ornament How-to’s:

* With a digital camera, take holiday photos of your band: the goofier the better 😉

* Cut into holiday shapes (Christmas trees, stars, dreidels, etc)

* Laminate or place photo within full sheet clear Avery labels.

* Cut away extra plastic

* Punch hole at the top, and string ribbon or yarn through the hole for hanging

While you’re taking those holiday band photos, also consider sending band holiday cards, thanks to this tip from Christopher Penn

DIY holiday cards

There are places online – tons – where prints are 8 cents per print for 4×6 prints. I don’t mean the gimmicky holiday cards, just straight photo prints that you can write on the back of.

If you take the photos yourself, you’re making a custom gift with personal involvement AND saving a ton of money over regular holiday cards. Use free photo editing software like Photoshop Express (understanding that there are intellectual property issues with it, like giving up some rights, but for holiday cards, who cares?) and make some cheap yet thoughtful holiday greetings.

I’m going to try my hand at holiday ornaments this year, and I’d love to see pics of any bands out there who make their own holiday ornaments or greeting cards. Send pics to moxiemaven64 [AT] gmail [DOT] com, and I’ll post them on the site!

Happy crafting!

Remembering John Lennon: 28 Years After His Death ~ Guest Blog by Andrew Hand

Posted in A Day in the Life, Guest Bloggers | No Comments »

Imagine Circle 250

Remembering John Lennon: 28 Years After His Death: “Peace to the World” A Musical Tribute
by Andrew Hand

Today is the anniversary of the tragic and untimely death of John Lennon. It was twenty-eight years ago that Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota. I just came from Strawberry fields in Central Park, across from the Dakota, where the Imagine circle lies and where so many come to pay tribute to John.

I was struck by how many people came by in tourist droves. This was part of their sight seeing and as I sat there in the bitter cold reflecting on John’s impact I thought of this…

John Lennon had a profound impact on the history of the world. He first was a member of the most popular band in the world, which got him seen and into the conscious of so many, but he then took all that attention and used it to spread a message of peace and love and a message that still impacts so many people. He stood up and put his heart and soul out to the world through his music and became a catalyst for people who felt the same way he did, who wanted to see a better world.

As John said, “Some might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Lennon knew there were many, who felt the same way he did and he made them feel he was speaking directly to them. What better human interaction can one have than speaking with other human beings? That is what we all seek in life, quality human interactions. Feeling that there is another being on this planet that feels the same way we do. That is community, tribes, and friendship.

So as I reflect back on my morning and all those people that John has touched and continues to touch, I think to my own music/life and how I can apply the idea of “I’m not the only one” into my conversation with others. How can I be of service, of kinship to my fellow beings on this wonderful journey of life and strike a common thread in their lives?

I am so thankful to have found music (at the late age of 24) and the road it has taken me down has been nothing short of amazing. My musical heroes speak to me even now despite their passing. John Lennon is the biggest of those heroes that I have and so today I pay tribute to the man who has asked so many profound questions and offered such wonderful answers. He spoke from his heart and has touched mine.

Thanks John, your spirit lives on.

Peace to the World (A Tribute to John Lennon) by Andrew Hand


Andrew Hand at The Dakota
Andrew Hand in front of The Dakota

Andrew Hand writes with a passion for lyrical truth, connecting to the listener drives him forward. His musical journey started at a later stage in life, at the age of 24. This late start supercharged a voracious appetite to delve deeper into lyrics and composition through studying theory and writing. Andrew’s style is best described as: John Lennon’s mind, Jim Morrison’s voice and David Bowie’s theatrics.

Andrew is also busy at work with his Songs for Oprah project. Says Andrew, “The master vision for this project is to have a wide group of artists contributing to a yearly or quarterly CD of songs that have a positive message that can be shared with the world: with the proceeds of sales primarily going to charity.

Each week I have committed to writing and recording a new song live and uploading the video recording of that to YouTube. I then send this link on to Oprah each week on Tue with an email describing the focus of the song and my mission.”


All images courtesy of Andrew Hand.

Song of Love for Prince Ali

Posted in The Great Give Back 2008 | 1 Comment »

For my second song written for Songs of Love, I paired up again with Carl Allocco to write this tune for Prince Ali, “an amazing 7 year old boy”. This song also became another singalong at Credit Suisse, an investment bank in New York City.



Song of Love for Brittany Ann Dawson

Posted in The Great Give Back 2008 | 1 Comment »

This song was the very first Songs of Love tune that I penned with the help of Carl Alloco and Ruth Antrich. Writing this song for Brittany was easy once I saw her photo. She’s a 16 year old girl with a huge smile, who likes boys and sports. The song was used in a Singalong at Credit Suisse, an Investment Bank in New York City.



First Annual CYBER PR 2008 Holiday Fundraiser

Posted in A Day in the Life, The Great Give Back 2008 | 7 Comments »


This holiday season I’m participating in the CYBER PR 2008 Holiday Fundraiser by raising money for The Songs of Love Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing personalized songs for children and teens facing tough medical, physical, and emotional challenges, free of charge.

I am inviting you to make a difference in a child’s life by making a donation towards a personalized song. One thing that I like about this charity is that the recording cost of a child’s personalized song is only $250.00, so it doesn’t cost much to create a special healing gift that will bring a smile to a child’s face.

Songs of Love is a charity that I’ve been involved with personally for a few years now. I started out by contributing donations, and holding fundraisers towards songs, and last year I became a songwriter for them as well. I can’t put into words how it feels to write a song for a child, knowing that the song will provide the “medicine of music”. Over this month, I’ll be featuring Songs of Love songs and videos so you’ll get a taste of why I feel so strongly about this organization.

As a thank you I will send you free goodies as a token of my appreciation:

Donation Levels

Silver Tinsel – $10 – $24
Donate between $10 – $24, and I’ll send you a copy of my Front & Center CD and a signed holiday card.

Sparkly Lights – $25 – $49

Donate between $25 – $49, and I’ll send you a copy of my Front & Center CD, a signed holiday card and homemade holiday ornament.

Shining Star – $50 – $99
Donate between $50 – $99, and you’ll get a copy of Front & Center, Supernova, a signed holiday card, and homemade holiday ornament.

Holiday Angel – $100 – $249

Donate between $100 – $250, and you’ll get Front & Center, Supernova, the soon-to-be-released Dirty5 Live EP, a signed holiday card, and homemade holiday ornament.

Santa’s Helper – $250+
Donate $250 or more, and you’ll get my entire CD catalog, the signed holiday card and ornament, AND your name will also appear on the child’s personalized CD.

Kris/Krista Kringle – $1000+
Donate $1000 or more, and you’ll get all of the Santa’s Helper’s goodies, PLUS a live video of a personalized song written just for YOU.

Songs of Love is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, so your donation is also tax-deductible!

ALSO – If you’d like to contribute as part of a group, let me know. After confirmation, each individual donor will get a Santa’s Helper gift pack!

Simply email me proof of your donation by forwarding your confirmation email or send a screen shot as a proof of your donation to moxiemaven64 [AT] gmail [DOT] com, and I will send you your free gift!

Click here to donate to The Songs of Love Foundation.

For our collective efforts I will be rewarded by Cyber PR, a music PR firm that will send me DVDs, books, and audio courses, to help grow my knowledge of the music business. And as always, I will share what I learn here in this blog at Rock Star Life Lessons.

If I raise $2,500 or more I’ll get a complimentary full Cyber PR campaign that will expose my music to thousands of online resources. If I raise $5,000 or more, Mama’s getting a virtual assistant!

Please click here to donate to Songs of Love and have a happy holiday!

Happy Holidays from Rock Star Life Lessons!

Carla Lynne Hall


Founded by John Beltzer, Songs of Love has given over 17,000 children their very own personalized Song of Love. To celebrate the 10,000th Song of Love, 10 year old Matthew McKinnon’s song was created with the help of 15,000 NY Mets fans at Shea Stadium, led by Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath.

Songs of Love Event at Shea Stadium/2008

Win $25 CASH in My First Blog Contest!!!

Posted in A Day in the Life, The Great Give Back 2008 | 2 Comments »

Joe's Dollar

To thank all of the readers who have supported and inspired Rock Star Life Lessons’ first year – I’m holding my first blog contest!!!

Here’s your chance to win $25 CASH via PayPal – just in time for the holidays!!!

You have until December 18th 2008 to rack up as many entries to win as you can by performing the “tasks” below. You can make one entry, or you can go wild and enter multiple times. The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win, and I will draw one winner at random (using

How to enter:

* Choose a post from this site that you enjoy and stumble it.

* Post a link to this contest on your own blog (Please put the URL of your post in your comment below).

* Post a link to any one favorite post I’ve written on your own blog. (Again, please put the URL of your post in the comments below.)

* Subscribe to my soon-to-be-launched newsletter, The Soulflower, using the opt-in form below, on the blog’s sidebar, or at

* Leave a comment on this post, letting me know all the ways you’ve entered the contest.

* Eligibility is limited to the US only, 18 years and up

* Deadline is December 18, 2008 at 11:59pm EST; Winner will be notified by email on December 19th. On acceptance of prize, winner will receive $25 via Paypal immediately.

BONUS: If the winner is an indie musician, band, dancer, filmmaker, visual artist, etc, I’ll also feature you in a special post in 2009, including the photo, bio, and link love that I love to give!

And that’s it! So it’s easy as pie to get yourself $25 cash via PayPal.

Remember, this giveaway ends 12/18/08, so enter now!

Photo Info: Dollar Origami from Joe’s Cable Car Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
Thomas Hawk on Flickr; Some rights reserved

Put That Guitar Down! ~ Guest Blog by Chris Standring

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Today’s article is one that I had originally chosen for last month, but since it didn’t exactly fit the theme of “The Recession Proof Musician”, I added it to this month instead. Another cool thing about Chris Standring is that he’s written a couple of great eBooks on website promotion, and selling your music. Since I’ve decided to focus on online promotion next month, stay tuned for more great info from Chris.


Put That Guitar Down!
by Chris Standring

For all the words of encouragement you have ever heard pertaining to picking up the guitar and practicing, either from me or your own sources, this article may come as a bit of a surprise to you. For once I am going to tell you to put the guitar down!

A little confused? Don’t be, I’ll try to explain. And the best way I can get my point across is by sharing an experience I personally had some time ago.

Back in the 80’s, I went to music college in London. I feverishly studied classical guitar for 3 years. Practiced for hours each day. During this time I really developed some good disciplinary skills as far as practice was concerned. I would split up the day. Morning playing Bach fugues or whatever torturous classical guitar piece that had enslaved me at the time. A break for lunch, and in the afternoon I would pick up my electric guitar and plough through violin and flute music, which I’d rented from the music school library, to get my sight-reading together. Reading jazz and pop music is very different from classical music because phrasing interpretation is relative to the genre being played. So it is as much about listening to the band as it is reading the note values. So I wanted to get that together. Finally I worked on jazz harmony, specifically vocabulary for playing over changes. The Charlie Parker Omnibook was my bible, but I would also listen to be-bop players and steal their phrases and try to figure out how I should work them into my own playing. I remember stealing from Cannonball Adderly, Miles Davis, Mike Brecker, and I fell in love with the swinging styles of pianists Red Garland and Wynton Kelly, both of whom played on Miles Davis’ album “Milestones”, a record that had a profound effect on me. Just as importantly, I listened to the way these musicians would feel the music. It wasn’t just about the notes.

Wynton Kelly in particular had a certain thing about playing over altered chords. He would play 4 note phrases that would be repeated in thirds going down. Sometimes in whole tones. In fact many jazz guys I knew at the time would make fun of his style a little bit by singing his name as they played those motifs, going “Wyn-ton-Kell-ey-Wyn-ton-Kell-ey” and so on. After I got the hang of his ideas I would find myself sitting at the guitar and working out my own variations of those ideas. Pretty soon I had a whole bag of Wynton style ‘tricks”.

And then something interesting happened…

I would practice and practice these new motifs and melodic ideas and really try to work them into my playing. Pretty soon I had a pretty broad library of resources I could draw from. And I would practice them over Jamie Abersold records and so on. The woodshedding continued. Over time, I realized that some of those phrases were technically difficult to play on guitar (at least for me) and when I tried to pull them, off half the time I messed up. Other times I managed to pull them off but because I was really having to concentrate, the ‘technicality’ of it all would take me out of the moment and I didn’t like it. I wanted to improvise without thinking after all. So some stuff stayed with me, some stuff didn’t.

About three years after I left music school I felt completely ‘educated out’. I was by no means at the level where I could rest on my laurels. Absolutely not. But I had had enough for the time being. I needed to get out of my little London flat and live life a little. Communicate with people. Maybe learn some social skills! I had been locked up in the woodshed for too long. And so I took a break as I slowly joined the professional world of music which, as I soon found out, involved much more than pulling off Wynton Kelly licks! I simply let things go. I went with the flow for a while.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t giving up on practice, I was breathing in air, allowing nature to take it’s course, that’s all. I concentrated on ‘playing’ rather than practicing. I would do gigs around town and simply just play. I stopped worrying about whether the hip notes were going to come out. I just wanted to play and enjoy playing without competitiveness, whether it was with myself or others on the bandstand.

And a fascinating thing happened. Fascinating! During those three years my guitar playing took on a new life! I improved in leaps and bounds and in ways I couldn’t have done had I continued practicing the way I had. Phrases that wanted to remain with me did, phrases that didn’t want to didn’t, and it was all OK with me. I simply stopped forcing things and allowed nature to take its course. And as far as I can remember, this was the best thing that I could have done at the time to grow as a musician. I even started to get a style of my own because I had stopped trying to force my heroes into my playing.

Now I am happy to say that from that time I have gone through many periods of practicing and letting go, practicing and letting go. Personally I like music to breathe, I don’t like it cluttered, so if I want the music to breathe I feel it is necessary for me to also. It’s as simple as that.

But everyone is on a different path so you must assess whether this pertains to you at this time in your journey or not.

Finally, I do want to point one thing out and I have thought about this a great deal. Jazz musicians can be intense and insular. They can get lost in their own bubble because they spend so much time thinking about music, practicing and so on. This intensity can, and often does, come out in a musician’s playing and makes it hard or uncomfortable to listen to. I have always thought that jazz musicians should spend more time socializing with non-musicians to really open themselves up. Opening the mind opens up the soul and the soul is what needs to be bared if we want to really communicate the music.

And I am not saying I am right, by any means. All I know is that putting the guitar down once in a while really worked for me!



Chris Standring is a recording artist and the owner of Play Jazz – check out the website for his ground breaking home study guitar courses.

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Social Media Dashboard – Bloomberg for Social Media ~ Guest Blog by Christopher Penn

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In my old days as a trading floor assistant for an investment bank, I used to marvel at the huge Bloomberg terminals that supplied the traders with up-to-the-moment market information. Inspired by those terminals, Christopher Penn has created a Social Media Dashboard with iGoogle that can be used to keep you up to date with your social media networking. I include his post here because it’s a genius idea that anyone can use.

Social Media Dashboard – Bloomberg for Social Media
by Christopher Penn

This morning started off thinking about Bloomberg’s wonderful but hideously expensive terminal, and how it gives you insight and also a dashboard to instantly know what’s going on in the markets. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to have a Bloomberg for social media? Sure enough, a platform exists to manage all your social media in one place, and that’s iGoogle.

social media dashboard

Take a look at what we’ve got here.

Facebook, GMail, and Google Finance on the left, because if I’m doing this for a purpose, for, say, the Student Loan Network, it’s more than just conversation, it’s also understanding what’s happening in the bigger picture. Thus we see a public portfolio of companies in the student loan sector and broader market stuff. Not only does this keep on top of things for my client (the company I work for) but it also gives me the ability to be current when I participate in social networks.

In the middle, a mashup of Yahoo Pipes culling from Twitter Search on specific topics and keywords relevant to the industry. This can be anything at all, but for this, it’s all financial aid stuff, so I can stay on the pulse of financial aid as reported by customers and consumers. Below that, Feedburner for the podcast and customized Compete analytics to monitor what’s happening on my sites and my competitors’ sites.

On the right, Twitter replies to see if anyone needs my attention, and Digg to see what’s buzzy in the world. Obviously, swap this out for Reddit, Stumbleupon, Yahoo Buzz, or whatever your buzz-watcher of choice is.

This, incidentally, is social media with a purpose, highly focused for one specific task – being a financial aid expert in social media. It’s most assuredly not a fishbowl setup where I watch social media for social media’s sake.

Try it for your own vertical and niche, and see if it works for you!


About Christopher Penn:
Christopher Penn 100px
Christopher Penn is the Chief Technology Officer of Edvisors, Inc, and the Student Loan Network, founder and producer of the multi-award winning Financial Aid Podcast internet radio show, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community unConference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast.

Christopher has also been featured in many books, newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and the New York Times, magazines such as BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, and ABC News, and publications for his leadership in new media and financial services.

Visit Christopher’s blog, Awaken Your Superhero