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Interview: My Name Is Chance

Let’s go ahead and get some of the cliché questions out of the way. How did the name Chance come to fruition?
Easy!  First name.

Who are a few of your musical influences?
Varied. Grew up listening to Cheap Trick and ELO, The Cars; add to that U2, Tears for Fears, Pavement, Superchunk and more recently TV on the Radio, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Ting Tings. But I could probably also say that Billie Holliday, old big band music (the worse it sounded sonically, the better), Sade, Peter Murphy, Peter Gabriel round out my corners.

Speaking of Peter Gabriel, who was better as a Genesis frontman, Gabriel or Collins?
I hope you don’t find it to sad when I report that never the twain shall meet. Collins.

I was really only a PG fan as a solo artist. Something about Genesis (certainly during PG’s time) never sat right with me. I can’t even name a song to be honest.

I prefer bands with a prog influence rather than outright prog, and his genesis always struck me as a little goofy. Just my taste. I find Peter’s solo work to be like a different artist completely, on nearly all levels.

Having said all this, for whatever reason, I now have “Just a Job to Do” stuck in my head. (I gotta name! I gotta number! haha)

What other genres or artists/bands do you enjoy?
Well, like I mentioned earlier, I think big band is a lovely thing. It’s so sincere and fun. And I think the 80s were a great time for music. Especially the new romantic era and the early MTV. It’s funny how so much of that music was critiqued for appearing contrived, but I think a lot of it—if you strip it down to its basic melodies and lyrics—was very authentic and simple (usually about love, of course, granted).

‘All Wrapped Up In A Bow’ is a great song and video.  What inspired the record and the almost behind the scenes video feel?
Thank you. This song was dedicated and written for one of my closest friends and mentor, Ron Feldman, who was a vocal coach in the Orlando music community. He started out as my manager, teacher, but became an uncle in some ways, and strangely as I got older, like an older brother. Out of nowhere, he died from brain cancer two years ago and two days ago (yea, I know.)

I wrote the song a month before he died, with the essence of the song being, “if you only have a minute left in this life, what are you going to do with it?”

The video idea was spawned by the simple notion of the space in which every musician works on his or her craft. It could be their studio, their rehearsal space, their family’s living room where the piano sits, a band room at their school…It invites community because of the obvious commonality in these spaces.

I asked musician friends all over the country to video themselves playing my song as if they were practicing it. And while doing so, if they knew Ron, think of him. If they didn’t, then think of the people who inspired you or drove you to become musicians. And don’t look at the camera, or perform in that sense. This should be a fly on the wall feeling. Simply hone your craft. I imagined it would be how he wished: to see his students, and the people he influenced, to achieve their own strives toward greatness through hard work. Like he said, “Don’t dream. Do.”

I think it turned out really nice. The musicians involved were so helpful and really turned in some beautiful footage. Many of them I have known since I was a kid however some I only just met, so that was lovely to experience. Given the number of times (you can imagine) I poured over the footage, a lot of tears were shed making the final piece.

The day before he died, he was already pretty much out of it (non-communicative). My friend Matt was in the room with him, and he knew I wanted one last time to “be” with him (I was in California, he was in Florida). Via Facetime on our respective iPhones, I played the song on the piano for Ron as he slept. It was our last form of communication: music.

You make a powerful point with your last statement. When talking about music as a universal language, Psychologist David Ludden says “…It not only crosses cultures, it also reaches deep into our evolutionary past. And it that sense, music truly is a universal language.” Would you agree?
No doubt about it. If not universal, then certainly earthly.

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Your new album is ‘The Glitter and The Glue’ What’s the meaning behind the title?
I actually had the title before much of the music. Eventually the phrase ended up in the song “All Wrapped Up in a Bow” because that song gave me an opportunity to flex the thought behind the phrase.

Essentially, it means this: In every partnership, friendship, relationship, there many times is someone who shines, and someone who keeps the trains running. Someone who glitters and someone who is the glue. I loved the meaning behind that. The album’s material revolved around 15 people I had lost in about 3 years. It was a rough go, and I needed the glue in my life so I could shine. I am lost without those kinds of relationships (and they know who they are!)

How has your sound since you began?
I think my allowing restraint to be heard in my voice and my writing. To not have to bloody scream all the time. It’s hard though, because I still want to.

This industry is not an easy place, what made you want to pursue this career?
This always comes back to the same old story I tell: I put my record player on top of my piano when I was ten. I was playing piano for about 3 years at that point and was at least “ok” with it. But then I somehow realized, “wait, the music that is coming out of that thing I can play on this thing?” and that was it.

It’s been a long love affair ever since (or dominatrix; one or the other, something like that!)

There are a lot of independent artists and bands going at this business alone, with the understanding that not only is it tough, but jaded in some ways.  What is your outlook on the music industry today?
Eesh. Gut Wrenching? We could probably do an entire interview on this one question. I think John Oliver recently joked to someone who was getting out of jail for the first time in 20 years that “oh, by the way, we’ve also figured out how to make music and porn free. Go figure.”

Assigning blame is more difficult that you can imagine (many snakes in this bin.) I think though that there is this common thread of complaint where people say new music is not like it used to be. But I don’t think that’s the reason. It’s not the music.

It’s the nurturing.

In the old days, you had limited channels, limited access, and limited checkbooks. So labels (or whoever) were more apt to be curators. Listen, labels are pretty fucked in the head, so this is no defense. I’m just saying that now with so many options, the listener is overwhelmed. There’s a reason that GnR, or The Go Gos, or Paul McCartney, or whomever are still viable in this market: people cling to what they know.

There is no natural ascending to the throne because the old music is still muscling out the new. It’s like if Pro football players were able to still play in college. Does this phrasing of words imply unfair? Perhaps. I don’t think that’s my point as much as new music is unable to flourish because it is so difficult getting the attention of the listener.

Example that illustrates without using labels or bands or fans as a punching bag: I’m a huge fan of a station out here in LA called KCRW. When I turn it on though, I can listen to a lot of music without ever hearing a repeat. And….AND… I have no idea what they just played but a lot of it is riveting (Sure, I know it’s on the app; I’m talking generally). If I’m driving or not the obsessive type (who writes down the exact time and then goes and checks out the app), then all that music…all that good music…just vanished. No opportunity for me to revisit and become a fan. And I love this station! But without some sense of limited curating it seems you can easily drown in the “next.” You are essentially listening to a mass of music instead of a particular artist.

What advice can you give those artists and bands just getting into this industry?
Simple. Only do it because you love it. Otherwise, get out. I mean this. Don’t take this poorly. If there’s a voice in your head saying, meh, then say no to music. You gotta love it.

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What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned about this industry?
That these kinds of questions are hard? haha Honestly, the hardest thing is that so few care. And I don’t mean that bitterly, but the truth remains: you can only take care of yourself.

Everything is so fleeting, whether they be the compliments or the critiques. You can only watch out for yourself. it’s no surprise that musicians quite literally “band” together to take this life on. It almost requires it.

Which one of your records are you most attached?
Well, Glitter and the Glue means a lot to me because it’s the first time I recorded in my own studio live drums and live guitar/bass amps. So there was this cohesion that I couldn’t quite accomplish on my other records. But individual songs/singles of the past would be Man on a Mission, Over My Head, and Independent. I think Over My Head is one of the best songs I’ve ever written. I just love singing it, performing it.

During this past weekend, you said that the muse was calling you back into the studio. What are you currently working on?
My writing creativity really sparks in the fall. It just happens like the birds flying south. And it was just a song I’m working on called True. I ran into a little road block because the song is in 6 but I wanted to put a 4/4 drum beat over it that didn’t feel right. Well, it’s not that it didn’t feel right, it’s just that it was SO unusual to what I thought I was going to do. So I left it to sit while I mull.

I hope after I listen to it again later this week maybe it’s still workable. Otherwise, I’ll just scrap the drums and go with what I originally planned.

That said, I have a lot of germs in the que!

Some of the songwriters I know have some crazy writing traditions. They almost ritualized the process.  Is there anything you do to prepare for a new song?
I light a candle, say a prayer for the morning after…wait. I think that’s a Duran Duran song.

There is no process apart from just sitting down and pushing through it. Pick up the guitar, every day, and just strum, or sit down at the piano and just start playing. Usually the first thing I play is the best. Weird but true! I also have what I call Studio days where I just know way ahead of time I’m going to work on at least something.

I will also say this, and I maybe should have put this under advice: having problems writing a song? Read a book. Seriously. If you’re suffering from substantial idea or lyric blockage and just nothing is coming out, then pick up a book. And it can’t be a magazine or the Internet. It has to be a novel or story of some kind. I’m telling you, books bring out the creativity.

What milestones have you reached in your career or otherwise?
Hmmm. This is tough, because I don’t really view music as a series of milestones. I view myself more like a shark that has to keep swimming. I just move forward on to what is in front of me. I’ve done things that people would regard as milestone (signing a record deal, playing Woodstock 99, releasing multiple albums of solo material independently), and that’s all groovy. But I just want to improve as an artist and a songwriter.

And I will confess to not being afraid to mention failure: I haven’t done nearly enough of what I hope to do. I haven’t played Saturday Night Live. I haven’t played Radio City Music Hall. I haven’t played in Europe or Japan or India, or South America. I don’t make enough money at music to do music for a living. I haven’t yet written that one song that seems to transcend and lift the masses.

I could go on….!

With hectic schedules for writing, recording, mixing, and mastering, What do you do in your down time?
Family. Plain and simple. I wish I had room for other things, but having a 7 year old and a lovely wife means a lot of dedication to keep the balance proper. The good thing is this stuff fulfills me on another level, and I’m grateful for it. It inspires me to be something for them, to one day look down at them through smiles and tears when I’m accepting some goofy award at the Grammys for “Best Artist who took a fuck long time to do something award-worthy”, or shouting their names from a microphone whilst on stage at Wembley. It would mean everything. (Whilst. I never get to use whilst in a sentence).

So the why I do this isn’t just my own personal drive anymore. It’s them too. It’s just love, at the end of it all. Life can be really simple if you don’t let it get the best of you. I say that knowing I sometimes do let it get the best of me. But the answer often is right there.

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10 years ago it seems you were into photography and quite good.  Is this something you’re still passionate about?
Definitely! I could nerd out on photography for a while, if you ask me. I think that’s what I brought to the table with my “deluxe” version of The Glitter and The Glue.  I set about with this challenge:

Every song would have its own piece of art. It was a lot of work because it couldn’t just be a photo I took of a duck when the song was about a chicken. It had to make sense to the song.

One of the more eclectic pieces, for example, was for my song speechless. I had this idea of a man with a snare drum for a head, and inside the snare drum was huge eye. Compositionally, at least in my own head, I wanted the word Speechless to be denoted by the eye and the fact that there was no mouth. So I had to photograph myself holding an actual snare drum in front of my head and get it so it made proportional sense (at least to me; I realize this might be odd to most).

I wanted the guy’s hands to be holding his head as if in awe of the world (the whole point to the song is that the world is beautiful in spite of how awful it is or can be. That it’s both.)

So I had to get the hands just right as if he were holding his face in awe. THEN…I took a macro photo of my wife’s eye. Super up close. Crazy all the colors her eye has (they are hazel). Then affix the eye into the snare drum head as if it’s viewing the world singularly.

AND THAT WAS ONE PHOTO!

So, if you buy the deluxe, it comes with 10 nicely printed 4×6 postcards: the image of the song on the front, and the lyrics and liner notes on the back. (9 songs plus album cover). It was a blast of a project.

We don’t have to talk about it, but I got to ask.  Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’. What brought that cover on?
HAHAHA! I’ll never live down that decision, and there is no reason for me to because it was hilarious.

At the time, I had a message board called the Friends of Chance. For a hot minute there, people would socialize on my board (before FB obviously). It was a lovely way to interact with fans and friends.

I posted a thread for songs I could cover. People would post songs and I would select a few and make a poll. Whatever won…I did. So I covered Radiohead’s Creep.

Then I got a funny idea to ask people to post their least favorite songs for me to cover. The responses were wide and varied, and I was definitely glad I decided to curate because some I just simply didn’t want to do.

It came down to Milkshake and I think a Britney Spears tune. Milkshake was huge that summer and people were absurdly over it. Even I thought how the fuck am I supposed to…

Then it hit me: What if the singer of the song kinda sorta hated the song too? (I actually groan “oh god” before singing the first chorus)… And what if it were sorta angry, thrashy, metal or punk or hardcore…something like that?

I did the whole thing in an afternoon. And people lost their minds. What was funny too is that it sort of got a ton of play on Satellite radio. People would email or call and say, “Dude, I just heard your version of Milkshake on this metal channel I listen to.” It was very funny.

Live, people went nuts for it too but what I don’t think they knew is I felt the whole thing was kind of my version of a trojan horse. That is to say my version revealed to me that people deep down sorta liked the song.

And that makes me giggle.

How can fans follow you and where can they pick up your music?
The usual.  One the website http://mynameischance.com/

Here is the only place you’ll find rare albums, and my latest, “The Glitter and the Glue” in a deluxe package. I still believe in the tangible, hand-held art.

You can also get my music from most downloadable music stores (iTunes, Amazon and the like). BUT… no Spotify or other streaming. Nope.

Follow on FacebookInstagram, and I rarely tweet, but if you insist, Twitter

Interview: Dotti J On Making Her Mark And Her Music

I recently got a chance to interview Dotti J, an emerging EDM/Pop artist coming out of Florida. We were introduced through a mutual contact, and though I’m not a big fan of doing interviews for blogging purposes, I was intrigued by her purpose for wanting to speak. Usually when an artist just making their way in the industry gets a chance to speak with anyone, it’s about their upcoming album or single or what they’re working on right now, and rightfully so. However, she wanted to discuss a campaign she is putting together. Below is her initial message to me.

“I’ve always wanted to help people and empower others, especially young girls and women. I thought in order for me to best help people I needed to be famous first, but that’s not true, you just have to have a vision and a desire to help others be their best and see the best in themselves. It doesn’t matter your background, it doesn’t matter your race, your lifestyle choice, religion, or your status in life. It doesn’t matter where you were born, where you live now, or what job you have. What matters is that YOU love yourself, that YOU recognize that you are powerful and beautiful and independent and you don’t need anyone to tell you who you are because you already know who YOU are.”

Now this is intriguing enough to want to talk with her, but I want to make sure to give her a platform so that anyone who reads this understands her as an artist as well as the movement she wants to lead.

I’m always interested in how artists come by their ‘stage name’. Tell me why you go by Dotti J.
It came from my grandmother actually. Her name is Dorothy Jane. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with her and watched how she carried herself as a woman. It was very inspiring to me. She is a badass and worked hard for everything she had. My grandma is a tiny little thing, but she has this certain presence about her that not only showed her gentle heart but also made people respect her. Everyone referred to her as the “Queen Bee” and called her Dotti J. She was always classy, but stubborn, and never let anyone take advantage of her or she would quickly put them in their place. She could get her point across without ever raising her voice, saying a curse word or speak “un-ladylike” as she would call it. What she represented as a woman set the tone for a lot of things in my life, so I decided to use the name Dotti J for my music.

How does your family feel about you pursuing music as your career?
I think they have a love hate relationship with it to be honest! They admire my talent and the fact that I stayed true to my dreams and what I’m passionate about in life, but they definitely wanted me to do other things. It was easier for my mom. She has always wanted me to follow my heart, but she never really knew how to help get me there or how to deal with the setbacks of it all. I think they all knew it wasn’t an easy task and just supported it in the best way they knew how.

What are you listening to when you are not recording your own music?
I love love love to listen to music from the Motown era! There is just something about it and the feeling behind it that is so powerful. I also love some reggae music, for when I want to sit back and just chill out.

How important is your image?
Very important! It is a direct reflection of how I feel within. I don’t get so caught up in what everyone else is doing or wearing, I just stay true to the ideas and visions I have for myself. I like to switch up my styles from time to time because as I go through life and experiences it allows me to creatively express myself.

Speaking about Life and Experiences, how has your music evolved since you started?
I have gained a lot more confidence as an artist since I first started. It has allowed me to become more open to trying new things and different sounds and growing vocally at the same time. I even started writing and recording tracks I never saw myself doing.

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So, you are starting an empowerment campaign. How can people reach out to be part of this?
We are still in the beginning phases, but we have a Facebook page at Facebook and an Instagram page at Instagram.

Describe what it means to be #ThatGirl and what you want to get across to women everywhere, not just in the music industry.
I want them to know “You are beautiful! You are intelligent! You are powerful!” I want to know what makes them all of these things and more. I want to hear their stories, and understand the struggles they’ve overcome. Overall, I wanted a place to recognize and empower women to be themselves and be proud of who they are regardless of age, race, gender identity, background, religion, political affiliation, etc. Honestly, I want to start a movement!

I am not a woman, obviously, but I do believe there is inequality in most industries, when it comes to gender. What made you want to start this campaign?
So many of us are told how we need to act or who we need to become. We are lead to believe there is a mold we have to fit…a mold of what others feel is right or best. No matter what, I have and will remain authentic to the future I see for myself.

We’ve heard from Kesha, Lady GaGa, Demi Lovato, and others when it comes to lack of balance in the music business based on gender. What have you gone through as an emerging female artist that other woman coming into this industry can learn from?
I have had many ups and have been faced with even more downs, but no matter how hard I have fallen, I have always found a way to stand up, hold my head high, know my worth, and keep moving forward. I have supported myself and my dreams by making sacrifices and choosing to live without certain things that many people take for granted.

Can you be specific about some of your sacrifices?
I want love and I want closeness, but I made these sacrifices to be able to invest not only in myself as a woman, but also in the dreams I have.

Talking earlier, it really seems like you have a positive outlook on your career in general. That being said, what is your take on the role of positivity in your life?
We were created to LIVE and to give LIFE. We were created to LOVE and to be LOVED. I know to be fulfilled I have to live for myself and love myself and fulfill myself first, and then everything else will come. When we do this, It is then that we can truly love others, help others to live, and to be complete. When we see the greatness and beauty in ourselves, we will then be able to see it in all things.

What people on the outside don’t see are the individuals who take advantage of musicians starting out, like yourself. What are some low points in your career so far when dealing with so-called “Industry Professionals”?
I have been told how I should look, how I need to act, and what I need to do. I have been sold HOPE with a large price tag and paid it gladly, only to be misled by people who have their own intentions and agendas. I have been told “Do this, and you will be successful.” or “Be this, and society will find you beautiful and perfect.”

And your view of yourself now?
I have discovered that the real beauty lay inside of me and that is my heart and my soul.

Tell me about your record ‘That Girl’.
I originally wrote this about being a strong woman for her man. I feel like we always look to men to help us or hold us down when we need it the most. To me, it is just as important to represent what you want out of your relationship as well. As we recorded the track and rewrote and rewrote, it became more of an anthem, not just dealing with relationships, but dealing with life as a woman. I think it can be interpreted differently by whoever is listening to it and depending on the situation they’re going through.

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What else are you working on to follow this up?
I am writing another EDM track. I am looking to record asap while I’m in rehearsals for my show. I am always writing though, that’s something that will never stop.

What do you want your album to sound like?
I want my album to just make people forget about their worries and jam out to some dance music and have a good time! There is so much craziness in the world and I want my album to be an escape for people.

With all this going on, how have your choices and views changed since you started pursuing this dream?
It isn’t always about making the “right” decisions because we never really know what lies beyond the next turn. It is about going out into the world, knowing what we are capable of, regardless of what everyone else says, and taking risks. When we dare to be those women that have a fire deep down inside, we can make our own path and forge our own destiny. We should never let that fire burn out regardless of setbacks.

Tell me about the people close to you.
I have surrounded myself with very few people. These individuals have been part of my journey from the beginning, and in my moments of weakness and distress, they help me remember who I am and what I am capable of.

Weakness and distress? Can you elaborate?
I have spent many nights crying myself to sleep and second guessing my choices. I have looked long and hard in the mirror, at who I really am and what I am capable of. I have hardened myself to the realization that no path is ever going to be easy and I would rather stand alone for what I believe, than to stand with everyone who is just going through the motions.

What advice do you have for women that are struggling with self-doubt or have no understanding of their worth?
Here is my advice. Learn to love yourself, and that means all of yourself. Learn to accept ownership of all your decisions, good and bad. Acknowledge your so-called “flaws’ or “weaknesses” and work to turn them into your strengths. There will be so many times in your life where you can take the easy path or make an easier choice, but choose to follow your heart even when there are times you want to give up.

You said before we began that you talk with God in your alone times. How has that shaped Dotti J?
God has made me perfect in this exact way for a reason, and I am determined to live out that cause. I have stayed true to myself and I have followed my dream no matter who says I can’t or who tells me to do other things.

In one sentence, tell me something about yourself that you know to be true?
I am a strong, independent woman.

I know your trademark quote is “Be You. Be Proud. Be #ThatGirl.” But switch it up for me and tell me what makes you #ThatGirl?
I am never settling. I am never stopping. I am #ThatGirl.

Musically, what is your goal by the end of this year?
I want to be touring and performing my music to the masses. I want to build a relationship with my fans and get on stage to deliver a SHOW to them.

What is the hardest truth you’ve come to realize about this industry?
Staying true to yourself when people start coming on board and wanting to redirect everything about you. Dealing with a lot of closed doors, broken promises and people wanting to be a part of something because they see where it will lead. A lot have their own intentions to why they are in your camp and you just have to recognize the game and make sure you look out for yourself.

Knowing what you know now, if you had to do it all over again, would you still choose music as your career?
Absolutely! I would change the way some things were handled, or even the way I dealt with situations and people at times, but all of those lessons made me smarter and wiser present day.

When can we expect this record and where can people get more information and follow you?
We are finalizing the mix and master right now and it’s release will be soon.  I can’t wait! It’s the waiting game that gets me the most. Anyone can follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter and I will make sure to let everyone know when it’s available for download.

Soundcloud vs. Reverbnation

I was asked recently, which of the two sites do I recommend an artist releases his music to for self promotion.

These two almost should not be compared.  In all honesty, they’re not even designed to produce the same results, unless you strictly want to give people a place to hear your music. I’ve also always been apprehensive of releasing full records to any site where there is an opportunity to take a bite out of your sales…or potential sales.

There are plenty of articles out there that breakdown the differences between the two platforms, so I’m going to keep this blog brief and strictly give you my opinion.  However, I’ll add a couple of links that I believe give the best pros and cons of each.

In my opinion, Soundcloud is the better of the two.  With Reverbnation, of course you have the ability to submit to ‘opportunities’, but the majority of the time there is a cost associated with it, or you need to be paying a monthly fee for your EPK.  With Soundcloud, if you really work the site, and take time each day to listen to other artist’s music and provide useful feedback, you will get it in return.  This is a free way to Focus Group your music. With Reverbnation, you can Crowd Review your music, but there is a cost.  There are also quite a few large labels, producers, and music promotion companies on soundcloud, for example The EDM Network with over 2 million followers, where “World-renowned artists such as Paul van Dyk, Avicii, Nicky Romero, David Guetta, Cedric Gervais, and many more get their tracks featured on this network of SoundCloud promo channels to boost their music.”  Also, within the industry today,  digital music submissions are now the norm, and with soundcloud a link can be easily provided to whomever wants to hear your music.  If I was asked to review a track, I would need the artist to send me a link.  It’s a pain to receive an mp3 file that I need to scan and then download…I’ll pass.

Again, this is just my view.  I am in no way trying to diminish Reverbnation or their ability to promote your music.

It’s really up to you and what you believe is best.

LINKS

AGeeky

InsideTheApp

Landr Blog

Social Media and The Music Machine (Part 1)

Social Media…If you don’t have it, you need to get on it. If you’re on it, you need to use it…correctly!

Social media is essential for emerging artists and bands. It enables you the ability to connect with millions of people on your own, but it takes dedication and creativity. Posting quotes on your Instagram once a day just isn’t going to cut it. You have a better chance of posting funny cat videos and getting more fans.

Here are a couple of artists that have made it because of Youtube and other social media platforms. Karmin, James Bay, Pentatonix, Shawn Mendes, and of course, Justin Bieber. Now to be clear, this is not the norm. It’s far and wide a lot tougher to make it to superstar status from social media alone, than going the traditional route. However, it is crucial for artists without a large fan base or budget. You don’t need to register for every platform known to man, but there are a few that are all-important.

I will break this up into 2 different blogs. There is an extreme amount of information and I will not be able to touch on all of it, but I will do the best I can. If you came here thinking that in this article I’m going to explain how to get verified through certain platforms, I’m not. The rules and policies for verification through social media is .
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Facebook is still the largest and most popular worldwide social media platform. Below is a chart that breaks down users in the millions as of April 2016 by top networks.

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Also, here is a great article that breaks down in depth which platforms are growing, which are best for networking, and which are falling behind. New Global Social Media Research.

With Facebook, artists do not generally open a Page to gain new fans, but to cultivating existing relationships. If you don’t have a Facebook account, which is probably highly unlikely, then get one. Create a Page for an artist or band. It’s an extremely easy process and you’ll be well on your way to connecting with fans who already know who you are. Am I saying that a fan base cannot be built through Facebook? No. With the newer features like video sharing, which is taking a shot at Youtube, and Live streaming, trying to counter Periscope, there is definitely a potential to garnering new support and ‘Likes’. But simply setting up the Page and checking it off your list will not cut it.

Quick Tips
Create a Fan Page. This one is simple. Keep your personal page and fanpage completely separate. This page should be filled with posts dealing with you craft. Don’t commingle the pages, unless your sharing a post from your Fan Page to your Personal Page.

Post meaningful content that will drive people to your page and get them involved. For example, if you’re a singer, don’t be afraid to do covers. If you play an instrument or rap, then share a instrumental or a freestyle. If you’re going to go this route, then it has to be consistent. Set one day each week to do a cover and post the video. Every once in awhile, use the Live streaming feature and allow you followers and fans to watch the process happen.

Post regularly. Marketing yourself on social media can feel like a job, and it actually is, which is why there are companies out there and handle Social Media Marketing. Once you build a schedule, it becomes quite fluid. Regular updates can be done in a matter of minutes and spread across multiple platforms. If you’re going to put a number on the amount of times you post, it needs to be a minimum of two times a day. Try to avoid posting more than once an hour, and post during high traffic times. Samantha Murphy with CNN & Mashable says, “…Facebook’s optimal posting times are slightly different than Twitter. Links sent between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. get the most traction, with Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. being the best time to post on Facebook all week.” Regardless of what time you post, make it regular and consistent. Followers will start expecting new content at certain times and days and will check for it.

Interact with your Followers. When you’re an emerging artist, please don’t make the assumption that you are someone special enough to ignore the people that think you’re special. If your fans or followers are responding to your posts or asking questions, answer them…reply back, to an extent. Facebook keeps up with how quickly and often you reply to messages also, so use that information to improve.

Fill out all necessary information. When filling out the ‘About’ profile, make sure to add as much content as possible. If you have a booking email or phone number, add it, and while you’re at it, add the ‘Book Now’ button to the Page. Of course, only if you’re ready to perform

-Make sure your profile and banner photos are professional, or at the very least are not blurry. Your stage or band name should pop, and be easily visible for first time viewers.

-Unlike Instagram, Don’t use Hashtags. They don’t work well on Facebook. According to slideshare.net, ‘…Posts with hashtags get less interaction than posts without hashtags.’

-Your music should be on your page and easily viewed. Pin it to the top of your Page. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but some many musicians do not have their music on their page, or at the very least a link to their music.

There are a lot of things you can do on your Page that can set you apart as an artist/band, but the most important thing is to use the Page. Be diligent and get to work and make it work for you. If you put no effort into your marketing, you will get nothing in return.
INSTAGRAM
As of June 2016, Instagram has over 400 million monthly users and is on it’s way to 500 million very quickly, and that’s nothing to scoff at. It’s most popular with teenagers and young millennials, so depending on the genre of music you represent, these may be the fans you are looking for. Globally speaking, more than 41% of Instagram’s users are 24 years old and younger, according to Statista.

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Instagram’s purpose is to allow its subscribers to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app. Users also have the ability to link their posts through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. So what can you do to harness the power of Instagram?

Quick Tips
How you set up your profile is important. Make sure that the name you are using as your profile name is same as your artist/band name, or is as close to it as possible. Make it easy to find. Example…if your band name is Stomach Monkeys and the name is already in use, the try StomachMonkeysUS or Stom@chMonk3ys. If you have multiple social media platforms in use, make sure all the information is the same. Profile photo, Bio, contact info, etc. If I have to take time to look for you, you’ve already lost me as a potential follower. Links you accounts cross-platform. If you post something on Instagram, have it feed to your Twitter and/or Facebook.

Put out a call to action. If you have other social media platforms, post your instagram link to them. I’m always asked why do I need to have multiple social media accounts? They answer is simple. Not everyone uses every network. There are facebook users that don’t have any other social account, and twitter users who only use that platform and could care less about the others.

Post meaningful content that will drive people to your profile and get them to like, comment, and/or share. Instagram’s ability to share a post has become a lot easier, so fans/followers are more apt to do it, if they like what they see. Unlike facebook, the video sharing is limited from 3 to 60 seconds. So you need to put your best foot forward, because your time is short to make a lasting impression. Your photos should tell a story, so make sure they are clear. Use filters if you would like, but for God’s sake, don’t face tune yourself, until it looks fake. I can’t tell you how many times I have skipped over a photo without a like because I knew it was faked.

Post regularly. Like Facebook, build a schedule and stick to it until it becomes second nature. Instagram is very easy to post to, so there should be no excuse for not using the app that is easily accessible on your phone. There are many schools of thought on posting frequency for Instagram. I’ve known artist’s that will post every few hours. I’ve know artists that will post every hour and sometimes more. Matt Banner with On Blast, recommends 1 to 2 times daily. I agree with Matt. You don’t want to overload your followers, but i recommend posting a minimum of 2 times daily, but no more than 4. If you’re linking your content from one platform to the next, your followers are going to get tired of seeing the same thing over and over.

Share. Do not be afraid to share other user’s posts. If they pertain to your situation or are something you find is relevant with you, then share it. This will be especially helpful beneficial if the posts are from other emerging artists.

Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag. When starting out and trying to gain fans,hashtags are your friend. Use them on every post, but don’t go crazy. Everyday I go on Instagram and look up a hashtag and search through the posts to see what interests me. #Music should always be part of your posts if you are a musician. I also recommend starting a hashtag with your name…#StomachMonkeys, that way once you start getting support, it’s a tag that is already established with content attached. My advice is 5-8 well used hashtags. Instagram gives the number of posts associated with a hashtag. for example #music 114,931,498 vs. #RockMusic 587,745. While both have an impressive amount, if you are trying to limit yourself to a set number of tags, go with #Music. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. Don’t max it out.. It makes you look desperate. That’s the first thing I think when I see a post overloaded with tags. You want people to like your page because of the content, not the hashtag. If you’re looking for dedicated followers who will become fans, then post a limited number of tags associated with your post. They will find you. If you’re looking for a ton of likes from people who could care less what’s on your profile, overload the post with hashtags.

Something I should have said before. Social Media is a TOOL to market and promote yourself and your music. It should be used in conjunction with other techniques. Email marketing is becoming a huge method and has tremendous advantages. I will touch on this, as well as Twitter and Snapchat in Part 2.

Emerging Artists: STOP BEING DIVAS & DIVOS!

Okay.  I’m going to bitch a little bit.  There are some things that really ‘grind my gears’, in the words of Peter Griffin, and I’m sure anyone in the music industry with any clout can agree, that as the title implicates, this is one.  There are a couple of  incidents I’ve had over the last week that are going to come out in this blog.  I’ve made it part of my Workout Revelations Blog series because it’s all I thought about at 5am this morning.

Ladies and Gentlemen, artists of all ages, if you are just starting out, and you got all your social media accounts set up, and a few good photos posted, and maybe you’ve even been to the studio to lay down some vocal tracks, don’t act like little assholes, because you haven’t accomplished anything yet. Don’t make believe that at this point you are anything other than a struggling artist. Trying to present yourself as anything other than that is a complete turn-off, and possibly a decision changer for anyone who may want to help you.  If you don’t like honesty and feedback, get out of the game now.

Now I am not saying at all not to be confident and self assured, especially if you are starting to get some acknowledgement, but let’s not expect VIP treatment when you walk in the club on a Saturday night (I say as an example).  There are thousands of artists trying to make their way through the swamps of advice and information they are given, and at any moment their career can take off.  Be humble, follow through with your word, and treat people with respect.

Here’s an experience I had recently that really set me off.  The artist is brand new, has nothing, has started nothing, but wants everything.

I was contacted by a young man that wants help starting out.  We have mutual acquaintances through an artist I’m assisting heavily right now.  The first thing I ask is what are his goals.  He has aspirations to be a rapper, a model, and a movie star.  He wants a world tour, red carpet walk at the Oscars and Grammys, and a clothing line.  He’s young, white, and has no available music for me to hear to see where he stands, but he tells me he’s ambitious and has drive.  He has a few social media accounts, although none of them are relevant to each other, (Different profile names, bios, and no content dealing with music).  I told him that I would send him an email with a list of questions and information I needed from him in order to get him on the right path in any way I can.  I informed him that this by no means an invite for management or any other type of representation.  Well the email was sent and that was days ago.  No response!  He still has time to complain about why no one will give him a chance on Facebook and post photos of him “Popping Bottles” in the club.  His last post went like this:  “About to blow-up.  New album coming and working on my clothing line.  I need all these hoes to stay off my dick, so I have time to grind.”

Good luck kid!

Generally speaking, people behind the scenes in this business want to help new talent.  It looks good to be the person that breaks the next Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Twenty One Pilots, etc.  There’s money to be made on the newest, hottest, artist/band on the block.  That being said, they have short attention spans and no time for bullshit.  Bring your A-game, be prepared, and no matter what, if your serious about this, keep grinding hard.

Heathens, Suicide Squad, & Twenty One Pilots

So once again, I was in the gym this morning, didn’t even attempt to get the television to work this time, couldn’t find the remote anyway.  Much like yesterday I discovered something about music in the midst of sweating on the bike.  So I decided to start a new section of short blogs, titled Workout Revelations.  This is the 2nd one in the series.  Check out the one from yesterday, feat. Kendrick Lamar.

I plugged in my earpods and turned on Twenty One Pilots radio.  The first song that came on was ‘Heathens’. If you have not heard the song, or seen the video, I have linked it above.

Wow!  Could there be a more perfect song for a title track for a movie?  I am ashamed to say that I have not seen Suicide Squad yet…not because I haven’t wanted to, I just haven’t had a free couple of hours to dedicate to it.  I have heard great things from friends that are DC and Marvel fans, although I am aware of the Rotten Tomatoes bullshit reviews.  That being said, I have purchased the soundtrack and it is awesome. Just great music from multiple genres!

What do you think about ‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots?  What is one of the best Title Tracks you have heard from a movie?  Better yet,  what is the best movie soundtrack you’ve heard?

feat. Kendrick Lamar

I had to take a break from my upcoming blog on Social Media and get this out.

Let me start off by saying, I’m a Kendrick Lamar fan. In my opinion, he will go down as one of the top 5 rappers in history. I downloaded the ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ album and listened to it non-stop. Of course I got ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ when it was released last year. I realize that there was an album before both of those, but I haven’t gotten around to listening to it.

That being said, I was in the gym this morning and I couldn’t get the damn television to work on the bike, so I turned on my Pandora, plugged in my earpods, and let AWOLnation Radio do it’s job. About 5 tracks in and a few commercials, well…because…I’m cheap and refuse to pay for the ad-free version, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons came on. Now I’m also a fan of Imagine Dragons. I have the ‘Night Visions’ album, which has this track, but not this version. This version features Kendrick Lamar, and damn, it’s hard! The combination of Radioactive and m.A.A.d City was a bit of a nostalgic reminder of Linkin Park and Jay-Z’s Numb vs. Encore. I know this performance was from the 2014 Grammys, but I haven’t heard this version, in an un-live form.

What Collaboration would you like to see that blends the genres, or what collaborations have you seen/heard that are on par with Imagine Dragons/Kendrick Lamar or Linkin Park/Jay-Z?

An Ode to Entertainment Attorneys

I was recently asked how I felt about Entertainment Attorneys.  So here’s my answer.

Disclaimer*  I am not an attorney.  I cannot advise you on the legality of certain situations. The views in this blog are mine alone and not any company, band, or artist I am associated with.

Let’s get down to it!

First, let me start off by saying they are a necessity.  As much as people claim to hate attorneys, if you have any desire to get in the music industry or the film industry, you need to get someone who will be on your side, at the very least to read through contracts.  If you sign a bad deal, get scammed out of money, or lose your intellectual property because of your inability to seek out proper counsel prior to putting pen to paper, then that’s on you. Don’t place your blame elsewhere.  Own it, grow from it, move on, and get an attorney.  If any of these things have happened to you and you had to get an attorney to help you get out of it, then you know the cost is tremendously more than it would have been to simply have them advise you beforehand.

Do your research on attorneys before choosing one.  Check out their client list and/or past clients.  Look at their years of service and don’t be afraid to ask for references.  I have known some fantastic attorneys, and I have known some that think they’re fantastic.  *I am not here to recommend any.  A good attorney will be honest with you, no matter how much you probably don’t want to hear the truth. Remember that you came to them, and in most cases are paying for their service, so take that feedback and do something with it.  A good attorney can help guide you in the right direction, but remember that you may not be their only client or their most productive…yet.  Be patient, especially if they are not charging you for things you know that you would normally be charged for.

Here’s some advice that I have told a few artists I have worked with.  Your attorney works for you, not the other way around.  Don’t let them drag their feet, string you along, or put you off.  Stand firm!  It’s your money, career, and time.  If they get upset, then maybe this professional relationship is not working, and that’s okay.  There is always someone better to help you.  However, you have to be upfront and honest with them.  They’re not mind readers.  Tell them how you feel about a particular situation or what you want/need out of this relationship, and don’t play a sugar coated bullshit game. They can’t help you with incomplete information or if they believe that everything is fine. Ask for meetings, whether phone based or face-to-face.  Most importantly, they ARE NOT your manager, unless they are.  Don’t try to make them do things managers do.  There are some great current/former entertainment attorneys that are also managers. Larry Rudolph is one that immediately comes to mind, but Larry made the choice to do both and then move solely to management. Don’t just make the assumption that your attorney is your manager, unless and until there is a contract in place.

Here’s a quick experience I’ve had.

I was working with an emerging artist a few years ago.  He wanted to do R&B/Pop music, but had no budget and was working 2 jobs to pay for everything.  He had people in his life come and go, mostly when things got hot of course.  He was good though.  He had talent, the look, and could dance along with sing.  That particular genre is very hard to break into, especially as a white male.  It’s tough to follow up be Timberlake or Bieber, it’s not a race thing, it’s the truth.  He had been told this by many people, but he had determination and a work ethic that would take him far.  I was solely responsible of his social media. I enjoyed it and was good at it, as long as he continued to feed me material to socialize about.  *Social Media will be a whole other blog.  

Long story short, he signed a bad contract.  He signed a bad management contract without seeking counsel first. He let his excitement and belief that this one instance was his come up get in the way of smart investment in himself and his craft.  As part of the contract, my services would no longer be needed.  I would no longer be maintaining his social media and had to hand over all logins and passwords.  This was just one of the articles in the contract that he did not read before signing.

Now here’s where I did not go quietly into the night.  I take pride in my work, and I do my work well.  There was no way I was going to let someone else that didn’t deserve it take credit for my work.  At the end of the day, this was just a job, and I could have walked away with no problem had I believed this was a good deal for him, but I didn’t.  I’ve seen enough contracts to know what should and shouldn’t be in there.  After reading through the garbage he signed, I suggested he hire an attorney to dispatch with this contract.  He did, and eventually built a professional relationship and convinced the attorney to manage him.

Here’s the kicker.  It cost the artist almost 10x the amount to get out of the contract as it would have to have hired the same attorney for a one off contract consultation before signing.  It went to court and eventually was thrown out due to reasons out of my realm of expertise.  There was a lot of shady things in that contract.

MORAL:  Be smart.  If your believe in yourself, take care to guard your livelihood and career against the scum and bottom feeders of the entertainment world.

My Life Through Music

Music is a funny thing.  It has the ability to change our thought process, our feelings, and even our behavior.  If it’s important to you and a real part of who you are, you can remember specific points of your life through what music you were listening during those times.

I still remember the first two albums I ever owned.  I will admit that I am a child of the 80s. I don’t remember 8-tracks, and I have a vague recollection of my grandfather still playing records, so it was cassette tapes during my time.  It was 1987, I was 7 years old and my uncle had given me George Michael ‘Faith’ and Madonna ‘True Blue’ for Christmas.

Now you may believe this says alot about my taste in music, but really it was his taste in artists.  Nonetheless, I absorbed both of these albums.  I listened to them non-stop.  That may have been because they were the only two albums I had, but I still was in love with the music and the lyrics, and the message, whatever little a seven year old mind can comprehend.  I wore out Side A and Side B.  I actually remember my favorite tracks off both albums.  Of course, the title track from George Michael, ‘Faith’, and ‘Open Your Heart’ by Madonna.  I don’t know why, even now I cannot think of a good reason, but even today I can recite every word of each of these songs.

I consider myself a fan of most types of music.  I have my favorite genres of course, but I will give any music a chance, until I just can’t any longer.

At a young age I was more subject to what my parents listened to, which actually shaped my view of music.  There was a lot of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Otis Redding, Jim Croce, James Taylor, Queen, Chicago, etc… I still love this music today.

In early Highschool, I was introduced to Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Bob Marley.  I confess that I remember long makeout sessions with my girlfriend at that time, while ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ played in the background.  We even went so far as to line the album up with The Wizard of Oz to see if the rumors were true.  *It was an interesting outcome.  To this day I still try to see Roger Waters The Wall tour if it comes to the U.S.

In my later Highschool years I really got into country.  I cried every time I heard ‘Don’t Take The Girl’ by Tim McGraw.  I blared a lot of Alan Jackson from my 1988 Ford F-150, and Garth Brooks was by far my favorite.  Trying to get ‘Ain’t Going Down’ perfect was as tough spitting out R.E.M.’s ‘End of The World’ without incident.  I even went so far as to buy the Chris Gaines album, and I admittedly liked it.  I expect some judgement on that one.

ChrisGainsAlbum

I quickly got away from my Country music phase.  In college, I thought myself cooler than I actually was and I used to sit in the living room of my apartment with all the lights off, smoking camels and staring out the big picture windows while listening to classical music and movie scores.  I played to a lot of Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and John Williams.  *I no longer smoke.

All these times in my life have lead to where I am today in my appreciation of music, in my efforts to help good music get to the masses.  I may not like an artist’s music or a particular genre as much as another, but I recognize the time, effort, stress, and love that go into making a record.  In order for me to work with artists or bands now in any capacity, I need to feel that love from them.  I need to see that grind and that hustle to make the best music they can.  If artists can’t take critique or feedback, they have no interest in growth, and while their music may be good, it needs to be great.

In some ways it’s easier to get your music out and in some ways much harder.  Competition is stiff and in order for your music to affect someone’s life in a way that they will remember it and the way it made them feel years later, your music has to crush the competition.

My First Blog

It’s odd to say “This is my first blog.”  I say It’s odd because I think all social media is just that…a blog. Regardless the amount of characters, regardless of the medium, it’s still a blog of sorts.  I use other social media quite frequently.  I suppose I will need to open an Instagram and Twitter accounts to correspond with this Blog.  I guess what I should have said was, I use other’s social media quite frequently.

Here’s what I want my entire Blog existence to be about; Music.  I want to write about my experiences with the business of music, the artists and bands I’ve meet and known, the fans, the people at the bottom and the people at the top.  My ultimate goal is to help those trying to break into the industry by giving them an honest look at what it takes, not what they believe will happen.  I’ll save the rest for upcoming blogs.

First a little about me.

I never thought about Music as being part of my career-pathing.  I can’t write music, I can’t read music, I can’t sing, and I can’t play an instrument, unless you count ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’, and ‘Chopsticks’ on the Piano.  I’ve tried to learn guitar, but I don’t have the patience, nor do I plan on using that skill to forward my career.  What I did know and still know is Music, and I know people, and I know what people like and what they will like even if they don’t know it.  I understand trends, what’s hot and what’s on its way out, and I really understand social media’s importance in the music industry and for the artist (a future blog topic).

I started out in sales and customer service, I mean, because didn’t everyone?  My father was a genius salesman, so I guess I get it from him.  He could sell a Ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves.  He could talk his way into and out of anything, weaving together experiences and knowledge like a maestro conducting an orchestra.  Watching him talk to people was like watching a creek flow through a forest…it was tranquil and fluid and without obstruction.  So when it came to making contacts and meeting people in the music industry, it was easy for me.

The doorway opened in an offbeat way, since I was not pursuing it.  It was as simple as listening to an unreleased record from an emerging artist and giving my opinion.  Since then, It has been a whirlwind of experiences; A roller coaster of lows and highs.

I look forward to sharing my experiences here, both old and new.  I hope people do not hesitate to ask me questions.  I will answer them to the best of my knowledge, and if I have no knowledge about a particular topic, I will be honest and tell you.  However, I will try and find an answer that may be beneficial from others with far more experience.