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Do What You Love (No Excuses!) – Gary Vaynerchuk

Posted in A Day in the Life, Future Legends, Videos | No Comments »

I found a new site today,, which offered a choice on its home page:

If you weren’t sure what you wanted to do in life, but you’re choosing to stay with your dead-end job, you click the “Sorry” button. If you did acknowledge that you had a passion that you wanted to pursue, you click the “Welcome” button.

So while I know what I want, I couldn’t resist the temptation to see what was behind the “Sorry” button. Well, lo and behold, it was this awesome, inspiring video by Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library fame, known as “Do What You Love (No Excuses!)” I met Gary a couple of years ago, and we also had an email exchange in which he wrote, “Be prepared to do what you love for at least a year before anyone even pays attention, and then you’ll crush it”. I never forgot that.

One of the main reasons I started doing more video blog posts was because of Gary’s now-famous wine tasting video blogs, and I’ll be damned if this video didn’t get me all hot and bothered about doing videos all over again. So, of course, I must share it with you.

Watch it to the end, and listen to what your heart tells you, okay??

Guitar Lessons For Life: How the Unexpected Can Open Horizons

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles, Future Legends, Indie Music | 2 Comments »

Today we have a guest blog post from Andrew Hand, one of the smartest and sweetest musicians I know. His musical journey led him to NYC where we met, and now he’s enjoying life in Bozeman, Montana, teaching guitar lessons, and following the beat of his own drummer. Enjoy!

If someone had told me a few years ago that I’d be living in Montana and teaching guitar lessons, I wouldn’t believe it

Teaching guitar lessons on the other side of the US…Indeed I wouldn’t believe it. See, I was living in New York City and trying to make connections there and get my music spread to a larger audience. I didn’t have any plans to leave the Big Apple, but life had some other things in store.

Let me just say that I’m where I am because I made choices, it’s not like life happened to me, I was creating a scenario of events that led me to make other choices…and so here I am in Montana…Long way from NYC.

Though I miss the city, I am enjoying the process of embracing where I am

I think the important point, and the reason that I’m writing this, is to share with my fellow musicians, and perhaps all readers; that there are always more opportunities around us than we recognize.

About six months after landing here in Bozeman, I started thinking that I should see about connecting to the music scene here and perhaps try to teach some of what I’d learned about music, songwriting, recording and such. After a few months of trying a few things, I started teaching guitar at the local music store. The first lesson I gave felt so good.

There was just a positive wave of excitement I felt at passing on what I’d learned to someone else and seeing them learning

I’ve been teaching guitar for about four months now and have really enjoyed every student I’ve had. They have all been different and each has had their unique pace and style of learning, which has made me adapt some of my teaching and past notions about what people needed to learn first about guitar and music.

The reason I tell this brief tale is to share my realization that I am learning more from teaching than I am from when I’d just make teaching videos for my guitar teaching website. Seeing how people actually process this information in person has been enlightening. For some the eyes glaze over when we enter music theory land, and for others, an ah-ha moment happens.

I think the takeaway for me is that although I might be doing something other than 100% focussing on my music, I am able to keep involved with music and actually feel less burdened and stressed out about all I have to do to get myself out there. When a student wants to learn “Ring of Fire” or “Speak Now” by Taylor Swift, it gives me a reason to go and really look at these songs and see what’s making them tick.

Since beginning to teach (and for some time before) I’ve been working on a guitar teaching DVD. Because of my student interaction and getting to test things out, I find the product is becoming better and giving me new ideas. I thought I was done with it last week, but on reflecting, I felt that I had put too much information in and not enough ‘practical’ teaching. So I’m re-shooting the whole thing, and so far it’s getting better and better. Yet another bonus!

Doing things you never expected, or maybe didn’t even want to do, might just help expand you in a direction you hadn’t thought of before

For me, what I’ve gotten done since starting to teach, was cover “All Apologies” by Nirvana, do cover video lessons for “Come Together” by the Beatles, and “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. I’ve created chord charts/scale charts, PDF’s, set up websites and even performed with my students in our recital. It was fun to sing with these kids…

When looking for an answer, they often never come

I have been trying to find an answer for the last year, and have met lots of internal resistance, stress, and a whole host of up and down swings. I’m not one to look at things as obstacles. I haven’t found an answer, other than what I feel to be right. And that is to continue going with the flow and trying to contribute value to others and pass on whatever I can. It’s the same approach that’s guided me in my songwriting and personal/business connections.

There are opportunities, so many in fact, that I have to try and best choose those to pursue, while still reminding myself that music is a part of my purpose here.

My hope is that this little posting has met those who needed to see it and been of service. My thought to you would be this: Listen to the little voice that nudges at you, saying ‘hey, maybe you should try this.’…and then do it. Especially if it’s something that you tell yourself you don’t want to do the next minute.

I’d love to hear from you, so please reach out and drop me a line.

My Very Best Wishes to You,

Andrew Hand

About Andrew Hand:
Andrew is a songwriter, guitarist, and singer with a passion for teaching and helping others to discover and bring out their musical voice. Having started his musical journey at 24, with absolutely no previous training or experience in music, Andrew has gone on to write, produce, and record some 300 songs, and continues to make music that speaks to the human condition and the things we face in life. More of Andrew’s music can be checked out on his personal site

Be a Social Media Branding Superhero: NYC Workshop on Aug 18th

Posted in A Day in the Life, Workshops | No Comments »

Ta Daa!!! My online course, Summer Business School, has added an in-person workshop in NYC: Social Media Branding for Startups, Freelancers, and Small Biz Owners.

While most freelancers and entrepreneurs are already using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in their daily/personal life, they may lack the strategy necessary to increase visibility for their business.

Whether you are seeking investors, clients, or customers, this class teaches the best practices of online marketing. We’ll cover business branding basics that can be used online and offline, as well as specific social media marketing strategies to grow your network. This class is best for:

  • Start-up and small business owners who are just starting out, or within the first year of running their business
  • Freelancers who are already familiar with the basics of Facebook and Twitter, and want to supercharge their online marketing strategy
  • Anyone who wants to learn ninja social media marketing skills to gain more business

Class schedule:
6:30-7pm: Networking & Mingling
7-8pm: Lecture, including interactive discussion
8-8:30pm: Q & A

The goal is to leave this class with at least one new tactic that can be implemented immediately. Having a laptop, tablet, or smartphone is not required, and interacting with your classmates is encouraged!

Sign up for the class at:

If you Twitter, the hashtag for this class is #smbrand

Mobile Marketing for Your Music

Posted in A Day in the Life, Musician's Roadmap to Facebook and Twitter, Videos | No Comments »

Yes, it’s that time again! Here’s my latest video with Ariel Hyatt, my co-author for Musician’s Roadmap to Facebook and Twitter. In this episode of Ariel’s Sound Advice videos, we’re chatting with Jennings, a singer/songwriter promoting her gigs with her cell phone. Jennings provides her tips, as we listen and learn!

Fuck Rejection!

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles | 4 Comments »

Over this past weekend, I tweeted the following quote from tech entrepreneur Chris Dixon: “If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough”.

Although Chris was referring to entrepreneurs being rejected by venture capitalists, this was a message that I felt my musician readers could also relate to. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, my tweet with Chris’ quote was retweeted over 500 times, and favorited over 200 times. This blew my mind, and made me search for my vintage June 2002 VIBE Magazine article on the subject of rejection. I had originally titled the article “F*ck Rejection”, but the editor later changed it to “Don’t Quit”.

Now that I’m reprinting this article on my own blog, I can title it whatever I want!

Fuck Rejection!
by Carla Lynne Hall


When Lenny Kravitz was searching for a record deal, labels told him his music wasn’t “black enough.” Record execs told Toni Braxton she couldn’t sing. Madonna was told she wasn’t ready yet. Get the picture? Chances are good that you and your ego will suffer some bumps and bruises on the way to stardom. The wannabes who believe that everything will be smooth and glamorous are usually the ones who give up too soon.

Truth is, if you’re frustrated, then you’re probably on the right track. You’re working hard and getting yourself out there. But if you’re sitting on your butt every night, smoking weed and bitching about “the scene” or how people “don’t get” your music because somebody didn’t like it, you’re wasting valuable time. Remember, anything worth having involves sacrifice, determination, discipline, and persistence. Check out these tips on how to cope.

Every artist gets rejected at one point or another— even the famous ones. “We somehow believe that other people aren’t being rejected,” says Dr. Eric Maisel, author of Fearless Creating. “We envy people who seem to have it easy. That isn’t to say that some people aren’t doing better than others, but envy ruins your spirit.”

KNOW THYSELF. Having a healthy belief in your talent is key. “If you have two singers, both with good voices and creativity,” says Dr MaiseL “the one who feels self-directed and trusts herself is the one who’ll make it.” Seeking approval from others without believing in yourself is a shortcut to heartbreak. “A lot of people take rejections hard because they depend on others to judge them,” says producer Swizz Beatz.

STAY TRUE. Remember that the music biz is driven by opinions, which are subjective. “If you’re coming with something new, it’s automatically going to be rejected,” says Beatz. “It’s easier for an A&R person to go against something than to go with it—people want to play it safe. Record people didn’t want DMX’s ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ at first because everybody was sampling and it was different.” Don’t change up and go with the status quo to try and get put on faster.

While waiting for your big break, keep tightening your skills. “The more people kept telling us no, we just thought, Well, that’s another person who’s gonna regret not signing us,” says Ali from St. Lunatics. “We would go back and work on more songs. We’d write more raps, work on more projects. We kept shopping them, and it gave us the strength to keep going and work even harder.”

Some criticism is constructive and some isn’t. Don’t get them – twisted. “The rejections that have informational value are the ones where the person turning you down tells you that your voice isn’t strong enough, or your music isn’t fresh,” says Dr. Maisel. “You have to process that information and decide whether what the person is telling you is accurate or not.” Ask for feedback from your rejecters.

If you pump yourself up on a daily basis, you’ll be better able to keep your rejections in perspective and not internalize them. “You need strength and courage to accept rejection and the difficulties inherent in being an artist,” says Dr. Maisel. “It doesn’t matter whether you think it’ll be easy or you think it’ll be hard—you can think what you like. What’s vital is that you rebound and keep trying.”

PS – Episode 2 of the upcoming Rock Star Life Lessons podcast series features this live interview with Dr. Eric Maisel in its entirety. Stay tuned for the podcast launch, scheduled for Fall 2011.

Amy Winehouse RIP

Posted in A Day in the Life, Obituaries | No Comments »

It’s been more than a week since Amy Winehouse died, and I still don’t have the words to fully express what I feel about it.

When I first heard Amy’s “Back to Black” CD, I devoured its brilliant darkness, and played it constantly. But when news of her addiction became well-known (and fodder for the tabloids), I was no longer able to enjoy singing along to “Rehab”. In fact, listening to that CD in its entirety was something I found difficult to do in the past two years or so. I can sing every note, every word on that gorgeous CD, but it became painful to sing along. I have my own demons to deal with, and listening to Amy lay out her own, for the world to see, was just too much.

Whenever Amy’s songs would come up in my iPod shuffle, I would fast forward to the next song, hoping it would be something more upbeat, like Esperanza Spalding’s “I Know You Know”. I felt that by singing along to Amy’s “Rehab”, “Tears Dry On Their Own”, “Me and Mr. Jones”, et al, I was somehow adding to the collective energy of other folks singing along, and adding to her pain.

I’m not interested in discussing whether or not her death was expected, nor if anyone could have prevented it, or why people were upset that her death eclipsed the tragedy in Norway. I will only say that she was a real person, human, complex, and brilliant, and her talents will be missed.

Because I do want to honor her memory, I will share one of my favorite Amy Winehouse songs here,
“Tears Dry On Their Own”: