Free Ghosts

People Say

Not since Nightmare Before Christmas have I been so scared of Christmas.

 -Nerdy and Geeky Music

 

Well folks, Jonah Knight just stole the show here at RavenCon.

-Darkcargo.com

 

How do you manage to sound both sext and insane at the same time?

-Author KT Pinto

Concerts

  • Apr 25

    RavenCon

    North Chesterfield

  • May 30

    ConCarolinas

    Charlotte

  • Jul 11

    ConGregate

    Winston-Salem

.

Just as a reminder, given a choice, you should never have anything to do with Citi ever. No confusion about that, right?

This morning I spend over 30 minutes looking for some notes I made two weeks ago. I eventually found them on a post it note under my sunglasses.

Damn, I was mad! Like, really mad. My system crashed like I'd gone on a jog or something. 

Still haven't recovered.

February Album Writing Month seems to be going well so far. Here is my ninth day check in.

 

Song title

1) Untitled. Something about an invading army. The music is fine, the lyrics don't really make sense.

2) Sedna, Poor Sedna. A fine idea and a catchy tune, but it hasn't come together yet. Mostly power chords on an acoustic guitar is not often awesome.

3) Family Tree. Good idea. Kinda creepy. I don't remember the original rhythm. Hasn't gelled yet.

4) Geeks Can Watch The Super Bowl. A fine little funny song. Needs some smoothing.

5) Investigate The Crime Scene. My favorite so far. Lots of M6 chords give it a different sound.

6) The Guide (or I'll Be Your Guide or something like that). Pretty solid, I think. Nice music, lyrical twist. It needs another lyrical draft to tighten it up.

7) I Believe In Magic. A small, simple, quiet song. The lyrics aren't finished because I'm not sure if I do believe in magic.

8) Here Lies The Witch. This one is good. Will probably play it at Farpoint next weekend.

9) Energy. A science song about energy and the scientific method. In good shape, it just needs a defined melody in some parts.

10) You Will Be The First. A steampunk song following the inventor character from Age Of Steam: Strange Machines. He's up to no good. Good song.

11) Prepared To Begin. A follow up to You Will Be The First. The guy being spoken to in the former, seemed to need a rebuttal. Things are not going well for him. Good song.

 

So the month is going well. I need 14 songs and will likely surpass that. If I do, I may never record or continue to work on the lame ones. 

 

As a part of February Album Writing Month I'm trying to record the first drafts of the songs I am writing. In the spirit of FAWM, I want to record all of these drafts, but I still have a love/hate with my 9-months-old-but-still-new-to-me recording software. So I'm going for videos. Good enough, eh?

But now I want the videos not to suck. Suck can be many things. They aren't fancy videos. Just me performing the song into a mic. But now I'm caught up on not having my eyes flick back and forth between the lyrics and the camera. If I keep reading off of the lyric sheet, isn't that sucky? Obviously I don't have it memorized. Whatever. Just record it.  now have three "finished" songs that I haven't recorded videos of because my eyes are flicking too much.

Stop that. Just record the thing and move on.

 

 

 

Song number 5 in February Album Writing Month. Theme song for one of those guys on C.S.I. 

 

 

After our Super Bowl party ended last night I wrote this song.

 

It's a thing and I'm doing it. Write 14 songs in February. Okay.

Record and post them if you can. Okay.

If you were going to name this, would you pick February Album Writing Month? Kind of weird that they have "February" in the title. What about Album Writing Month? That's what I choose to call it. 

Anyway.

Day 2 and I've got mostly 3 songs. Not recorded.

Song 1: Things don't go well for an invading army

Song 2: Sedna is not recognized as a planet

Song 3: Exploring your family tree can be creepy

I like pro wrestling.

And I usually like the super bowl.

And I love the Olympics.

And I have an awesome sports project coming up that I'm working on as a personal trainer.

But I don't really like sports.

We started watching Brooklyn Nine Nine when it went on TV this season and hey, it's funny.

Then I remembered that two years ago when I was a judge for the Logan Awards, I was reminded that I loved the Lonely Island video Jack Sparrow. It's still the funniest music video I've seen.

This week I watched Hot Rod on Netflix. And then I realized that I'm a fan of Andy Samburg. Huh. How about that. I didn't know. 

 

It is hard to build a scifi convention cooler than MarsCon Williamsburg. Well, for me.

I don't know if their was a plan, but they have created a fantastic musical community. Mikey Mason, Danny Birt, The Blibbering Humdingers, and Griff's Room Band (and me) have melded in a way that feels pretty fantastic. Every year there are more and more fantastic people.

After the fact I was wondering why the theme of Twisted Fairy Tails was not used to greater effect. And there was a lack of literary programming considering that there were a number of authors including Jim C. Hines GoH. Odd little things like that.

But the concerts were fantastic :)

 

Last weekend I attended the very last DarkoverCon. After 36 years and the death of the founder, the convention has shuttered its windows.

It felt like the end. There was a good deal of "this is the end" type programming. It was sad and a bit surreal, but it ended the way you would want it to. They took the time to say goodbye.

But it's only mostly goodbye.

Next year begins ChessieCon. There is some staff turnover and the focus of the con will change, but if you have a hole that can only be filled by a Thanksgiving Weekend Con, these people will do you right.

 

This weekend I am off to Virginia to perform at a very cool wedding. This will be my second and a third is coming up next year. 

I love these. The folks are so enthusiastic about the change in their lives and the fact that they are including me is a wonderful feeling.

Don't let anyone force you into the chicken dance! Start your married life off with music you love.

 

I am very happy to announce that I will be performing seven concerts at the Screamland Farms haunted attraction.

Screamland Farms is what happens to Crumland Farms every October. They have three onsite experiences: a hayride through the Haunted Forrest, a walk through the Corrupted Corn, and the Barn of Bedlam. I've been through the barn and the corn, and dude, they are freaky.

Check out their website for more information http://www.crumland.com/screamland-farms/

And look over at my show schedule for my performance dates.

It looks like I am about a day or two from announcing seven Halloween/creepy concerts! I'm pretty excited about this. Halloween is my Holiday! 

The side effect of booking a block of seven creepy concerts is that my October (add in that wedding I'm playing) is pretty much locked. There's still time to book a creepy Christmas concert, though...

In 2008, one year after my son was born, I weighed 230lbs. At 34 years old and 5'10", I felt, you know, fat and tired and shit. So I resolved to loose weight. Year one I made two changes: 1) no more soda, and 2) if a restaurant had a drive through, it's not a real restaurant, don't eat there ever again. Since making those vows five years ago, I might have had six or eight sodas and, mostly, I don't eat at restaurants with drive thrus (I will get a coffee from a Starbucks drive through and I'll eat at Boston Market because I get the steamed veggies).

After one year, with zero exercise, I lost 10lbs. Great. Easy.

Then I did something dumb. I started to diet. I went on the Tim Ferris Four Hour Body diet and guess what? It worked. I lost another 20lbs. It was pretty quick and at 200lbs I felt pretty good. So good that I decided I didn't need to diet. A year and a half later I had gained back about 18lbs.

Sad me. Those size 34's that were so close to feeling good stopped buttoning. Interestingly, I knew I was gaining weight, but because I wasn't dieting, I wasn't weighing in, so I still felt thinner. You know, kinda self-delusional.

Here's the thing, my diet changes had all stuck. I don't eat sweets, soda, fast food, much fried food. And, because I have a mild wheat allergy, I eat very little bread, pizza, beer, etc. And! The Tim Ferris diet lead me to Paleo and I eat about 1/3rd organic. How am I gaining weight? Better yet, if I'm eating well, how can I loose it?

Three things. First, James Maxey recommended an app called MyFitnessPal. James and his wife have lost more than 100lbs combined using it, so I gave it a shot. It's a pretty boring app, actually. You set it up and it tells you how many calories you should eat in order to reach your goal. So I'm like, all right, whatever. James said it works, so whatever.

Second. The app made me think, for the first time in my life, about portion size. I was all like, If I'm going to actually do this shit, I should do it correctly. I haven't eaten anything that I couldn't measure(except for cheat days). I put numbers in and get numbers out. Kind of like a math game or, as James likes to say, it's like RPG stats. Crunch some numbers and level up. I now look at a hunk of meat and can estimate how many ounces it is. In go the numbers. One serving of this corn chip is 14 chips so just eat 14 chips. And that means I can eat organic corn chips as long as I don't eat all of them. Right? Make sense?

Third. It doesn't feel like a diet, if feels like eating. With Tim Ferris, eating mostly beans, greens, and protein worked. It worked well and fast, but it was work. It was strict. It was all I thought about. This is eating whatever (for me, mostly Paleo), just as long as I finally in my life pay attention to portion size. And that Tim Ferris stuff still works, I just learned how to be normal about it and not a freak.

Today I weighed in at 199lbs. I don't really have a weight goal. I was in the 180's through high school and a part of me wonders if I could weigh that little again, but that's not really a goal. My real goal is to be a solid size L T-shirt and a 34 waist. I don't know how much weight that is. Maybe 5 or 8 more pounds.

That's all great. Here's the controversial part. I think that if your goal is to burn fat, do not start exercising. Get your stupid diet under control. If you can't control your food, you can't control your exercise. I still do no real exercise, however, when I hit sizes L and 34 I plan to. At that point I will have proven that I understand food and now it's time to get back into a volleyball league or something.  

So, do that.

Today is kindergarten orientation! School starts next week! I haven't had a chance to do much recording, but that changes on the 20th. 

I did, however, start making rough mixes of some of the mostly finished songs. I put them in the car and in headphones. Try to listen to them in different places with different ears. Interestingly, on almost every song I had the guitar too low. Something to keep in mind.

The Twin Peaks song- The Owls Are Not What They Seem- might be my favorite. I went and watched the pilot episode the other day. Good stuff.

I was able to do quite a bit today. My time had been going into getting Antimatter Press up and running, and that's okay. I want to rest my voice as much as I can. 

Today, with a bit of time, I recorded vocals on Mr. Deja Vu, Hold On To No One, and Vermillion South Dakota. And a bunch percussion. And here's what I've discovered: my voice has changed from the damage. It has. It's raspier. A little more broken up. My range and power have shrunk a bit. Interestingly, that's okay. I kind of like it. The only thing that really concerns me is the possibility of it continuing to go out. I have a bunch of shows set up for this fall/winter (I'll put them up when they are in stone). I'm totally fine with a Tom Waits voice if it can hold together.

I wonder if that whole "record an album in two weeks" thing would have worked if I hadn't lost my voice. It didn't happen, but it is coming along pretty well. Lisa took the 5yrold out for a few hours today and gave me almost three hours to record guitar.

I have a fair amount of vocal recording to do, but I'm not really concerned. Last week I had a day where I was able to do three songs in two hours. My voice got scratchy afterward, but what I recorded sounded all right. It does sound different. Not like Tom Waits/Bob Dylan scratchy voice different. In particular, the song The Owls Are Not What They Seem (my Twin Peaks homage) feels... I don't know. Good and different.

As of today, of the 20 songs, 18 are in some form of in process. None are mixed, but a couple are almost there. I should make a better chart. Here they are.

 

Mr. Deja Vu

Catching Echos

The Desert

Don't Turn Your Back On South Dakota

The George Clooney Song

Hold On To No One

Milwaukee

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Papers

TV Show Theme Song

Vermillion, South Dakota

Into The Sky

The Lion

Sun God

Michael's Dead

Small Town Bars

Jonah Lived

South Dakota Calls

 

The last two songs: Dakota Moon and Those You Love (I will probably rename that one). I had started recording Dakota Moon, Jonah Lived, and George Clooney, but what I had didn't work so I started over.

It's totally lame. Maybe. My voice is better, better everyday, but not better enough to record or sing at full throat. 

So the guitar is pretty much done. There are a couple songs I need to rearrange, but I need to work the melody when I do.

That means, no progress on the album. Very sad.

But it does mean that I got to spend four hours working on my secret project. Ooo, secret project not music related. If things go well, I should be talking about that tomorrow.

Today I didn't do nothin' with the album.

We drove a couple hours to a nephew's birthday party. And then we drove back.

On the up side, I sang Happy Birthday To You without my voice cracking. Another few days and I should be good to go.

I'm recording this album on Logic Pro 9. I've never used it before, so in addition to recording, I'm learning the software. Up until today I haven't done any high level software stuff. I record. I record again. I record again. That's it. Basic analogue stuff. 

But now I'm at a point where, although my voice is feeling better I still can't sing and most of the guitar is in good shape, so today I did some software stuff.

I recorded the guitar part to Jonah Lived, a song that I'm not sure if I want to release on the album. I recorded it to a click track and got ready to play with adding loops of drums and stuff. I spent about four hours messing around, reading FAQ's, and watching tutorial videos. I got nowhere. I got increasingly angry, started getting snippy with people, and just quit the stupid thing.

So, today I did a bunch of stuff and came away with nothing.

...and Dakota Moon and The Lion. I done good on those today. Plus I added more guitar to Owls and Milwaukee.

 

That's cool. Definable progress. 

Still can't sing, but my voice feels a bit stronger. I have an appointment with the ear, nose, and throat doctor this afternoon. 

 

Good Guitar Done

Vermillion, South Dakota

Into The Sky

Papers

Catching Echos

TV Show Theme Song

The Desert

The Lion

Hold On To No One

Milwaukee

Don't Turn Your Back On South Dakota

The George Clooney Song

Dakota Moon

Owls

 

Guitar To Do

South Dakota Calls (pt 1 & 2)

Mr. Deja Vu

Breeze

Those You Love

Sun God

Small Town Bars

Michael's Dead

Funny. I wanted these posts to document all of the awesome in the new album. Instead I am documenting vocal issues.

I went to my G.P. this afternoon. First of all, she says I look great (duh). Second, my breathing is fine and their are no lumps anywhere. So tomorrow I go to the Ear, Nose, and Throat guy. They will be sticking a camera down my throat. Hopefully I can get pictures.

In other news. I finished guitar on three more songs. Vermillion, South Dakota, The George Clooney Song, and Hold On To No One. That's cool.

The most notable thing about today's recording is that I have just about lost my voice. Seriously. I start a time sensitive project where I am supposed to sing and on day 2 my throat hurts and my voice cracks. And I didn't even sing a whole lot yesterday. Blah.

I'm mostly concentrating on guitar. Getting the bones together. I plan to not sing at all this week and hopefully hit it next.

Here's what I've got.

 

Songs Well Started

Into The Sky

Catching Echos

Owls

Milwaukee

Papers

TV Show Theme Song

The Desert

 

On Second Thought (songs started that I am restarting)

South Dakota Calls

The George Clooney Song

Jonah Lived

 

Not Started Yet

Vermillion, South Dakota

Mr. Deja Vu 

Breeze

Those You Love

The Lion

Sun God

Hold On To No One

Don't Turn Your Back On South Dakota

Small Town Bars

Michael's Dead

Beginning today, for two weeks my son will be in day camp. This is my chance! Fourteen days to record the new album!

This is the long awaited The South Dakota Album (named to capture all of the South Dakota SEO). I have, I think, twenty-five songs on the list and while they all will not make the final cut, I am going to try to at least a draft recording of all of them. Some of these songs I know pretty well. Some still need some lyric revisions and arranging. Some I have mostly forgotten but feel like they belong in this collection. I drop my son off at camp at nine and pick him up at noon. Minus driving time, I have about two hours and fifteen minutes of quiet. 

Just getting them recorded is not the only trick. I am also learning some new software. Yeah, I've moved into Logic Pro 9. The test recordings have gone well and I feel cautiously optimistic. Mixing and mastering may take a while, I don't really know. 

That's what I'm up to.

I build my first website with some bad html. After a while I moved to a new host and lost that blog.

Then I did this blog. After a while I moved to a new host and thought that these posts were lost.

Then I had another blog. After a while I moved back to this host and lost that other blog.

And then I discovered that blog #2 was not lost, it was in some kind of limbo. Here it is. My 2009-2010 blog. 2011-2012 is gone, but that's fine. It is 2013 after all.

This weeks’ step is to make sure my website has form, function, and funk.

There are five items, according to Ariel Hyatt, that are mandatory for my music website to achieve these goals. (Actually, she doesn’t really get into the funk. That’s my twist.)

1) Add Your Pitch To Your Homepage
I have three pitches that I’m using for different purposes, and two are now on my homepage.
Songs about being haunted is the page title and I write modern folk songs that exist where the natural world meets the super natural as Glen Phillips, Josh Ritter, and Nick Cave debate spirituality in the background is the first text on the page. I also put this on my facebook, twitter, and myspace pages.
It is absolutely a good idea to have all of this front and center. I sense a bit of clunky-ness, but I think that is due to the design and not the content.

2) Your Site Must Load In Less Than 3.5 Seconds.
My site has always been a quick loader. There is a press widget in the bottom half of the page that takes just a couple seconds, but it doesn’t start loading until you scroll down to it. It’s still a quick load

3) No Flash Intros
I hate flash intros. I don’t go to sites that have them and have never had one. Good for me.

4) Have A Consistent Look And Feel All Over The Web

I’ve been using my little ghost icon on all of my profiles lately. Depending on what a given site will offer, I tend to use light blue with either stars or clouds. I try to capture a sense of drifting.

5) Give Away A Free MP3, Make It Clear, And Set Them At Ease.
Even better, I give away a 6 song sampler EP to everyone that signs up for my email newsletter. Two of the songs are only available here.

This is the text next to the email sign up:
Sign up for my email list and in the confirmation email you’ll get a free 6 song download pack. You’ll also get my email newsletter which frequently contains additional free downloads, big news, and other exclusives.
I will never sell, rent, or lend your email address to anyone ever.


Some of these items I had in place prior to starting this challenge, but I did tweak each of them to refine their clarity. I’m also in the midst of redesigning my site with WordPress. Once that goes live, all 6 of these principles will be in place. That's the funk.

1) A friend pitched my Rockethub.com project to Inc Magazine. The editor said “I think it could make a fun online story” and forwarded it to a reporter.

2) Better than average tips from tonight’s show.

3) Sold two CD’s at a venue that I normally sell none.

4) The new guitar I used tonight inspires the promise of a long relationship.

5)I remembered that it took an assassination threat from Public Enemy to get Arizona to enact Martin Luther King Day. It made me feel better about the ‘deport the Mexicans’ policy. It didn’t come out of nowhere, they’ve just been waiting for years to figure out who to hate next.

1) Got another remix back today. I'm saving them up for a special project

2) Spent a little more than 2 hours working on the new website. WordPress is sneaky but once I get it, I will be its master.

3) I started building a good list of local venues that pay with the help of Doug Alan Wilcox and Tomy Wright.

4) I came very close to giving up on my song Empty House. Then I changed the key. Yippie! Creepy.

5) Another fueler on my rockethub campaign. http://rockethub.com/projects/298-the-exploration-of-dangerous-places

1) Got confirmed as an election judge for my 13th election.

2) A very talented friend is making the big move to L.A. next month. His certain success makes me more confident.

3) I now know what kind of suit I should be wearing to Elizabeth and Andrew’s wedding in three weeks.

4) After today’s meeting, I am feeling quite optimistic about the benefit I am co-organizing.

5) I cooked a very tasty and creative lunch. Think I surprised a couple people.

1) Today I scheduled two shows for next month.

2) While I didn't finish recording the vocals for Haunted By You tonight, it's because we wrote three harmony parts.

3) I was at the studio from 8:30-11:15 and was only charged for 1.5 hours. I love my producer.

4) While messing around by lowering my stings two whole steps I found four songs that work better down there.

5) A surprising mini-spike in traffic to my site the last two days.

“What kind of music do you play?”

Two years ago I knew that I totally sucked at pitching my music.

I would fumble around describing my music as something it most definitely was not. I don’t remember what I said but it had to do with grunge and alt acoustic Midwestern something. The reason, in retrospect, why I was unable to describe my music is because I didn’t know what kind of music I was playing.
When I started playing out again my first goal was to get a two-hour set so I relearned all of my old college songs. Songs written when I was living in a crazy house rocking out to grunge. I didn’t really know what I was playing then so I didn’t know what I was playing now.

“So, what kind of music do you play?”

“Songs about being haunted.” That was my first pitch and one that still works for me.

I had my musical epiphany a couple months into 2010 after which the creative flood gates opened and I’ve been inundated with supernatural themed songs. “Songs about being haunted” is a good first impression but it doesn’t tell you about the type of music, just the flavor.

“Songs about ghosts and monsters, angels and demons, empty places and empty people.” I like this because of the detail of the subject matter. I think it’s intriguing and if you’re up for those kinds of stories, you’ll want to know more. You still don’t know about the music.

My new pitch, after working though ideas in Music Success In 9 Weeks is this: “Jonah Knight plays modern folk where the natural world meets the supernatural while Glen Phillips, Yo La Tengo, and Nick Cave debate spirituality in the background.” I really like this. Modern folk. Natural vs supernatural. Glen Phillips vs Yo La Tengo vs Nick Cave in a three way dance. My only apprehension is that it’s a bit long, but I’ll probably get over that after I’ve started saying it.
So what kind of music do I play?

Modern folk where the natural world meets the supernatural while Glen Phillips, Yo La Tengo, and Nick Cave debate spirituality in the background. That’s me.

1) Wrote ¾ of a song while Milo was playing with some trucks.

2) Used www.fiverr.com to get one of my songs remixed. Will be ordering more.

3) My campaign on http://rockethub.com/projects/298-the-exploration-of-dangerous-places got its first two fuelers.

4) My friend DeAnna is having her first book published in November. http://www.doompress.com/ This means that my Christmas shopping is mostly done.

5) Scheduled another studio session for tomorrow.

1) Great performance idea for my song King Of Nebraska.

2) Restrung one of my new guitars and a new song fell out.

3) Good visit with Dad. Got ideas for his birthday presents which is not easy.

4) Burned 600 calories on the eliptical.

5) Getting back to healthy eating after the hickup that was Milo's birthday week.

1) There were no meltdows at Milo's birthday party. That includes adults as well as 3 year olds.

2) Old potty training plan wasn't working so we designed a new one that will start Monday.

3) My father gave me three guitars from his collection. The youngest is more than 20 years older than me.

4) My mother's visit this week was possibly the only one that didn't end in a fight.

5) Our fridge is full of fruit and veggies.

1) A whole day with my mom and no fights. You have no idea how significant that is.

2) I think Lisa and I had a good idea for a company that plays to both of our strengths.

3) Went to the overflowing storage unit and the thing I was looking for was right inside the door.

4) Potentially most incredible bonus track ever hit my ears.

5) Started a rockethub.com campaign.

I think this is reasonable.

Every month I will do the following
Perform at one new local venue a month over the next year
Make 2 submissions a month for indie film and webseries projects
Maintain between 3-6 shows a month


By September 18
My website will be redesigned and launched
The album I am currently recording (#3) will be 98% done and beginning mastering
I will have found 50 blogs I like that I have begun to participate with them on a regular basis
I will have identified 10 area venues that pay a guarantee for singer/songwriters


By November 18
I will have launched my new podcast
My new album will have been covered by both local papers as well at least one publication in Baltimore and in DC
I will have found at least 12 conventions/festivals in 2011 that my music would fit well with
I will have found at least 12 potential partners/underwriters/sponsors for my music and have prepared publicity packets tailored to each
I will have identified musicians compatible with myself that play at the local venues that pay a guarantee and begun introducing myself and forming relationships
I will have begun researching the process for making an official legal publishing company


By February 18

I will have finalized details regarding album #4 and will begin recording it by March
I will meet with a potential manager, not with the goal to sign, but to learn.
I will have scheduled a show at Jammin’Java in NoVa (a venue beyond me right now)
I will have begun pursuing the conventions/festivals as well as continuing to identify at least one new prospect a month
I will have begun having meetings with potential partners/underwriters/sponsors
At least 2 of my monthly shows will pay a guarantee
I will have approached compatible musicians about splitting shows
I will have begun the process to make my publishing company legit

By September 18 2011

I will be more than halfway through recording album #5
At least 4 of my monthly shows will pay a guarantee
I will be on social terms with more than 20 additional singer/songwriters whose careers are currently above mine
Management from at least 12 local venues will know me and be thinking of me when opportunities arise
My publishing company will be official

1) My show at Grandale Farms went well. Tips were above average for this year and the owner told me that we had a "great relationship."

2) My website redesign took a good step forward.

3) A second person said something good about the Zune. As my 5th iPod is acting as stupid as my last 4, I feel like I might be able to make a brand change soon.

4) My brother called me while I was playing and I answered the phone onstage. It's his birthday, what else was I supposed to do?

5) After a total meltdown prenap, my almost-3 year old woke up with no sign of being cranky.

...is a book for musicians to “Supercharge Your PR, Build Your Fan Base and Earn More Money.

Sounds good.

Ariel Hyatt is the founder of Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR, a company that focuses on helping indie musicians get their business together. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I’ve been running across her for a couple years now. I’ve always had the sense that she knew what she was talking about and now I have her book.

The book maps out a series of steps that I should take to let people know how awesome I am (and let me tell you, I am awesome). So, I’m going to do it. I’m going to follow the steps, blog it, take action, and use social media and online tactics to, you know, be awesome.

Let me say this about me and blogging. You are reading this on either my 3rd or 4th blog. I built my first blog in 2007, blogged the election pretty well but the site was junk so I moved to hostbaby. Hostbaby couldn’t import my old blog so it went poof. Then I blogged how I was restarting my music career. But hostbaby is kind of lame so I moved to bandzoogle. Bandzoogle also can’t import blogs so my hostbaby blog went poof. A few months ago I saw the writing on the wall and started thinking about moving to another site. I expect that bandzoogle will go poof as well but God damn, I am saving this one if I have to copy/paste each post by hand.

Let’s get it on.

I know I need to use Twitter more. I need to follow people and get them to follow me. If I get a bunch of Tweeps I can sell them my music and then I’ll make money. Lots of money. You have no idea how much money I could be making if only I gave a crap about Twitter.

Truthfully, I used to care about Twitter. It went like this.

I heard about it on This Week In Tech and thought it sounded dumb. Then they kept talking about it.

My pal @tinaseamonster began to tweet and I though “Hey! She’s cool and I want to be cool. I’ll tweet.”

I started my account, found all my friends (12) and decided it was still dumb.

Every social networking/marketing messiah said in their book/blog/podcast that I’m a total dickface because I don’t see how f’ing Jesus Twitter is.

So, I dove back into Twitter and swam the Mississippi. I followed every 2 bit music know-it-all hoping that they would follow me back. Then I got mad that they weren’t following me so I stopped following them. Then I downloaded some free software that guarandamnteed to get me hundreds of new followers. I got 23. Then I stopped tweeting. Now I feel guilty.

Now listen, dudes. I greatly appreciate every single real person that is vaguely interested in me, my music, or my beyond brilliant insights. I love that you love Twitter. I’m not doing it. I’ll log in every week or so, accept new followers and follow them back if they are an actual person. I’ll syndicate my facebook stuff there but that’s it.

One last thought. I’m following bunch of big deal social network guys because they sometimes have cool links. One day I thought to click on the follower list for a dude that had many thousands of followers. I spent over five minutes going through page after page of his followers. I swear it was over 90% spam/self-serving/no value accounts. These people have thousands of nobody’s inflating their numbers.

That said, @tinaseamonster is an awesome twitter and knows how to tweet.   You should follow her.

A few years ago, before stealing music online was bad, I found a bunch of searchable songs just sitting out there collecting dust. I thought to myself, “Hey! I’d like to find some songs about the ocean.” I poked around and discovered the Canadian band Great Big Sea.

Accidentally, a handful of Great Big Sea songs appeared on my computer, so I listened to them. Over and over. I then bought 4 Great Big Sea albums.

Around this time the song ‘Harrisburg’ by Josh Ritter also mysteriously charted a course for my ear. Now, owning every Josh Ritter album available, I began tweeting my twitter off in anticipation of Josh’s new CD, So Runs The World Away, which I bought from iTunes soon after I was able to.

I want you to steal my music and after making it a part of your personal playlist, feel like it’s worth paying for.

So here are three steps to stealing my music.
1. Sign up for my email list and get the free 6 song download pack.
2. Get two friends to sign up for my email list.
3. Send me an email telling me who your two friends are and I will show you where to steal downloads of almost 40 of my tracks. Studio, home, and live recordings. Official releases and artifacts from the vault. If after listening to them you find that you’d like to make a purchase; that would be great. In the meantime, please steal my music.

Sometimes Y was my first college band. We were an acoustic trio with me (guitar, vox), Bryant (guitar), and Tim (bass). We played a few small gigs, mostly out on the lawn by the big rock, and that was cool.

After a year or so we accepted a spot on a Fraternity/Sorority variety show out of some vague notion that we needed to play in front of a big crowd. I think it was my idea (this was long ago). I think Bryant was cool with it but was most definitely not. As we got closer to the 1 song performance, Tim was getting more agitated and getting more vocal about his discomfort. I joked about shaving my head on stage. He was not amused. I guess I didn’t realize how upset Tim was about the show.

The show went about as bad as possible. An auditorium full of drunk frat boys booed us. Like, actual booing. And calling for Freebird. And for us to get off the stage. We finished the song, left the stage, and Tim quit in the backstage hallway.

So, what is there to learn from this? Not one person in that auditorium cared about us playing our cool song. They were not our audience. Playing in front of a room full of people who don’t care about me is a waste of my time and it might even make people mad at me for wasting their time. It took me many years to learn that I shouldn’t accept every show in every venue that comes along. Play for your audience.

1. She has a dry sense of humor that requires you know something.

2. She is still nuts about Buffy The Vampire Slayer

3. There were times when it would have been easy for her to let her family slip away but she is loyal and works hard to overcome distance and personal belief issues.

4. When she becomes interested in something she does research. When she talks about something she is interested in, you can trust the source.

5. When she believes in you she will become an advocate. For example: backing your project on Kickstarter.com.

The most excellent CD artwork designed by the most excellent DC Cathro has been submitted and approved.

The Master CD has been mailed.

If you preordered the CD by backing my Kickstarter project, the CD should be in the mail to you by the end of the month. Probably sooner, unless disaster strikes and the dead rise up (again), in which case it may be later.

Digital distribution should be complete by the end of the week. I’ve decided to use TuneCore instead of CDBaby this time. Here’s what TuneCore says:

How long does it take for an album to go live once paid for?

On average it takes about 4-6 weeks to go live on all stores. Some stores review faster than others with Amazon taking under a week, Napster and Emusic about a week or two, Rhapsody about 2-3 weeks and the same for GroupieTunes. So far we have been unable to determine the average time to go live in Lala.com and Shockhound as they are so new. Remember TuneCore does not have control over when your album goes live but these are averages based on long-term distribution relationships with each DSP (digital service provider).

Tina Seamonster is the first of my Kickstarter backers to get a shout out.

She makes stuff like this.



Go here to see more.

Thanks, Tina.

I’ve got the (mostly) final mixes of Ghosts Don’t Disappear and am wearing out my headphones. The goal now is to make sure that everything is a-ok before going back for the mastering session. This means that if the violin is a bit too quiet or if the fade out is too fast I need to get that in my head and on paper.

 When I would bring home the rough mixes I could always point out that this thing was too loud or that song still needs backing vocals so I wasn’t hyper critical. Now that things are close to the end, well, heck, these songs sound better than I thought they would. The songs flow well into each other and the quality is above what I’ve hoped for so that it’s hard for me to find anything I want to change.

And that makes me think.


I’m planning on filling the summer with free music for you. Once a week from June to August I will send out an email with a free cover song. I’m looking forward to finally recording some of these songs that I’ve been playing in my shows and some of you guys have been asking for them. These songs will be home recordings, won’t be costing me anything to create, and will be free for folks on my email list.

Around the end of the summer I should begin recording my next CD. It will be a good follow up to Ghosts, thematically and musically, and I look forward to bringing it to you.

Kickstarter.com is one of my most favorite websites.

You, dear reader, start a project with which you need some financial support, identify a series of rewards, and then you ask for help. If your project is compelling and you do a good job of spreading the word, you may find yourself with the funds to complete the project. In some cases projects have raised many thousands of dollars. The site has an incredible array of artistic, social, and just odd projects on a regular basis. Take a look through the site and you’ll find some way cool stuff.

I just wrapped a modest project of my own on kickstarter. After budgeting and saving for the new CD I realized that I wanted to make a change that would cost an additional few hundred dollars. Basically, I don’t want to use traditional plastic ‘jewel’ CD cases any more. Plastic = petroleum = terrorism, so using plastic CD cases promotes terrorism. I decided to use recycled ‘eco-wallets’ that cost, as I say, a few hundred more.

I made my case on kickstarter, created some cool rewards, and lo! I asked for $250 and made $500! I am so grateful to everyone who backed my project. Your support has made Ghosts Don’t Disappear a more impressive success prior to its release.

Over the next few weeks I will be expressing my gratitude for each kickstarter backer. These are all good people doing good work and I look forward to telling their stories.

 

The new CD, Ghosts Don’t Disappear, is almost done. We should be mixing and mastering by next week and after that it’s on to the manufacturing. It sounds good, the art looks good, the project feels good, and so what do I do now?

50 Websites is the goal.

My first CD, Singer/Songfighter, got pretty close to zero write-ups and reviews online because I spent all my time working on my local community. With Ghosts, I want 50 sites to write-up or review the material but I need your help to make that happen.

 I need recommendations for blogs and sites. Maybe yours. Maybe your friend. Maybe a site you go to.  In exchange for your help, I will give you and the reviewer free downloads of both of my CD’s and I will be happy to do so. My only requirement is that it has to be a site with history, don’t create something just for this.

 If you have a recommendation, send it to me in an email. If you don’t have my email, fill out the form here and I’ll write you back.

 Let’s grow Ghosts.

Let’s talk about a coincidence. Both Zack (my engineer) and I own accordions. Both Zack and I own broken accordions. I’d been hoping to record a bit of accordion on the song Someday We’ll All Be Ghosts but, alas! It is not to be. It’s too bad but the crux of the song did not hang on accordion.

I still have violin, stand up bass, fretless bass, a touch of keyboard, and 2 guest vocalists. Everything is shaping up well. Mixing by the end of the week.

The thing with being an indie guy is that you always feel like you aren’t doing enough. Like, I just did my taxes and could have sworn I played more shows than I wrote in my ledger. I remember playing 5-8 times a month when in fact some months were only 2 or 3. What was I doing?

 More recently Zack, my engineer has gotten something like the stomach flu. Let’s call it, the stomach flu. We were scheduled to meet on Monday but he had to cancel. So we switched it to tonight and he canceled again. Monday he said he felt bad. Today he said the doctor said he was contagious. I’m cool with that. I’m a believer in that if someone is sick they should stay home (remember that the next time you’re in Sears).

Now, my performances on the new album are mostly done. I’m thinking of redoing a few lyrics and harmonizing with myself but mostly I’m set. We still have some bass, accordion, and a bit of background vocals to do and since I’m not the one playing those instruments I feel like, man, let’s get it done. Then I remember that small delays, while annoying, are manageable. I mean, this thing is almost done. I like what we have and I feel good about it. I can wait another few days. Plus I actually have two shows this weekend.

If you have AAA service, the basic benefit is that if your car battery needs a jump a guy will come out and jump your car for no out of pocket expense. Great deal.

Two weeks ago my car didn’t start. I called AAA and a guy from 40West Auto Care came out. He was a nice guy, a 20 something guy, but was unable to jump my car. He messed with it a bit and suggested that the problem was either the alternator or the starter. He asked where I normally have my cars worked on, I told him, and he then recommended that instead of having it towed there I should bring it to the garage he works for, 40West Auto Care. He seemed cool so I said sure.

The car was towed. 24 hours later I had received no call about the status of the car. I called and the receptionist asked why I thought that she would be able to answer any questions because “nobody tells her anything.” She said to call back in two hours.

I called back and the mechanic said that there was nothing wrong with my car, it only needed a jump: the same jump that should have been provided free when the guy came out. I went to pick it up and was told that since I had it towed to him it cost $50. I said, “Shouldn’t this be covered by AAA?” He raised his voice and said “Do you think I work for free?”

Earle Arnold, Owner of 40West Auto Care

John Harris, Manager of 40West Auto Care

I called and filed a formal complaint with AAA. They put the complaint in your file, started a reevaluation of your association with AAA, and refunded me the entire amount that you scammed me out of.  Your mechanic and receptionist were two of the shittiest employees that I’ve ever come across. They were condescending and went out of their way to disrespect a customer on the phone and in person.

I normally use http://www.tiresplus.com/. They have always been fair, respectful, and they go out of their way on a regular basis to answer my dumb questions with a smile. I apologize, Tires Plus. I went with someone else and got screwed. It won’t happen again.

Today I was very kindly visited in the studio by Ms. Krissy Downing, electric violin player for the DC band American Sinner. We spent an hour or so crafting a violin part for Elizabeth Feels Differently.

Right now the song still needs a bit of vocal work, perhaps a second voice in a few spots, but Krissy’s contribution feels substantial. Sometimes you listen to your own song again and again until you begin to doubt its worth even though it’s one of your more requested and complimented pieces. Krissy’s violin makes me want to listen to it again and again.

I did the Marketing Over Coffee review because I’ve been thinking a lot about the marketing of my music lately. I listen to a handful of marketing podcasts, subscribe to some email lists and download pdf’s hoping to have a breakthrough.

Maybe 6 months ago I had my first ah-ha moment about this stuff. I realized that I needed to go big picture and stop thinking of myself as an artist and start thinking of myself as the owner of a small business. Very small right now. The motivation I feel isn’t about money. I’m very proud of the new CD, I think it’s the best musical project I’ve done, and I believe that if I can get people to listen to it, they will like it.

So, how do I get people to listen to it? Online music culture is jacked up, getting signed to a record label seems like such an old idea, and as I discovered with the last CD, no matter how many websites you have music on, people will not stumble across it and buy it.

As I sift through all of this marketing advice I find myself split. I don’t think that trying to market music online is much like marketing doughnuts online but it’s not entirely different either. These business plan templates don’t feel right for music, but maybe that’s the problem. Maybe they are right for every product and I’m still too much of an artist to see it. Or maybe the templates just don’t work for what I’m doing. As you can see, I’m all over the place on this. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Two things about Marketing Over Coffee (MOC): superficial and substance.

The Superficial. MOC is usually recorded as John Wall and Christopher Penn (legit marketing guys) sit drinking their morning coffee at a Dunkin Doughnuts. Without listening to their conversations, I actually get annoyed almost every episode because the implication is that Dunkin Doughnuts serves actual coffee. Right off the bat they lose credibility because the name of the show implies that they know something about coffee. As far as I can tell, they don’t.

However…

The Substance. In regards to marketing, these guys are great. Not only are they working professionals with track records of success, they can almost always present their ideas with crystal clarity. Episodes feature discussions of new developments within online marketing as well as personal test projects (what happens if I do this with Twitter). Best of all, each episode gives me ideas for projects that I feel I can accomplish on my own without being a pro.

Episodes usually run under 25 minutes which works. They don’t feel the need to ramble or go off on tangents. Also, even though the show is recorded in a doughnut shop, the ambient noise is not distracting; it adds an element of fun.

I do recommend this show if you are at all interested in online marketing. Not if you’re looking for coffee tips.

Here's where we stand on Ghosts Don't Disappear, 6 Song ep.

Recording is totally done on
Rhythm: Guitar and vocals done. Kristin Lagana from Victims of Experience recorded backup vocals

Recording is not complete on
Far: Guitar and vocals done. Kristin Lagana also recorded vocals on this one. Need to add bass.
The Window Frames: Guitar and vocals done. Need to add bass.
The Problem With Math: Guitar and vocals done. Need to add keys/sfx.
Someday We Will All Be Ghosts: Guitar is done. Vocals need tweaking. Need to add accordion and backup vocals.
Elizabeth Feels Differently: Guitar is done. Vocals need total retake. Need to add violin.

I’ve been listening to the rough mixes with my headphones on and I gotta tell you, this is turning out so nice.  As a way of comparison, my first CD Singer/Songwriter tries to be all over the place stylistically. Full band, solo, loud, quiet, God, girls, and grunge. Although the songs are good, there’s such variety that you can’t quite tell what my intention was. Ghosts is a solid consistent experience. All finger picking with a theme of, well, ghosts.  Let’s talk about theme.

 Rhythm: visited by the ghost of an ex

Far: a post apocalyptic love story

The Window Frames: isolation doesn’t mean we are alone in ourselves, on this planet, in the universe

The Problem With Math: an astronauts’ love song

Someday We Will All Be Ghosts: the past is the present

Elizabeth Feels Differently: connections and indecision

I love podcasts. Love them lots. I stopped listening to radio a few years back and all I do is listen to podcasts.

I recently recorded two test episodes of my new podcast, Singer/Songfighter. I did two tests so that when the show goes live there would be a few pieces of content. I should have the third episode done within a day or two. Episode #3 will be the first to feature the official theme song. hehe.

So what is the show about?

Singer/Songfighter is a series about the things I've learned walking around the periphery of the music industry. Small thoughts, current projects, successes and failures.

Part 1: Short topic
Part 2: Main topic
Part 3: Web tool
Part 4: I play you a song

I debated about Part 4. Should I really play a song every episode? A live song and not something prerecorded? Just one take? What if I screw up? At some point won't I run out of songs?

But I figure, it is a show about music. About my music. Play a damn song. Maybe the furnace will kick on. Maybe I'll be out of tune. Maybe I'll break a string. Screw it. These are the same things that might happen when I play live and last year I played over 40 shows. Stop thinking about it and do it.

Do it.

Guitar and vocals are finished on The Window Frames and The Problem With Math. Song #3, Elizabeth Feels Differently, is turning out to be a bit tricky. Here's why.

Singer/Songwriter folks can fall into bad habits. Since we're not playing with other musicians on a regular basis we might throw in an extra half a beat here and there or speed up/slow down in a certain part. With Elizabeth, I recorded the guitar at a consistent tempo and then discovered that in a few parts I had been performing the song with those bad habits. What is the solution?

I've been tweaking some of the lyrics and the rhythm of my delivery. I'm fine with this. I like making changes and experimenting and the like. It just means that this song, one that I've been playing for years, is taking a bit more work than I thought it would. No worries, though. It's still feeling good.

I go back for day three on Tuesday the 16th. We'll be recording guitar for Someday We'll All Be Ghosts, Rhythm, and Far.

Monday, February the 8th was my first night in the studio for my next CD.

In three and a half hours or so we recorded parts of three songs; Elizabeth Feels Differently, The Window Frames and The Problem With Math. We spent the most time on Math, finishing the guitar and vocals (although there might be a bit of tweaking later).

The first half hour or so was spent with Zack (engineer, co-producer) switching and moving microphones around to try and catch the best guitar sound. He ended up recording the guitar with three different mic's because each gets a different quality sound (warm, low end, high end) and he can then combine the different sounds of a single performance in the final product.

So, I often think about buying a good home recording set up to do all my stuff at my own pace without keeping an eye on the clock. And then I have an experience like this and remember that doing that would be dumb. Not for everyone, but it would be for me for two reasons: First, as a mostly solo guy, it is very valuable to have the ears of a seasoned pro tell me that I was sharp on that note, or that the rhythm could be better, or whatever. Collaboration is vital. Second, I might be able to come up with money for some basic stuff (I do have basic stuff), but developing the skill needed to become a real audio engineer takes so much time. I'd rather spend that time writing and performing.

Three cheers for real studios and talented engineers!

Blind Melon has always held a strange place for me.

I bought their first CD back when it came out because I liked No Rain. A fun little song that was a nice break for me in between Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The rest of the disk didn't blow me away, but I liked it fine.

I remember reading a piece in Rolling Stone that mentioned that the band was signed on the strength of a demo tape. Remember demo tapes? They seem so archaic these days but they have their place in history.

Jump ahead to their second album, Soup. The single Galaxy came out and I loved it. It felt like a fast car. Not a crazy thing, but very catch and solid. Imagine my surprise when Rolling Stone (yep, I used to read Rolling Stone) gave the album a half a star. Half a star! Really?

I never bought Soup even though I loved that song because it got a half a star. Some months later, lead singer Shannon Hoon died from a heroin overdose. I still had a picture of the band on my wall and I kept it there until I moved.

Recently I saw that the band had reformed with a new singer and has put out some new stuff. I listened to clips on iTunes but couldn't bring myself to buy it even though it sounded good.

Who is this band to me? A one hit wonder? Signed from a demo tape? Screwed over by a dumb ass review in Rolling Stone? Survivors and casualties? All of it, I guess. I wrote the song How Shannon Hoon Died in part because I'm still not sure how to feel about them, but I know that they mean something to me.

Yep, that’s me.

The Maryland State Arts Council named me as one of the recipients for this year’s award. I won’t lie, it’s pretty awesome. In 4-6 weeks or so I should receive the award check. It’s a nice amount but not a massive game changer and now the dilemma is how to use it. I have 3 possible strategies.

1) Save it to cover much of the cost of the next CD.
However, if CD #2 sells about as well or better than CD #1, I will be able to pay for CD #3 mostly from that.

2) Upgrade equipment, probably a new laptop, to create more content (videos and demos).
However, I do have home recording equipment that is functional but some years old.

3) Some sort of promotional thing
I really like the idea of hiring an online music publicist to help with the new CD, but that’s such an unknown quantity for me. I would want to make the money back at least, but who knows?

At any rate, I did win an awesome award and get to go to a nice dinner.  Thank you, Maryland State Arts Council. You rock.

Come Monday it'll be alright.

That is the red letter day when I go into 'the studio' and begin recording the new CD. It feels good, having that on the calendar. Zack, the engineer, says that it'll take a half hour or so to place microphones and fuss with dials before we're ready to push to go button.

I booked 3 hours starting at 7:00 pm. I figure this is a good amount to start with, but I don't really know what to anticipate getting done. I'm guessing that I'll play the guitar parts, what? 3 times? 6 times each? And then sing them 3 or 6 times? Maybe? I'll prepare to do 3 sings but be happy if 2 are in good shape.

After the guitar and vocals are mostly together we'll add in a few other instruments. A few strings here and there. And it looks like a most excellent singer will be joining me on a few songs as well. Good stuff.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my first CD.

Singer/Songfighter was a good first step for me. I had older recordings that were good and done. I paid for mastering and duplication but didn’t have to pay for additional studio time. Getting it out there felt great, like I was finally legit. However, because these were older recording the disk doesn’t really represent what I am doing now. I’m not embarrassed by it. It’s a good document. But I didn’t want to use it as a ‘resume’ for potential venues or for reviewers.

With the new CD, my goal is not to offer a rollercoaster of musical styles that show how quirky I am, but to really focus on what I am doing well right now. I want it to reflect where I am with my songwriting and performance. The songs I have selected are stylistically consistent and among those most singled out by fans at my live shows. In addition, I’ve selected songs that I can see a marketing path with. Songs with themes that could be marketed to a number of organizations within an industry. I have a lot of ideas and hopefully they will pan out.

Working with CDBaby (online distributer) was a mixed bag. They got me listed on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc, and I did sell a couple CD’s through them as well as some downloads. On the downside, I was continually disappointed with their webhosting branch, hostbaby, as well as with their Off The Grid customer service for the five months around their redesign. I also got spammed by their auto emails that were saying things contradictory to what the humans were saying. In one word: frustrating.

Will I go with CDBaby again for my online distribution? Probably, but I will try to minimize other involvement with them. Sell the CD’s, pay me for iTunes sales, and that will be that.

I currently use reverbnation/bandzoogle for my web hosting. The user interface is kind of fun and has almost everything that I could want. The big thing lacking is the ability to set up a store. They rolled something out a few months ago but it was a mess, nobody liked it, and it was shutdown. Let’s hope they’re working on something better because I am not a fan of paypal. I have paypal links but, blech. Talk about a stagnating company. If only there was some competition there.

So, nothing really went wrong with Singer/Songfighter, but the new one will be sharper, on point, and have a smoother rollout. If you're not learning, you're not living.

My three goals for 2010 are

1) Get noticed online.

2) Draw better to my shows.

3) Double my email list and facebook fans.


I think that these are reasonable goals. Get noticed and draw better are vague intangibles, but if I am successful with them I will be able to achieve #3.


Part one: Release 3 EP’s in 2010. 5-6 songs per release, priced reasonably, on a regular schedule.

Part two: Give away music. By spring I will begin posting free songs on a regular basis.

Part three: Do cool stuff live and get creative with my venues.

Overall, I think the year went well but I want to step it up in 2010.


Good things.

I integrated myself pretty well into the local music scene. I think I know all the players and have been able to share bills with most of them.

I successfully released my first CD.

I played a lot of shows.


Eh things.

CD sales were fine but not a runaway hit.

I haven’t mastered the ‘get on my mailing list’ pitch.

Some of the shows felt underwhelming.



And that’s fine. I don’t think there were any bad things this year, just areas I can improve. And improve I shall.

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