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Rise of the 'Professional Amateur'

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 09:47 AM

Article

Found this article that I thought really relates to what we are all doing here in some form or another. Most of us have day jobs and can't do this for a living, yet we strive to put out as professional a product as we can in the hopes that someone will like it or it will go somewhere or do something.

Quote

It's not amateur in the sense of a lack of diligence, nor is it professional in the sense of those who are "in". The forces of technology distribution and cheap or free tools creates a space for talent to do what talent wants to do. It creates a class of pro-amateur makers.

A pro-amateur perhaps works on a project as a side-line to her day-job but she treats it seriously. Like any struggling writer, there is the work and the need to pay the rent. The difference is that the pro-amateur then takes her work and distributes it directly. She creates a book, an album, a TV series and just puts it out there. It only really costs her time to do it, and if it works it works. If not, she does something else.


Food for thought...

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:30 AM

View PostScotto, on 09 February 2012 - 09:47 AM, said:

Article

Found this article that I thought really relates to what we are all doing here in some form or another. Most of us have day jobs and can't do this for a living, yet we strive to put out as professional a product as we can in the hopes that someone will like it or it will go somewhere or do something.

Quote

It's not amateur in the sense of a lack of diligence, nor is it professional in the sense of those who are "in". The forces of technology distribution and cheap or free tools creates a space for talent to do what talent wants to do. It creates a class of pro-amateur makers.

A pro-amateur perhaps works on a project as a side-line to her day-job but she treats it seriously. Like any struggling writer, there is the work and the need to pay the rent. The difference is that the pro-amateur then takes her work and distributes it directly. She creates a book, an album, a TV series and just puts it out there. It only really costs her time to do it, and if it works it works. If not, she does something else.


Food for thought...


The last line of the article is the whole challenge.

"To coin a phrase (ha!), Connect with Fans and give them a Reason to Buy."

As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?

By going on Revebernation and soundclick for free? By Placing your music on cdbaby and putting up videos on youtube?

The net makes it much easier for artists, but at the same time, every body and their mother is doing it, it's hard to
be even a dot on the radar screen in such a crowded business.

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 01:53 PM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 09 February 2012 - 07:30 AM, said:

As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?


Be nice to people? That could be a start.

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 06:17 PM

View PostNeal%20K, on 09 February 2012 - 01:53 PM, said:

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As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?


Be nice to people? That could be a start.

Neal


And how many records have you sold with this method?

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:30 AM

Well the band I am in is in the K's officially now between sales and licensing. It can be done. There is a lot of noise but I don't think a lot of it is good. The good stuff can find a place sometimes. That being said we're not quitting our day jobs or going on tour or anything. We're just professional amatuers making a little extra cash...

...and with the band on the ropes of late it is something I'd like to get to as an individual. Time will tell though. I've got a long way to go...

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:56 AM

What I've detected personally is a kind of Fall of the Amateur Amateur - I once made rough multi-track tape recordings of original songs, primarily for my own amusement, but usually hoping I could occasionally share the better ones with friends and acquaintances (i.e. either as evidence of a quirky hobby, or examples of my private creativity) without causing too much embarrassment or earache to these listeners.
Now, following the proliferation of networking sites, I have to make near-professional recordings in order to expect friends and family to be prepared to listen at all. :( :D
Frank.


You have to make a near professional recording for the general public, family, friends, cause they are not trained to know what is good and what isnt.
Have you ever watched American Idol where you have a singer so bad, yet her family and friends think shes great? I dont know if it's biasedness or
stupidity or just a want to support, but seemingly they are not capable of knowing a good singer from a bad one. it makes you wonder if singers really
need to be great, since most folks cant tell the difference anyway.

But when submitting songs to other songwriters like on this board, you shouldnt have to make a great recording, they should be able to hear it. And it's more detrimental than not. rough drafts exist for a reason, they detect problems before you ivest time.money on a full blown recording.

I know people tend to take off their critique hat when they hear a professional recording, because it sounds so good...it must be good!

But anybody is capable of getting a great recording, one way or another they can, if they want to spend the money. But not anybody is capable of writing a great song.

But it does seem like you need a master recording to make 99% of the people "get" your song.

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:42 PM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 09 February 2012 - 10:30 AM, said:

The last line of the article is the whole challenge.

"To coin a phrase (ha!), Connect with Fans and give them a Reason to Buy."

As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?

By going on Revebernation and soundclick for free? By Placing your music on cdbaby and putting up videos on youtube?

The net makes it much easier for artists, but at the same time, every body and their mother is doing it, it's hard to
be even a dot on the radar screen in such a crowded business.


Cream rises to the top.

If you don't have the talent, all the business and marketing savvy in the world won't do you any good at all. Feel free to namedrop any number of pop stars here and try to claim they don't have any talent.

And your American Idol reference...do bad singers ever make it anywhere near the finals? The fact that their family won't give them a reality check doesn't speak to the general listening audience one bit. It speaks to a family wanting to support somebody pursuing their dream regardless of the fact that they need a lot of help doing so.
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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:57 PM

View PostQuote

The last line of the article is the whole challenge.

"To coin a phrase (ha!), Connect with Fans and give them a Reason to Buy."

As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?

By going on Revebernation and soundclick for free? By Placing your music on cdbaby and putting up videos on youtube?

The net makes it much easier for artists, but at the same time, every body and their mother is doing it, it's hard to
be even a dot on the radar screen in such a crowded business.


Cream rises to the top.

If you don't have the talent, all the business and marketing savvy in the world won't do you any good at all. Feel free to namedrop any number of pop stars here and try to claim they don't have any talent.

And your American Idol reference...do bad singers ever make it anywhere near the finals? The fact that their family won't give them a reality check doesn't speak to the general listening audience one bit. It speaks to a family wanting to support somebody pursuing their dream regardless of the fact that they need a lot of help doing so.


apples and oranges. You took my Idol reference and made it about something else. That was given to the guy talking about needing a great recording for people he knows. I said that he does for them, because they cant hear the difference, and as u say they will want to think it is great regardless.

But that he shouldnt need a great recording here, a songwriting forum.

Btw, there are better singers, better writers and better performers, even better looking women than Taylor Swift. She a mega star, somebody just like her is
playing weddings or corner bars.

Bottom line it's a business of opportunity, if you never get an opportunity, forget about it. It wont make a bit of difference how well you sing etc.

There is alot of opportunity through new media, but there are also millions more people doing it, since everybody can and will

That songwriter I mentioned in the other thread, Willie Nile, is a better songwriter than the vast majority of songwriters making millions.

Ive always said, that when somebody makes it big, they did something right, people like them for some reason. But it's not about great songwriting, great performing, great singing, great production, great recording...all the time. Sometimes people are plain lucky.

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 03:53 PM

There is always someone better than you no matter who you are but this thread isn't about super stardom and making it. It's about being a professional amateur. Doing enough to make a little money on the side with the music you make and the barriers you'll face from the folks on the inside looking out.

There's a TON of indie artists out there. The good ones get some opportunities thrown their way occasionally...

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 03:59 PM

View PostScotto, on 10 February 2012 - 03:53 PM, said:

There is always someone better than you no matter who you are but this thread isn't about super stardom and making it. It's about being a professional amateur. Doing enough to make a little money on the side with the music you make and the barriers you'll face from the folks on the inside looking out.

There's a TON of indie artists out there. The good ones get some opportunities thrown their way occasionally...


I was responding to funk when he said cream rises. You can probably make some money if you persist and engage your fans.

It's alot more effort than payoff though

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 07:36 PM

Quote

Ive always said, that when somebody makes it big, they did something right, people like them for some reason. But it's not about great songwriting, great performing, great singing, great production, great recording...all the time. Sometimes people are plain lucky.


Well its definitely not about great songwriting and thats for sure !!!!!
You could even take a grammy award winning supa-succesful songwriter like John Mayer (for instance ), dress his songs up in 60s clothes and let them compete in 1966 or '67..He wouldn't've stood a chance...
His songs just arn't musically vibrant,timeless or interesting enough to've competed then.......The pop marketplace demanded suprise,intuitive melody lines,musical invention,interesting chord changes then for you to be very succesful..People were very open to those things then.The market dosn't demand those things at all now.Its perfectly happy with work-a-day journeyman songwriting, provided the 'sound' n voice n personality is right..

I think ruthless ambition drive n hard work,an extremely positive attitude n will to succeed mixed with a strong,likeable positive personality are needed now..
Songwriting ability beyond a basic decent crafting skill isn't required at all...
The songs that are succesful now back that assertion up totally for me

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:12 PM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 10 February 2012 - 01:57 PM, said:

apples and oranges. You took my Idol reference and made it about something else. That was given to the guy talking about needing a great recording for people he knows. I said that he does for them, because they cant hear the difference, and as u say they will want to think it is great regardless.


"but seemingly they are not capable of knowing a good singer from a bad one. it makes you wonder if singers really
need to be great, since most folks cant tell the difference anyway."

Plenty of folks CAN tell the difference, was my point :)
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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:59 PM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 10 February 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

View PostQuote

apples and oranges. You took my Idol reference and made it about something else. That was given to the guy talking about needing a great recording for people he knows. I said that he does for them, because they cant hear the difference, and as u say they will want to think it is great regardless.


"but seemingly they are not capable of knowing a good singer from a bad one. it makes you wonder if singers really
need to be great, since most folks cant tell the difference anyway."

Plenty of folks CAN tell the difference, was my point :)


Ok, yes they can. I think my point was, if instead of Idol it was a weekly get together group of singers, u'd expect them singers to know
if that person was as bad as an early Idol singer. And it wouldn't matter if that person brought a cassette tape of them singing directly into a
tape recorder, they'd still have the ability of knowing if they could sing or not.

but when somebody talks about recording of a song that was terribly recorded, a songwriter should have that same ability of knowing if that song was good or had potential. Whereas somebody working at mcdonalds would need a great recording, and could be fooled into believing a song was great if it sounded great!

Thats the point really.

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:05 PM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 10 February 2012 - 09:59 PM, said:

but when somebody talks about recording of a song that was terribly recorded, a songwriter should have that same ability of knowing if that song was good or had potential.


You seem to have it stuck in your head (and somehow tie into every discussion) that these two points are mutually exclusive. That anybody who comments on a crap production lacks the ability to critique the song musically. I don't understand why you're so hung up on people commenting on a production. If you're not focused on producing, either tell people that or ignore the production comments. The ONLY time I've ever seen somebody comment solely on the production (myself included) it was because they had only compliments for the song or their musical critiques had already been made.

I'm on another forum that is the exact opposite. Posting for critique you get 99% production/arrangement notes and maybe a thought or two out of 50 on the actual song.

Quote

You could even take a grammy award winning supa-succesful songwriter like John Mayer (for instance ), dress his songs up in 60s clothes and let them compete in 1966 or '67..He wouldn't've stood a chance...



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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:25 PM

Quote

Ive always said, that when somebody makes it big, they did something right, people like them for some reason. But it's not about great songwriting, great performing, great singing, great production, great recording...all the time. Sometimes people are plain lucky.


Well its definitely not about great songwriting and thats for sure !!!!!
You could even take a grammy award winning supa-succesful songwriter like John Mayer (for instance ), dress his songs up in 60s clothes and let them compete in 1966 or '67..He wouldn't've stood a chance...
His songs just arn't musically vibrant,timeless or interesting enough to've competed then.......The pop marketplace demanded suprise,intuitive melody lines,musical invention,interesting chord changes then for you to be very succesful..People were very open to those things then.The market dosn't demand those things at all now.Its perfectly happy with work-a-day journeyman songwriting, provided the 'sound' n voice n personality is right..

I think ruthless ambition drive n hard work,an extremely positive attitude n will to succeed mixed with a strong,likeable positive personality are needed now..
Songwriting ability beyond a basic decent crafting skill isn't required at all...
The songs that are succesful now back that assertion up totally for me


Thats true. 60's while I wasnt around yet, were probably the most important time in music. If the whole hippie movement and drugs didnt happen, it still woulda been a great time for musicians. Its hard to compare eras, becaus John Mayer probably would have been doing phychedelic rock if he were active in the 60's, and Hendrix would probably be playing alternative rock if he were playing today.

But "Your body is a wonderland", is a wasteland compared to hmmm teenage wasteland? pretty good! and he'd be up against the entire beatles catalog,
no chance Johnny, but he may have been a good guitarist for some band!

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:32 PM

View PostQuote

but when somebody talks about recording of a song that was terribly recorded, a songwriter should have that same ability of knowing if that song was good or had potential.


You seem to have it stuck in your head (and somehow tie into every discussion) that these two points are mutually exclusive. That anybody who comments on a crap production lacks the ability to critique the song musically. I don't understand why you're so hung up on people commenting on a production. If you're not focused on producing, either tell people that or ignore the production comments. The ONLY time I've ever seen somebody comment solely on the production (myself included) it was because they had only compliments for the song or their musical critiques had already been made.

I'm on another forum that is the exact opposite. Posting for critique you get 99% production/arrangement notes and maybe a thought or two out of 50 on the actual song.


Well this article and post was tied in to that home recording idea. I wouldn't have mentioned it if it were a thread about Syria LOL

But it's quite clear a good majority of folks here care about sound only, if it sounds good it is good, and in most cases it;s not even comparable with the sound bands are getting out there.

To each his own. I hear people saying you cant polish a turd, I dont agree with that, I have seen and heard plenty of turds that were polished into hits.

Check any Rheanna or Katy Perry song for reference. And really turds have been polished into hits since the beginning.

But why some people think their turd will be the turd that gets polished I dont know, but your best chance is to have a great song to start off with.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 04:22 AM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 10 February 2012 - 11:05 PM, said:

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 10 February 2012 - 09:59 PM, said:

but when somebody talks about recording of a song that was terribly recorded, a songwriter should have that same ability of knowing if that song was good or had potential.


You seem to have it stuck in your head (and somehow tie into every discussion) that these two points are mutually exclusive. That anybody who comments on a crap production lacks the ability to critique the song musically. I don't understand why you're so hung up on people commenting on a production. If you're not focused on producing, either tell people that or ignore the production comments. The ONLY time I've ever seen somebody comment solely on the production (myself included) it was because they had only compliments for the song or their musical critiques had already been made.

I'm on another forum that is the exact opposite. Posting for critique you get 99% production/arrangement notes and maybe a thought or two out of 50 on the actual song.

Quote

You could even take a grammy award winning supa-succesful songwriter like John Mayer (for instance ), dress his songs up in 60s clothes and let them compete in 1966 or '67..He wouldn't've stood a chance...





The Newbeats wern't venerated with a grammy (or the equivalent then ) for that tho...
I'm sure no-one thought that was 'the cream' of what was around then - it was just a catchy bit of pop fluff..

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 10 February 2012 - 11:32 PM, said:

But it's quite clear a good majority of folks here care about sound only, if it sounds good it is good, and in most cases it;s not even comparable with the sound bands are getting out there.


I don't know where you got this idea (besides maybe a few people commenting on your production values) but you're simply wrong. I've been here quite a bit longer than you have and it's never been the case. I would be tempted to say this is the idea of a person who hides poor songwriting behind poor production and blames a biased "we want good production only" audience for not getting favorable critiques, but having listened to your music and seen the critiques I know it isn't the case. So it still puzzles me as to why this idea is stuck in your head. I've never seen a critique mention production only unless it was specifically asked for.

And using Rhianna or Katy Perry's songs as an example of production hiding poor songwriting, hurts your argument more than helping it. Should have went with Britney or a boy band :lol:
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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:18 AM

Hello guys,

You are ALL playing on the professional field now. We all are. The advent of the Internet has put one billion songs a month up there and thirty million artists. Go to You Tube and see how many people are using songs in their home videos, slide shows, etc. We now never know where songs are going to end up, on web sites, in pitches, thousands of different areas. You never know where they will end up so you have to package it better in every way, from the writing, the performance, the recording, etc. So whether people want it or, not. We are all there.
There are terrible songs, writers, whatever, recordings, out there. Always have been. just everyone and his brother and mother are doing it now. Doesn't cost $20,000 to do an album. So everybody is in.

I read yesterday on AOL something that I have been seeing myself over the past ten years and that was ten huge stars, Lady Ga Ga, Jack White of the White Stripes, etc. Each one said that the key to modern performers are TOURING. Touring and merchandise has always been where artists have derived their income, not from the sales of songs themselves. So they all give away a lot of their music. That is to get people into their shows. Sucks for the songwriter, because they don't get any of that revenue, which has been the fight we have been in for the past 15 years against tech companies, and is why you are seeing less and less of pure songwriters. In a "free" music market, you don't derive income from the performance or mechanicals on songs. They are now advertising for the artists. Just like videos have always been. We have never been paid for video performances as it was considered advertising. Now the songs themselves are considered advertising.

In Nashville, those of us who are considered pros, do our demos just like records. We have to because we have multiple uses for the songs. In addition to the actual pitches, we are also pitching artists, putting them on CD's web sites, using track mixes for television and movies, etc. Again, you never know where they are headed.

So for artists, live performance is the key. And that is hard as well. The reason you have so many American Idol, the Voice, and so many other reality television shows (where the industry has now gone to getting the majority of their new artists) the live performance is the key. And that is like "How do you get a job without experience, how do you get experience without a job?" The answer: You have to find a way. Period. There is no other answer other than you do it. You start locally and expand regionally. One fan, at a time. If you are not a performer, you need to be working with performers on the ground floor.

Interesting that you put up the Newbeats up there. The lead singer is Larry Henley. A few years after that, he wrote a little song you may have heard of. "Wind Beneath My Wings." He has written quite a few more, but that is his career song. He still does "Bread and Butter:" in his live sets. He is one of the artists we have on the Frank Brown Songwriter's festival in Perdido Key Fla. each year.

MAB

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:44 AM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 11 February 2012 - 10:10 AM, said:

View PostQuote

But it's quite clear a good majority of folks here care about sound only, if it sounds good it is good, and in most cases it;s not even comparable with the sound bands are getting out there.


I don't know where you got this idea (besides maybe a few people commenting on your production values) but you're simply wrong. I've been here quite a bit longer than you have and it's never been the case. I would be tempted to say this is the idea of a person who hides poor songwriting behind poor production and blames a biased "we want good production only" audience for not getting favorable critiques, but having listened to your music and seen the critiques I know it isn't the case. So it still puzzles me as to why this idea is stuck in your head. I've never seen a critique mention production only unless it was specifically asked for.

And using Rhianna or Katy Perry's songs as an example of production hiding poor songwriting, hurts your argument more than helping it. Should have went with Britney or a boy band :lol:


My point is even songwriters here tend to give a bad written song a pass if it sounds good. When in reality they should say it's a poorly written song. But other lyricists especially wont say it, cause if they do, then that person might not record their songs. They tend to say things like I LOVE this, a few nits I might have is... when in reality they know it's bad.

It's not that they bring up sound quality every thread, but they allow it to decide if it;s a good song or not. I could post at least 10 examples, but I wont embarrass the writer or cause a stink.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:48 AM

View PostMABBO, on 11 February 2012 - 10:18 AM, said:

Hello guys,

You are ALL playing on the professional field now. We all are. The advent of the Internet has put one billion songs a month up there and thirty million artists. Go to You Tube and see how many people are using songs in their home videos, slide shows, etc. We now never know where songs are going to end up, on web sites, in pitches, thousands of different areas. You never know where they will end up so you have to package it better in every way, from the writing, the performance, the recording, etc. So whether people want it or, not. We are all there.
There are terrible songs, writers, whatever, recordings, out there. Always have been. just everyone and his brother and mother are doing it now. Doesn't cost $20,000 to do an album. So everybody is in.

I read yesterday on AOL something that I have been seeing myself over the past ten years and that was ten huge stars, Lady Ga Ga, Jack White of the White Stripes, etc. Each one said that the key to modern performers are TOURING. Touring and merchandise has always been where artists have derived their income, not from the sales of songs themselves. So they all give away a lot of their music. That is to get people into their shows. Sucks for the songwriter, because they don't get any of that revenue, which has been the fight we have been in for the past 15 years against tech companies, and is why you are seeing less and less of pure songwriters. In a "free" music market, you don't derive income from the performance or mechanicals on songs. They are now advertising for the artists. Just like videos have always been. We have never been paid for video performances as it was considered advertising. Now the songs themselves are considered advertising.

In Nashville, those of us who are considered pros, do our demos just like records. We have to because we have multiple uses for the songs. In addition to the actual pitches, we are also pitching artists, putting them on CD's web sites, using track mixes for television and movies, etc. Again, you never know where they are headed.

So for artists, live performance is the key. And that is hard as well. The reason you have so many American Idol, the Voice, and so many other reality television shows (where the industry has now gone to getting the majority of their new artists) the live performance is the key. And that is like "How do you get a job without experience, how do you get experience without a job?" The answer: You have to find a way. Period. There is no other answer other than you do it. You start locally and expand regionally. One fan, at a time. If you are not a performer, you need to be working with performers on the ground floor.

Interesting that you put up the Newbeats up there. The lead singer is Larry Henley. A few years after that, he wrote a little song you may have heard of. "Wind Beneath My Wings." He has written quite a few more, but that is his career song. He still does "Bread and Butter:" in his live sets. He is one of the artists we have on the Frank Brown Songwriter's festival in Perdido Key Fla. each year.

MAB


That's true about where the revenue is touring. And that not only kills the writer, but the engineer, producer, studio musicians, label execs, mailroom workers etc. it also kills the indie, because his touring doesnt make much to begin with, they need every source of income they can get.

And who is going to buy a "December Rock Star" T shirt? I wouldn't even buy one!

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:14 AM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 10 February 2012 - 02:59 PM, said:

View PostScotto, on 10 February 2012 - 03:53 PM, said:

There is always someone better than you no matter who you are but this thread isn't about super stardom and making it. It's about being a professional amateur. Doing enough to make a little money on the side with the music you make and the barriers you'll face from the folks on the inside looking out.

There's a TON of indie artists out there. The good ones get some opportunities thrown their way occasionally...


I was responding to funk when he said cream rises. You can probably make some money if you persist and engage your fans.

It's alot more effort than payoff though


Definitely a lot of effort. We wouldn't go into this as a sound business decision that is for sure. Most of us do it because we love it. It's our art and we'll suffer for it. Maybe inflict our suffering on a few others. Misery loves company;)

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:27 AM

View PostScotto, on 11 February 2012 - 11:14 AM, said:

View PostQuote

There is always someone better than you no matter who you are but this thread isn't about super stardom and making it. It's about being a professional amateur. Doing enough to make a little money on the side with the music you make and the barriers you'll face from the folks on the inside looking out.

There's a TON of indie artists out there. The good ones get some opportunities thrown their way occasionally...


I was responding to funk when he said cream rises. You can probably make some money if you persist and engage your fans.

It's alot more effort than payoff though


Definitely a lot of effort. We wouldn't go into this as a sound business decision that is for sure. Most of us do it because we love it. It's our art and we'll suffer for it. Maybe inflict our suffering on a few others. Misery loves company;)


I know a few people who do very well. I know a guy who has a band, they do both covers and originals, so people buy the cd to get a mixture of stuff,
they even sell brownies! Their own brand of brownies that people seem to like. And they do custom jingles for local companies, u know like
even "our band" goes to Joes to buy our used cars.

They defintly got their **** down, the more things u can offer the more chance of income.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:28 AM

View PostMABBO, on 11 February 2012 - 09:18 AM, said:

Hello guys,

You are ALL playing on the professional field now. We all are. The advent of the Internet has put one billion songs a month up there and thirty million artists. Go to You Tube and see how many people are using songs in their home videos, slide shows, etc. We now never know where songs are going to end up, on web sites, in pitches, thousands of different areas. You never know where they will end up so you have to package it better in every way, from the writing, the performance, the recording, etc. So whether people want it or, not. We are all there.
There are terrible songs, writers, whatever, recordings, out there. Always have been. just everyone and his brother and mother are doing it now. Doesn't cost $20,000 to do an album. So everybody is in.

I read yesterday on AOL something that I have been seeing myself over the past ten years and that was ten huge stars, Lady Ga Ga, Jack White of the White Stripes, etc. Each one said that the key to modern performers are TOURING. Touring and merchandise has always been where artists have derived their income, not from the sales of songs themselves. So they all give away a lot of their music. That is to get people into their shows. Sucks for the songwriter, because they don't get any of that revenue, which has been the fight we have been in for the past 15 years against tech companies, and is why you are seeing less and less of pure songwriters. In a "free" music market, you don't derive income from the performance or mechanicals on songs. They are now advertising for the artists. Just like videos have always been. We have never been paid for video performances as it was considered advertising. Now the songs themselves are considered advertising.

In Nashville, those of us who are considered pros, do our demos just like records. We have to because we have multiple uses for the songs. In addition to the actual pitches, we are also pitching artists, putting them on CD's web sites, using track mixes for television and movies, etc. Again, you never know where they are headed.

So for artists, live performance is the key. And that is hard as well. The reason you have so many American Idol, the Voice, and so many other reality television shows (where the industry has now gone to getting the majority of their new artists) the live performance is the key. And that is like "How do you get a job without experience, how do you get experience without a job?" The answer: You have to find a way. Period. There is no other answer other than you do it. You start locally and expand regionally. One fan, at a time. If you are not a performer, you need to be working with performers on the ground floor.

Interesting that you put up the Newbeats up there. The lead singer is Larry Henley. A few years after that, he wrote a little song you may have heard of. "Wind Beneath My Wings." He has written quite a few more, but that is his career song. He still does "Bread and Butter:" in his live sets. He is one of the artists we have on the Frank Brown Songwriter's festival in Perdido Key Fla. each year.

MAB


Not to mention the fact that only the headliners make any money on the tour. There was a band out of Mass that got to tour with Trent Reznor of NIN fame and they did an NPR interview about how the roadies were making more than they were as an under card. They stopped touring to focus on what they love... the actual music.

I got to open for Linkin Park once through a local contest and played a side stage. We didn't make a dime and I didn't get the impression that any of the bands on our stage that traveled with the tour were making anything either. The stadium takes such a huge cut of sales at the arena the only thing your getting is exposure. So I gave all of our merch away rather than charge fans 20 bucks for a shirt or CD of someone they never heard of. Especially considering we weren't going to make much on it anyway. Helped for a while. Got some website hits and sales. Might have also led to our licensing deal somehow as exposure leads to things. Oh well... Those were the bad old days. If your not a headliner touring is barely going to pay your bills but I suppose you'd at least be making a living.

Now I look to be a professional amateur and eventually build up enough to be able to make a little on the side doing something I love. It's definitely not a smart business decision. Could be a complete waste of time but I do enjoy it.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:51 AM

One of the things I think you are all leaving out is that every artist you see out there, Lady Ga Ga, Madonna, and then ESPECIALLY Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift WERE independents before they became major artists. It was the Internet fan base and continuous touring that opened them up to the fans in the first place. Acts like Boys to Men, In Sinc, Katy Perry did shopping mall tours for years before they broke open. People like Justin Bieber were doing radio and special events around the country, then would rent empty office space in every area they went to before he got deals.

This has been the norm. Radio used to be the place you drove all day and night to get on the station so people could come see you on the "barn dance" that night. The artists I have most closely been associated with recently, Frankie Ballard and John Maison, continually did and continue to perform live throughout their home areas of Michigan, and the regional midwest, all the time while making their presence in Nashville. Indeed, the reason they both had significant fan bases before their deals are reasons they got the deals in the first place.

And you know going in you are not going to be making much money in the first few years of your career. And why most careers fizzle out quickly. That is the reason for "Matching funds" with artists, where they bring in their own financing. You now have things like "Kickstart" which are helping artists raise money, etc. This is all like a political campaign, which it is. "Vote for me, vote for my songs." We are all in that area of the game. That is the name of the game. It is 85% off the field, from writing, recording, performing, and 15% on the writing performing, recording. It is all about networking, and promotion. And everyone is doing the same things.

You have to look at things like You Tube. as a driving force. Most of the really big acts are You Tube sensations, which means that writers and artists are now having to think as video as much as any audio recording now. It is all part of the pitches we all have to do now. Why a former client Joel Butliner was able to get a song "I Pray for You" to number 35 without a major record deal. It is also the reason Rebecca Black's "Friday's" was the most viewed song on You Tube last year. Terrible song but became an Internet sensation. That is where we all are, whether we like it or not.

If you are interested in doing this, you learn about all these things going in. You have to understand the landscape to play on the field. But everyone is on the field. The cream does rise to the top, but you have to get into the pool in the first place to be able to rise. And it is not fair and there are some great songs and artists that Don't rise, and that has always been a part of the music business. If you want to see something really interesting, check out the "Behind the Music" show about the 70's band Badfinger. Great band, many big hits. The heir apparent to the Beatles. And they imploded mainly because they never made any money from what they did. Two of the members hung themselves because of it. This is very common in the industry. How many incredible songs and artists do each of you know that never got the attention while they were alive but now are huge songs or artists? It is the nature of the beach.

So you have to understand all that going in, look at a bigger picture in addition to writing, recording and performing the best you can. It is never about just throwing something out there and seeing if it sticks. It takes a lot of thought, planning, and then being ready to not be accepted by the public, doing what you love first and foremost. Make yourself happy first. There is usually not a lot of pay off besides that.

MAB

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:34 PM

But where's the place for the guy or gal that doesn't want all that? I don't want the fame and fortune really. Seems like to much of a hassle and I'm all old now...

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:44 PM

View PostScotto, on 11 February 2012 - 12:34 PM, said:

But where's the place for the guy or gal that doesn't want all that? I don't want the fame and fortune really. Seems like to much of a hassle and I'm all old now...


Don't you hate that? When you become fabulously wealthy and famous???

LOL

I think you have to treat it like a home business. You know, even a bakery can become locally famous and make a nice living serving
their community. If you think of every way imaginable to make money with your music, you can do ok. There is a good book on the subject
called the indie band survival guide, it talks alot about new media and how to use it.

I think most musicians would love to be able to make a living doing their music. they dont necessarily want to be huge stars.

That's a good problem to have though, just figure out how to make some money first.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:49 PM

View PostMABBO, on 11 February 2012 - 11:51 AM, said:

...............
doing what you love first and foremost. Make yourself happy first. There is usually not a lot of pay off besides that.

MAB
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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:23 PM

Scott,

If you don't want fame and fortune, you are in the RIGHT place, because that is what music mostly has. Most songs will never engineer enough revenue to even pay for the recording. Even the major releases. The higher the profile on the artist or song,the more money spent to increase that profile. And you can't force the public to buy something even if you spend millions of dollars, which are what most of the majors do.

This is very simple. It is the "art of the hang" and art of the "referall." You do something well, get it out there, Internet, live performance. through co-writers, publishers, the music buying public. If you do it well, people are attracted to it. They tell people and further it through word of mouth, peer to peer filesharing, if you do it methodically AND people buy into it,it increases exponetionally. That is how entertainment works. If you don't connect with an audience, you are doing it for yourself in your living room, web site, whatever. If you do it well, people pass it on for you.

It is not always fair, you don't have a lot of control once it gets past you. The fates, advertising, a lot of other things have to take over. You just have to do what you can do. But most of us are our own audience, our own promoters, our own artists, labels publishers, pluggers, until we get someone to take over the job. VEry inexact, not a "one size fits all" approach. There are things that work for some people and don't for others. Songs, artists, recordings. etc that should be standards and aren't, and things that should never see the light of day, but get everywhere. Again, just a nature of a business of opinions.

Music is something we should and do for ourselves. It is about our emotions, our thoughts, hopes, dreams, sometimes fun, sometimes sad, most time cathartic. As a woman told me last week, "I saved her $2000 in therapy." But once you start "stepping out there" in the arena of ideas or in the music or entertainment business, your work is judged by others. You have every right to say what you want but no one has the "right to be heard." You earn that right with the public, and all the filters it takes to get to the public.

Think of every line, every song, every thing you do as a job interview. To get a job, you have to make yourself as presentable as possible, find where the jobs are being offered, go to where they are, and present yourself as the best applicant for the job. And when you get the job to do it to the best of your ability, succeeding and exceeding the expectations of your employers with everything you do. So you not only keep it, you make more money, you climb whatever ladder you are on.

Music is like the "job" of entertaining people. They are giving you an opportunity to get and keep their attention for 3 minutes or whatever they want. If you do it well, they will pay you in one way or another. It might be moneytarily,it might be with applause, it might be in telling other people about you, it might be critical accolades, you might make someone's life better by having you.

If you do it well, you might rise, might not. But if you do it for yourself with the eyes and ears to the bigger picture of what your audience might want, hopefully you will make it on a larger scale.

There will always be people at the top of the pyramid, who make the majority of the money, just like all of life. But there are more and more people out there "going for their dreams" in a million different ways. To me, that is what music is. A way for one dreamer to reach another.

What we're in the business for.

MAB

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:40 PM

Scott,

Other things to remember about this is "allocation of TIME." you have to decide what you are willing to do to get from point "A" to point "Z". There are a LOT of steps in between. I just got back from Winnipeg Canada, where I wrote 22 songs with 30 people in 9 writing days, recorded two demos, did three concerts, two television interviews and a radio interview. My days were around 12-15 hours. I work totally with other writers and artists, trying to show them how to best allocate their time and crativity. I spend as muich time finding about their character, their tastes, where they are in their lives and careers. I get to know their loved ones, parents, etc. and spend as much time talking about various things as I do physically writing, performing, recording.

The woman who set all this up spent an average of 8-10 hours a day on the Internet, advancing all the appointments, the shows, lining up press, doing continual "baby sitting" with some of the insecure artists and writers, setting up parties, social get togethers, my lodging, all the things that it takes to pull these things off.

The artists I work with spend an average of 8 hours a day, doing Facebook, Myspace, Reverb Nation, Twitter, to keep and expand their fan base. They spend hours working out, doing meet and greets, dealing with the press, radio, etc.
The average writer will spend 3-6 hours a day writing, and three-six hours a day setting up other things like writing, performance, pitching, etc.

And most of these are done IN ADDITION to other jobs, family committments, birthday parties, vacations (yeah... right!) or any other things that you have to do to stay alive. VERY few people make a living JUST off of music. Even most hit writers have an average of 3-5 other businesses that bring income in. In addition to the teaching, tours, writing, performing, I do with and for other people ,I have my own career going on. Today is a benefit in town with about 30 other writers. I don't even know what the benefit is for, but a lot of great writers are going to be on it, and more people I need to see will be there. It is giving back.

So when you are factoring all this other stuff about songs, etc. in mind, you have to think in much larger pictures. And yes, I am old too. I am 53 and have been in Nashville a quarter century. If you don't think "I am too old for this stuff" you don't know much about me. LOL!

You have to view it in a broad perspective and then see where you fit in.

The best piece of advice I could ever give you comes from Billy Joel. When Barbara Walters once asked him "what advice he would give
to the millions of people watching him trying to get into the music business, he looked very intently into the camera and very slowly said: "...."Try....Not....to.....SUCK!"

I don't think I could sum it up better than that. What eloquence.

MAB

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:54 PM

The real problem is there's not alot of middle ground. Either you make it big, or you starve. There are no minimum wage earners in the music biz,
if there is it's not a reliable regular minimum wage.

And some artists refuse to be denied. They are willing to live in their car or under a bridge unitl their big break comes.

If you have that kind of drive at a young age you can out and make fans one by one, over time, you can build a following.

But most people wonder "what happens if"

There are indie artists who do ok, if you could actually pay your bills with your music, that would be a great plateau to reach.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

December,

I actually look at it a bit different. You make money commiserate upon your ability to make money for others. If you are playing on an open mic or writer's show, and you stand out more than others on that show, attract and keep more attention than others, and bring in healthy bottom line to the managers, bartenders, coffee shop employees, whatever, you are invited back and get better slots and attention. If you continue to succeed there and exceed your own bottom line, you continue up. The minimum wage is nothing until you earn something. Everyone starts out at the same place.

Some are able to manipulate their way up the ladder but most often it is earning each step of the way. Some succeed in attracting other peopel to their team, co-writers to get better songs, better musicians, better agents, managers, publishers, pluggers, labels, producers, whatever. With each step there are dozens of more steps and you have to deliver healthy bottom line to them in addition to yourself. Actually most of the time you are the last one paid. But again, you should understand that going in.

The same could be said of your music adding something to the listeners "bottom line." This might be saying something in a way they have not heard like that before. Providing them with something they are not getting anywhere else. That is the challenge.

I actually view it as one of the most democratic things of all. Increase your popularity, you increase your bottom line. If you don't, you don't. There are a million variables, but that is what it all comes down to.

I know a lot of people, and you could say I am one of them, who make a living doing what they love. They figure out the balance in their lives, and what they have to do to get to each next step. And you have to take it one step at a time.

That is my take on it.

MAB

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:11 PM

I think there's a lot more revenue streams for musicians than people realize. It isn't simply either you make it or you give up. Depending on what you like to do of course. For somebody who is ONLY interested in writing songs, you aren't going to make a living unless you make it big. But if you love performing music, there are countless opportunities to get out there. Teaching can be very lucrative for the right people. I taught drum lessons for a short while and made a good few bucks.
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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:16 PM

View PostMABBO, on 11 February 2012 - 02:09 PM, said:

December,

I actually look at it a bit different. You make money commiserate upon your ability to make money for others. If you are playing on an open mic or writer's show, and you stand out more than others on that show, attract and keep more attention than others, and bring in healthy bottom line to the managers, bartenders, coffee shop employees, whatever, you are invited back and get better slots and attention. If you continue to succeed there and exceed your own bottom line, you continue up. The minimum wage is nothing until you earn something. Everyone starts out at the same place.

Some are able to manipulate their way up the ladder but most often it is earning each step of the way. Some succeed in attracting other peopel to their team, co-writers to get better songs, better musicians, better agents, managers, publishers, pluggers, labels, producers, whatever. With each step there are dozens of more steps and you have to deliver healthy bottom line to them in addition to yourself. Actually most of the time you are the last one paid. But again, you should understand that going in.

The same could be said of your music adding something to the listeners "bottom line." This might be saying something in a way they have not heard like that before. Providing them with something they are not getting anywhere else. That is the challenge.

I actually view it as one of the most democratic things of all. Increase your popularity, you increase your bottom line. If you don't, you don't. There are a million variables, but that is what it all comes down to.

I know a lot of people, and you could say I am one of them, who make a living doing what they love. They figure out the balance in their lives, and what they have to do to get to each next step. And you have to take it one step at a time.

That is my take on it.

MAB


Maybe I need a wardrobe malfunction?

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:20 PM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 11 February 2012 - 02:11 PM, said:

I think there's a lot more revenue streams for musicians than people realize. It isn't simply either you make it or you give up. Depending on what you like to do of course. For somebody who is ONLY interested in writing songs, you aren't going to make a living unless you make it big. But if you love performing music, there are countless opportunities to get out there. Teaching can be very lucrative for the right people. I taught drum lessons for a short while and made a good few bucks.


Yeah I have two friends who do that. One guy is a jazz guitarist who owns his own studio, he takes recording clients, he gives guitar lessons, he does gigs
and he puts out cd's. He's not wealthy, but he's never "worked" a day in his life. its all work.

And I have another friend who plays in a band that does covers and originals, they sell cd's and brownies! and he owns a studio, does jingles
for tons of companies, he even gets an occasional paycheck just to produce other artists cause he is brilliant in that regard.

It's a kitchen sink mentality, but it can work.

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:27 PM

That is very normal in this business. Writers are also producers, sidemen, and teachers. I performed on a show with a very big hit writer, Sam Tate, recently.Sam has had several HUGE songs recently with number ones like "I've Had Moments" for Emerson Drive" and "If You're Going Through Hell Keep on Going" for Rodney Atkins, and done very well. But his main money right now is coming from teaching. He is working with colleges around the country where he is paid $20,000 for a three day session. Ever hear "Have to have money to make money?" There you go.

An average number one song these days will bring in about $22,500. If you split that between three writers (usually two pros and an artist) and three publishers, which are average on these things. You realize you are not splitting a lot of money. So you will have to have other income to help you pull all this together. Very much the "Kitchen sink."

MAB

#37 User is offline   klo Icon

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:30 PM

Wow..I just want to nosy in this conversation as say I really liked the line below. I remember one day Alistar :unsure: or someone was saying that they just do this for fun, even though someone complimented them on such talent. Just made me think that some people are content in other ways. Damn, I wish I knew who it was I was thinking about.

a space for talent to do what talent wants to do.

#38 User is offline   klo Icon

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:34 PM

View PostDecember Rock Star, on 09 February 2012 - 06:17 PM, said:

View PostNeal%20K, on 09 February 2012 - 01:53 PM, said:

View PostQuote

As if all u need to do is connect with your audience, and how do they suggest you GET an audience?


Be nice to people? That could be a start.

Neal


And how many records have you sold with this method?



I just want to throw in my two cents and say that Youtube is really a GREAT marketing tool! Not only are you able to have your product rated, but you can respond directly to viewers via comments, and you also have subscribers who become like fans. It can be done because there are a lot of non-famous people on youtube that I am a fan of. Wether they are garden/green living amatuer filmers or amatuer singers or rappers. You would be surprised at the talent you see! If you have a Youtube account then let me know because I would like to see you sing/perform. You don't need a professional recording of any sort. :)

#39 User is offline   MABBO Icon

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 03:54 PM

Hi Jim,

In my opinion, this thread is about how all musicians, writers, producers, etc. make a living in the changing world of music. My opinion is that it is really not that different than it has always been. If you see those old movies of the 30's-60's, you see the four or five musicians, loading up the station wagon on a thus. headed out driving the hundreds of miles to some podunk town in the middle of nowhere, visiting the radio stations to get them to play the records so that people come out to the barn dance that night. And the rest of the week, the musicians drive trucks, work at docks, are in construction, whatever. Then of course they get their "big break" and the scene changes and they are living in big houses, drving Caddilacs, etc. Of course then the have divorces, drugs, bankruptcies, die in weird ways, you know.. the normal things.

For me, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we navigate the millions of miles of the Internet, trying to get people to play our music, so they can see us in some live arena. WE are paid about the same as they were in the 50's, and work other jobs all the time to make ends meet Then we have divorces, drugs, bankruptcies, die in weird ways like bathtubs... etc.

I have been involved in the music business for nearly 36 years and I have always had other sources of income, from businesses I helped my Father develop (if you ever see the television show AMERICAN PICKERS, that was my Dad) or multiple income streams, performing live, studio gigs, publishing deals, teaching, you kind of name it and I have done it.

I also have noticed that almost everyone I have ever known in the music business have had similar situations. I have written with multiple number one songwriters who had to stop the session to go service their rental property, show a house for their mortgage business, or in a couple of cases, go fix a toilet or two for their plumbing contracting business. (seriously, one of the guys had just had a number one song and was still fixing toilets. LOL!) It was something I always noticed, that people in this business never had just one source of income, cause it can always be feast or famine.

Even if you get a big hit record, often you first have to pay back loans, known as "draws", that publishers or record companies lent you while you were waiting for that hit to come in. I have also known people with enormous songs, only to make a bare minimum from it by the time they make anything.

Today, we are all "professional amateurs." Most musicians are exactly like you and I. Do okay in some ways, not exactly the most security but we do what we love and mostly are not in the street. There might be a few that get that huge payoff, but for the most part, it is money spread around in a lot of ways. And we usually spend what comes in on equipment or other things we need to feed our "habit."

All in all, it is about the same as always.

Q: What do you call a Nashville songwriter without a girlfriend?
A: Homeless.

MAB

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:07 PM

Sorry, MABBO, I killed my post while you were answering it! (I didn't like my own tone: didn't want to appear arrogant, so I just deleted it.)

Your dad is one of the American Pickers? I love those guys!

#41 User is offline   Lazz Icon

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:45 PM

Quote

He is working with colleges around the country where he is paid $20,000 for a three day session.

Sorry to mention this Marc, but I must say I find this really impossible to swallow.
Hip Pocket Music

"It is the best of all trades to make songs...
and the second best to sing them"

Hillaire Belloc

“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

#42 User is offline   MABBO Icon

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:38 PM

Lazz,

You don't have to swallow it. He actually gets it. Pat Pattison does about the same. Education, colleges, technical schools, have enormous amounts of money they spend on this type of thing. A number one song can bring in many more things than the song ever does. Visit web sites for "Full Sail" or other major music universities. People like Slash, and major writers, artists, performers, don't do this for free. Jeffery Steel does a Three day "Boot Camp" that is $2500. And is limited to 15 people. It costs $250 to submit, non-refundable. There are usually around 200 applicants. There are a variety of events around the world, ranging from the $8000 per person Rock and Roll camps, to songwriter and music cruises, songwriting in the mountains, that the teachers make more than they ever would on a song. Why do you think Jason Blume spends most of his time teaching? The same is for most businesses. Finance, money managers, technical training, Human resources, the people that make some of the biggest money are consultants.

Jim, I didn't mean the "Picker" guys were my Dad. Neither of them have kids and I am actually older than both of them. My Father was the same kind of guy. He was an entrepeneur, constantly inventing businesses. His weakness was old collector cars, particularly 50's and 60's Mercedes. He traveled to Europe and all over America, finding cars in barns, sheds, things that had been discarded for decades. Much of my life for many years were going through old barns, and dilapitaded buildings digging out car parts, oil soaked nasty things, snakes, spiders, all kinds of nasty stuff, dead animals, a real fun existance. But he loved it. I just did what he needed.

If you have ever seen the Mercedes Gullwing (The 1950's cars with the doors that raise up) those were things he restored over the years. Would do well in some business and fail miserably in others. Every time I hear all this solar stuff, I can give you all kinds of ways to lose money in solar energy businesses that don't work. He lost nearly a million in that business long before the government got into the business of losing money at it. But he was a good man and always had something going on.

Much like so many of the people I know in the music business. You just kind of live every day, making stuff up.

MAB

#43 User is offline   Duane Clancy Icon

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:12 PM

You mean that people actually make money at this? Cool concept ... I think I'll stick to my goat farm to pay the bills ... but they (the goats) aren't as appreciative of my playing as they are at the local clubs ... or at the nearest campfire ... or for anyone who will sit still long enough for me to whip out the guitar :-)

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