Loren Weisman

Loren Weisman

BandComedy

Realistic Music Careers 101 Lecture - A single seminar for independent musicians and students in any liberal art or music based program that will inspire people as they begin their journey to becoming a self sustaining musician in today’s music business.

Biography

Loren Weisman is an accomplished music producer and drummer based in Seattle, Washington. Having worked on over three hundred albums, Loren has also worked on numerous television, film, video game and radio productions, from New York to Los Angeles, Boston to Seattle. Loren is the founder of Brain Grenade Entertainment LLC, and the author of the Freedom Solutions Recording Plan. Loren has also written “The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business”, a book to help independent musicians achieve self sufficient and sustainable success.

A focused attention to detail and an innovative eye for possibilities are the trademarks of Loren's unique creative philosophy. By meticulously defining and refining all the elements of a project with the artist, he ensures that every project meets the artist's goals and dreams. Then, by applying his creativity, insight and experience to the project, Loren can create compelling musical experiences, with just the right sounds in just the right places.

Loren began his career on the east coast, working as a session and touring drummer for artists in genres ranging from Jazz, Latin and Blues, Rock, Funk and Fusion. Taking the advice of a friend, and through the knowledge gained with abundant studio experiences, Loren tried his hand at producing with dynamic success. After years of working with artists ranging across a diverse spectrum of genres, Loren mixes industry standard recording methods with his pioneering, independent approach.

Talent, creativity, spontaneity, and attention to detail describe the style and approach Loren takes to recording artists. Inspired by the structures of classic Motown, Loren lays out the foundation and the initial details of every recording in advance to achieve the most complete, creative and professional sounding album possible. From preproduction to budget planning, recording to post production, and all the creativity and design in between, Loren works together with the artist every step of the way to optimize every element of the project.

He further distinguishes himself from many other producers by not taking royalties, percentages or production points. This leaves the artist in total control of their product with the most avenues for success and sustainability.

Loren is also the founder and chair of the advisory board of Brain Grenade Entertainment, a revolutionary music enterprise for the independent musician, specializing in production, promotion, marketing and branding. Brain Grenade Entertainment provides explosive ideas, methods and applications for artist production, empowerment and sustainability.

Keywords: Producer, Lecture, Speaker, Clinician, Presentation, Clinic, Presenter, Instructor, Teacher, Musician, Seminars, Performer, Artist, Author, Writer, Blogger, Music, Business, Industry, Success, Sustaining,

Lyrics

Never the right time

Written By: Loren Weisman

How many times have you put off a challenge, a job, a plan or an assignment and claimed you would get to it when the time was right? We all have, but a sad fact still remains: it’s never the right time and it never will be. Do it anyway, even during the tough times, you will find the endurance, the drive and the will to work under any circumstances that are occurring around you.

Right now, excuses for not working on what needs to be done is at an all time high, and it's epidemic in the creative and entertainment fields. With fears of the shaky economy, layoffs, escalating prices and so on, putting things off has become a larger, more prevalent course of action than ever before.

The Problem

A strange equation seems to come into play when people are scared, overwhelmed, intimidated or just plain tired. They justify the reasons why they are not doing the things they know they should be in exchange for shortcutting or procrastinating. These people even convince themselves that procrastination is the right it is the way it has to be and they are doing the best they can or at least they are trying.

I hate the word trying. I can’t stand when people say that they are trying. I feel like the word trying is turning into more of an excuse than the actual action of trying. I don't think people have to be perfect; I don't think everything you attempt must work, but if you are not doing your honest best while making things a little better than the last time, you're spinning your wheels and wasting time. And you certainly aren't trying.

When someone tells me, “I’m trying,” I ask him or her how they are trying. I dig deeper and find out what he's doing to complete his project or goal. What problem solving measures are in play? What improvements, no matter how small, are being seen? Usually, a great deal of them can't answer. They are using the word trying as an excuse or they go to the blame factor of everything mentioned before from the economy to being tired and money to not having enough hours in the day and on and on and this and that.

Are they using “trying” as an excuse or a cover for the excuses? It seems to me that in the sentence, “I'm trying, but the economy sucks,” trying is the cover-up and the economy sucks is the excuse. The two ideas are very well intertwined, but I do not believe the real problem lies in saying, “I'm trying,” but in actually believing it.

The Reasoning

As a society, we have allowed ourselves and each other to settle for less than what we dream, desire and truly want. We have allowed ourselves to accept that everything happening around us is way too much for any person to deal with. We have justified why things are hard and why we can't achieve the dream and we have bought right into our own lies. The blame, the excuses and the reasons have allowed us to feel that it is okay to shortcut ourselves and dismiss our dreams.

The Right Time?

Realistically, the right time is never going to come. Money will always be an issue. Relationships will always be an issue. The problems around the music industry and every other industry will always be there or they will show their forms in many other ways that will be just as hard, if not harder. New problems will arise once old ones go away. It is not being negative; it is being honest. This is not negativity; this is life.
Barring your Mega Millions lottery ticket coming in and taking away the bulk of your stresses and your pressures or you receive the deal of the century; there will always be problems. Whether you are rich or poor, happy or sad, hard times do not discriminate, they just show their ways in different forms. This is ten times as true in the music industry or any artist-based career.

Quit yer bitchin!

Complaining does not answer or make things better. Making excuses and assigning blame does not further your career. These actions only drain energy and time that you could be using to advance your dream.
A number of years ago, I came across a great analogy in a book. The author said that the common person complaining and making excuses is like ten people standing in front of a burning house trying to figure out how the fire started instead of dousing the flames or calling the fire department. No one is trying to solve the problem at hand. Sound familiar? Kinda stupid when you look at it that way, huh?

Problem Solving

So it is not going to get any easier and if you continue to wait for that right time, it will be years till you might realize it is just time to get underway with what you want. So why not get underway now?

We all know things are going to be hard. We are stressed out and tired. AND WE ALWAYS WILL BE! People talk about “stress” as if it's going to go away, like it's this thing that only exists right now. I shake my head at them. We all have our stresses, our problems, and our fears. We know that people can use these very things against themselves and then justify why they are not

The Best You Got

Written By: Loren Weisman

When are you at your best and when are you at your worst? When do you get the most business done? What are the factors that contributed to your productivity? When are you most creative? What factors contribute to your increased creative drive?

We all wish we could always be operating at 110%, but often it just doesn’t happen that way. So instead of comparing your phenomenal productivity of yesterday to your lackluster today, why not take a closer look at the traits, the patterns and the factors that allow you to be your best and bring out your worst.

What are the defining elements and points of your great performances? When do you seem to be getting more work done than usual? When does your practicing seem most inspiring and self-fueling? At the same time, analyze the factors that lead to the opposite states. When do you seem to be accomplishing less? When do you feel uninspired? When is rehearsal a drag?

Letting bad days be bad and good days be good doesn’t help you problem solve or prevent those bad days. It doesn't reinforce the factors that lead to productive days. Look at the patterns, when they appear and the results they create.

A couple factors and the patterns they can create can include things like sleep. Are you getting too little, the right amount or too much? What about the food you eat? Those sayings about brain foodo they apply to you personally. What does eating heavy foods do to your creativity? Eating light foods? How does this nourishment effect your business sense, even your attention span? Maybe eating junk food helps you practice better while eating healthily allows you more concentration when you are working on the business side of things.

Another factor to consider is your emotional well-being. How does the stability of your relationships effect your productivity, creativity, etc.? How does a fight effect these things? Loneliness?

Some people are more effective with certain tasks at certain times of the day. Maybe looking at when you are doing different tasks and where they fall in the day can help you decide the best time to do them. On a similar note, doing certain tasks before others can effect your productivity. For instance, if you are stressed out by accounting and then go to a less stressful task that seems to continue to stress you out, it could be that the stress is being carried over from the previous task. Reorganizing the order of tasks may help.

There are a million more factors that can be personalized and specified to the individual. The point is to think about that action or actions and begin to look at why they were so good or so bad. Look for the patterns and maybe track them in a diary. What elements could be attributed to the greater success of whatever you were trying to accomplish? This will help you know how to mimic these factors for success in other areas or for the same thing at another time.

For me, I do better at writing blogs and articles in the early afternoon. I can write them in the morning and I can write them in the evening, but I have found, after looking at the different patterns and factors, I am much more productive and effective when I write in the afternoon, shortly after having lunch. When I am doing music preproduction or brainstorming, I tend to do better earlier in the morning than later in the afternoon and often come up with my best ideas before I eat on an empty stomach.

Write down the patterns that are most effective and least effective in a diary or maybe a spreadsheet or word document on your computer. Look for your patterns, and weigh their effectiveness in your work against how they waste your time. Look at the factors that surround the work you are doing and how they are effecting you and effecting what you are trying to do. Take the steps to know yourself and how you work and you may be surprised at what you can easily change for optimum results.

With the lack of time we all have and the limited hours in a day mixed with incredible workloads, doesn’t it make sense to take a couple minutes to analyze and figure out the wheres, the whats, the whens, the hows and the whys to our effectiveness and productivity so that every minute spent is an effective one? If we can all look at how we are most effective and work to emulate those conditions, while also reviewing when we are least effective and work to avoid or change those conditions, we can all get the most out of whatever work we have to do. We can figure out when it is best to do one task and not work on another. Lastly, we can be aware of the contributing factors and patterns to make sure we are doing everything we can to succeed as best and as effectively as possible without wasting time.

© 2009 Loren Weisman

www.braingrenademusic.com

Watch out for Loren Weisman’s book “The Artist's Guide to Success in the Music Business” coming soon. 

Bartering

Written By: Loren Weisman

MUSIC/BUSINESS BARTERING
In this hurting economy, many people are finding their bank accounts, wallets and savings a lot leaner lately. These same people are finding their credit card debt and their bills mounting. If money makes the world go round, the world's been turning a lot more slowly lately for most people. It is hard enough to get the money for bills without adding the financial responsibility you have to your music, your career and your business.
Unfortunately, waiting until the recession ends or for the economy to right itself is a passive and ineffective approach. You still need to find the ways to move forward and onward even in the hardest times. Instead of sitting back in a dark place and thinking about all the money you need to pay for the things you need, why not think about what you have as skills, abilities or services that you could potentially barter with someone who may have some of the skills, abilities or services you need? Bartering is an excellent way to work directly with other individuals, build community and networking ties, and still get things you need done accomplished.
Supply and Demand
Sit down and think about what you do, what you can do and what it is worth. Many people have a lot more abilities than they know. Take the time to write down and review what you know and what you can do and think about people who may have a need for those services. Make sure those people who may have a need for your services, have a service or services that you need yourself.
Do you know a band that has a member who designs websites and you need a website. Maybe someone in your group is a plumber by day and you know the band house they live in is having plumbing problems. This is a perfect fit where both parties can help each other and save money at the same time.
Offer and Ask
Reach out to other bands, fans and friends. Talk about what you need from web work to flyers, recording to mastering, car repair to editing. It does not have to be a trade for two entertainment or music services, it can be anything just as long as both parties feel there is a fair and well defined understanding of what is being traded for what.
Talk to people and ask them if they would be willing to barter. Find out what they have to offer and what you have to give. Think about how trading service for service could benefit both parties. Sit down with the band and brainstorm a list of what you can do and send it to friends, other bands and people whom you feel might have services you could use in return. Added bonus: this can lead to extensive networking that can potentially help you long after the economy has stabilized again.
Be considerate
Be considerate and careful about how you ask and how you offer. Some people just don’t barter or may be offended at the offer. Just because it may make sense to you doesn’t mean it is going to make sense to everybody. Ask first if they would consider an exchange or trade for services. Would they be open to having a discussion about bartering? Is there something they need or are looking for? Be assertive, but not aggressive when it comes to asking and make sure that what you are offering is truly worth what you are looking for in return.
If you are a beginner web designer and you are asking a professional mastering engineer to do a barter for services, show some class and offer a lot more time and a lot of extra design time to make it balance fairly. Consider the experience and reputation of the person you are hoping to barter with and make sure if you do not match that record that you are supplementing it fairly. This can be by doing a little more work or even paying a very small fee to make it feel like a fair and even trade.
Get it in writing
Let's say you reach an agreement with someone to trade and barter services that both of you need. You are getting something you need without the cost of paying for it and the other party is receiving the same. Make sure to put it in clear and concise writing. Many relationships, personal and professional, have ended due to lack of communication, clarification and understanding of the other's expectations.
Consider your actions the service and your agreement the invoice. While no money is being exchanged, you are still being paid.
Make sure to clearly identify what services are being exchanged as well as the extent of those services. Clarify the circumstances of potential “overtime.” Clearly describe and make sure you know the expected outcomes. Make absolutely certain to get all of this in writing in order to avoid conflict and maintain the relationship.
Conclusion
Just because the economy is in the hole doesn’t mean you have to slow down your career and skimp on the things you need. Network, communicate both with people you know as well as people and businesses unknown to you. Be prepared for the rejections because there will be many. But those rejections will also open the doors for the acceptances. Do no

Delaying Instant Gratification

Written By: Loren Weisman

Delaying instant gratification for sustainable gratification.
Many musicians labor with such meticulous effort and attention to detail when it comes to the production, recording and creation of a song or an album in the studio, but then abandon that work ethic once the album is done in exchange for instant gratification. These musicians make sure that when it comes to recording all of the pieces are in place from start to finish. In my opinion, this is the best way to record and the best way to approach music. However, if the goal is a successful and sustaining music career is the goal, then this diligence must continue long after the final recording and initial release of that album.
It takes a special kind of patience to work on those few measures of a song or listen to a section repeatedly until it is performed in the way the best reflecting the artist's intentions. Many who are not accustomed to this type of painstaking work will learn it in the production process and immediately see how it can be effective and productive when they listen to the final product. They will learn that, while concentrating on the small things along the way may not immediately produce the most favorable results, those efforts will create a solid foundation for the finished product, a product that, in the end, will be much stronger and everything the artist wants it to be.
But here's where it gets strange. The album is done. The details have been precisely sorted, the i's are dotted, the t's are crossed, the p's and q's are minded, the ducks are in a row, the house is minded, etc., etc, and then, suddenly, the artist switches gears to an “instant gratification approach.” The artist who worked so hard now begins to cut corners by skipping crucial steps. They do not take the time to create the best promotional package; they do not research the best date to release the album; they do not organize the marketing and branding materials; they do not formulate the most effective long term plan to create a sustaining and solid success for the new release. This new album is like a baby that must be nurtured if it is to grow to adulthood and succeed in this very scary music world.
I come across many artists who do this: throw their diligence out the window in exchange for instant gratification. Now, in the defense of these bands, because so much work has gone into creating the recording, they just want to get it out into the world, preferably yesterday. They want to start selling it as soon as the boxes arrive from the disc manufacturer. They go to book the first gig as soon as possible and try to push things at a lightning speed.
Many times, the action of that moment can prove effective. But it is only effective for that moment. When you are only creating a solution or plan for a single event, you cut out the effectiveness of how this planning or work can effect the next event or something in the next month or even the next year.
On or around the day of the album being scheduled for release, I see bands put out these albums without websites in place. I see bands go public without a solid press release. I see bands still pulling together the basic items of their promotional kit and marketing materials in a weak and poorly managed way. In the end, they are now taking what was an incredible project and strip away the potential for its success and its ability to achieve long term and sustaining success.
Yes, it can feel good to sell two hundred CDs in a week. It can feel great to fill a room with five hundred people and maybe do an interview with a local newspaper or magazine. However, these circumstances will oftentimes deter artists from finishing the marketing work they know they need because they begin to think:
“This album is just going to take off!”
“I know I will be signed or picked up any day.”
And, my personal favorite, “I don’t need those extra promotional items or organizational plans. I mean, look what just happened in the past two weeks!”
Fast forward this artist and this release a month or even two. They're selling one CD a day if they're lucky. They're trying to score another gig at the place where they played the CD release party hoping to bring people out again. Nationally, since there was no big press release or press push, it just dribbled out and drooled off the radar of a couple of online music sites and a few music magazines. The arrogance, complacency and ego of those first frenzied weeks have long since passed. In fact, it was that arrogance, complacency and ego that that ended up ruining the chances for the album to make a mark. In the end, it just became another album being released on another day by another band.
With the over saturation of Myspace, artists of all levels, all around the world are releasing recordings without that attention to detail and the patience to create a release that will truly stand out in a market where so many bands, albums and sounds just bleed in to each other

Maintaining the Momentum

Written By: Loren Weisman

Maintaining the Momentum

Hardship spurs many people to work diligently to fulfill their goals and stride closer to their dreams. The struggle becomes a daily battle, complete with minor skirmishes and obstacles, as well as the succulence of victory. Those victories add up and when they do, they create momentum. Momentum is precious and needs to be maintained by persistent, consistent creative artistic output; these small victories are not resting places. Unfortunately, they are often regarded as such. Output slows and the artist seems to fall asleep. When they wake up, the momentum has vanished and they're left with stagnation and complacency.

Momentum creates a sense of accomplishment and provides a source of inspiration. Whether it's a feature of your band in a big magazine, a solid tour booked and scheduled, a song featured on a TV show--anything that positively effects your marketing—it's supplemental. It cannot take the place of your diligent daily output, though it can provide additional fuel to fire up your creativity and dedication.

And we are off

When a wave of momentum begins to build, ride it. Don't stand there and let it wash over you. Now is the time to work harder. People often think that the event or events causing the momentum will automatically net new sales and new opportunities. This is partially right. A spike in any kind of promotion will hike sales, but only for that moment. By not exploiting that momentum, you will only get a single result. Instead, take action: exploit new opportunities resulting from the new momentum to fuel more promotion, more sales and more marketing.

Don’t think that the results of this single momentum-inspiring promotional event will stick around forever. Use it for the moment; ride its momentum to create new opportunities. That is realistic and mature planning.

When it’s going good, make it better.

Be creative. Did you get a big story or interview printed in a large scale publication? Then add it to every bookmarking website you can find, such as Mixx, Reddit, Digg, and a number of other sites where you can push the article out for maximum exposure. Blog about it, send it out to other publications and grab some sound bytes for your promo pack, your website and your marketing materials.

Did you have a TV or broadcast appearance? Can you get segments up on all the video sites or send out links to your fans? Can you use these segments to push other TV or broadcasting groups for more potential appearances or interviews?
Folks, this is not rocket science. Think about what has just occurred to help your momentum and then think about the small steps you can take to exploit that momentum and look to continue it beyond the single action or occurrence.

Simple Tips

Keep the momentum while you are moving to guarantee additional motion and momentum. It's like Physics for Artists. “An artist in motion stays in motion.” “An artist at rest stays at rest, especially if there were chemicals involved.”
Losing motion or slacking off on what you are doing while momentum is still occurring may not show a direct effect now, but will hurt you in the long run.
While things are going well, push to continue to make them better.
Plan that the momentum is not going to last because it won't.
Reinforce and secure your momentum to sustain it for a little longer than just the action or event that is giving you momentum.

Advertise, share, push and create your ideas to make more people become aware of what other people already know about your music and your business.
Research what other people have done and how they were effective and what lead them to other opportunities or other actions that allowed for more momentum and then do those things too.

Conclusion

These are basic, but admittedly vague, ideas on the concept of maintaining and exploiting your momentum. Every situation that pushes or creates momentum is different, but the basic concept about trying to keep it moving, as well as creating more, is the same. Research different options of how you can plan, exploit and maximize the momentum that has been created. Then, formulate and implement ways you can sustain and grow the momentum.

The equation comes down to four steps for every situation.

Research
Organize
Execute
Repeat

Research how others have made the most of a given situation, action or occurrence that created good momentum. Look at the ways that you can best exploit and create a similar path to making it last.

Organize a plan before you start it. Figure out who you are going to contact, how you are going to do it and the methods you are going to implement in order to make things move forward.

Execute with consistency. Don’t try a blow out of one day. Make sure you are doing things everyday to build uniformity, consistency and support of what brought you into the limelight. Hopefully, this will keep you there a wee bit longer.

Repeat and repea

Arguing

Written By: Loren Weisman

The most effective approaches to arguing, communication and problem solving for artists. Take one for a summary…No, lets try this…Fighting and arguing sucks. How's that for a summary? Much better.

Whether you are in a band, running a business, in a relationship or any other type of interaction that consists of two or more people with strong views, strong opinions and strong personalities, disagreements are going to occur. It is human nature and like mentioned above, sometimes that human nature just sucks.

You are going to have confrontations. You are going to have disagreements. You are going to get frustrated and upset. So why not work to learn the best ways to communicate, as well as the best ways to argue, so these problems can be a little more easy to deal with and a little less stressful?

Patterns

Look at patterns that emerge when you argue. What are things that set you off? What are things that set the other person or people off? It is very common to find that many arguments reoccur not based on the item or issue, but how people are communicating and approaching that issue or that item.

If you are saying or constantly hearing “we always have this fight” or “it always goes here,” then maybe it is time to look at the patterns of communication and make a dual effort when you are addressing issues to work out the issue being brought up as well as touching on and identifying the traits and tendencies that get you to the bad place you may commonly go to.

First off, it comes down to trust and respect. Can you and your business partners, your band members or your husband of wife establish a trust and a promise that no one is trying to belittle anyone else? Setting the foundation of trust and securing the fact that both parties will not attack, both parties are aiming for solution and not just to fight. Add the promise of everyone doing their best to not become defensive, jump the gun, overreact or assume?

While these things can be challenging at times, you need a starting point and foundation from which you can grow. This will help the communication during the tense moments as it will also help make communication better during the easy times, too. Make an agreement to trust that the other person is not intentionally trying to hurt the other. Make the agreement to build trust around knowing that everyone is looking for resolution.

Watch yourself just as you are watching others for commonalities. Get away from telling some one what they are doing and why they are doing it. You don’t know everything and that approach can come off as condescending and assumptive and that will almost inevitably anger the other person.

Identify things together, but listen to each other. You may have a conclusion as to why so and so always does this or that. You may have identified some patterns, but what if there is more to it? Do not claim to know everything. It will only bring the tension to a higher level.

A couple fighting tactics...keep your fists high?

Some do’s…

1. Listen.
Listen to what the other person is saying. Do not start planning your response as the other person is speaking. That is being defensive and it will pull your attention away from what the person is saying. Put the ego away and listen to the other side instead of preparing your response. Prepare it after they are done.

2. Stay calm.
Do your best to breathe, to stay calm, to hold back on your volume and erratic behavior. Try not to wave your arms around or make frantic movements that will only add more stress to the situation.

3. Make eye contact.
Look the person in the eye. Show you truly want resolve. It can be hard when you are upset, but try to stay connected by eye contact. Although at the same time, for some people, making eye contact is interpreted as an aggressive maneuver. It totally depends on the person. This is a good thing to know about who you are arguing with. Personally, I prefer the eye contact.

4. Work to understand the other point of view.
Listen and work to comprehend the other side. Just because you see things one way does not mean the other party sees it the same. Just because you have resolution and feel content does not mean the issue is resolved. Get out of the selfish mindsets of solution for one and look for solution for everyone involved. You don’t have to agree with the other opinion, but if you can work to understand it, you are meeting halfway and together you can get to a resolution faster. It is not about agreeing with the other party's point of view. It is about understanding it so you can all move forward together.

You may see things a certain way. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt or ask them why they did something that really upsets you. If they have a different view and did not do it to upset you, it is time to re-examine and regroup. Explain how it hurt you as you work to understand the intentions you felt were not the true intentions. Its

The Art Of The Email Contact

Written By: Loren Weisman

The ignorance, the arrogance and the unprofessional nature of the solicitous emails I receive on a daily basis from artists or their management never ceases to amaze me. I'm told this goes for overall basic email etiquette in any and every profession. Still, the lack of effort is jaw dropping; professionalism, style, and basic consideration do not occur in the brunt of email.

I am a music producer and run a small music production and consulting company. On any given day, I receive an average of twenty emails that are completely out of left field. We're talking the “wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead” kind of emails. That totals about one hundred of those a week. Again, I am a solo music producer running a small organization, so just imagine for a moment how many emails must be received by the big boys, the big wig companies and the people that sift through emails for many of these people day in and day out.

If you are soliciting an individual, think about what you are sending out and to whom you are sending it. Your lack of preparation, consideration or professionalism can destroy that contact and get your email deleted. Worse yet, they'll never get to your music, which was the main point after all.

I compiled a number of emails that I usually just trash and sent out an email to friends at all levels of the industry and asked them for their top five worst email, cover letter or first contact communications.  Without further adieu, let's dive into my top five favorites.

5. Yo, I have the hottest thing ever. You gotta check this out. This is gonna blow and I wil take you wit me. (a myspace address) (a name).
When you address someone as “yo” it appears that you are mass emailing or spamming everyone and anyone who will listen to you. Second, when you state you are the hottest thing ever, you've set the bar pretty high for yourself.  You're also using certain keywords that will automatically turn off or turn down most people getting that communication.

The spelling and style are atrocious.  The assumption that they are going to be larger than life and deign to carry me along with them is just flat out rude.

Result: Trash the email. Skip the website.  Move on. That was what I did when I received a similar email and that is what everyone I spoke to did when they received that type of email.

Action: Tone it down. Spell check. Pick up an English style guide.  Everyone needs one!  They're not just for grammar nerds! Use confidence but keep it the foundation for your communication, not the body.  An email saturated with confidence comes off as arrogant.  It's a fine line away from arrogance. Also, supply a little more information.

4. My name is John Smith, I am the manager for John Doe. (Myspace link) Thanks, John Smith.

REALLY??? The first time I got an email like this, I was floored. I actually closed my email application and reloaded it thinking the message was truncated or cut off some how. When I asked my friends if they had ever received anything like this, they responded with, “All. The. Time.” 
This is the um, less than bright individual who has given you very limited information and seems to have these wild expectations that you will immediately race to the website, listen to the music and make the magic happen overnight.

Result: Trash the email. Skip the page. Wonder at just how foolish people can be.

Action: Formulate a letter! Introduce an act if you are the management. Make it snappy, summarize in a strong, professional tone. Then, ask or request an action. Are you looking for guidance? Are you looking for a producer? Are you looking for a contact? What is it that you want? Then sign that email with your name, your company if you have one, an email address and a phone number. Maybe add a website or myspace link to your organization as well.

3. Hello, I am the President and CEO of blah blah blah Entertainment. (You know, that would actually be a pretty cool name for an entertainment company.) We represent x artist and are ready to sit down and discuss a plan to bring him over to your organization with us so we all can get rich. We have been waiting for the right moment and the time is now. Call us so we can begin to negotiate….

Okay, these are viewed as fun emails to many in the industry. They are very common. On the plus side, the writer does bring up the “we” element. This person is thinking a little more towards the reality that  profit has to be seen by the artist and the companies or people that take that artist to another level.  However, this is also a writer who all too often comes off as someone who knows nothing about business, yet tries to be the Donald Trump of the music industry. The arrogance of bringing an artist to the company or individual, instead of the confidence of submitting an artist for review or a signing inquiry is a bad idea.

Result: Email is usually trashed. Sometimes there's a quick check to see if this CEO/President

First Impressions

Written By: Loren Weisman

First Impressions, more important now than before. Everyone is tired of that same old  phrase "you only get one chance to make a first impression". It is repeated ad nauseum from business schools to beauty pageants and everywhere in between. As much as I would rather say to throw away the stuffy old phrases, parables and sayings, this is one that seems to grow more and more true every day. Especially in the music industry.
Of course it is important to make that strong initial impression, that is first and foremost. Second, having all the music, assisting materials, image, business elements and the presentation of these pieces in place is paramount and required. Third is knowing how to individually and specifically present to the person, company, or agency, and doing it the right way.

This last paragraph represents the gold standard that has been a requirement of the industry for years. The musicians that move forward are those that have all the elements in place. If they don't, they might want to hold up on their forward motion and get those elements in order.
The main reason the first impression is now more important than ever is because of the internet-based outlets like websites, social networks like MySpace, and online sales systems like CD Baby and iTunes, just to name a few.  Because of all of these resources, a new level of saturation has been reached. Years before every band had a website, a MySpace and other online perks, it was a smaller consolidated market, in which musicians had to work a hundred times harder to find a wider audience. Back then, we had mailing lists that we actually had to mail out. Yes, we spent hours putting stamps on postcards. Now the mailing list is actually an emailing list that can reach tens of thousands, and doesn't really cost a dime.

The main point is that with the growth of the internet and the growth of the number of bands with such increased presence, combined with the decline of labels and deflation of the conventional music industry, it is definitely more important than ever to give off an impeccable impression. Industry professionals are seeing and being contacted by more musicians and groups than ever before, both amazing musicians and total hacks. The industry is being overwhelmed by "up and coming" artists, and many of these artists are doing more damage for the artists that are more prepared.

If it wasn't hard enough, add in all those directories, lists and books that you can buy to get the phone, email, website and address contacts to thousands of industry contacts. The amount of music and promotion being sent both physically and digitally to people is at an all time high. Gone are the stories of Johnny Cash staking out the back door of a studio, to tens of thousands of artists mass emailing everyone they can with their music files and information. The staking out still occurs too and has in fact increased, thanks to all the contact lists that print addresses. You can find that "up and coming" artist with 15 cd's on her waiting outside the building that she cant get in to, ready to hand off her disc In response, many companies now have altered their physical addresses to a post office or Mail Boxes Etc. box, just to avoid this onslaught of people.

Back to that first impression again.

Frankly, it has to be incredible. You as an artist have to present yourself in a top-notch way that makes you stand out, while presenting materials that are also top-notch. The market is over-saturated with truckloads of artists, labels, managers and agents, and the bulk of them are unprofessional, arrogant, and unaware of what is required, as they base their presentation off the MTV dream.  The more unprofessional you appear, the faster you are going to be viewed as just another hack band. Even if the music is of the highest quality, and you have something that truly is marketable and industry-ready, you can easily blow your chances.  If you are the artist walking around with a boombox, thrusting it into peoples' faces…stop. Whatever you do, you most likely are not going to be heard first. Your first impression is going to be basd on your ancillary materials. That strong first impression will be the critical step to get people to be motivated to listen to your music.

As much as you think everyone is going to listen to your music, many industry professionals will toss promo packages and discs before they listen to them, because the first impression is terrible. It's not their job to listen, and with so many people sending so much music, there is no time to listen to it all.

So, what can you do to stand out? What can you do to deliver the best package that will make some one want to open it and listen to you in the sea of promo packages, discs and emails they have received in just that day? When you think in the mindset that every person or company you are sending anything to is probably receiving a thousand other packages, emails or discs that look just

The Hidden Critic

Written By: Loren Weisman

On any given day you can find that critic who is pushing his or her opinion on craigslist, a forum, some website or anywhere online where he or she can make a loud, brash and often harsh statement. This statement is generally incredibly opinionated, usually rude and brazenly offensive. Funny thing: while the author's comments are strong, the author is not strong enough to stand behind them. The author hides behind “anonymous.”

From anonymous posts to made up screen names, these people will make any comment about anything they like from the music they hear on a site to a blog, to the look of your site to the look of your album cover. I have heard a lot of people talk about how pissed off they get over anonymous comments or made up screen names. These people respond to these attacks and get into these online back and forth arguments with their invisible and hidden tormentors.

Take it for what it is

In the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jason Lee's characters has a hilarious monologue where he explains an internet movie review site and how the anonymous reviewers who “live in their parents' basements” rip and tear into anything with joy and passion since they can never be found out. It is a high point of the movie for me and really hits the nail on the head when it comes to anonymous postings.

Seriously folks. Do you really want to get bent out of shape over someone who might be making fun of your music, your logo, your band, etc and doesn’t have the honor, the maturity or the respect to at least identify him or herself? In the end, it's a passive-aggressive and sad approach to be so forward and yet not have the guts or “pair,“ if you will, to sign your own name and identify the source from which the review comes.

I have no problem with critique or criticisms. I get them every week for the blog entries and articles I write. I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I write about. Still, it is my opinion and when I give it, I sign my name, give my website, access to my email and am happy to hear other sides, viewpoints and opinions. I welcome disagreements; it is how I learn about sides of the industry or viewpoints I am not familiar with.
As far as when someone sends a comment through a user name that does not have an email or real name, I just let it be. It isn’t worth it and I have better things to do.

Don’t stoop to their level; grow a thicker skin

Do you really want to respond and argue with every anonymous person that's out there saying something or making a comment that is harsh to you, your music or something you are doing? Do you want to fight that fight or put your energy elsewhere? I have had negative comments on blogs that I have written and leave them up. I am not trying to make everything look perfect and pretty, nor do I think I have all the answers as a guy or girl that tore in to me a few weeks ago about a blog I posted claimed.

I have opinions and I have ideas. I choose to share them and I confidently and comfortably sign my name to them. When people have added their comments, good and bad, I really respect it when they leave a name with their comments. In my opinion, it shows an honorable and respectable person.

If a person wants to tear into me or anyone and decides to hide themselves, just let it be. Grow a thicker skin. Don’t waste time trying to justify yourself, your opinions or where you stand to a person that is too afraid to stand up and identify them self. Its wasted time and energy that you could put to something much more productive and effective, there is no reason to stoop to the level of some one like that. Also, the attacking poster will not hear you no matter what you say. They are correct; you are incorrect. No amount of arguing will change their mind. In fact, arguing is exactly what they want.

Cowards behind keyboards

If someone feels they have to tear into you and does not have the courage to identify them selves, then that shows signs of a coward. Do not worry about it. Do not waste the time responding to it. You will only fuel a fire that is pointless and will inevitably take away energy that could be put to better use elsewhere…like your art.
This person leaving a derogatory comment with no name is just someone who is afraid and only tough when hidden behind the mask of anonymity. Give it no due and no consideration. Don’t start up responses or counter attacks. This person or persons is not starting on the level of maturity or respect, and nothing you could possibly say will change that. For me, the word “ingrate” comes to mind.

Conclusion

In some cases, when you allow for someone to make some comment and leave it alone, you may find other people will actually come to your defense and start up a fun little run of comments and back and forths. You will come off a lot more professional if you leave it be and let others play with the fool.

Not everyone is going to like you. There even are going to be some peo

Too Much Information

Written By: Loren Weisman

With the creation of the updating and micro-blogs such as Twitter, Rejaw, Plurk and Kwippy, as well as the status updates featured on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Imeem and other social sites, getting a quick message out to the masses is easier than ever. People can send a text from their phone or update from their computer and immediately send out information to the masses. But when is it too much? Where is the line between marketing and sharing too much information? Does too much information end up hurting more than helping?

Separate your personal life from your professional life.

These microblogs provide an easily accessible means to provide others with information. However, every nugget of personal information—from what you had to dinner to the crappy day you had--may be too much information, especially when you have fans following your updates.

Separating your personal life from your professional life is a good idea that will keep the bulk of people subscribing to your updates interested and actually reading.

Maybe you have a Facebook site or something that is strictly limited to you personally. This should be the place where you can share personal information with people who know you and care. Your other internet sites--MySpace, Twitter, Last FM, Etc,-- bear the weight of your profession. These are what the rest of the world will read.

Mix these two and suddenly everyone subscribed to your feed knows that you're about to go to the gym or going for a walk at this specific park. What if you or your band has crazy stalker fans? What if by sharing personal information, you put yourself in danger? Another good reason to separate the two, don’t you think?

And now for the latest

Let your band sites, your music networking sites, and your micro-blog sites all reflect things that are pertinent and related to you musically.

An effective and productive example feed may read:

- Link to pictures from our Show in NYC last week
- New blog on the latest recording sessions
- Update from the road – Austin
- Show cancellation info for 3-10-09
- New song available today on Itunes
- We are on the line-up for this festival
- New video link from our Saturday show
- Link to a new article about us in The Boston Globe
- We are appearing on this TV show on this night
- Anyone know of good restaurants in Atlanta? We are playing there Friday.
- Check out the band we opened for the other night
- We are launching our new website tomorrow.

These links pique interest and I might follow them to find out more information. There aren't excessive or irrelevant posts, so I'd probably stay subscribed to this feed.

It is true that some of the heavy-hitting celebrities have thousands of people flock to their updates just to hear that they're out for a jog. But it's doubtful that a new fan—or even an established fan who actually, you know, has a life—is going to want hear all of your personal thoughts on life, politics and the universe in general.

Don't be one of one the people or bands who flood their feeds with superficial and stupid updates. If you are only putting up interesting, informative and solid updates, then you will maintain the fans and followers you already have and potentially draw others to you.

Bad examples or what not to do

These are a couple examples of pointless updates that I found on three different sites in less than five minutes.

-I hate you Jim. No, well maybe a little.
-I’m Hungry
-Madoff pleaded Guilty; he could get one hundred years.
-I’m frustrated with Twitter
-Chris Brown is a dick
-Is kinda bored and cant wait till tomorrow
-Sitting at my computer and never going to make it in music.
-You’ve got to let me go
-No one showed up last night, our fans really suck
-A beer
-Watching Seinfeld and don’t feel like practicing
-Says go donate money so we can go out on tour

And this is one I saw yesterday and is the reason I wrote this article:

-I’m going to the (band x) show alone tonight since my friends are standing me up. They suck, why doesn’t someone meet me there.

This was listed on one of the sites where anyone can see anyone else’s post. Upon following the link, I found this person's music profile, their link, and their location. For the reasons I've already highlighted, this was not a smart move.

Astoundingly, this is very real and happening everyday. Not only can too much information be damaging to your marketing and promotions, but it can be downright dangerous.

Conclusion.

Separate your personal life from your profession. I know that music is a passion, but I don’t care what you had for lunch today. I want to be interested in what you post. I want to discover things that would make me want to buy your music and your products. I want to receive updates that are professional, but fun, as well as intriguing.

With people supplying an excess of information that might only apply to a very select few, limitin

The Elevator Pitch

Written By: Loren Weisman

People tend to want plenty of time to explain themselves, their sound, their vision, their goals and anything else that has to do with them. People like to share as much information as possible. They feel they need to explain as much as possible when it comes to getting a fan, finding a label, a manager, an agent, etc.
However, the fast pitch, the one liner, the quick explanation or the elevator pitch is the most effective way to present yourself. It shows consideration for the person to whom you are pitching, and it proves your overall organization and professionalism.
It is understandable that you want to use as much time and as many words to describe yourself, your goals and your abilities, but when it comes down to it, you need to remember a lot of others are doing the same exact thing. The more professional your presentation, the better you will be heard and the better impression you will leave.
Your Fast Pitch
Ok, so get to the point where you have it practiced it and have it down in order to get the best results. Period.
What is your fast pitch? It's a quick and descriptive summary. It's an elevator pitch: the pitch that you make in the elevator when you only have a few seconds to present yourself or your idea.
The same pitch should be in your soliciting materials as well. Make sure the one liner of your bio or that first sentence of your bio is a grabber. Make sure it is strong, detailed and quick.
The same goes for your tagline. Think of it as a shorter version of the first sentence of your bio. How can you sum up your band and sound in a short, unique phrase? Stay away from the “we are indescribable”, “we don’t sound like anyone else”, “we are totally original”, “ you have never heard anything like us” or any of those stupid lines that will immediately cast you in an unoriginal light.
For both the written word and the spoken one, think highlights, think memorable, think precision. Remember that other people are doing pitches along the same lines, so the faster the more precise and the more detail provided over the least amount of time will allow you to stand out much stronger. Make sure to figure out what you want to convey, what you want to share and how to answer questions with simple, quick responses that cover the crux of the question, but compel the person asking to dig deeper.
Let them dig deeper. Make them ask for more. It is a much better situation than disclosing too much and either making them bored or turning them off from what you are trying to share. Prepare yourself to present just like you would prepare a song in performance. Practice the ideas and go over the basics:
Who are you?
What do you want?
What do you bring to the table?
And make sure that your answers are quick and to the point. Do not drag on and do not waste time. Get straight to the point. You have no idea how many will appreciate that. At the same time, when you are to the point, you will find an audience that will want to know more and ask you for it.
Sport Center
Imagine it like Sport Center. You have two reporters who are giving the highlights and details of a one hour game in 2 minutes. Do not go into the story behind how you were formed or, if it's an interesting marketing point, then summarize it! Summarize the marketing points, the strengths and the exciting elements to draw peoples' interest. Be quick, informative, brief and, if you can, add some humor. Many salesmen and women will tell you it is all in the fast sell or the fast ask. The longer you go, the more chance you will lose them, their attention and their interest.
Know the pitch and the different parts of it
Just as you need a strong tagline for your band and a strong one liner to describe your band, you need to know what parts to say next and what a particular person might want to hear.
THE WHO
For example, if you are presenting yourself to a label, a club manager, a booking agent or a talent buyer, they are going to want to know that fast summary of who you are. So what is the one liner? What is your tagline or fast description of your sound? Who do you sound like and who has influenced you?
Quick, punchy and informative. Cover it quickly, give them the liner notes and then they will come back and ask for more if they are interested.
THE WHAT
Now if you are looking for some kind of deal, an agent or manager, a distributor or some kind of opportunity, you are going to add on to the who you are and add the what you want.
NOTE: Do the best you can to avoid the “uh’s”, the “umm’s”. These are called filler words. They make people look ridiculously unprofessional and all the other noises or extra words people use when they are uncomfortable or insecure. Work to avoid them.
After you have presented who you are, go to what you want and what you are looking for. Be precise. Explain what you want. I cannot count how many emails I have received with plenty of “the who,” but none of “the what.” I couldn’t tell if they wer

Realistic Music Careers 101 Seminars with Loren Weisman

Written By: Loren Weisman

Realistic Music Careers 101: A Seminar in Preparation

Traditional college-level music curricula are not sufficient to prepare a student for life as a working musician. Current academic programs focus on technique, theory and artistry, but few include any preparation for how to turn this education into a career. While it is certainly the case that many schools have courses in the business of music, or in music marketing, these courses are all too often behind the times, focusing on conventional approaches that have either proven historically damaging to artists, or are no longer relevant in this fast-changing industry.

Internships are a popular option, but unfortunately they often lack exposure to true practical experience. The story or the intern that is treated like an unpaid slave doing menial tasks is a sadly common one. Too seldom do interns experience the true realities of the career to which they are ostensibly being exposed. This limited experience can misrepresent what the career is truly like, and either foster misconceptions of what a future in that field would entail, or even worse, turn a student off to the field altogether. Furthermore, with paid internships disappearing at an alarming rate, and agencies inserting themselves in the process demanding heavy fees for placement, this traditional approach is becoming less and less practical.

Unfortunately, the painful truth is that practical experience in music as a business has become essential. Even the most talented players graduating each year from all the exceptional schools across the world compete for the same gigs with players that have been in the business for years. Given the challenging economy and extreme level of competition in the music business, talent and technique are simply not enough. Many musicians leave music school with excellent chops and a distinctive academic record, but no immediate potential for forging a career. Very often it is necessary to find a job outside of music to make ends meet, in environments not relevant to a musician's studies, thereby limiting earning potential and exposure to valuable practical experience in their chosen field.

Brain Grenade Entertainment has a novel new approach that serves to fill the gap in music education, that can make the difference between a capable but under-prepared graduate and a music industry success. The Realistic Music Careers seminar series is geared toward the college-level music student serious in making a sustainable lifestyle in music. Intended to bookend the traditional music curriculum, this seminar series expounds on all the opportunities and pitfalls that await the music student upon graduation, and will help the aspiring professional musician plan out their career while they are still developing their musical and technical skills. This early start at the practical side of the industry will help students see that to have the most effective chance at a sustainable career, they will need to think like a businessperson, and not just an artist. The

Realistic Music Careers seminars will help students answer questions such as:

How can I have a viable long-term career in the music industry?
How can I compete with musicians that are more experienced, technically better and already have a name?

What should I do to prepare for a music career while I am still in school?

Do I need a major label?

How do I make my way and establish myself?

What's happening now in the business that I can use to get ahead?
Questions like these are confronted by working musicians every day. Even successful, established musicians have lost jobs, been dropped by labels, confronted contractual nightmares, gritted their teeth as the profits of their work are absorbed by their record companies, and watched as the earning potential from their traditional career path has dwindled. With the Realistic Music Careers seminar, Brain Grenade Entertainment aims to arm musicians with the knowledge and mindset necessary to avoid the bad deals and dwindling income, and make the most out of the drastically changing field of music.

Realistic Music Careers 101: This seminar is intended to provide essential information and concepts that should be absorbed by anyone considering a career in music. As part of the orientation curriculum for incoming students, this seminar can both fire them up as they begin their journey to becoming a musician, and also empower them to lay the foundation of a lifelong career in a job market that is more competitive and challenging than ever.

Presented from the point of view of an industry insider who has been exposed to the many practical considerations of a career in music, this seminar is the perfect complement to the theoretical and technical aspects of a traditional music education. An outside voice that is active in the industry can provide an early and advanced orientation that focuses students' thinking on how they wish to

Are you Content with your content?

Written By: Loren Weisman

Are you content with your content?
Your website, your Facebook page, your music sample sites and anywhere else fans can find you should have all your key marketing and promotional content, but when does it get old and is it time to update? Remember, while you are chasing after the new fans, it is important to maintain the established ones as well. You have to think about what is going to draw someone to your website and why they are going to stay interested in going back to visit again and again.

Unfortunately, way too many artists have very sharp websites that are only updated with gigs or with updates that are quick, pointless blurbs that are not all newsworthy.
You have to separate from the pack. There are millions of bands with millions of websites, Facebook pages, Myspace pages, etc. Besides the music, what is going to draw them back? You can't put up a new song everyday. I know some people that do and in the end it has a tendency to burn a fan out instead of grabbing the attention you want to achieve.
It comes down to mixing it up and using all available media. Spark the interest of the fan who might visit your page everyday and the weekly visitor who wants to see a whole bunch of new stuff all at once.

First, spread the love

First off, as you have updates or items to add to your sites, don’t be like all those other bands that throw it all up at once. That's called “over-saturation.” It blasts out a whole bunch of new things and then nothing. Think long term. If you have five different things you can put up, such as a new picture, a video, an article about a song, etc, use a full week to provide all of that information.

Gain the reputation of always presenting new content as often as possible. Spread it out. Update more often over a longer period of time. Just because you recorded a new EP or album doesn’t mean you have to post the whole thing that day. Tease your fans. Lure them back to your site by giving them a reason to visit.

Choose your media.

Here is a list of ten different things you can update. Think of it as two weeks worth of updates, five days a week.

- Music – Don’t just put up a whole bunch of new songs. Present a different flow. Set up samples of your songs. Maybe one new sample a week or perhaps a version of the song from preproduction to the final recording. Maybe you have a live sample next to the recorded sample to showcase what your album sounds like and how you sound live. Even if you get the album done, don’t put the samples all up at once. If you are taking the time and scheduling the release right (hint hint), it is going to be at least a couple months before you have your release party, your press release and the promotional items in place. You can use the time between the completion of the recording and the release to put out little teasers of your upcoming album.

- Video/Music – Post a short video. Samples are good. People have short attention spans and are more likely to view short videos than longer ones. This can be a video of you playing in the studio, performing live, rehearsing, etc. Give people a little taste and fill it with music.

– Video/Non-Music – Non-music video shorts can be a great update as well. Interviews with the artist or the band. Videos of the load in, load out, something a little different with a touch of your own personality. The video shorts of the usual band pulling in to a town and laughing at a strange town are really overdone. Pick something that is yours.

- Blog – Blog once a week. Maybe if you're a band, each member can take a different week. Something talking about where they came from, something personal perhaps or something with the opinions of the artist or the member. Write about your favorite musicians, favorite songs, favorite anything, really. These can draw people in, while at the same time getting more and more content about your band, the band name and the band links out on the web.

- Band/Music Article - This would be a blog post that would be more about the band or the band's music. Maybe on a slow week, write about the lyrics to a song or the reason behind it. Remember, you know the story but a lot of others don’t. Use that fact to share and update your fans.

- Pictures – um, duh!!! Add pictures and, of course, put full captions on the pictures. If you put up a number of pics, make sure you have more the following week. If you are shy on pictures then put them up in smaller sets.

- Merchandise – You can feature a merchandise item you have, such as a hat, a tee shirt, a coffee mug or anything that is selling less than other items. Make up a story about it, give it a special sale price. Do something to draw them in to that item for that day.

- Contests – Maybe a monthly contest or something to draw people into participating on your site. Again, you are trying to pull these people in and make them return, so pull out all the stops.

- Review – Put up a revi

Five reasons you will fail in music

Written By: Loren Weisman

These are five of the top reasons why you will fail at a music career. It may sound like it is coming off a little harsh. That's because it is.

Too many musicians put too much energy and effort into talking about why things have not happened or why things are not working for them. Everyone has reasons, justifications and rationale to explain why they are failing, yet these same artists do not take the steps to problem solve, change direction, learn, educate or empower themselves with the knowledge and the tools to change the path.

Egos are a sensitive thing and musicians, as well as other artists, are very sensitive. Add stubbornness and delusions of grandeur to ego and you get a failure trifecta. The music industry has changed. It is not what it was twenty five years ago and, hell, it is vastly different than what it was even five years ago.

It's the musician's responsibility to learn the industry and the changes that are currently happening. Then formulate a clear understanding of what has to happen in order to ensure success. You must have problem solving skills. You must have the tools and patience to do the drudge work. You must watch for mistakes and missteps just as you watch for opportunities and new avenues. It is crucial to make corrections to keep yourself on the path to success.

Here are five of the top reasons or excuses for failure that I hear all too often. I've listed the reasons why they are bad and a way to look at them in a different light.

5. My friends tell me I am great. My fans love me and tell me I should be a star. Everybody loves me and I got a ton of reviews so I am in the right direction.

Congrats! Your friends like you and you have connected with some new fans. This is positive, but not something on which to base your business approach. When positive things are coming your way via comments, messages and personal reviews, then work to find magazines, websites and more reputable organizations and media to say the same thing. When you have a whole bunch of comments on your website or any of your social networks, you are in the same boat as EVERYONE ELSE. Many artists get cocky at this point and think world wide success is just around the corner because a song got 10,000 plays and some cute girl on myspace commented that she loved it.

Now is the time to work on getting 10,000 sales of that song. Now is the time to go after reputable media to review your music or your band. Now this is the time to work even harder and not get cocky. This is how you capitalize on successes. This is how you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other bands that think they are on the brink of success. If you do not, success may just be around the corner, but it will be at a day or night job working at a corner store.

4. I don’t need to worry about the business. The songs will take care of themselves. I don’t need to put the work into the business because it is about me and the music. I just need a manager or a label to take care of everything.

Great attitude. Just sign away the rights to everything then. Let some manager or label do the work. Okay, first off, a lot of labels out there have no idea what they are doing at all. They have templates of old record label contracts that they get you to sign. You then lose all sorts of percentages you are unaware of and they have rights to you without doing anything. On the other side of the coin, say by the smallest chance you get a solid deal, you are still giving up a great deal of ownership to other people to do work that you could easily help with and retain more of a percentage.

The reasons why you need to know the business are paramount and a book within itself. Here's a summary:

The minute you sign contracts, you are giving other people rights to all aspects of your musical presence. These “other people” may or may not know what they're doing.

It is required to know what these people are doing with your music, your booking you image, etc., what they can do and what could happen if things go well, just as you should know what could happen if things go poorly.
You do need to worry about the business. Whether you are independent or going to a label or manager, you need a crystal clear understanding of what is being done with your musical presence. Otherwise you will—I repeat--YOU WILL BE SCREWED!

3. This artist did it 10/20/30 years ago/ They didn’t worry about this, why should I? These things worked for them. I am copying them and I will have the same success.

Gas prices were cheaper 10/20/30 years ago. We didn’t have a lot of things back then we do now. Why [the hell] are you expecting the exact same methods used years ago to work today?
This is one of the most foolish ideas I hear, and I hear it all too often. From logos, to recordings, to what it costs to put out an album, you cannot use the facts of the past to define the truth of the present. While certain aspects may apply,

American Idol Take 2

Written By: Loren Weisman

After all the media from last week about American Idol and whether it was fixed or if Paula is coming back, I was asked by a few people to repost and recycle this blog from earlier in the year. This was written right before the beginning of last season, but I think it still relevant.

“Are you the next American Idol?”

Realistically? Nope. Not a freaking chance.

“But I mean, like, this is my chance.”
“I am the next America Idol!”
“I deserve this.”
“Everything I have been doing has been getting me ready for this day.”

American Idol began its eighth season last week with two-hour episodes airing on both Monday and Tuesday. That’s four hours of people with severe delusions of grandeur, and completely unrealistic hopes and expectations, all rooted in a profound misunderstanding of the music industry. All of this, plus the contestants’ lack of understanding of what they have just gotten themselves into is both mind blowing and incredibly sad all at once.

Loren Weisman
But before the mudslinging commences, a quick clarification: I am not attacking America Idol. I think the concept is brilliant. The model has been created for a music industry that is in trouble and delivers both shots of truth and an endless, dreamy hope for those that want to be stars. It has succeeded. It isn’t about the artists that have and haven’t had careers; the show is about profits. American Idol is a serious moneymaker with long term financial benefits that stretch across a wider spectrum of profit avenues than I think most people realize. It also has become a pop household staple that makes people think that if they can only get in front of Randy, Paula, Simon and, now, Kara, they can automatically be rewarded with fortune, fame and the realization of all of their wildest dreams.

I am not going to tear on the contestants themselves. I don’t understand many of them. Actually, I don’t really get any of them, but I find them intriguing. There seems to be this blinding glaze as they sign the show’s contract and, therefore, sign a year or more of their lives over to the studio. The contestants genuinely believe that not only are they the next Idol, but that this signing will solve all of their unrelated problems.

This is not a question of intelligence. We all witness those on the show that might be a little slower than others, but even the contestants with obviously higher IQ’s still appear on this show and have the same hopes, dreams and delusions. These people with great logic, intelligence and reason are blinded by the hollow, flashy hope offered by American Idol.

Beginnings

In the beginning, when Ryan Seacrest was only eleven years old, Simon Fuller, American Idol’s creator, left Chrysalis Records, and founded 19 Entertainment. During his time at Chrysalis Records, Fuller helped Madonna’s Holiday become a mega hit. More than that, though, he was behind Paul Hardcastle’s song 19 in 1985. It was that tune where Peter Thomas did a monologue about Vietnam War vets suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder over music. It wasn’t only a number one hit in the UK for over five weeks, it also grabbed the number one spot in France and Germany. The single ended up going to number one in ten other countries as well, making it a number one hit in thirteen different countries in 1985.

After the incredible success of that song, Fuller used the profits to create 19 Entertainment, the company which currently owns a big old chunk of American Idol. Fuller’s company has recording contracts with all the higher profile American Idol contestants as well as with Annie Lennox. 19 Entertainment also manages or has managed everyone from Honda Racing to the Spice Girls.

This is a big and very successful company.

Intelligent Design

So, 19 Entertainment is the super company that owns a great deal of American Idol, but you must remember that it’s not just the winner that gets a deal. 19 Entertainment retains exclusive right of refusal for management of the acts. This means that even after auditioning, regardless of the contestant’s fate in this machine, the contestant is still under contract with the show until three months after the final episode. Technically, a contestant that is dropped on the first day of auditioning is in and under contract with 19 Entertainment for over a year.

This is not a secret. 19 Entertainment does not hide or conceal this information. It is right in the contract that all those thousands of hopefuls sign. This contract states that 19 Entertainment has rights to you, your name and your likeness and, though they can release people as they see fit, they can hang onto a contestant for over a year.

It’s a great design. It means that though the top contestants might not do so well, there are still opportunities with the lesser known and, maybe at time, more marketable. Look at William Hung. He got a deal that made $500K off of “She Bangs.” But do you really think after the cut to all the people t

The list of names

Written By: Loren Weisman

How many of you have read a resume or bio from someone in the music industry such as a studio, an engineer or a producer and run into a strange list of names. You know, “I work with This Person who worked with That Person.” While this impresses a few fans and friends, it actually makes you look worse to the industry. The name dropping doesn't fool anyone….anyone = the people who matter. Yeah, I'm talking to you, studios and producers. Instead of just appearing strong, why not funnel that energy into actually being strong?

There is referencing that is beneficial and then there is just outright bragging. Like I said, come off strong, but let's clearly define that. Ego, bragging and arrogance are overdone. In a way, by going over the top, instead of standing out, you are just dropping yourself in to the bag with a truck load of other mediocre studios, engineers and producers. Instead, showcase what you have really done and how you really do things.

Too many musicians are presented such a line of crap when it comes to booking a studio or hiring a producer or an engineer. They spend the time, the money and the effort and then find out they were not able to get what they wanted or what they thought they would get for their recording.
It is the responsibility of the studio, producer and engineer to showcase what they have done. It is the responsibility of the artist to find out exactly what has been done at the studio and the reliability of the resume that the producers and engineers offer. Market yourself and/or your studio to its strengths. Be up front about what you are bringing to the table so when someone checks up on you, you still look honorable.

How does it really work in your favor to lie or exaggerate?

Studios talk about how so and so recorded there twenty years ago. Should that really be something that compels someone to want to use that studio? Was it the same engineer, the same producer, the same budget or the same session players? A lot more should go into the decision for someone who is choosing a studio. It comes down to what is happening now. People brag about recording in the same studio as this musician or that musician, but this really doesn't help the musician.

It is basically the equivalent of someone saying, hey, I pitched two innings of baseball at Fenway Park in Boston for a little league championship. Now, while it is cool to be in the same room, that is nowhere near the caliber of the Red Sox pitchers that play professional baseball. It is like giddy-happy joy that “I recorded where Personal Musical Hero of Mine recorded!” Which is great, but doesn't really do much for someone who isn't them.

Instead

Listen to the most recent stuff from that studio. Find out who is engineering there now and their abilities. Find out what the budget was for the recordings and demos you hear.

I have done a great deal of over-produced and excessively budgeted albums that I do not use as samples these days. I play people the samples from the studio I use now, the team I work with now and under the budgets that I work with now. Hearing a two-hundred thousand dollar recording when you're after a budget that is ten percent of that or less is the equivalent of a car salesman saying, “Hey, I know your price range is a Hyundai but let's test drive the BMW to give you a sense of it.”

That makes no sense does it? Would you test drive the BMW? Hell, no. You'd find a salesman who actually listened to what you wanted and could afford.

When a studio says that this band or that band recorded there, make sure you know the details. Just because someone has recorded in a room or a studio or worked with a producer or engineer does not mean they that particular artist liked it. I have been credited with working in studios that I went in to as a favor for someone else or was paid to do a session in that I would personally never choose to return to. I know there are people I have worked with where I didn’t click with them and they didn’t click with me, so in turn, I don’t reference them as I am sure they don’t reference me.

The point is make calls, send emails, ask questions and make sure you know what you are getting into before you invest into it. Make sure you can find out all the information you can to secure the right choice.

Conclusion: Replace the soft BS with the hard facts.

Find out the facts about the rooms, the engineers, the producers. Find out what has been recorded there and find out the details, like what kind of budget was involved, how many days, what other aspects played a part of the recording. In the end, your recording is a key part of presenting your sound, your songs and music. Make sure you are doing it right, and with the right people and in the right places.

© Loren Weisman 2009

www.braingrenademusic.com

Play with your food

Written By: Loren Weisman

Many artists strive to get the best gear, the top equipment and the most stuff that they can possibly cram onto stage or into the studio. Whether it's that drum or this toy or that additional instrument, many musicians today have too much stuff, and most of them don’t even know how to use half of what they have.
So play with your toys. Mess around with buttons, sounds, tunings, setups, etc. You may know the basic sounds, but what else can you do to find out even more about your gear?
In some ways, when you purchase a certain effect or instrument, it's like you have purchased a kitchen's worth of supplies and food. When you only use a certain configuration or a certain set up, it's the same as only using one kind of food from that kitchen. I have a favorite food, but I also like variety and I like to know what all my options are before I prepare or order what I want to eat.

Why not apply the same ideas to your gear?

Play with your gear, change the settings, do the unusual to get out of the usual mode. You never know what you may discover. Take a little time to experiment each day with your gear and/or instrument to find out what might inspire something new and different.

Missing a string or not missing it at all.

This goes for tuning, setting up, and practicing. Guitarists? Have you ever worked on your songs with one string missing? How would you rephrase the chord or substitute for that chord if you are missing a string? How does it make you approach your soloing in a different way? Do you find yourself creating or finding new licks from having that string missing?
Why not try it over the period of six weeks where each week you remove a different string? Run through your tunes, your practicing and improvisation to see what happens. You may find you're more prepared and able to continue playing during performances even if you break a string.

Write it down

Don’t spend time worrying about losing your settings and the ones you like the most. Write them down. List where you have knobs turned to or settings placed at. You can take pictures if that helps as well. Then write down the different settings you discover while playing with your toys. Keep a little diary of different settings and their effects, what you like, what you don't like. Jot down both the good and the bad. Alyssa, a good friend of mine has a quote I like on the topic too. “Sometimes what doesn't work is more helpful than what does. It's so easy to skip over the discord, but, even though it's not pleasing, it can turn into something beneficial and, ultimately, beautiful.” It will help you learn how to find and remember the sounds you like as well as help you learn what you don’t like and how not to avoid it.

Conclusion

It really is simple. Play with your food. Don’t just settle for the sounds you know. Take chances, take time and add some effort to learn the full array of the gear you have. Understand how you can change sounds and how those sounds can change your playing. From turning knobs, to taking away a string, to removing a drum to anything and everything in between, research, listen and think of different ways you can express yourself. You already invested the money in the gear. Invest the time to know it inside and out.

© 2009 Loren Weisman
www.braingrenademusic.com
Watch out for Loren Weisman’s "Realistic Music Careers 101 Seminar" coming to a city near you and Loren's book “The Artist's Guide to Success in the Music Business” coming in 2010.

Discography

Realistic Music Careers 101: A Seminar in Preparation

Traditional college-level music curricula are not sufficient to prepare a student for life as a working musician. Current academic programs focus on technique, theory and artistry, but few include any preparation for how to turn this education into a career. While it is certainly the case that many schools have courses in the business of music, or in music marketing, these courses are all too often behind the times, focusing on conventional approaches that have either proven historically damaging to artists, or are no longer relevant in this fast-changing industry.

Internships are a popular option, but unfortunately they often lack exposure to true practical experience. The story or the intern that is treated like an unpaid slave doing menial tasks is a sadly common one. Too seldom do interns experience the true realities of the career to which they are ostensibly being exposed. This limited experience can misrepresent what the career is truly like, and either foster misconceptions of what a future in that field would entail, or even worse, turn a student off to the field altogether. Furthermore, with paid internships disappearing at an alarming rate, and agencies inserting themselves in the process demanding heavy fees for placement, this traditional approach is becoming less and less practical.

Unfortunately, the painful truth is that practical experience in music as a business has become essential. Even the most talented players graduating each year from all the exceptional schools across the world compete for the same gigs with players that have been in the business for years. Given the challenging economy and extreme level of competition in the music business, talent and technique are simply not enough. Many musicians leave music school with excellent chops and a distinctive academic record, but no immediate potential for forging a career. Very often it is necessary to find a job outside of music to make ends meet, in environments not relevant to a musician's studies, thereby limiting earning potential and exposure to valuable practical experience in their chosen field.

Brain Grenade Entertainment has a novel new approach that serves to fill the gap in music education, that can make the difference between a capable but under-prepared graduate and a music industry success. The Realistic Music Careers seminar series is geared toward the college-level music student serious in making a sustainable lifestyle in music. Intended to bookend the traditional music curriculum, this seminar series expounds on all the opportunities and pitfalls that await the music student upon graduation, and will help the aspiring professional musician plan out their career while they are still developing their musical and technical skills. This early start at the practical side of the industry will help students see that to have the most effective chance at a sustainable career, they will need to think like a businessperson, and not just an artist. The

Realistic Music Careers seminars will help students answer questions such as:

How can I have a viable long-term career in the music industry?

How can I compete with musicians that are more experienced, technically better and already have a name?

What should I do to prepare for a music career while I am still in school?

Do I need a major label?

How do I make my way and establish myself?

What's happening now in the business that I can use to get ahead?

Questions like these are confronted by working musicians every day. Even successful, established musicians have lost jobs, been dropped by labels, confronted contractual nightmares, gritted their teeth as the profits of their work are absorbed by their record companies, and watched as the earning potential from their traditional career path has dwindled. With the Realistic Music Careers seminar, Brain Grenade Entertainment aims to arm musicians with the knowledge and mindset necessary to avoid the bad deals and dwindling income, and make the most out of the drastically changing field of music.

Realistic Music Careers 101: This seminar is intended to provide essential information and concepts that should be absorbed by anyone considering a career in music. As part of the orientation curriculum for incoming students, this seminar can both fire them up as they begin their journey to becoming a musician, and also empower them to lay the foundation of a lifelong career in a job market that is more competitive and challenging than ever.

Presented from the point of view of an industry insider who has been exposed to the many practical considerations of a career in music, this seminar is the perfect complement to the theoretical and technical aspects of a traditional music education. An outside voice that is active in the industry can provide an early and advanced orientation that focuses students' thinking on how they wish

Set List

Topics Include

• Control – Sharing with artists on how to control and own the rights to.. - - Their Music - Their Names - Their Images - Their Likeness - Their Careers

• Industry Standards at Grassroots Prices – Industry standard quality on very well designed budgets to include… - The Recording - The Press Package - Contracts - Internal Organization - Solicitation Materials

• License and insertion opportunities – for avenues of revenue including… - - Movies - Television - Video Games - Instructional/ Corporate music - Advertising

• Reviewing different avenues and jobs in music – Alternate and secondary careers in music or for your music. - Songwriting - Arranging - Producing - Management/ Booking/ - Publishing Agents

• Sales beyond