A Consumer Resource for Independent Artists

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playin' the Judgment Day blues.

What?!  You're still here?!  Yeah, me, too.  But then, I never put too much stock (i.e, any) in end of the world prophecies...it's bad for business and it damages morale.

Let's each raise a glass, shall we, to many more years of music, joy and life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I can haz spelling?

Okay, I am going to admit right now that I am a spelling, punctuation, and grammar whore.  Furthermore, I think that the world needs more of us.

I especially cringe when I'm reading somebody's professional website, MySpace, Facebook, or other example that is posted for public consumption and I'm seeing the English language garbled in the following ways:

 "Johnny didn't waist any time learning to play his guitar."  "Jane went threw a lot to get were she is."  "Your the best thing that ever happened to me."  "He said, pick up you're guitar and play!"  "I said that I play drums, to."  "Suzie asked her parents if she could go too the concert two."  "I would hate to loose my guitar."  "Do you no weather we go on at six or seven?"

People, words that sound the same (homonyms) are NOT interchangeable (synonyms); they all have different meanings:
to, two, too
there, their, they're
your, you're, yore
waste, waist
bare, bear
stare, stair
baited, bated
whether, weather
through, threw
strait, straight
no, know

Furthermore, it is important to understand that words that look similar but have slightly different spellings also have different meanings:
lose, loose
hose, house
where, were

Improper spelling radically changes the meaning of what you are attempting to say, and sometimes in ways that (trust me!) you would rather avoid.  I believe that Taylor Mali says it best, in his spoken word performance regarding the importance of proofreading:

As you can see, carelessness can lead to embarrassing situations.  Furthermore, it presents an impression of unprofessionalism that is easily avoided.  "Easy," you say?  "I've always been a bad speller!  I can't help it!"  I've heard this excuse from so many people, and let me assure you: the rules are not that hard to learn.

Allow me to introduce you to some fun and helpful resources provided by one of my favorite websites, The Oatmeal:

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
How to Use a Semicolon
How to Use an Apostrophe
What it Means When You Say "Literally"
When to Use i.e. in a Sentence
The 3 Most Common Uses of Irony

These links will provide you with fun, illustrated, easy to remember rules about spelling and punctuation.  Another great resource is Daily Writing Tips, which a blog that provides information and answers to just about any writing-related question that you might have.  You can learn about the correct application of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and misused words.  I highly recommend them!

If you still feel unsure about the accuracy of your spelling, grammar, or punctuation, it is wise to enlist the help of someone who does, in order to proofread your text before you take it "live."  This is important if you're a musician; if you're a writer and you have these issues, it is professional suicide not to have a good editor.  Incidentally, this is a service that I happily provide.

Awesome LOLcat photo retrieved from http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/tempestw/Cat%20Macros/GrammarCat.jpg.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reason to sing the blues.

The Mississippi River delta is currently in danger of severe flooding, perhaps the worst since The Great Flood of 1927.  This region has a profound impact on American culture and music, and I am holding it in my heart right now.

It is so hard to sit by and watch these sorts of things happen to good people.  Besides prayer, we can reach out in ways that positively impact those who are affected by natural disaster.  One of the best ways that I can think of is to help by supporting the American Red Cross.

Note: the above photo can be located a thttp://coverlaydown.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/guitarfloat.jpg.  While not related to the Mississippi River in any way, I feel that it illustrates the resilience of the region and its music.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Radio for the indie artist.

Radio is notoriously difficult to break into for the independent artist. Without the backing of a major label with clout and cash for palm greasing, it is darned near impossible. Mind you, I'm not talking about internet radio...I'm talking about radio broadcasting that you'll pick up on your car stereo. Bona fide air waves.

Allow me to introduce you to KYHY,  a Burbank, CA station that features indie music. They are actively soliciting your music.  For a very nominal submission fee and a copy of your CD, you'll be placed in their rotation.  You can then encourage your fans to email in to request your songs.  I've experimented with several other stations that are purely internet-based; all of them require monthly fees, so KYHY sounds like a great deal.  I'm going to try them out and report back.  In the meantime, you can get all of the details here.

As always, I'd love to hear about what is working for you.  Talk to me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Playing is, like, work.

I wanted to share this video that I stumbled across today.  A very talented friend of mine was recently complaining that a lot of people think that musicians should be playing for the love of it, not the money...as if somehow money cheapens the creative process or some ridiculous balderdash. The process of becoming a professional musician is a difficult metamorphosis, due to that attitude.  In this video, Scott Clark says that a lot of time and effort goes into what he does that isn't seen and doesn't pay in dollars (practice, chasing down gigs, practice, making flyers and promoting gigs, practice, and more practice).

TheFreewayLife- Scott Clark from FREEWAYarts on Vimeo.

I have long felt that the need to make a living as a musician ought to be just as respected as the need to make a living as a plumber or a teacher.  If it truly were only socially acceptable for a musician to "do it for the love" and then work a side job to eat, you'd be seeing and hearing a lot less quality music out there.  As someone who has a side job and other necessary distractions, I don't have much time (as in, hardly any!) to rehearse any more.  I have no time to gig, tour, or travel.  However, I love that there are musicians out there who are dedicated to keeping their craft honed so that I can have the privilege of hearing them do what they do so well--and I don't mind paying for that service.  I don't begrudge them their money, because their music makes me happy.  It's like an essential nutrient to me.

The career choice to become a full time musician is definitely not for the faint of heart; it isn't an easy way to make a living.   The bottom line is that if the musician wants to eat, he'd better be open to playing for money.  That said, there is no doubt that--as obnoxious as the business can be--in the long run, he is doing it for the love...because he can't imagine doing anything else.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Professionalism never goes out of style.

I was thinking today about what it is that gives an artist staying power, and while talent and ability rank right there near the top, I think that professionalism is the final deciding factor. What is it that makes an artist a "professional"? What makes them stand out as exceptional? Here's a list of what I believe every professional artist needs to consider in order to be taken seriously for the long run.

Punctual - show up on time (or be early).
Prepared - have what you need with you for a successful performance.  It helps to keep a packing/inventory list.
Courteous - I can't stress this one enough. Courtesy to the sound personnel and to the other folks who are there to help make your performance the best it can be, courtesy to the fans that are there to see you, courtesy to the other musicians involved--all these are so very important to be mindful of. Avoid developing a reputation for being difficult. This is not to say that you can't ask for what you need (more guitar in the monitor, bottled water), but be polite and for heaven's sake, say thank you, even if the other guy is rude.
Personable - an artist should avoid taking a superior attitude.  Before long, that big head will no longer fit through the door.  Be friendly...it will pay off in the long run.
Honest - personal integrity is golden.  Once spent, it is a currency that is very difficult to regain.
Organized - this is closely tied to being prepared.  Have your schedule close at hand.  Carry your business cards.  Make it easy for people to reach you.
Prompt - respond to emails, correspondence, and phone calls in a timely manner.  Be as thorough as you possibly can.
Consistent - develop a reputation for consistency in performance and behavior.
Presentable - dress for the stage.  Put some effort into your look by developing a stage wardrobe and by taking care to look put together.  Consider stage makeup if you are going to be under bright lights that may wash you out.  If your stagewear consists of t-shirts and ripped jeans, that's fine, but make it stand out from what you wear every day.
Sober - don't show up to a performance buzzed.  People have paid good money to watch you perform and you do them (and yourself) a terrible disservice if you are inebriated during a show.  Keep it under control at all times.

Are there any I missed? I welcome your feedback Please let me know what you think!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net