Tag Archives: music business

Resurrection

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Hello all… Consider this post as if I were writing you a letter. It’s been too long since I shared something on this blog. My apologies. I used to post at least a couple of times a week, but that slowed down considerably by the beginning of fall. I have been through a rough patch, emotionally, and I doubted that I had anything to say. Then, I started having problems with my hand, experiencing chronic symptoms the likes of which I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, other than the occasional flare up.  Even now, it would be better for me to start using my Dragonspeak software so I wouldn’t have to type. I just bought an upgrade, so I am going to finally learn how to use it.

Yesterday was Easter, the holiday in which people of Christian faith and/or family tradition celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This is the third Easter where we didn’t attend a church service. I am still in the midst of working out my issues with the Church at large, but I firmly believe that God is okay with that and is patient, so I am at peace with it.

Instead of dressing up and doing church, we visited my wife’s father’s gravesite to honor him, bringing him fresh spring flowers. He passed away just last October. She also bought a rose for her mom and cast it into the waters of puget sound. I never met her mom; she passed away a year or so before I met my wife. My parents are still both with us, at 89 and 87 respectively, but they are steadily fading. I am going to write about that in a different post.

Yesterday, Easter, Resurrection Day, was significant for both of us. For me, it is a reminder that in order to come to new life, one must die first. We see that happen every spring, but it would have no significance if there is not a period that precedes it which involves dormancy, decay, and death.

It’s funny that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when New Years comes around: I’m going to do this different or that different, we convince ourselves. In my particular case, to think that way is to set myself up for disappointment and failure, and that is because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it is very hard for me to hit the ground running come January 1st. In general, our mindset about making New Years resolutions is to recognize our disappointment over how we did the previous year and resolve to live differently the next year.

After yesterday, I realized that Resurrection Day is more meaningful to me than New Years will ever be. I don’t think that it always requires letting things die in order to experience new life. Some things just seem to die on their own whether we want them to or not. Such has been the case with my dreams. My dreams of finally pursuing my music after many decades of it being only an avocation at best, and only a hobby at worst. I was full of hope when I first started this blog three years ago. And the hope had slowly drained away, leaving only a residue of disappointment and despair. Things had not turned out like I expected. And so I started to think that the dream was only a fantasy, and it was time to let the dream die.

There is a purpose in death, and we rarely see it. Not until new life begins do we understand that there are parts of the old life that needed to die. I had worked so hard to make this thing happen for two years, and although there were accomplishments and high points along the way–my “Passage” CD the chief among them–so much of my activity was unsustainable and by last fall I was burned out. Still wanting to make something happen, but no energy left.

This year I was faced with a choice: Throw in the towel and settle for something less than what my dreams would inspire. Or…don’t give up, pick myself back up, and start again. Up until last week, I was starting to resign myself to option 1. Supporting that decision was the fact that my hand issues had really gotten bad these past few months. How could I possibly push forward when my body won’t let me?

As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. I don’t think it was coincidence that the resurgence of my hand issues happened as I felt the last vestiges of hope drain away. And I don’t think it was a coincidence that as hope started to return, as it has the past couple of weeks, that Easter happened and that this year it has been more significant to me than before. And my hand situation is starting to get better too.

What needed to die before I could experience new life? My way of doing things. My way hasn’t worked. So, I am now looking at new ways to do things, and praying for divine guidance.

And I am filled with hope once again. Details to come. Stay tuned.

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Birthday Thoughts About Aging

Wow, I’m 54 today. Who wudda thunk it? It sounds so old and yet I still feel so young inside. Carol Burnett shares my birthday–she turns 79 today–and I thought about the age difference: 25 years. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time to me. Only 25 years. I think some varieties of Kim Chee are aged longer than that.

The idea that 25 years doesn’t seem like a long time is strong evidence that I am older. When I was 25, that span of time seemed enormous. I do miss the optimism that is inherent with being a young adult. The sky is the limit. Anything is possible.

Middle age ushers in a rude awakening. The LIST of dreams is now longer than the time left to pursue them. It’s time for triage. Of all the forks in the road that still occur to this young brain, many are now closed. Some I would have liked to pursue back when I had the chance.

Occasionally, I catch myself wallowing (too strong a word) in regret that I did not choose a full-time music career. When I was 21, I put such a life on hold in order to learn some marketable skill that I could “fall back on” and also to keep me out of the front lines of a war with Iran that seemed to be looming on the horizon. (It was 1980.) A career in computer programming offered stability and security, and I met my wife at college while I was getting my degree. The computer gig never became the fallback option but would up being the full-time deal.

Now that I am finally pursuing a full-time music career, I am increasingly aware of how much catch-up work I have to do to get established in this business. Unlike my “lifer” music contemporaries, there are networks that I have never established and industry skills that I am clueless about. I also realize how much I don’t know about music, too. Like, I’m finally getting around to learning how to play jazz standards, getting the licks down to improvise over II/V progressions, and developing piano-bar chops. Learning how to orchestrate is another skill I never acquired, which became apparent when I arranged the song “Ascent” on my Passage CD. I am very happy with how it turned out, but it was a lot of trial and error.

My regrets are about the likelihood that I am running out of time to pay all of the dues required to be fully functional in this business. These regrets are tempered by the relief that I still have computer consulting work to truly fall back on when I hit slow periods, like 2012 when my music sales have all but evaporated. (That’s okay. I’ve got some new stuff coming out in a couple of months.) And I have the wherewithal to be more selective in what kind of music work I do, while other people I know have to do everything and anything that comes their way and are still not able to afford health insurance (or rent). So I am counting my blessings and they are many!

Wow this blog post took a real serious direction, at times even solemn. I had meant to describe all the ways that I still feel like a kid inside. Like the fact that, like most 13 year old boys, I still think farts are hilarious. But so did the judges on Monday night’s episode of The Voice. They’re all in their 30’s. Let’s just face it: No matter what age you are, farts are just stinking funny!

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In the Moment

In Mexico last week, we had the pleasure to hang out with some old/new friends: Merrilyn’s high school choir teacher, John “Jock” Budelman and his partner, Anita. Jock, now 81, is a jazzer, has played and recorded with various famous big bands back in the day, and currently plays a solo gig at a restaurant in the Mazatlan Marina called “Seafarer”. He has been a semi-retired snowbird woodwind-blowing expat in Mazatlan for the past 22 years. But I will write more extensively about “Mr. B”, as my wife has referred to him over the years, in a subsequent blog post.

Anita said something that stuck with me. Referring to the culture, she observed that Mexicans live more “in the moment” that us northerner Americans do. Living in the moment can seem so irresponsible to us purpose-driven empire builders with our goals and agendas, to-do lists and Pomodoro sheets.

Living for the moment? I laid on the massage table yesterday while my therapist worked on my right arm–the one that’s been giving me so much heck these past few years–thinking “she could just do this for hours”, at which point I realized I was living in the moment. Sat down this morning, fired up the electric piano setting I recently created in my Abelton software and just played with no agenda. Enjoyed living in the moment.

I get so twisted up with my overwhelming list of to-dos that I get incapacitated sometimes. So much social media to conquer, music skills to enlarge, content to create, the monster of marketing to tame. Paralyzed by the sheer weight of my agenda. There’s got to be a different way to live. Us hyper-affluent (by the world’s standards) have something to learn from those who subsist on a fraction of our resources.

Speaking of in the moment, check out this coconut shrimp served on a glass brick at the aforementioned Searfarer restaurant. I think it was about 230 pesos, or about $21 US. Scrumptuous!

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The Music Business Looks Forward: 5 Social Media Predictions For 2012

Here’s an article about the ongoing changes in social media that I thought was worth sharing. It was a guest post on Hybebot.com by Shore Fire Media, a boutique public relations, online marketing, and digital strategy firm specializing in music and entertainment.

In the last year, the music industry shifted from cautiously experimenting with social media, to recognizing it as a necessary part of every marketing strategy, from the smallest bands to the biggest brands. It’s an exciting time. The tools and strategies we use daily shift at lightening speed. As a PR firm Shore Fire Media is focused on tracking this constant evolution.  In the spirit of this inquiry, we asked music industry insiders and social media experts what they see for the future of social media. From a focus on mobile, to social listening, to the demise social media as we know it, here are predictions that will help guide us through 2012.

1) SOCIAL MEDIA IS DEAD, LONG LIVE SOCIAL MEDIA – As social media becomes an extension of our everyday activity, it will become an inseparable part of media as a whole.

“It’s not even relevant anymore to say social media is “ubiquitous.” People share their lives, dreams, and even deaths via status updates. They meet significant others online and break up with significant others online. Social media is part of everything we do.” – Katie Baker, Reporter for The Daily

“If you spend your day at a Kenny Chesney stadium show walking around backstage instead of hitting the parking lot to learn from and hang with the fans, you’re missing out.  They have a lot to offer.  For me, social media is the equivalent of that parking lot, except it’s on a computer and there’s less rum involved.” – Matt Petty, VP Digital Marketing at Morris Artists Management, LLC

“Relevance in “real time” will determine which messages gain traction in social media channels. It is not just about targeting a demographic anymore, but about relevance to the conversation taking place “right now” on the social graph.” – Paula Batson, PR Executive

2) LISTEN UP – Listening to music will become a social experience as services like Spotify broadcast and post what users listen to on their social graphs.

“The Spotify/Facebook relationship is just heating up and people will increasingly look to social media, i.e. their friends, to discover music.” – Olga Makrias, Vice President of Publicity at Universal Music Group

“If Spotify continues to grow and be successful it’s going to be very powerful as a sharing and community building tool.” – Bruce Warren, Program Director at WXPN

“Listening services are transitioning from radio-type streaming services like Pandora to on demand services like Spotify very quickly, while smaller artists are flocking to services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud.” – Luke Carrell, Social Media Strategist at Attention, Editor at International Tapes

3) WATCH OUT – YouTube, Netflix and Hulu will create exclusive content, threatening traditional cable, while television will incorporate social watching services as an incentive to tune in.

[Social watching services] allow people to find each other based on the content of their experience. Television will increasingly incorporate web experience, and feedback of content will become more and more looped and integrated, driving more people to participate on the web.” – Melea Seward, Owner, Board Of Us

“The trend toward end-user as publisher/media outlet will continue. Facebook’s recent redesign was done with this in mind and I know Youtube is also keen on the concept-obviously.” – David Henson, Concord Music Group

4) FACEBOOK FIRST – Facebook will continue to dominate the market, with Twitter gaining steam, especially for news and media. The jury is still out on Google+.

“I am on the fence on Google+ but we’re starting to experiment. I am cautiously optimistic.” – Bruce Warren, Program Director at WXPN

“Twitter will continue to be the single most important REAL TIME news source in the world.  There is no better place to get information on what is happening right now than twitter” – David Henson, Concord Music Group

“With time and additional marketing, G+ will be a formidable challenge to Facebook. It took years for Gmail though they are now one of the largest email providers.” –  Matt Philbin, fmr Director of Financial Planning, Amazon

“The novelty has worn off of Facebook, and it has emerged as one of our strongest outlets for interacting with fans.  I don’t expect that to change, especially considering how hard Facebook works to constantly improve the user experience – a key element MySpace ignored.  I’m interested to see what Twitter has in store once the novelty wears off with regards to a more robust media experience.”

– Matt Petty, VP Digital Marketing at Morris Artists Management, LLC

5) ON THE GO – Mobile and tablet devices will grow to become the dominant form by which we consume social media.

“If you didn’t know this already, or if you had any doubts to commit: mobile, mobile, mobile is the new location, location, location.” – Bruce, Warren, Program Director at WXPN

“People on mobile devices can consume their social graph’s shared content from a single place and respond to it, while being simultaneously signed into Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook.” – Melea Seward, Owner, Board Of Us

“Students will be using iPads instead of chalkboards by 2015:  Schools are changing the way they teach by keeping up with modern technologies such as the iPad to continue education and keep learning as dynamic and fun as possible.” – Chip Schutzman, Miles High Productions

via The Music Business Looks Forward: 5 Social Media Predictions For 2012 – hypebot.

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Watershed

A couple weeks ago we rehearsed the band for my set at the release concert tonight. I told everyone that this gig is a “watershed moment” for me, that it may very well determine the course of my career as a performing artist–not to put too much pressure on anyone–followed by the nervous laughter. But it’s true, at least it looks that way to me sitting here now just hours away from the concert. It is very important and scary and exciting. Nerves are starting to creep in but I am determined to have fun.

I have “performed” so-to-speak in front of thousands–over 8,000 in Karlsruhe, Germany at the Millennial new year is one moment that stands out–but it was singing and playing and leading people in worship–the focus was not on me. This is different, of course. This will be about me as a performing artist. I am grateful that this is a joint concert with Jessica Ketola as it takes a bit of the pressure off. Tonight we hope for at least 100, will be ecstatic if we get 150, and will start to levitate if we get over that number, although it will be standing room only. I look forward to seeing my friends out there who turn out in support. This will be a party as much as a concert.

The band is hot. I have practiced incessantly. I told my wife Merrilyn the other day that it’s a wonderful thing when I can get my fingers to do what I want them to do. I feel like I’m in top form and as prepared as I possibly can be. This is a great place to be: ready. I’m hoping I can relax. I’m hoping I can savor each one of those 50 minutes and that it doesn’t go by in a blur. We will be recording and videotaping this event. I hope I remember to smile. :-)

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What’s next?

Wow! I feel like a chapter has ended. I have been working on my new CD for almost a year. And now it’s finished!! I got the delivery a couple of days ago. I’m looking at the boxes. It looks wonderful (the CD’s, not the boxes). It sounds wonderful. I am SO proud. It is available now on my Bandzoogle website here, will be available on CDBaby in a few weeks, and then eventually on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc. You can read more about the rollout in my monthly newsletter.

So, what’s next? I am putting a band together and am planning a few release parties in the Seattle area for September. I have to figure out how to market this thing. I won a free 3-month PR campaign through CyberPR. I need all the help I can get. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.

In addition to hustling my product, I am now working on a CD with my good friend Scott Burnett. This is just the two of us and will be produced solely in my home studio, so it will be done much quicker. More about this in the days and weeks to come…

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Okay, Stop Freaking Out

I have to tattle on myself. I just realized that lately I have been freaking out a lot. About whether I’m going to make any money on this full-time music thing. The question of whether this whole thing will be viable has always been there lurking in the background, persistent and nagging. But like the frog in the pot of water, this has been turning into a gremlin lately. A healthy measure of fear can be a good motivator, but anxiety run rampant can be quite incapacitating.

When friends ask me how the music thing is going and I jokingly respond with, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard for hardly any money.” Such is the life of a professional musician. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. People close to me know this wasn’t going to be easy and yet have been very supportive. For the foreseeable future, I have the grace and support to pursue what I love. I need to remember that it is important to also love doing it instead of letting unrealistic unmet expectations discourage me.

It’s also good to keep in mind that progress is never linear and almost always takes longer than expected. I certainly didn’t think it was going to take close to a year to get my new CD out. But guess what? There are boxes of it somewhere on a Fed Ex truck set to arrive in the next couple of days. Progress indeed!!

My wife has been telling me to stop worrying. My mom has been telling me to stop worrying. Straight from the two most important women in my life. Okay, I need to let go of the crazies and have faith. So, let’s give this blog post a fitting subtitle: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.

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The Perceived Value of Music

I just read a blog post this morning about a statement made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about Spotify’s entrance in the U.S. market. I repeat it here:

Instead of being forced to buy full-length CDs at $15.99, fans can now make their own decision about how much they value music and how much of it they want.

You can read the full blog post from the Copyhype blog here, which addresses the errors of the above statement, including the fact that no one forces someone to buy CD’s and that digital single-song sales have been available for years.

What I wish to comment on is the phrase, “how much they value music”. I was in a three-way conversation recently about how (in my opinion) a whole generation of people believe it’s okay to consume music without having to pay for it. One of those people is 23; the other is in his 70s.

One of the things I like to say when I get in a conversation about this subject is that no one balks about going to a place like Red Robin and shelling out $16 for a cheeseburger and a drink (factoring in taxes and tip), consuming something that is literally here today, gone tomorrow.  But people balk at paying $16 for a CD, or in some cases, even $10 for an album download.

The response of my 23-year old friend did not surprise me. After all, he grew up during the arrival of peer-to-peer file sharing services like Limewire and the original Napster. But it was the reaction of the older person that really surprised me. I thought he would side with me, but then he started going off about needing to stick it to the big record labels. That argument, which I hear often, is SO 20th-century. The fact is, the vast majority of releases today are by indie artists who, like myself, don’t have deep pockets (if they have any pockets at all). We are just trying to, at the very least, break even on the costs of making a record, and hopefully make more than that so we can pay the light bill.

People who don’t value music enough to pay for it aren’t sticking it to the big record companies as much as they are sticking it to the little guy. What do you think about this? Am I old fashioned? I would love to read your comments.

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Why DIY Is Facing a Darwin Moment… – from Digital Music News

Reblogging this from Digital Music News. Wow! I haven’t heard of most of these, but I feel under internal pressure (constantly) to check them out whenever I hear about them for the first time. Too crazy!! There are more that aren’t mentioned that I’m looking into: RootMusic (recommended by Ariel and CyberPR), DamnTheRadio (acquired by the folks at FanBridge), and some others that I can’t quite remember. No wonder! Read on…

Why DIY Is Facing a Darwin Moment…

If you’re a musician, you have an interesting issue: too many DIY, direct-to-fan options. The space is just totally overloaded with tools, direct-to-fan platforms, and analytics options… it’s like a supermarket with too many aisles! But can this wildly overcrowded, overlapping marketplace last for long?  Or is the DIY sector headed towards a grim, Darwin moment?

Here are just thirty companies competing in this space.  Some are highly differentiated, most are not.  And, we have a feeling we could easily double this tally.

  

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$ makes my head hurt

This year, I have really made strides to get my act together with regard to officially setting up a business, getting a business account, and come up with some sort of accounting system. Well, er…I got the first two accomplished. I created Kelly Carpenter Music LLC, got a business license with the State of Washington, got a business checking account, got a PO box as an official address. But as far as getting a real accounting system in place, I have been putting that one off. Here it is almost-July already and feeling horribly guilty about having this item on my list and bringing it forward from one to-do list to the next. This un-checked-off item stares at me with its huge lidless eye.

I’ve been thinking of getting Quick Books. But at $299 for the Mac version, that’s pretty “ouch”. Then I looked at another program for the Mac called Accounting Edge. Similarly priced, but it offered a free 30-day trial, and who could resist that. So I downloaded it and tried to get started. Now my head hurts.

Problem is–well I have a few–these accounting packages are way OVERKILL for what I want to do. I just want a place to track music sales as well as gig revenue. I need to get a handle on my inventory. I need to keep track of my monthly bills, various expenses, and equipment/software acquisitions. I would like to record sales of music without having to create a “customer” record or an invoice or stuff like that. I need simple. Simple doesn’t seem to exist. Does anybody out there who does the music thing know of anything simple to use? Please let me know.

Meanwhile, I’ll just have to come up with something in Excel. I know accounting, more or less, what a chart of accounts is, balance sheet, etc. I know Excel. So, here goes… Ughhh…

But my head hurts too much to think any more about it. So, I chose instead to blog about it.

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