In the mind of Nate

Friday, December 27, 2013

Never Say Die!

Some of you that are linked up with me on Facebook probably know why I chose this title. I have been posting a video for a song with the same named from a band called the 69 Eyes around lately for various reasons. I felt the message of the song is good and I have been listening to this group a lot recently. Also, I just felt this was a fitting message to send people into 2014 with.
A few weeks ago I warned everyone about the dangers of being sidetracked during the Holidays. Which I'm sure may have gone wayside, and justifiably so. I have found myself practically in panic mode not being able to get even the simple of tasks done(actually I'm lying I did come up with a few new riffs and lyrics) forgetting that this is a well earned break from all the pressure and stress that comes along with being a D.I.Y. musician/owner of a soon to be launched independent record label. I found myself very anxious too when thinking about spending time with the people that will accept me no matter what, My family because I have so many things that are at this moment unfinished. But since we have accustom to blaming the corporate greed mongers that destroyed this wonderful Holiday season, I'll blame my angst on them as well. Damn you corporate greed mongers! Actually if we set aside the spending, the hassles and various insanity that this time of year has morphed into you and focus on the true meaning of the Holidays we will be able to relax and enjoy ourselves. It is supposed to be a time of peace and giving, in which we should all be kind to one another. My Christmas spirit came almost a day late and found myself at peace content for what I have at this very moment (something I usually view it as loss of the killer instinct). This time of year comes only once and it is great to see everyone cheerful and excited to be with loved ones. This year I mainly spent time in and around NYC as I awaited new developments with my projects. I learned the valuable lesson to not put your work into just anybody's hands as a seemingly friendly individual chose to try and set our project aside in order to climb the social ladder within the NYC scene and eventually attempted to extort money from us. I just need to tell myself: You are NOT George Bailey and this is not Bedford Falls (you know from the classic Christmas movie: it's a wonderful life)
I never thought there would be a bad side to being ambitious, but like anything else there must be a time to slow down or "cool your jets" so to speak. My main concern is being able to officially launch Forever Autumn Records , I am hoping to have album from my band, Imbolg and Of Beauty and Madness, which I am playing bass for. I never thought I would be involved with two bands at the same time, it is good to take a step back and not be the one steering ship all the time. However, each person in Of Beauty and Madness (OBAM for short) has some expertise they can bring to the table. I am really looking forward to having both bands out playing in many different cities and meeting new and exciting people this year. I can't say that I'm sorry that 2013, it has been a real up hill battle. Many friendships have been tested and some have ended. Many have shown their true colors, as they continue to deceive or accuse. Many doors have opened and some have shut. But such is life as each passing year gives us a chance to learn and grow as part of our personal journeys.
I leave you with my hopes that all of you will find your true path in this next year, even if it does not bring you joy at first. Some gifts take time to blossom. Thanks again for reading this year, be safe and enjoy your NYE celebrations wherever they are held. I'm sure you guessed that I would leave you with this video. Enjoy, Nate

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Steady is the course

Hello again, I'm sure most of you that live in places the have seasons are already braving the cold or may have come down with one already. This time of year just sneaks up on us. Not to mention having the Holidays and the pressure to spend being forced on you. And of course all those Christmas songs, which I'm sure you have heard so many times that you may have created your own parodies of. After all "its the most annoying time of the year" lol. It is nice to spend time with family and friends during this time and celebrate after working all year. But the cold weather does make us more run down, unmotivated and more prone to over eat. A few things that are poison to anybody that is trying to focus on being successful in any field, especially in music.

I decided to post this entry since this time of year is an easy one for us to lose focus on working towards our goals. Many work overtime if they are stuck in retail, and not to mention the music industry does shut down around this time of year (nobody except people releasing Christmas music or Top level artists releasing anything around this time) But this time "down time" is useful as well. Many bands use the cold months to record new material since many people don't go to show during the Winter. Just try to stay focused and keep writing, planning where you would like to tour when the weather is better and so on. If you do NOTHING you become NOTHING.

As you probably already know, this business of making music is very fast paced and requires you to multitask if you want to get anywhere. I've found myself for months on end spearheading a certain thing, and noticing many other aspects of my career in music would suffer. I learned that good planning is key, and for someone who admittedly has A.D.D. it is a challenge. But it is one I am willing to take, after all these tasks are symbiotic and each requires a specific amount of my attention (which is partly why I don't consistently post on a weekly basis, well that and my fear that all of you may get sick of me rambling on all the time). Not to mention this type of organization will help with all aspects of a person's life as well.

As we all know the playing is the root thing we do need to work on, although handling the business side is important as well. And for those of you that play multiple instruments and/or sing as well you are doubling or tripling the workload. For example, I recently wrote and recorded a demo of a new song. Each day I did at least one thing to make the track a finished product. One day I was tweeking sounds on my synth and arranging the song, the next I was programming the drum beat and so on. The point is to keep things moving, the more time you have the more you can do obviously. But if you allow yourself to get sidetracked by the changing seasons or any other distractions you are that less likely to achieve your goals.

I suggest writing down what you are looking to achieve, mark your calendar and make vision board (if you can envision it, you can make it your reality). As you complete each task, make a check mark next to it or scratch it out, I find that to be one of the most enjoyable things about getting stuff done. Try and you'll see what I mean.

Thank you all again for reading, more updates are coming soon. And I'm not a complete Scrooge, I know the Holidays do bring out good in many people. Here is blast from the past when a group of musicians got together for a good cause. Happy Holidays,Nate

And since the song is probably already in your head now, here's the song I was poking at the beginning of this:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Vicious Circle

I took the name of a Facebook group that I joined for the title of this post. I believe the group deals with ranting, but I realized that ranting takes away from the time needed to become successful. However, we all do it from time to time so here is the link to that group if you feel the need to do so. The one good thing about a rant is that many people can relate to do it. For those of you that are linked to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, you may noticed that I created my catchphrase for the most dreaded day of the week, Monday. I figured, we have "Feel good Friday" and "Throwback Thursday" why not "Bitch and Moan Monday"? Come on you know we all do it, so feel free to post it but make sure you include these hashtags: #BMM #ihatemondays #mondayssuck.

The Vicious Circle I am referring to is that which as artists we must be a part of. My last few posts focused on learning how the music business operates,putting out and promoting a professional release, and developing stage presence. I never mentioned all the hours of writing and rehearsing that is included in this or the fact that all the things I mentioned will be repeated over and over again. I recall years ago my friends and I were talking after a band rehearsal and one of them was questioning how many times Metallica must have played some of their early material. Think about it, many well established acts that have been around for decades have performed the same songs thousands of times. Let alone "reinventing" their sound and image. Take a look at Pantera for example, this a pic from when they first started: And here is one from later in their career:

Obviously all this can get overwhelming and pros make it seem so easy. Going into a career as an artist is sometimes a blind alley in which I hope to shed some light on. So always seek to find answer for things that you are unsure of. I am always here to answer any questions and today knowledge on the music business is plentiful. We often learn as we go and mix in changing trends along with advances in technology it gets increasingly overwhelming. As far as trends go, that's part of the Vicious Circle Think about the resurgence of Glam rock and Punk. Years ago people were saying both those genres were dead. As far as technology goes it is always good to keep up on what is new. But if you have what you need to make your sound work its best to save your money for other things. New technology should be looked at as a way to make your production work run smoother and or sound better.

The problem that many new artists have is that they don't realize all the work that is put into creating a sound and image. I must have recorded most of the songs on my first album at least five times or more. We discovered better ways to record the songs and or changed parts of the songs. Again it does seem monotonous but just keep your sights on your goal and be patient. All this work that goes into creating and honing enough songs will be repeated on the next album. But next time you will be more tenured and will be able to avoid the issues you had in creating the first album. Remember : knowledge learned is knowledge earned. The same goes for your album promotion and tour. Their maybe things you couldn't do or tried that didn't work or a venue that you wasn't a good fit for you. Many bands that make their own contracts find themselves adding things to them after each show.

So does all this sound like fun? To me it does because all these things that have to be repeated over and over and over again just mean that you are still in the game. Don't think of yourself as some Hamster on a wheel and don't think of this as work. Think of this as you taking your life in your own hands and doing what you love. Along the way you never know who you will meet and what you will get turned on to. But I do stress to learn from your mistakes and avoid negativity. There are so many people that are looking to cut other other people down just to mask their own inabilities (which may include not having the courage to go up and perform themselves)and that's just the average Joe not to mention critics. Many professional musicians and actors learn early on to NEVER read reviews because they know that the bad reviews will just bring them down when they have to keep moving ahead. It is in our nature to absorb negative comments and much more than positive comments. The higher you climb the more people will notice you and critique you. Go look at the Youtube likes and dislikes of famous bands. Most of them have more dislikes than most average bands have likes and these are on songs that may have even won Grammys. Just put the blinders on and keep working at it.

Thanks again for reading and I know I may have posted this before, but this is a great video to watch to keep yourself from giving up. Be well, Nate

Monday, October 28, 2013

Im Baaaaaaack!

After that last entry and all I put into it and the previous entries that include tips on the music Business, I needed to take a breather(which is needed from time to time). Well that and I have been having computer issues. Anyway, I really hope my last few entries gave you some serious insight into what is put into a career as a professional musician. What I really mean is an original band that plays professionally. All the Orchestras you may have heard(think Star Wars) in movies, Tv, or in plays or operas are all classically trained musicians, some of which have been playing since early in their childhood that have spent some much time learning their instrument that can not only play many complex pieces of music, but can also play them as soon as a piece is given them. Which is also known as "Sight Reading". That is in itself is something many artists(including myself)can barely do if at all.Luckily these musicians usually are well compensated and receive medical and other benefits from the Musicians Union. Yes there is such a thing and it probably would be a good idea to at least look at that link and see how it could help you. Such as providing an immediate stand in for hire encase someone is unable to perform suddenly while you are on tour.

I am not trying to scare anyone out of learning music or playing. I am trying to give you a real insight into how the music industry really is, and all of your options. Do you really think these people that play in an orchestra spent years playing, learning, studying at a conservatory to do something they hate? Of course not, they probably even more competitive than musicians that play rock. Except they are told what to wear(you have never seen a member of a pit orchestra wearing leather, spikes or blue hair have you?) so we have to be creative and actually build an image, which is usually shaped and altered even more so once a band gets a record deal or a serious management firm behind them. The artist becomes the image that they have created in order to have the public recognize them and their music by it. The best way to start on creating an image for yourself is to ask yourself: "Does this image conflict with music that I am playing?" you don't see Jazz artists wearing Mohawks and nose rings do you? Also look at what styles you are into and make something based off that, and ask people what they think. But most importantly ask yourself "Will I be comfortable wearing this for an hour on a hit stage will playing?".

I figured in the Spirit of Halloween, I would talk about stage presence and costumes. Unfortunately KISS was unavailable to speak about how they developed their makeup and costumes. But I do know that they each individually decided on their own make up and persona's. And as you know became popular Halloween costumes:

In Kiss' absence, I was able to talk to one of the members of the band Nekronet, an Electro Industrial Metal band based out of New York that is known for their blood splattered stage presence. Here is what Nekronet frontman Keithtron had to say:

"For me, it's really important to physically embody the message and emotion that I'm expressing in a song. It's not just for the sake of attention or to look scary, it's because I want to look how I feel when I'm performing. Our music is largely an indictment of the cruel and deluded world we live in, and when we're on stage I want to BE the warrior lashing back against that. Also, I want make sure people are thoroughly entertained when they see us live. A slightly theatrical presentation really helps to capture the audience and immerse them in the message of the music. Give the people something interesting to see.... they don't come out just to casually listen to the album!"

For those of you not in bands looking for a Halloween costume, try to have fun with whatever you choose to be and be creative. Maybe gather a small group of friends or your signifigant other and going as a famous couple or group. I did see some guys dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and may couples have dressed up as Sonny and Cher. Also do make your choice the easiest for you, because after all there is always next year. However, I do I know many people that have worn the same costume year after year.

Whatever you choose to do or traditions you follow for this Halloween, I hope it is a fun and festive time for you. After this is actually a very spiritual time of the year in which the veil between world of the living and the world of the dead is thinner. So the spirits of your ancestors are surrounding you.

For those of you in New York City, I will performing live on Halloween for the first time ever More info here.

Until next time. Check out one of my costume choices from years past. Happy Halloween, Nate

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Musical Artist's Survival Guide Part 3: Touring

In my last entry this was one the things I didn't mention about promoting an album, well this and the importance of making a video (mainly because I assumed most bands have videos on you tube of performance and regular MTV style music videos). Touring is a very necessary and effective way for bands to build a more solid fan base and insure that album sales will increase, if done correctly and effectively. Many bands have an unenthusiastic opinion about touring or unrealistic expectations. First off the word "Tour" doesn't necessarily mean 3 months out on the road packed in a van, but it can mean that. You can actually take trips to separate cities and come home each time and consider that a tour too. Either way the goal is to play in as many different cities as you can in order to strengthen your fan base and album sales. But of course it is wise to KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS in this case it pertains to how many places you can afford to travel to with your budget and the time allotted to you and your band. I for one don't have much full on tour experience, with the exception of shows in each city in the North Eastern United States. So I decided to ask some questions you may have about touring to my friend Jimmy Gnecco, best known for his work as a solo artist and with his band Ours. Here is what he had to say:

What is the hardest thing to get used to about touring?

Jimmy: "For us the hardest thing besides being away from family is trying to find a way to make the show run as consistently as possible from city to city and venue to venue. The sound changes every night, and so does the cast, so it's very challenging to get comfortable on a whole."

What unexpected events(good or bad) did you have while on the road?

Jimmy: "I would say that an audience can surprise you. Never underestimate an audience or phone in a performance just because it may be a small turnout. Sometimes they are very mighty in spirit!"

What is your favorite and least favorite things about touring?

Jimmy: "Favorite thing is the structure that it provides in life. The ability to play music for a living is a wonderful gift. Least favorite these days is all of the driving."

What advice do you have for a band that is about to go on tour for the first time?

Jimmy:"Be safe out there. Don't underestimate the road as far as how dangerous it is to be traveling. Just because you're a band and having the time of your life, it doesn't make you invincible. Enjoy the time, be present, give everything that you have to the performance, but don't be reckless."

Jimmy & his Band OURS just released their latest album "Ballet the Boxer 1" for information on that and their upcoming tour dates, please visit the Official OURS Homepage

Before speaking with Jimmy I didn't realize how much driving was involved in touring, but not every part of playing music is fun(which I've learned the hard way) However it is rewarding work. "Well for starters, its easy to get wrapped up in the drugs and too much partying new bands on tour get sucked into that because they are touring and get into the whole rockstar thing" Says Dan Castiel. Dan is a founding member of the band Voo Doo Terror Tribe and currently does Artists relations for Redwood Entertainment. I also asked Dan: What does a booking agency look for in an Artist? He said : "Well [selling] t shirts and cds at shows are a great way to increase income. Agencies usually wont pick up an unsigned artist that's pretty much it. I mean the agency, if they take on an artist they are essentially investing in them so the band needs to be very marketable"

Hiring a booking agency, if you are able will ease the burden off the band itself in terms of building a rapport with a venue or promoter, negotiating a fair guarantee for each show and ensuring that you will be playing a venue that is not only reputable, but the right fit for your band. Not to mention saving yourself hours of time NOT spent researching venues and calling each one.

If you decide to take the reins and book your own tour there are some things you should keep in mind to ask when considering a club to try and set a tour date with. Before I get to that I want to stress one important point: Avoid any promoter making you pre-sell tickets to an event.This is usually done on a local level so promoters can cover the cost of renting the club for the night,by making you go out and do the work plus it is illegal and musical industry professionals don't pay attention to any shows or venues that follow these practices. Even if a major act is playing. So no you will not get a record deal by going and nagging people to buy tickets off you while a promoter is sitting at home devising his next scheme.

Anyways, back to the real business of booking shows: for starters clubs usually have a certain protocol in terms of how they book shows, most book at least 2 months in advance so I would suggest contacting some clubs while your album is still in the production stages (in order to build a rapport with each venue). I can not stress this enough, Learn&Follow the clubs booking procedures. For example some clubs do not except phone calls for booking shows, you will learn this when you are researching a club. Some clubs only allow calls for bookings on a certain day of the week, most likely because the person who handles the show bookings is only there one day a week (I don't know how many times I have "cold called" a place and heard "this is the bartender"). And ask if they except press kits in the mail, or will they take information via the net.IMPORTANT: when sending any emails pertaining to your band make sure they are brief and to the point and that all spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct. Also make sure that you proof read your email and even print it out first before sending to take a good look at first. Any information you gather about a club should be written down or even put into a spreadsheet like on Microsoft Excel or something. Find out the name of the "current" person handling the booking and document that too(plenty of information you will get on a club and their staff is outdated, so it's best to ask who does the bookings for safe measure). And of course be courteous, and again try to be quick and to the point (these clubs get dozens of calls about bands daily,so be quick because you have dozens of clubs to call as well) also thank them for their time. Never be rude with anyone when calling these places. For all you know you are speaking to the owner or a family member. Even if you are denied a booking for whatever reason (which will happen) still be thankful for their time (your professionalism will be remembered) and ask "Can I try back in few months and see if things change?" and "Can you recommend another club in your area?". Also, if you are turned down, don't get discouraged. It's just one club think of it as job hunting, do you pout and complain if you apply for twenty jobs and only get three callback for interviews? And a no is a no for right now after all, if you are an unknown in the area the club is taking a big risk. So just keep playing and keep in contact with each club that you had a good rapport with and make them aware of what you are doing. It took me two years in some cases to get booked by certain promoters and I did exactly what I am telling you to do.

So where do you find these club you ask? As I had mentioned in part 1 of the Musical Artist's Survival guide: the music business and promoting yourself Their is a book called The Music Atlas, which is printed every year that you can find out all the information about clubs you need. Their is also a great webpage you can go to that has information about clubs geared towards independent bands, as well as plenty of insider info on clubs such as rating and reviews from bands that have played their previously called Indie on the Move After you have researched a club do find out how they accept information on bands(yes I know that I'm repeating myself but it is very important to follow the club's booking procedures) after sending them your information give them about a week or two to review and then call back when you know someone will be there to speak to you or reach them via email. If the club is interested try to plan accordingly with your other tour dates to allow yourself enough time to get to said venue, time to rest between shows and negotiate a guarantee of payment. When doing so it is best to use the Booking Equation. Any professional venue will handle bookings this way, so make sure you follow this to a tee and ask the right questions. In order to do this equation you need to know 2 important variables: 1-the capacity of the venue and 2-how much is the average admission price. You should base your guarantee on how much the club will gross when the room is at 65% capacity(which is a realistic capacity to reach for at most events). For Example, say the venue holds 100 people and charges $10 per person. At full capacity the club would have made $1,000. So at 65% capacity the club would have made a profit of $650 (FYI- you are dividing the total amount that the venue would make at full capacity by .65, so get out those calculators!) this is what you will ask the club for in terms of your guarantee. Of course the promoter may not automatically agree to this. However, you must assure him or her that you have the same goal that they do: to fill the room and that you will be helping to promote the event as well (hopefully using some or all of the methods I suggested in my previous entry: the musical artist's survival guide part 2: releasing your album). If the promoter still does not budge then take a lesser guarantee, say $500. Make sure you stress to them that you want it agreed that if the club does in fact go over the 65% capacity mark that your band would like a percentage of the whatever is made at the door. At this point you should also find out when the club wants you to load in your equipment, when they want you to do your soundcheck,will they provide a sound engineer,floor monitors, backline of some sort(also make them aware of what equipment you will be using by creating a Tech Rider and Stage plot)and if they can provide you with any amenities such as a dressing room, water, food and other drinks. All this must be put in writing before you set out to play any club. This is not a trust thing, think of a contract as a road map to how the event is being planned and what each party expects from the other. All reputable clubs will agree to signing a written contract after the terms are discussed, if they don't just say thank you for your time and document it in your notes (or put a big X on this club's info since they just wasted your time) If you are doing a full tour try and get all your contracts and tour dates in order first so you can have time to promote. A good example of a performance contract can be found By visiting this page and you may want to visit Docstoc as well. See this link for an example of a Tech Rider See this link to learn how to create your stage plot

It would also be a good idea to before you do any of this to gauge where your appeal is now from the start. Put out some feelers, see where your hits are coming from by asking your fans where they are from. Reward those fans who are most helpful with free downloads and other goodies such as pins, stickers, shirts and the likes. Fans will appreciate it and should know that they are appreciated, not to mention they will be more likely to be in attendance when you come to their city since you reached out to them personally (and if they do and you get the chance to meet them be friendly and agree to any autographs or pictures they ask from you and thank them for coming to the show-Good impressions will keep people coming and listening, bad impressions make people say home and throw your music in the garbage). Also look at the demographic information on your Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Here is another way to find out where the "demand" for your band. Set up an account with Like other sites that you can use to promote this page will allow you to post shows, but the great thing is that when you do your fans in that area will get an email if they demanded you. This widget may put all this demand stuff in perspective :

Yes I used my band's own widget and you can see where people have demanded us so far. If you click demand you will see that you are asked to demand my band in your respective city, you demand us and get an email once we post our show on this page, so the work is done. And as a fan other bands (including major acts) you can find out as soon as show date is book and when tickets will be on sale.

Well I hope that this gives you some real insight into how touring is done and took out lots of the guess work for you. Remember: you are only as good as your last show, so make each one count and enjoy each moment it while it's happening (believe me the audience will know if you are or not) and before you know it you will at another venue playing. I will let Metallica do the rest of the talking for me. Thanks again for reading. Best always, Nate

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the Musical Artist's Survival Guide Part 2: Releasing your album

I trust that most of you read my last post, so I decided to keep going with this format so that those who brains didn't melt yet could read on. Believe me, I know there is a lot to know and go over beyond songwriting and performance and even if you are the guy in the band that says "they just tell me when to show up and I do" you should inform yourself about the business side. It is not easy even with the advances in technology allowing for the informed to be their own manager/booking agent/record label.

Obviously when you are releasing your own album you want to make that you make it sound and look as professional as possible. However this goes beyond the quality of the actual recording and artwork. I thought that this would be best in a Question and Answer format:

How do we get our cds made professionally? Your cds need to be replicated and not duplicated The difference is a duplicated cd is like a cdr burned on your computer. These work well and can be sold, however distributors and stores will only carry actual replicated discs that are made using a glass master copy. All cds that you have purchased from stores are replicated. They are only available for purchase in bulk with a minimum order of 1,000 copies. Usually at this price they cost you 1 dollar each.A place such as Discmakers can do this for you fast and correctly. Discmakers can provide a number of other services that are needed in order to have a cd released professionally such as spine labels, shrink wrapping and Bar codes,which you must have in order to sell your cds in stores (sales are tracked through Soundscan,look for information on how to register with Soundscan in the paragraph on tracking radio airplay below) . And NO this was not a paid advertisement. I simply recommend Discmakers based on prior good experiences and because they are also affiliated with CDbaby which you will also need to work with(more on that in a minute)

How can we make it so when our cd is played on a computer or digital sound system that it is recognized? You need to have ISRC codes aka International Standard Recording Codes. You will need to go to their webpage, apply for a login and they will explain how to assign a unique code to each song. It will be your responsibility to keep a record of these codes. These codes are necessary in order to sell your music digitally. To get started with getting you ISRC codes visit this webpage

How do I make my music available for sale both online and in stores? The Same answer for both: Distribution. Basically there are two types of distribution that I will touch on, digital and physical. You can go through the same company for distribution of both, such as Cdbaby (however, I do suggest you shop around as well). Digital distribution is how you will get your music onto iTunes,Google Play,Zune,Spotify,,Emusic and even Xbox(yes you can make money when someone plays your music while they are playing video games). It is Best to find the means of digital distribution that allows for your music to be on as many sites as possible with the largest pay out back to you. As far as Physical distribution, like I stated earlier you MUST have replicated cds in order to sell in stores. I suggested CdBaby for Physical distribution because they are affiliated with Alliance Entertainment Corporation, which is the largest distributor of cds in the United States. Most stores that carry music deal with AEC. Of course locally you can still look around for some stores that will carry your music on consignment or some other deal, but it is best to try to work on getting your music distributed nationally.

How do get listeners on a national level? You need to have a promotional campaign. The goal of course is to have as many people as possible listening to and buying your music. Yes, this can be done by posting all over the place, but think about how many other bands are dong this. You need to make your music stand out. So there are a few ways of doing this:

1.Send your album out to be reviewed This method is free(except if any shipping is required) but not always guaranteed. You probably already do (or should be) reading magazines and webpages that you would like to be reviewed by. Whether you do or not, search the net for magazines,ezines,blogs, and other webpages that will review music in your genre. Look at the page and see the Contact us link. Just inquiry whether they except physical press kits(which consists of 2-8x10 photos, a bio of the band,any previous press you may have received, your contact information and of course your cd) or if they will except information via the internet. Also keep in mind that it may take several months for them to get around to printing your review. But the good thing about that is that it keeps your release fresh in the eyes of the public. For Example you send out 100 press kits to different publications for reviews, You may get one or two reviews within a month or so and you may get a few more in six months and a few more in a year or more. So even after your album has been out for a year people are still reading about it as if it were just released. Just make sure in your initial contact with these publications to be polite, brief and to the point. After sending your release information follow up in about two weeks to see if they receive it and inquire if they have an idea as to when a review maybe printed. If and when it does, make sure to post it online and include a visibly clear copy of the review to your press kit. You may also look into hiring a publicist to do this for you as well, as they may already have a rapport with several publications to give you a better chance at more reviews.

2.Advertising This of course costs money, so you need to be smart about when and where you advertise. You don't advertise a rock album in a Jazz magazine 3 months before the album has been released. You need to view this like regular shopping, because after all you are spending money. Also there are of two types: Print and Online. For print when you are shopping around before you talk to any magazine, you should known some terminology in order to ask the right questions. Like what their circulation is. Circulation means how many copies are printed and when such as weekly, monthly, quarterly bi-annually or annually. Also ask them to send you a Rate Card. A Rate card will be broken up by prices for different size ads, which in most cases will be discounted if you agree to have the same size ad printed in more then one issue and discounted further. It is wiser to get a few smaller ads printed throughout several issues as opposed to one big ad in one issue. As probably already know a magazine you paid to advertise in will be more likely to write a decent review on your album. It is kinda of cheating, but it is how it is. And ask the print magazines if they have an online version or webpage you can advertise on and save yourself time searching for another webpage to buy ads on. Online ads are usually for a one month interval for companies that use Google adsense, Google Ads and I would recommend looking into Facebook advertising too. You can have a sponsored post and spend as little as five dollars or have a regular ad set up. You can set up a daily budget for each ad and bid for how many people will view your ad. The advantage of a standard Facebook ad is that you can target people based on age,location and interests. So that way your rock band that is influenced by Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica and Tool will not be seen by a guy in his Eighties that listens to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison whose interests include fishing and oil painting. Reverbnation also has promotional campaigns as well that I have been told have help bands gain more listeners. When purchasing your ad on facebook I would suggest looking at your audience demographic on both your band's Reverbnation and Facebook accounts in order to target those people. Also make sure you target people who are fans of more well known bands that are similar to yours and people whose interests include music and going to concerts.

3.Radio Many bands still gain new fans from getting played on the radio. There is an argument that with the changing times with people using ipods and cd players in their cars, and more recently SiriusXM radio that your regular over the air radio is almost non existent and not worth bothering with. But after listening to the radio recently and hearing how many people still call in and win concert tickets and the likes this argument seems to be null and void. Not to mention how many larger companies still advertise on the radio(oops I forgot to mention that,think of it this way I just save you tens of thousands of dollars yearly that you wont be spending on radio ads). Many radio stations will accept music from a band and may play it on a local spotlight show of some sort. However, the most effective way to have a chance for consistent airplay or to be put into "Rotation" (meaning your song gets played several times a day for a specific amount of time) is to hire a radio promoter. Years ago record companies would pay the radio Djs to play certain records(this is how the term Payola was invented)but this method of obtaining radio play was made illegal decades ago. But for some reason a record company or band can pay a radio promoter to help them get on the radio as sort of a middle man. The best radio promoters will have contacts at several stations nationwide or internationally and will be able to track radio play(more on that in a minute). You should find the best radio promoter for your genre and your budget, as radio promotions can cost up tens of thousands. Although some radio promotions are considerably less. If you happen to need a radio promoter for Rock, Metal, Goth or Industrial I suggest looking into hiring Skate Board Marketing. This company has been around for many years, has worked with several great bands and is very freindly and reputable.

Can I get paid for my music being played on the radio? YES of course you can. However, it may take several plays for this to happen and only if you are having your songs tracked for airplay. The way you do this is by acquiring a login to BDS and Mediabase respectively. Each company will give you a login for free so you can upload your music to their database so that when your music is played it is tracked and your performing rights organization(ASCAP,BMI,SESAC) can collect your earnings. I would suggest also including your ISRC code for each song you upload as well. BDS is also affiliated with Soundscan which tracks retail sales when your barcode is scanned during a sale. Information on how to register for each service can be found here on the A&R Power Summit

So how much is all of this going to cost and how can a band pay for all of this?Obviously the cds will run you about $1,000 but I believe the fine people at Discmakers have better pricing for you on replicated cd packages. The estimated cost of releasing an album would be between $3,000 and $5,000 for a modest campaign. Some bands can pool this money together from their earnings or call up a rich relative if they are lucky. But in all seriousness, a new method for obtaining funds is through fundraising campaigns such Kickstarter. This a general site where people will donate to several start up businesses in exchange for rewards including thank you letters, free merchandise and services. However there is a site for just funding musical projects called Rockethub which you should also look into. Bands have offered their donators free downloads, shirts and even free concerts for generous donations. Each site lets you create a video to show potential contributors why they should help fund your project. I recommend looking at some successful fundraising campaigns and their videos closely to learn how they got their much needed funding.

Well, that should cover all the bases as to effectively release an album. I hope all of your questions were answered. And by the way can anyone tell why I posted this particular entry on a Tuesday? Because for reason this is usually the day of the week most new albums are released. Betcha you didn't know did you? Until next time best of luck in your musical journey, Nate

Monday, September 16, 2013

the Musical Artist's survival guide part 1: the music business and promoting yourself

Ok, I have been speaking about this for some time now. A few years back I put together a list of books and webpages I suggest for all independent artists. They will help you learn about the music business and make it easier for you further all your musical endeavors. I have read most of these books(really, I did. I'm not lying) and they can be found at the library and on sites like Ebay or Amazon. If anyone has any other books or webpages that you think are useful please let me know. I will start with the Books and include some webpages for the end.


The Indie Bible a book that is released yearly that has a list of contact information for record companies, radio stations, magazines, distributors and more that will work with independent bands. It is divided up Geographically and by Genre.

The Music Atlas Another Yearly reference book. Not specifically geared towards independent artists. But does have many resources such as record labels and other information broken up by Countries and States such as Clubs, music stores and newspapers and other great resources.


"Your Band is a virus" by James Moore

"I don't need a Record Deal" by Daylle Deanna Schwartz A great guide for independent artists that was mentioned in my last blog entry. It will show you how to use all the resources available to today's artists to become a success while using unique strategies to building a fan base and more.

"Ruthless Self Promoting in the Music Industry" by Jeffrey P. Fisher This book is one of my favorites. You will learn industry protocol as well as smart promoting and being able to get more shows and publicity for your band with all the tips you will learn in this book.

"Get It in Writing: The Musician's Guide to the Music Business" by Brian McPherson A book to get you acquainted with copyrights, Mechanical and publishing royalties, Record deals and more. Also includes interviews from many music industry professional such as Rick Rubin

"the Billboard guide to Music Publicity" by Jim Pettigrew A good read to show you how to get your band and releases the much need publicity and reviews in order to gain a larger fan base and presence both locally and nationally.

"Making Money Making Music" by Eric Beall A good book to learn everything you need to know music publishing and licensing.

"This Business of Music" by M. William Krasilovsky, Sidney Shemel, John M Gross and Jonathan Feinstein A part of the Billboard music business series(which I suggest you read each one). This is a newly updated overview of each aspect of the music business including : copyrights, publishing, management and more. A must read for any musician, manager, publicist, agent or anyone else looking to have a career in music.

"This Business of Artist Management" by Xavier M. Frascongna This will show you what you should look for in a manager. It explains what a manager does and even has sample contracts for performances, artist management and more.

"This Business of Music Marketing and Promoting" by Todd Lathrop

"This Business of Concert Promotion and Touring" by Ray D. Waddell, Rich Barnet and Jake Berry

"Million Dollar Mistakes" by Moses Avalon A book that is packed with stories from many music industry pros that were brave enough to share what mistakes cost them dearly so can learn from them. A very good read.

"Guerrilla Marketing Excellence: 50 Golden rules for Small Business Success" by Jay Conrad Levinson Not a music oriented book. But it was a book recommended by one of the authors of the books above. It will show you how to effectively promote your product, which in this case is your band, your albums and merchandise.

Webpages you can use to promote your music

Of course your web presence is important as well. Im sure every band is on Facebook. The best thing is to link your band's facebook page to other music sites(some of which I will mention). I would recommend finding genre specific groups to post to as well as groups in your area. However, I suggest that you "don't live in a bubble". Like and share other artists posts, listen to other bands. We are all in the same boat, so if you just post and don't reciprocate when someone else does than don't complain when you get poor results. This Group is great for anyone who agrees with this method and wants more fans and likes: The Artist DIY marketing Co-op founded by Jim Rose And all of course are welcome to join this group that I helped co found as well Artists in your Neighborhood

Twitter Another great way to gain fans(if you know how to use it) You will notice that you will get a group of loyal "reposters", I suggest including them in any important tweets and include: "RT" which is short for Retweet or asking someone to retweet. Also, you will learn that hastags: # are important, I learned that you should keep it simple like #music, #rock or #video don't expect to gain interest by putting #checkoutthissongwewerestayedupallnightrecording. More tips on twitter and getting more followers from this blog by Music clout on Twitter promotion

Reverbnation A good all around music site that offers distribution, ways to reach new fans, music charts and even pays artists. It has become the norm that most bands use Reverbnation

Bandcamp A great page for you to post and sell your music. You keep a bigger percentage of your sales then if you sold downloads through a distributor (a topic that I will discuss in further detail in another entry) and you can allow fans to name their own price are among the many features on bandcamp. A highly recommended site to be on.

Ourstage This page has features that include their own EPK(Electronic press kit) and monthly contests, some of which are divided by genre where bands can win cash and other prizes. Plus contest winners have another thing to add to their press kits.

Headliner A somewhat Co-op based site where bands help other bands with their promo campaigns and acquire "Band Bucks" for doing so that can be used during their own promo campaigns to promote a show, or release or what not.

Last.FM An internet radio site that has one of the largest music catalogs on the net. Artists can also make money from listeners downloading and streaming their songs.

Webpages for making your own merchandise

Cheap Buttons The names says it all! You can get friendly, fast and reliable service with button package prices starting at 20 dollars

Sticker Guy A great page to get stickers done fast and cheap.

Jak Prints A good page with good customer service for printing mostly anything including clothes, stickers, banners, and more

Cafe Press A page that allows you to set up your own online store for all types of merchandise. You can have your band's logo on shirts, hats, Coffee mugs, mouse pads, clocks and much more

Spreadshirt A great page for having your band's shirts printed. You can set up an online store to have shirts and other products printed with digital direct technology and fast shipping straight to your fans

Well, I hope this helps you get some more perspective into how the music business works and will help make it a bit easier for you to get your name out there. In closing I suggest that you be patient and friendly in all your dealings while climbing the ladder. As they say: you will meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down. Best of luck to you all,Nate

And remember this when something doesn't work out, oh well after all:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Times they are a changing

Earlier on in the week, I found myself commenting on a Facebook post by a slightly discouraged musician from a new younger band out of NYC called Candy Brain that feels that the music industry is ruining music for him. I think he was speaking more about the local "seen" which is basically just a staging area and not the be all end of all the music business(Thank God). Luckily, there were a few people like myself to shed some light on this. Years ago, the Record companies decided your fate and very few bands could control their own destinies. Simply because the resources available to us now where not there 20, 25 or even 30 years ago.Remember there was no Itunes or Cdbaby, so no record deal meant no distribution. Yes you could go into a studio on your own and record(if you were lucky enough to even afford that let alone getting your finished product duplicated), hoping a record label would take notice of your valiant effort and offer you some sort of deal which would included redoing whatever songs you did in some state of the art "real" studio with an actual producer. Even if you gave them a usable recording they wanted you to re-record, such was the case of the band Boston (but even the engineer at the studio ignored the labels request and kindly gave the studio time away to another band). However, Those days are long gone. The record companies want you to have a perfectly recorded and mixed demo for them before hand. And with the technology availible to us today, that is not hard to accomplish. In most cases, you can even do that at home which years ago was only a luxury that the big names in the music industry could afford. This is mainly because of the transition from old analog "Reel to Reel" tapes, to Digital hard disk. Analog gives you a nice and warm sound, but the maintenance involved combine with all the components needed to eliminate "Tape Hiss" (that’s a term most of you haven’t heard in awhile huh?) was very expensive. Digital is much easier to acquire and edit with. But along the ease of use, may have come less effort. The "cut and paste" ease of technology may have made it too easy for musicians. That’s just one school of thought, shared by myself and one Jimi Hendrix:
The point I was trying to make was along those lines of the old saying: "they don't make them like they used to". Years ago, with less technology available artists would crank out a full length album about every 8 months. That is unheard of these days. Some bands take up to 3 years to finish an album (under normal circumstances, not the insane situations I have dealt with). I think that in many cases years ago people worked harder with less. I am reminded of this by this old picture of the Marquee of the movie theater in the town I grew up in, Ridgefield Park,NJ.
I was amazed to see how fancy this theater looked about 100 years ago in such a small town as if it was a Broadway theater. Especially after the Marquee for the Rialto that I knew growing up:

I think perhaps back then people had more of a sense of community and sharing. They probably didn't see it as a something they had to do, but something customary. If you were unfriendly and selfish, word would get around and no one would help you when you needed help. Perhaps these old ways are long gone due to how hard times have been and the change in people's attitudes. I really don't think there has been a band since the Beatles that has changed the way people interact with each other, but I do think some of these old ways would make the music community or "Scene" better. If you read my blog entry Set the bar for yourself you would know why I blatantly misspell that word and refer to what we have in NYC as a "Seen".

Anyways, with so much available to us these days we can really be our own record labels, booking agents, merchandiser and beyond. Just look at video for example, it was very expensive to acquire a halfway decent camera to shoot video and many didn’t have the skills to get the best footage. I have been lucky enough through trial and error to learn how to shoot video(or probably after manning my family's video camera as a kid and hearing my Mother complain several times that she was getting nausea from video I took with the camera shaking around). Which I have gladly done for many bands around town, just because I saw the need was there and not looking to gain from it. At the end of this blog, you will find a video a just filmed for Richie Rye.I would like to point out that in the early 80's Richie's old band, Frank Reeves & the Sneaker boys was able to film an actual music video with green screens and all(which can be seen on his facebook page) because of connections they had a music college in Manhattan. Like I had read in the book I don't need a record deal by Daylle Deanna Schwartz (one of the books that I will have on my list of recommend industry books in a future blog) I learned of bands networking, pooling resources with each other to "trade shows" in layman’s terms getting band from another city a show in your city in exchange for a show in theirs. Or even doing a non traditional show such at a studio, someone's home or other place besides a club. Or even in a town that is not known for music, sort of a "big fish in a small pond" concept which seems to work for some,since you are the focus because their is not much or any competition.

My young friend is actually taking this approach today, despite his discouraged feelings early in the week. He and his band have teamed up with another up and coming band, the Amatory Murder to host a free show at a studio in Brooklyn today. I am excited to be going to see a free show in a non traditional venue. Hey, its something different and may cause a ripple effect that is much needed here. So hopefully there will be more shows like and people can link up, discover new bands and have fun. But we all need to realize that it is work and not always fun. As we know hard work can be rewarding, so If you have something to bring to the table, any talent at all such as artwork, photography, merchandising connections, Public relations, modeling or any other. It is best to find like minded people to include in your ventures and work towards and a common goal. That is how a "Scene" should be.

So I hope this made you realize that a blend of our technology mixed with the work ethic and mannerisms of the past are probably the best path to success. In closing I would like to share with you a video that I have filmed and edited for a friend of mine mentioned in an earlier blog, Richie Rye performing a song that shares the same name as this blog entry.Until next time Enjoy, Nate

Saturday, August 31, 2013

There is a Song for any occasion

After my last blog post I started thinking how there is a song that can fit almost any situation. If you read that post you would know that it was no laughing matter. However, another choice song to post may have been: Into the great wide open by Tom Petty. It much like the song from The Byrds:Turn,Turn,Turn, with the words taken from the Bible: to everything turn,turn,turn, there is a season. I know most of you probably know the rest but, it basically states that there is a time for everything. I'm sure we have all been to enough Weddings, Birthdays, and various joyous occasions to have heard Kool & the Gang's Celebration more times than we can count.

I didn’t want to come right out and make it obvious this was a farewell to summer entry. I was even worried that naming this entry "There is a Song for every Season", fearing that I may give it away. I think most of us are in denial about or just sad to see it go. On the other hand, I'm sure many of us are really excited about the Fall season. For me, I was just getting used to the rhythm of the Summer and would have liked to do more activities. It would have also have been great to play some shows, but the bands at Forever Autumn Records have been working hard on our upcoming releases in hopes of debuting them in the Fall, I mean Autumn (hence the label name). I am glad for the few things I did get to do this Summer, I did get to goto the Beach, saw some friends and family, went to a few BBQs, including one the 4th of July and I did get to write some more music and see some shows. Like most people I am not always content or in the exact place I would like to be at this point in my life, but I think my new outlook has helped me continue to keep writing and moving forward with my musical endeavors and my life in general. This last brush of warm weather we have been experiencing here in New York made me realize the meaning behind the title of a demo tape my friend made years ago with his old band Colder Thy Kiss entitled: Summer's Dying Twitch(btw, Joe if you see this or anyone else that has a copy of that does,please get in touch with me,I lost my copy and miss hearing those songs that didn't make the album)

Maybe it is hard for us to see the Summer go, because it makes you feel young. After all they say that anyone under 18 years old is in the Summer of their life. I am sure we all can remember going away during the summer on family vacations or to camp. I recently found out that a camp I attended called Town & Country Day Camp in Old Tappan,NJ is now closed after discovering a facebook group made up of people who attended throughout the years. Just seeing those old pictures of Summers past(even some that are from before I was born) made me comforted. It even brought back the memory of very beautiful girl I had the pleasure of becoming friends with. I still have a very clear mental picture of her coming out the pool and looking at me with a very warm smile. It seems like a summer romance sticks out in our minds more than any other. I guess it's just a magical time to be young. Back then I never thought I would be sitting here on a computer telling the world about this in some grown up Gordy from the Movie Stand by Me fashion. But for those of you that are reading this that are still young I'm sure sure you are either dreading or are exciting to be going back to school. I hope all of you can enjoy your surroundings with your peers while you are full of life. While you are still carefree and not burdened by bills, work , stress and over nonsense we older people have to deal with.

Thanks again for reading everyone, and I hope you all had a very magical summer. Here is a video with the exact message I was trying to putout there (it actually inspired this entire entry) and even has footage that I have never seen, even though this band is one of my main inspirations. And I invite all of you to comment with your favorite Summer memories either past or present. And your favorite songs of the Summer. Enjoy this last breathe of Summer before its gone for good, Nate

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans-John Lennon

I was waiting to get some updated mix downs of some songs today, but it was practically the furthest thing from my mind. In the mists of what was nearly a family tragedy, I found myself using my resources and my knowledge of working along side of the press to search for a missing relative. Fortunately he was found unharmed, however when something of this nature occurs it really shows you how much somethings that we see as important are virtually insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Some artists have an "all or nothing" attitude when it comes be successful. I have even seen some bands putting out an ad looking for a new member saying we dont want anyone that will be looking to take time off for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays. What nerve? This is clearly not the case for all bands. I recall U2 canceling an entire tour due to a family tragedy. And since they probably were playing in arenas, I'm sure tens of thousands of dollars were lost just in deposits alone.

I cannot believe I would end up titling an entry Priorities, since one of my former band mates always used this word to dwarf the importance of the band to basically mask his own laziness and lack of dedication. Just hearing this word after that almost always puts me in a foul mood(not that it actually grinds my gears,but as a wordsmith any misuse of a word can be found as offensive). At one point, I was even accused of being somewhat of a tyrant while trying to coordinate plans to record after simply stating when I want to get together. Next thing I knew it assumed that I wanted the entire band to put this above families. But again, just a passive attempt to assign blame elsewhere to overcompensate for one's laziness. Yes playing music should be fun, but a band is lots of work, that can be very rewarding. Recent dealings with former band mates and others outside of the group made me realize that the music is only a priority if you make it one. I have seen countless people that don't put in the effort it takes to give a band a fighting chance at being successful. The hardest thing is coming to realize that people that have you been playing music don’t have what it takes. Or that their Priorities are not the same as yours and you are left to make a tough decision between your art and doing right by what is most likely not just band mate, but also a friend. It may seem to be a cutthroat thing to do, but if someone is in your band and is also your friend they should know how important it is to you and work just as hard as you to make something work. It maybe an easy decision to make if you picture where you want to be with your band and understand that this person is in your way.

The person who founded the band has a tough roll as a band leader knowing what decisions to make and when to make them. Dealing with promoters and other music industry types is hard enough without the band having internal issues. A constant struggle within a band can lead to a breakdown of the band and make it impossible to get anywhere. For me this almost caused me to breakdown completely, forcing me to learn to be more aware of signs that someone is not a good fit for the band. Ultimately your goals should always be in mind and it is always good to take into account what you have accomplished thus far. I am constantly tested by those "in the seen"(yes another phrase that I find unappealing) because most people that are not musicians don't really see all the work someone puts into a band. Even after putting in over a decade, playing in several states and receiving reviews by notable publications, I am told that I am a "virtual unknown" or a "low tier band". Pay them no mind and keep doing what you love, if you are lucky things will catch on. Again you have to make it a Priority, and anyone who doesn't comply is not a Priority in your career. If you settle for poor treatment, then you get what you deserve. Your desire to achieve your goals should overshadow any adversity that you may have. Look to those you trust for any advice or help you may need. But whether you trust me or not, take my advice and Learn the business side of music. This recent situation showed me how people can rally together if they truly care about someone and that we are not alone.

Thanks again for reading, as most of you know I usually include a video. I thought this would be appropriate due to recent events

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Starting from scratch

    I wanted to copy an old blog I had made years ago on myspace with some tips, reference materials and links to help people learn more about promotions and the music business. However, the new myspace has deleted all the blogs created on their page. Instead of getting mad, sulking and feeling stuck yet again here I am taking a more progmatic approach to this, while knowing it could be worse. I still have most of the books I have read and I remember most of the links. However, many of them probably are outdated. Ironically enough, I thought I had saved this blog years ago but all I saved was a blog with links for pages that Imbolg has profiles on (and lets face it who wants to see that). Lesson learned (yet again) Always have a back up. If did not have most of these books, or a good enough memory to remember most of what I was trying to enter I would have lost most of this information for good. I hate to put this off yet again, but I will have to create another blog on this topic at some point in the future.
    So now im sure you can tell why I called this entry starting from scratch. It doesnt mean that you are down and out, but especially in the entertainment business you have to keep reinventing yourself and starting over. Sometimes a persona you created doesnt work for you(or just at that point in time), Willie Nelson for example had a more Pop,Nashville sound when he started and went onto to be a Country performer. After the Beatles broke up Paul McCartney travelled around the country in a van to college campuses in hopes of booking shows for his new band,Wings. Look at the band Kiss, they started out wearing costumes and make up that enabled them to create a persona that launch them not only into Rock music stardom, but they even made themselves loosely into comic book super heros. However, even Kiss had to change with the times (the 1980s that is) and sported teased hair, ripped jeans,and sometimes spandexs like most groups of the times and these days they are back to their original image with the costumes and make up. Like MySpace nothing is permanent, I'm sure many of you remember when that was "the page" to get the word out about your band (some bands even got signed because of it). I still credit them for linking me up with many interesting people and contacts, some of whom I am still in contact with.
    Of course years ago, I had plans to by now have more albums and tours under my belt. But as I have learned, there are no guarantees. Many bands, venues, and even record labels come and go. The trick is to keep doing what you love and if it is that important to you , make it work. The best way is to learn the business side and keep up with the trends.Im not saying, cut your hair to look like Justin Bieber, but see what people are listening to, where they find new music and most important new ways to earn money. For example, your traditional methods of distributing music have changed so much that many top level firms do not want to deal with your traditional "brick and mortar" distributors. These days, online distribution is much more lucrative and availible. You can even earn money when someone listens to your song while playing games on their Xbox. The internet did change the way the music business operates, but it has not been all bad. Since more information is availible to us.
    So to sum it up, nothing is as bleak as it seems. There are always obstacles to overcome, not just in music but life in general. I didn't even realize it yet til now, but tomorrow marks the 10 year anniversary of my first show with Imbolg. Lots has changed in my life and in the business, and although I'm not where I thought I would be, I am glad we have achieved what we have and been able to survive this long. I will leave you with a picture from that show and the links I spoke about earlier. Until next time, be well all.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Whats next?

Hello all, I should be focusing on the fact that in a few hours I will be seeing one of my biggest musical influences live. I have seen them before, with original drummer Bill Ward. And yes, I am one of these people that get bent out of shape when a reunion is missing one member(maybe its just an OCD tendency,idk). By now you should have guessed that I am going to see Black Sabbath. So here I am putting on a You Tube playlist of songs from Sabbath(yes in hopes that it will help me get through this entry) recalling stories of how they wrote some of their albums in the studio and came up with one of their most popular songs, Paranoid on a whim only because they had an extra three minutes on the tape to record with. Like I may have stated in older entries, I discover Sabbath as a Child when my Uncle had been listening to them(even admitting to truly subconsciously screw me by putting headphones on me in my sleep lol). Nevertheless, they have been engrained in me and keep me writing and inspire as if I am spiritually connected to them some how. Many artists have mentioned that the music of Black Sabbath has gotten them through tough times. Much like Sabbath's music helped them overcome their early life struggles, much like any serious musician they created out of necessity and love of music(not out of ego and lust for power & money like musicians are often accused of).

I bring this up for a a few reasons, one being that I received a good response from my last post and started being consistent with my post that I started getting worried about asking myself, ok What's Next?. I often ask myself this as in part after finalizing a song or an album. The fear of Writer's block is not a good feeling. My advice to anyone that feels this way, just sit down and play and if you don't have the drive than don't force it. Another way to combat this is change up your routine, watch an old movie, take a walk or call an old friend and plan a meet up. There maybe a story in there from the past you forgot. And another of my favorites, go look through your old notes. I found many ideas I forgot about and fused them with new ones. For those of you that know this feeling, its like discovering buried treasure. It is also a good idea to keep a pen handy where ever you go (come guys, you should know this by now)you never know when inspiration will come or from where. I learned that early on as teenager hoping to get girl's phone numbers and the habit stuck lol.

This next bit of advice maybe hard to do for many of us, and yes I am one of these people that it is hard for : Curb your ego and write about whatever is on your mind,any life experience not matter how signifgant or not. I mean good or bad, painful or happy, strange, perverted, cheesy, immature, who cares. It is an expression of how you are feeling and hopefully it will fit into a theme with other songs on an album. If Bret Michaels can do it anyone can, I belive "Every rose has it's thorn" is about a Girlfriend that cheated on him. On a sadder note, Eric Clapton who had just tragically lost his young son was able to write a song about his son in the aftermath of his loss called "Tears in Heaven". There have been many instances in my life when I was "too proud" to write about something, being on the losing end of a romantic situation, getting screwed over by band members, getting jumped, or whatever the case is. Expressing your pain doesn't make you a loser, it shows that you are a real, and strong person that can continue create no matter what. These types of things happen to other people too and that's the magic of music, if some can relate to a song they will love it, listen to it over and over and promote it to others.

When you choose to write music and lyrics, just have set goals in mind and let the songs evolve. Some songs may turn into two, other may not work well now, but over time you can fix them or even bring in a collaborator to co write with. This is lots of fun to do, but I suggest to not rely solely on this because things happen, people change and you should never allow anyone to hold you back(I speak from experience) and NEVER let anyone tell you what to write about. In some genres, a song can be "Remixed" by another engineer or a DJ to bring a new spin on it as well. Don't allow yourself to be overcome by what others are doing, just plot out an idea or a "theme" for an album and work from their. I often look at work of many of my influences and realize that they did much more by this age then I have. I do realize, times were different, and the business and people were different. Bands actually worked together and shared goals, the recent trend has become its me,me,me,me or the accusation of that so much so that even those willing to help others are accused of having ulterior motives. Don't get sucked into people's paranoid mind traps, just keeping playing and do what feels right at the time, if that changes move on. Its your life and career, You steer the ship.

Well, time to get ready for Black Sabbath, here is a bit more on them. Enjoy:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Approach Anxiety

   This title may suggest that this post is about the feeling a guy or girl has when they approach someone that they are attracted to for the first time hoping to strike up a conversation. But, I'm afraid it is not about that for the most part. I am speaking mainly about trying to learn a new song that someone else has written. This can also help those that are thinking of picking up an instrument for the first time. One of the hardest things I have noticed with my students was that they are not used to having guitar playing as part of their everyday routine and hence they don't practice as much.Or they become frustrated early on that they don't know many songs. But the more you pratice, the better you become and the easier it will become to learn songs(sometimes,it happens by accident just from fiddling around,the start of learning a song by ear-no sheet music or instruction needed)Many people sometimes hear a song on the radio & are so intimidated by the artist's prowess that they never even try to learn the piece, thinking "I'll never be able to play that". Much like the guy who sees a very good looking women at the bar and immediately says to himself "She will never want to talk to me".

  Approach anxiety is such a big issue that professional pick up artists, like my old friend Brad P have seminars on how to overcome it. Unfortunately, we musicians don't have any such methods to defeat our anxiety when desiring to learn a new song (and I'm sure many musicians would never attend such a seminar, based on their egos alone) So, I guess we musicians just have to buckle down and overcome our anxiety on our own, with no outside help. Like approaching a member of the opposite sex, you ask yourself "what's the worst that can happen?", She is just a person like me and I know how to speak to people, or in this case it's just a song and I know how to play an instrument. Of course in most cases, learning a new song won't get you dirty looks from someone's boyfriend that stepped into the bathroom for a minute or the cold shoulder from someone. So, just think of the positive outcome and of how great it will feel be to be able to play the song. It will help you with your own songwriting as well.

   I unfortunately picked up a bad habit years ago after jamming with an older, more seasoned guitar played who stated "I don't concentrate on other people's stuff". Trying to write my own music, I got less and less interested in playing some staple rock songs, unless my band was going to perform them. I think what really got me intimidated is all the changes in many songs, Not every song has 2 simple parts, some have lots of changes. But you need to remember : you are doing this at you own pace and for fun.
   The best approach is to break up the song and learn it piece by piece. Go over each riff until you have mastered it and then piece them all together. Also, recognize what method of learning works best for you. If you can can learn it by ear after listening to the song (which in some cases is the most difficult)or you if know how to read sheet music or like use guitar tabs than use one of these approaches. Some people prefer video lessons, so they can see each thing being played by another person that has mastered the song already. But with any method, make sure you are learning it the right way.
  Right now, I am learning how to play a song by the Rolling Stones called "Angie" At first I printed out guitar tabs and, I noticed some mistakes when I played the original, and afterwards adopted my own "fake version". Since that wasn't doing it for me anymore, and I really wanted to challenge myself and break some old bad habits, I found a really good video that teaches you how to play it the way I suggested most people learn a new song: piece by piece. To learn the song, you have to watch a few videos, but it is well worth it because you will learn it the right way.
   I hope this helps with your song playing, and whether or not you are looking to play "Angie", take a look at this video to see this very effective method that Matt uses to teach songs.

Enjoy, Nate

Saturday, July 6, 2013


In music, everyone will point out your flaws, unless you are the Rolling Stones

After my last post, I noticed that I didn’t get much response from people as some of my previous posts. Even with a video,and it being my Birthday. But, I did realize that in my hast to not waste my day as I rushed off to see the Hangover 3 that I made several grammatical and typographical errors.

Which brings me to my topic of choice, Failure.I really was shocked that some of my regular readers did not even comment. However, as stated previously I made many errors and looked at what I created in the eyes of a first time reader. Some one who was careless enough to not examine his work and present it in an orderly fashion shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously(from now on I will be even more meticulous when it comes to my final edit,lesson learned). As far as my regular readers, many people are away,planning trips and what not. You can never let one flop be your last post,last album,show,whatever. Because than, that’s how you were remembered.

Allow me to give you some unusual examples of "Failure". Michael Jordan, probably the best basketball player of all time was cut from his High School basketball team. Unbelievable isn't it? Walt Disney was swindled out of his first creation as an animator and on his train ride home he starting sketchy a quirky little mouse named Mickey that is now the most famous cartoon character in history(not to mention helping launch an empire that is going strong til this day that includes,TV,Movies,Toys,clothing and theme parks). And here is another : Elvis Presley was told these exact words after only one performance at the Grand Ole Opry : "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

The Common thread? None of these people let this rattle them, they kept focused on what their passion in life was and found a way to overcome obstacles. I know these are some extreme examples,but any one that has a success story has over a thousand stories of how things didn't work out for them at first. Recently, a friend had asked how much time is enough in order to work on something,and particularly how do you gauge your success? I haven’t answered this question yet because I was still brood over it. But, I can say this though that if its something you love doing don't let the outside world's gauge of success determine whether or not you failed. In today's world this is very hard(how many times have you seen your Facebook feed,seeing what you peers are up to and became depressed)or telling yourself ": by this age I should have done this,written this,been here"-more on this in a bit. You are still learning and figuring out how to develop your skills. This same person showed me how the process can be enjoyable and that it is great to just be learning. Not to mention, let something sit for awhile or "sleeping on it" may help breathe new life into something. An opportunity that was not here yesterday may arrive tomorrow and later maybe the time for this project.

When it comes to this relating to music, you need to understand that the business has changed dramatically. We all see the Hollywood side of how the Beatles,Elvis,the Doors,the Beach Boys,Black Sabbath and many others appeared to be "overnight sensations". Many of these people were young and signed contracts that ended up costing them tons of money(do you really think some teenagers from Birmingham England would know anything about law or the music business in the early 70s?). Also, it is a crap shoot that someone will be in the audience that could influence your career. After seeing all these people succeed and having pie in the sky expectations of how great it will be to a huge success,did you ever stop and realize what a toll this takes on your personal life,health(both mentally and physically).Also, Hollywood producers make a movie about entertainers, to entertain an audience and keep their attention in a 90 minute span so they can make money,of course they are going to focus on the most glamorous parts of becoming successful. No one would go see a Movie about a band if they showed 90 minutes of someone trying to write songs locked in their apartments, or making dozens of phone calls to band mates or people that book shows,or trying to deal with real life stuff like the rest of us do such as working an actual job, paying bills,etc.

Success can effect us negatively as well. It can make us forget who we are or why even started doing what we became successful at in the first place. Many people who get even a taste of success develop a huge ego, start to not appreciate those who helped them get to where they are in the first place(even their own families).Most likely,in time that kind of smug attitude will catch up to most "stars" and hit them where it hurts,their wallets. After all, the fans got you where you are and if you don’t treat them right they will just stop buying from you.

Always remember, if you are still out there doing it you have not failed. Success takes time, self assurance,honesty and examination. And of course in this day and age, knowledge of how the business works(I promise you a blog in this to make it a bit easier). I deal with lots on criticism, some I take as a constructive, some I see as someone who is self motivated to cut others down to build themselves up by trying to diminish the accomplishments of others. If they like wasting their energy on that, let them and keep moving ahead. In music, everyone will point out your flaws, unless you are the Rolling Stones.

For more Famous people who failed at first see this
And of course my favorite all time motivational montage, by the world's Greatest Underdog, Rocky Balboa Enjoy(if this doesn't stir something inside you,you maybe dead,lol):