Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections on 9/11

As I sit at my desk on Tuesday, September 11, my mind wanders to the last 9/11 that occured on a Tuesday, the day that the World Trade Center and Pentagon was attacked.

I was on my second day at a new job... I was the new Communications Specialist on a federal grant called the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratories. Shortly after I got to work, I was settling into my cubicle just trying to figure out what exactly my role in this position was going to be, my boss came out of his office and quietly said "A plane just hit the World Trade Center."

Talk about a million thoughts racing in my head. In the following days as the news continued to pour in, I found out that the folks I knew in Washtington DC were all safe. That was a bit of a personal relief... but how devastating was this to every person in the world. A friend who was visitng Europe and France was consoled and embraced as she was their link to "America" in the days following... it was an amazing response of a mix compassion for Americans and rage against whomever did this injustice.

Now it's six years later.
I'm not the kind of "wave-the-flag-yee-haw" American, but I have pride. I am all for the things this country was founded on and I try to live my life embracing the melting pot idea.

So.. I sit at my desk (yes I came to work as did all my co-workers) and reflect. I popped in one of my all-time favorite CDs that I haven't listened to for a long while... Darrell Scott's Aloha From Nashville.

While doing some work, the song "Life is Cheap" began...

"She's awakened every morning with her baby down the hall
and when he's cried to sleep, she's staring at the wall.
And in that wall she sees the devil staring out of knotty pine
Though she speaks out loud, he will not get behind.

She's a woman with wounded spirit. She's a woman who loved too much.
Like Mama always said, she's such an easy touch."

Suddenly a meaning that was never intended came through this song (It was recorded in 1997) and it sent chills down my spine.

I guess I'm effected by music as much as many are. As Darrell Scott said when I interviewed him earlier this year:

"Music is universal language. It is frequencies and vibrations that effects me in deep ways I do not understand. I feel them and it resonates and sticks with me. Somewhere in me is all that I have heard, sounds endlessly gathering. "

I transcribed the lyrics above because they don't actually appear anywhere online that I could find.

I did find a link to a little bit of an mp3 though if you care to listen. The chorus is on the link and it's what actually effected me....then I started the song over with a new mindset.

So... I'm sitting here.. reflecting. Thought I'd share. I don't need a big american flag sticker or a magnet on my car or a day off work to remember... I don't need a political comment or a stance to champion or a people to parade around.

What does this have to do with the music industry? Well.. maybe nothing. Maybe it does. You see, Darrell Scott wrote that song about spousal abuse. But I had to really dig to find that out... an outstandingly written song can have many meanings to many people. Don't define how people should feel about your music. Let them define for themself.

Also.. if you read this.. read Trevor's post below also.. it's one of the better things I've read about getting into the "inner circle" of music professionals. People are people are people.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Put This In Your Pipe and Smoke It

A friend told me, "I'm just tryin' to get put on....." Meaning, he's trying to get into the inner circles in the music business. I started to respond to the myspace message with some cookie cutter response which is neatly canned for everyone with a demo or CD, but then decided this needed to be blogged. I am going to repost additional comments and ideas after this goes "live on the web" because there are alot of "DO's" and definitely some "DON'Ts."

We'll start with a few of the "DO's" and boldly so.....

Therefore, here are a few pointers of things to "DO" to get into the inner circles of the entertainment business that have worked for me and helped me to meet alot of the people in general:

  1. First, if you want into the inner circles of any group, lose the attitude. Period. This is number one on my list because no one wants to do business with or give money to a jerk (or Gebroni, as my Brooklyn brother, Jim, calls the idiots of the world). Sometimes it happens, but usually after they have put on a good show or a good first impression(s). I highly recommend being humble, even after you hang your first platinum or gold record, if you want a long lasting career. Lose the attitude because the music business is very small and your reputation will precede you.
  2. None of us know-it-all and the really good producers like Al Schmitt, Bruce Miller, and my friend Cool Cutter with The Runners will probably tell you to be open to new ideas and new music regularly. There is ALWAYS something to be learned.
  3. Get out and find opportunity (promote shows for backstage access or volunteer at your local radio station) + build relationships and get to know people (make coffee for the radio DJ or help the concert promoter put up posters). Most people prefer to avoid giving money to a stranger or someone they do not trust (to some degree). Go out of your way to build trust and find opportunities to strike up conversation with people......... and for God's sake, please don't talk about yourself or your wonderful studio. Instead, spend some time building trust by asking lots of questions like "Does your family like it when you travel?" or "How do you deal with the temptations of the road?"
  4. Follow up with your new friend in the business and continue to dialog but be careful about whether you discuss personal or professional aspirations. You built the relationship so just be respectful and conscious of your words and actions, and you will probably know what and when to communicate.
  5. Definitely have copies of your music joints ONLY if its professional and commercially viable. In other words, if you wouldn't see it at the Mall in the music store, then its probably not ready to be handed out. For example, I once received a demo written on with a Sharpie and recorded without being properly mixed (or even mastered), and another occassion the album was completely packaged at home with an HP printer. My gosh, people. This is your career we're talking about here! Would you really go into your bosses office and turn in that multi-million dollar report with coffee stains on it??? Some of you probably should refrain and avoid an answer to that question.
  6. Take pictures with the people you meet, but only after you're cool with them. And, always ask them for permission. Some people do not like pictures.
  7. Do send regular "NEWSWORTHY" press releases to local and national media outlets. Usually, their general contact info for press releases is on their website or there is an online directory of who to send stuff to...... Again, please make sure your press releases are newsworthy.
  8. Keep your website current, accurate, interactive, and most importantly UP TO DATE.
  9. Most importantly, get started on building a database or file with emails, addresses, and phone numbers of your fan base. Set up before every show and have your street team hand out pins, fliers, and posters in exchange for fan contact info.
  10. Last, and probably most importatnly, recognize your personal, professional, and production shortcomings and let your experts do their job. Be honest with yourself and all of your experts. Why would you want someone - including yourself - who cannot make good decisions or know how to pick other good professionals?

That my top ten - in no particular order - of things you should do to get into the inner circles of the music and/or entertainment business.