Archive for July, 2010

I need the practice

July 27, 2010

Do you wait for the muse before starting to write a song? How’s that working out for you?

When I wait for the muse, it can be months between writing sessions and I know that’s not enough writing for me. I need the practice. So I no longer wait for the muse. I try to invoke the muse and try to be the muse, but most of all, I just try to write more and more often.

Regular writing in itself seems to attract the muse. But it also strengthens the creative muscle. Just like sports and piano lessons, it’s better to practice regularly than to save it up for one long session (i.e. 7 daily one-hour sessions instead of one grueling seven hour session).

Something about the daily repeated action of engaging the creative mind and putting words (or melody) to paper is the perfect practice for writing songs. Writing songs takes practice. But instead of playing scales or doing crunches, a good way to practice writing songs is to actually write a song.

A side benefit is that if you tell yourself you’re writing a song as practice, the pressure is off to create your masterpiece. And when the pressure (usually self-imposed) is off, creativity is freed.

If you’re only writing when inspiration strikes, try writing as a regular practice. And post a comment here to let me know how it works.

Random pic of a guy on a motorboat guitar

July 19, 2010


This may be just the ‘kick in the pants’ I need

July 17, 2010

Music Success in Nine Weeks book cover

OK, a little background is in order. Two years ago I bought Ariel Hyatt’s book Music Success in Nine Weeks after hearing her speak at the Taxi Road Rally. I read through most of it, but skipped the exercises that accompany each chapter. You know how it goes, other priorities pop up, time goes by, and I sort of forgot to go back and do the exercises. I kept the book on the top of the pile, so it was always nearby, where I could see it out of the corner of my eye when I was sitting in my home office/music studio/spare bedroom.

Cut to a week ago, when I read about Ariel’s Music Success in 9 Weeks Blogging Challenge. I thought, ‘this may be just the kick in the pants I need.’ The rules are minimal: read the book, one chapter a week, do the exercises and blog about it, one blog entry per chapter. In order to qualify for the contest, all you need to do is create nine blog entries, taking your readers through your experience and blog about what you are learning, how it is helping, where you where you are getting stuck, etc. etc. This is the 2nd time she’s run this challenge. You can read comments from previous participants here.

The rules are minimal: read the book, one chapter a week, do the exercises and blog about it, one blog entry per chapter.

The artist who has come the furthest using the techniques in the book will receive a complimentary Headliner Cyber PR campaign for three months. This campaign is worth $1,595 and will get your music into the hands of bloggers, podcasters and online radio station DJs.

So how did my first week go? Well, I got to page 16, including the reading and the exercises, which is about halfway through chapter one. Already behind! The reading goes quickly, but it’s very thought provoking and the exercises are even more so. I have some major work to do (goal-setting exercises) before I can move on to chapter 2.

The good news is, with just the first 16 pages, I have committed to doing 5 things a day that need to be done and will impact my music career. (Maybe doing the exercises can count as one of the 5 things). That is no small potatoes, given the day job, the night gigs, the songwriting and the home life. If I can even keep this much going, I can foresee big changes.

Some examples of the 5 little successes I achieved this week – nothing to write home about individually, but they add up and build on each other: sent a song to a Broadjam film opportunity, worked with my bandmates, graphic designer and CD manufacturer to finalize the cover graphic for our next CD (lots of back and forth emails and phone calls), sent an mp3 of a children’s song I co-wrote to several people who are in the position to use it and share it, hooked up some musicians to back me up at an upcoming gig, finalized the gig with the promoter and made cold calls to find some new bookings. Like I said, none of these are earth-shaking in and of themselves, but the trick is to keep doing it. And it is a bit of a mind trick – a little extra motivation.

Reaching for the Sun - Soulpajamas CD cover

Next post, I’ll let you know how week 2 goes.

Judy Collins on Over the Rainbow

July 16, 2010

Judy Collins

Judy Collins was interviewed about the song Over the Rainbow on On Point. She recently recorded it for a CD that accompanies a children’s book also titled Over the Rainbow. She sings the verse, which was missing from the movie and from most other renditions. In the segment, they play a wide variety of versions of Over the Rainbow, with her commenting, plus lots of Judy Collins songs.

Listen to the entire thing here.

Business cards for musicians

July 15, 2010

business card

Read article with savvy advice for an effective business card for musicians.

360 deals

July 7, 2010

What do you think of 360 deals? Fast Company wrote about them in their latest issue, an article titled Take Us to the River.