Archive for the ‘music general’ Category

Criminal?

Friday, October 20th, 2017
No Gravatar

I don’t post a lot about the music business for different reasons. Even though I have a lot of experience, and even have done things many people would consider having “made it” I still don’t feel like I have it figured out. I have a similar thing about advice in general. No doubt people like to hear about how to succeed, but if anyone has spent anytime reading here you see pretty quick I have a bit of a philosophical view on success, further – and I mean this seriously, I believe there are too many people missing the operative word with regard to music as in “play” music… just like “play” sports. Sure it is a multi billion dollar business, but far too few people play anymore. Having said that, today I will be posting briefly about some disturbing trends in the music business. Rodney Jerkins is a producer writer who co-wrote the top 10 Justin Bieber hit As Long As You Love Me. His writing partner owned 20% of this top 10 hit. His royalty statement had him earning$149,000.00 in 3 years. Top 10 hit, 3 years in, $149,000.00 from BMI. I’ll post part of the article then a link:

“The song played on the radio, it had 347,820 spins.  The royalty amount on that alone, was $53,000.”

“Let’s fast-forward to this page, the interesting page.

“Sirius XM, not bad.  1,509 spins, earned him $765 dollars.

“You ready for this?

“Pandora: 38,225,700 spins earned him $278.

[audience laughs; starts talking; one person says ‘WOW!’]

“I’m not finished.

[audience quiets down]

“YouTube: 34,220,900 spins earned him $218.17.

[chatter in the audience]

“Now I did the math for you guys.  That’s on 20%.  If he were to own 100% of the song, on YouTube he would have earned $1,100.

“If he owned 100% of the song on Pandora, he would have made $1,400.

[audience member: ‘jeez’]

“That’s why I wanted to get involved.  Because to me, looking at those numbers, that’s criminal.                    LINK TO ENTIRE ARTICLE

I believe it is criminal. I believe it is unsustainable… it is unethical. With music licensing I made more on 1 song I write than 34,220.900 plays on YouTube (or Pandora). As an example I wrote a tune that MTV used repeatedly on a show. Every time the show played I made $300.00 ($150.00 actually after the split with Jingle Punks) The show repeats, rolls out to Europe etc, and the checks keep coming in for me every 4 months. Granted – I have no radio play (yet), and I am just taking one example… but Pandora is the same – and I would venture to say – most streaming is as well. It is horrible. Currently I don’t use any streaming services. Not streaming on these commercial sites was never a conscious plan… but at the moment it seems counter-intuitive if one wants to maintain control of their intellectual property / publishing / profits / creative sovereignty. Anyway – thought I’d share because if you are a musician, and you write – you need to be alert and vigilant. Til next time….

quick update >

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
No Gravatar

soooo lots going on…but you wouldn’t know by my posts! I was recently brought on-board to write a screenplay for a movie contest…how did that come about – you ask? Basically I wrote a short piece of fiction in a comment section of a blog, and it was believable enough for a local movie dude (who has won some awards) to contact me and ask for more … which I did (the subsequent terrific feedback hasn’t hurt either). Screenplays are a bit tricky – you don’t just say >>JANE says “WHAT”<< You say >>Jane looks coldly at Jim, she raises both hands in the sky – the camera pans in quickly while a jungle beat pulsates – Jane says WHAT while storming toward Jim<<....know what I mean?? Also I will be doing the soundtrack and theme song... having a blast with it. It is my first full blown movie project where so many of my interests collide. The movie itself will only be about 8 minutes long - and I will write more as I progress, but it has been a hoot so far.

I have been drumming a lot locally in churches, and am working with a few different music projects. I recently picked up a vintage 60’s era Rogers Holiday drum kit and some very sweet Zildjian K’s – Imma say it loud and proud – this kit sounds so buttery, focused and fine…(as they say) kid you not…I’ve got drool marks all over the place and I haven’t even got it all set up yet…it has been said Ludwig has it and Gretsch has it – but Rogers Holiday IS IT! One new addition is a 24″ Zildjian K Light Ride – puttin the OOh in my LALA 🙂 Further I am revamping a whole bunch of music studio stuff, new trigger configurations, new mic implementations, new software, new synths, lots of new music / songs… I really should post more knowhatimean? I know, Instagram and such – right? Photos – right? And to think I’ve been a professional photographer with work @ Disney Epcot and Kodak Gallery Award blah blah blah – can’t even get Instagram off the ground… LOL!

Let’s see – I am on letter 815 of Vincent Van Gogh… and that too has been an eye popper. He is basically in an insane asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence France ATM… he recently cut off his ear… the whole story is so heartbreaking, and to think as he sits in the asylum he says;

“However, melancholy very often overtakes me with great force, and besides, the more my health returns to normal the more my mind is capable of reasoning very coldly, the more to do painting that costs us so much and doesn’t bring in anything, not even the cost of producing them, seems madness to me, a thing completely against reason. Then I feel utterly sad, and the bad thing is that at my age it’s darned difficult to start again with something else.”

Not realizing his paintings would eventually command the highest prices in the history of art – and today – even his tiniest scribbles sell for a cool million. Yet there he was October 1889, alone, semi-motivated, fighting for his sanity, ignored (generally) by the art community, and utterly broke / broken. I am in the last months of his life – it is roughly a 9 months from today (in the letters) that he commits suicide. In Holland (where he is from) and in the art world in general he is a hero and a genius. The dichotomy is breathtaking.

I have been offered an exclusive deal with Jingle Punks which is cool…. dunno if I even mentioned this before. Anyway – that’s it for now – catch ya’ll on the flip-side!

thoughts on creativity

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
No Gravatar

IMG_1228
… so I am fixing a water connection to the front of my house, and I look down and see a folded paper on the ground… I pick it up and unfold it, and find this;

song seed

song seed

well, well, well…

 

 

 

a song idea. from when? I had no idea. I have piles of songs and pieces of ideas spread literally all over the world. Funny thing, I don’t remember this song, writing it or even what the context was when I put it down. I remembered part of it – but not the chorus (exactly). I remembered enough to want to work on this more than the other song I was doing. Is this weird? I dunno. I have spoken to, listened to, read about, and worked with creative people of many varieties…and it seems the creative “process” varies quite a bit from person to person. Sometimes I wonder if the process is actually quite similar, but the artists awareness is of varying degrees. The reason I say this is that most everyone is surprised by their great “idea” and if it was truly their own, I don’t think this would happen. That would mean an idea is given… and if so, who gives it? I believe the Lord gives ideas, and we elevate or flush accordingly. I find the process of creating a song or video, or even just drumming so utterly pleasant. Exhilarating even sometimes… Here is an interesting thought from Van Gogh about painting – but many of his ideas parallel music.

“I tell you, if one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie, and you said yourself in the past that it was a lie. That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.
You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.
Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of ‘you can’t’.
Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.”

Personally I don’t see things this darkly, but his point about the muse is certainly something to consider… even if you don’t have writers block. So many suffer paralysis from analysis. DO! WRITE! PAINT! CREATE! Don’t let that demon doubt (which would steal your very life if it could) tell you you can’t. Who cares if you get famous or rich? The joy you get from learning and overcoming an obstacle, and then saying THERE IT IS will far outweigh the voices that criticize… and you will destroy the whining “you can’t”. Creativity must have risks, it must sometimes fail, it must challenge and inflict, it must inspire. Sounds like learning doesn’t it?

You may not create the perfect masterpiece in your new medium – but you will be learning, and everything you learn about creates a lifetime of opportunities and interests that will swell your heart and fill you with inquisitiveness about possibilities. You can. 🙂

new song > everything burns

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
No Gravatar

sooo – that was 2015 eh? Was it me or did this year whistle right on by? This next song, “everything burns” came about a while back as I had a huge bonfire in my back yard. I did some footage with my iphone in slo-motion and was suitably interested in the dancing very orange flames. The lyric and melody came at once – partially inspired by some graffiti I saw some time back. I did not know “everything burns” was in a Batman movie. Anyway, as I thought about the term I wrote the song with the idea playing off of some of the various burnings and fires in scripture (Hebrews 12:29, about our God being a consuming fire…Revelations 20:14 with death and hell being cast into a lake of fire…Acts 2:3 the tongues of fire at Pentecost…1 Corinthians 3:13 with our works being tested by fire…2 Peter 3:7 the heaven and earth being reserved for fire in judgement), after trying a few ideas – it became too much, almost forced… it is not meant to be at all “dark” – but my wife said it sounds depressing, oh well…. I like the repetitive melody and lyrics – and what basically is my only vocal take on the song (originally just a guide)… maybe this is one of those graffiti-esque musical jottings… I ended up not using my slo-motion flame shots because one got “corrupted” with a text title when I was trying to flip the perspective using an app on my phone…. so I opted for some video-blocks I have from a trial subscription – and I have my logo “fired” for fun. Right. 2015 revealed the benchmark of 100 published songs on my website. I feel pretty good about that. Don’t know if you have ever written, performed, produced and mixed a song, but the number 100 feels important to me. It is also a part of the larger “M initiative” …It is funny to think about how far I have come musically from the first songs, and subsequent doubts (which I still have), only to get accepted by several international agencies and end up on major broadcast cable tv with some decent money to boot. I still feel very much like a beginner in music. Some people complain about writers block – I feel like I have writers “burst”… I really have so many ideas musically (and artistically in general), and recently have been starting way too many and not finishing near enough. It is such a joy to make music and create in general, God is so good. There looks to be a lot coming in 2016, so strap yourself in, and, get ready, the best is yet to come!

everything burns (audio only)






Get the Flash Player to see this content.

(flash video)

Quicktime everything burns

ipad/iphone HD file everything burns

ipad/iphone lowrez file everything burns

kindle / samsung / android file everything burns (HD)

on the outside looking in >

Saturday, September 12th, 2015
No Gravatar

I recently watched the movie Standing In The Shadow Of Motown. The entire movie was good, though I was a little less into the guest spot cameos of people covering the hits (Bootsy on bass > oh yeah – singing classic Motown? not so much). There was a lot of talk in the movie how unknown the Funk Brothers were and are, since back in the day album credits rarely listed session musicians. Drummer Steve Jordan said at one point; the band was so happening that you could put any singer in front of them and they’d have a hit. Often times studio musicians recognize this and just accept that as part of the gig, but the sheer number of hits and almost complete anonymity of these Funk Brothers is truly eye-popping. One of the most brutal examples of this came during a section featuring guitarist Robert White (who wrote the well known intro to My Girl). The guitarist was at a restaurant and My Girl came on the radio. Someone in the restaurant came up to the booth White was dining at and was gushing at that intro “do you hear that? It’s amazing!” and Robert White, who wrote it, looked up and said “yeah I…” then stopped, looked down, and said “I’ll order the BBQ chicken”. His friend asked him later – “why didn’t you tell him that was you?” And Robert responded “nah – he’d never believe some old washed up guy like me”…the friend stated Robert was always on the outside looking in. I was struck by that. Here was a guy who was on many, many number one hits, playing with an amazing roster of talent, living what many would consider “the dream” and he was on the outside looking in. But he isn’t alone.

Shut Up and Play the Hits features the last show of LCD Soundsystems (the show is very good) interspersed with the quiet, somewhat desperate and doubting day to day unwinding life of James Murphy as he calls it quits with LCD Soundsystems. If you want another example of someone on the outside looking in, watch this. The contrast of high energy concert with an almost bleak depressed “everyday life” as Murphy goes about his business makes the whole thing even heavier. A part of me wondered if Murphy was shooting for some melodrama, in being emotionally neutral, or even flat – but the interview brings out the gnawing doubts he lives 24/7. Outside looking in. And this got me thinking..why? (more…)

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
No Gravatar
great movie on the unsung heroes of motown hits

great movie on the unsung heroes of motown hits

Do you know the Funk Brothers? This movie is a great documentary on Detroits version of the Wrecking Crew!

new song > You’re The One

Sunday, August 9th, 2015
No Gravatar

up next is a song with some difficulties inherent on multiple levels…let me start from the beginning… a few months ago I ordered this Rogue combo pack on a whim, got it – tuned the guitar to open G, grabbed a glass slide, and slid into this song almost on the first few strums. I began writing the song published here today and was well on my way with some issues around the chord progression, but hey, I always have issues so I just slogged on. At this time we were going to Holland for vacation, and I was asked to bring a Reso Phonic over, which I didnatlguit (pictured left after they sorted out the +/-$3,000.00 payment). In Holland I worked with Dennis while he was enjoying his new guitar – and he kindly laid down the slide guitar parts, and offered some chordal ideas…unfortunately I recorded everything on an ipad – which has lots of inherent compression (if I can bypass the compression I haven’t yet figured out how), but at least we were able to finish up the guitar, and a skeletal rhythm direction (thank you garage band), and upon returning home laid down some acoustic drums, bass, synth etc. – I found a kind of live drum sound with lots o’ room ambiance to fit the best, alas with all the compression and reverb, and nasally slide guitar it is a swirl of mixing challenges – but at a certain point I just gotta let it go and say “at the very least it is a demo of the idea – maybe someone somewhere will be blessed and do a better version” …vocally this song is way outside my range – especially considering I am not a singer… I guess it is a kind of gospel blues in a major key, I dunno, the chord progression is somewhat unconventional I’m told… the title – too – is a bit of a challenge since I was calling this OMKAP (on my knees and pray) the entire time while working on it – but really the song is about the Lord – and how He gives me life and hope, and I kinda scream my guts out saying so… hence the final title, may it put a smile on your face. You’re The One

on my knees and pray
good Lord please take my sins away
I’ve been so bad
I’ve broken everything I ever had

Lord Your good so good to me
I wanna praise You
shine light for all to see
You’re The One to give me hope

na na na na
na na na na na (2x)

on my knees and pray
good Lord just took my sins away
I am so glad
Holy Ghost fillin me up just like He said

Lord your good so good to me
I wanna praise you
shine light for all to see
Your The One to give me hope

solo

na na na na
na na na na na (2x)

Lord Your good so good to me
I wanna praise You
shine light for all to see
You’re The One to give me hope

on being an artist >

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
No Gravatar

when I take a look at the etymology of the word “artist” I get something like this:
artist (n.)
1580s, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts,” from Middle French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).

Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for “one skilled in any art or craft” (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of “one who practices the arts of design or visual arts” (a sense first attested 1747).

Part of what got me thinking about this was a quote by John Lennon “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” The context for this quote was he was kind of knocking his own guitar playing (compared to someone like B.B. King), and kind of saying his strength is in getting his instrument to speak, or songwriting. I found it intriguing, as John obviously was not too keen on his guitar playing “chops” but he said in no uncertain terms : “I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor, I can never move, but I can make a guitar speak. I think there’s a guy called Richie Valens, no, Richie Havens, does he play very strange guitar? He’s a black guy that was on a concert and sang “Strawberry Fields” or something. He plays like one chord all the time. He plays a pretty funky guitar. But he doesn’t seem to be able to play in the real terms at all. I’m like that.” (more…)

regarding music > on being an amateur

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
No Gravatar

I am not so very great at writing music and songs – but it brings me such pleasure I can’t imagine life without it. In a lot of ways I am an amateur. “What” someone might say – “an amateur”…?… you have work on Mtv, VH1, National Geographic etc – you’ve been broadcast on top 40 radio… you’ve recorded in some of the best studios in the world, worked with major labels, toured the world, played in front of tens of thousands, clubbed, made a living, published on and on and on…. how can you be an amateur? I would answer (and I have said this before) I don’t really know what I am doing. Sure in a basic sense I understand how to play instruments well enough to make a song. Sure at some level industry professionals and peers have rewarded me with money and recognition for my work…but still… there is so much I don’t know. Charlie Chaplin once said (more…)

a joyful noise

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
No Gravatar

hola amigos! I do hope you all are having a great Spring! Myself – I have been busy on several fronts and thought it a good idea to say hey…or hola…or whazhappenin. First up> I have been working my way through Psalms and have been so utterly inspired in so many ways it is difficult to summarize in a single post, but I will say this; reading Psalms makes me want to make a joyful noise! Psalm 98 is where I currently reside and the poem resonates with sacred energy…some interesting points include the fact that it was written about 1,000 years before Christ, but stretches all the way past his birth to the judgement of the earth (that’s some staying power in relevance), David instructs us to sing a NEW song, and includes such details as “make a loud noise / rejoice / sing praise / let the sea roar / let the floods clap their hands” one interesting thing of note is the “noise” element. As a drummer I’m going to say many a joke is had at our expense…our implied lack of musicality if you will…in the sense that drums are rarely “in tune” to the song…even when a pitch is found – it’s sharp on attack, and we cannot tune specifically to every song. Anyway – a joyful noise is more of a victory shout (and less of a sung note)… furthermore – have you ever been by the roar of an ocean wave? Lemme tell you it’s big my friend. Overwhelming even. In your face loud and noisy. I’m thinking the idea here is to go big or go home. Wall o’ Spirit infused sound! The Hebrew lexicon lists various meanings for noise in this psalm including “to break out / break forth / shout / raise a sound / cry out / give a blast / shout a war cry / shout in triumph.” And yes, the triumph piece becomes important as we look to the end of the psalm we see the Lord coming to judge the people of the world with righteousness and equity. Holy good from our Lord Christ will triumph over skulking defeated evil… I’m thinking a day of some joyful noise sounds quite pleasant thanks.

On other news fronts (more…)