Business

Week 7- "Smile (Or Make A Really 'Cool' Face)"

Welcome! So I got a bit smarter in the past week- the title is now at the top, you don't even have to scroll! And that revelation only took me a month and a half! 

So anyways, down to business. This week I'm going to talk about the importance of image in the music industry (and all other industries for that matter). Before we begin, let me clarify that I am not basing image off of "Attractiveness" or some other subjective and useless term. I'm talking about making yourself into an established and conceptualized "brand" of sorts. A very good friend and advisor of mine Danielle Kolachik (You can and should go see her unbelievable photography- Danielle has taken countless pictures for me, including two album covers!) introduced me to this idea about a year ago and I have had a great time incorporating it into every decision I make these days. Basically, your brand is your personality taking shape as a business. It's something you want your audience to support and buy into, and like I have mentioned in past blogs, they will eventually come to know you as you've branded yourself. Are you very artsy and down to earth and you wear a silk scarf 365 days a year? Perfect, make that look iconic. Are you very introverted and you don't really have a distinguishing feature? Well that sounds somewhat unfortunate, but if you go and own that, you are now unique with your image. Simply conveying who you are goes a long way with people. After all, a fan doesn't want to feel like they only know your music but not you. If you're quirky and they're quirky, they won't have to work too hard to love your sound because they've already signed on to you as a person. What Danielle loves to have me think about is the small details for things, like color scheme (if you're not familiar check this out), and really figure out what colors speak to my personality and how that will affect the viewer. We also talk about things like hand positioning in pictures as well as when speaking to a fan and the way that your hands can show the demeanor you bring into an environment. If you really want to know more about this, I am not the expert, I am just a student, but there's countless articles online detailing creative ideas for branding in businesses of all varieties. Branding comes into play at every turn of musicianship. The website that you are currently reading on was designed with very specific concepts and colors in mind (yes, yes, I know the blog is black and white, but legibility is important too, there's always a balance to find). Realistically, the only restriction on designing anything for your brand is that it has to speak to YOU. It's not going to matter if I or someone else doesn't quite gel with it, if it's authentic and it embodies you, it's bound to find it's place in people's hearts. So stay at it, don't be deterred by some opposition at the start, it's part of defining yourself and your image. 

That's this weeks post! Little shorter but I think you all get the point. Also, if you're looking for a killer photographer/videographer, wanted to give a shoutout to my friend Kevin Prunty- he's an Arlington graduate currently studying film at Pace in NYC and I promise you he is great at what he does and he has a fun time doing it so hit him up! Anyways, thanks for reading everyone, see you next week!

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 6

Hello friends, family, boys, girls, dogs, cats, ok- whoever is reading this, thanks for tuning in! So I'm going to dive into something a bit personal this week that some people might not look favorably upon, but I write with the intention of connecting with others who are in my place, my profession, or just want to know a bit more about the day to day life of being a musician. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, comments are encouraged!

Week 6- "How To Take Criticism (And When You Need To Stop Listening)"

Before I start, let me say that I am the worlds biggest fan of good, honest critiques, but there's a difference between that and criticism. We are going to be talking the "What if they don't like me..." question today. I will most definitely be covering the value in seeking out trusted opinions at some point, but today will be the look into the reality for most musicians; You can't please everyone. Sometimes, you can't please anyone! Sometimes you'll please your mom, your close friends, maybe even your mom/dad's coworkers, but no you will not please everyone. But, the good news is that's not your job. Your job is to make music that you absolutely love. Until very, very recently I was making music that I felt like everyone should like, instead of songs that I like writing and listening to. And no surprise, when I share the songs I actually love owning, I almost always get a better response than the songs that I "designed" to please an audience. Now, here's the part I hesitate to get into, it's going to most likely come off as self pity, but I promise I share this experience only to show musicians the light at the other end of the tunnel. Ever since 6th grade, I have struggled with immense self doubt, onstage and offstage. I fear the constant talking about me and what I perceived to be shortcomings. Reality was, those voices that I tried to run from or ignore usually never existed. I played, sang, and wrote with this tiny chip on my shoulder for so many years, citing the idea that "no one really wants me to succeed, so let me go and show them". I know now that I am wrong, I have amazing friends who support me in this endeavor, but let me focus in on the criticism aspect. Sometimes, I was subject to criticism, especially for my voice, and at a certain age, I was laughed at a good amount for having a dream. So in terms of handling that, I did a terrible job of it-let me tell you what I did. I LISTENED. I got down on myself, I would kind of pretend that I wasn't serious about my dream, that this was a hobby. I figured if I just made it seem like I was sorry for promoting my work or posting too many videos on Instagram, that people would stop talking or I would at least have a viable defense to the criticism. That behavior stripped me of the individuality that I knew I worked to own, but my only concern was being liked. Not appreciated, or listened to, just liked. I think it should go without saying that what I did was unnecessary and detrimental, but I know that I am not the only artist who has been subject to these feelings. And I am not naive, there's always going to be people who will think maybe I should stop writing, or stop singing, maybe stop playing music altogether. But here's the difference now, I make music for me and show it to the people who I know can use it. That sounds cocky, but I'm not rephrasing. I have been writing things that I fall asleep singing at night and I can dwell on my own lyrics because they carry real sentimental value to me, they are no longer just marketing based. That's not to say I've never written honest songs, I have a handful from the past, but I finally found my place of peace musically, and that's the point of this weeks post. When you hear that awful thing someone said about your music, realize that the one's you're out to please are the people who will be affected the same way you were writing it. If someone reaches out to you with a good critique- "I really liked this, but maybe you can try (insert fantastic idea here)", then you owe it to them because they have actually digested your music the way you wrote it to be. Don't ever turn those people down. But if they put you down, try to take away from your creativity or freedom, you need to understand that your happiness should not be being held in their hands. You determine that, only you. Artists thrive on expression, it's the central principle and the reason to partake. I understand the obvious "Well how are you going to make a living" question, but I will promise it's not from writing songs you don't believe in. I know this post was more emotional than informative, but that's kind of what I want anyone reading this to understand- emotion is what draws people in. It's not the only way of communicating to an audience, but it is the most visceral thing we can offer as artists. If you want  to silence the critics, silence the demons in your mind, that's always going to be the real issue. If you write through those, jump off the edge of the cliff, there's a group of fans waiting to catch you.

Truthfully, I've never been more excited for the future. I have music that feels the right way, I have a direction for it, and I know I have amazing friends out there who will provide the best audience I could ever want. So I know this post really was all over the place, but thank you so much for reading, and I will see you all next week! 

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 2 (Inspiration and Experience)

Thanks for tuning back in to those of you who read (and hopefully responded) to my first blog post last week, and to those just seeing this for the first time, thank you for checking this out! I hope this is helpful to you or makes you more confident that you're not alone in the world! 

Let's call this Blog Post Week 2 

"What Qualifies As 'Failure' and When Should You Care"?

Start here; Failure is not a deterrent. Failure can mean any range of incomplete tasks or attempts at achieving something, but to be more specific to music, most of the time it will mean you didn't get the gig, you didn't land the deal, your album did not reach a certain amount of sales or plays online. And guess what? That's what any good musician will eventually thrive on. Failure for me has been contacting over 200 different venues in a summer, all personal emails or phone calls, and only getting 15 of them to have me play. I also never got to the end of a record deal with a label that had displayed mutual interest to begin with. Both stung, both made me feel inadequate, and so I kept working at my craft, kept pushing myself and started to move forward. When something doesn't work out for you, be quick to remember that the only way to guarantee success is to be the best at what you do so no one can refuse it, and that even at that point, they'll still refuse it sometimes. I used every venue that didn't answer, every label or group who didn't quite like what they heard, as motivation instead of condemnation; No, I'm not saying I'm some sort of Cinderella story. I'm saying that as creators, musicians will always have hurdles to clear. The key is to learn that you can't run faster until you jump higher. Inspire yourself with the possibilities that lay before you. The worst thing you can do is quit making the music that you express yourself with because some mythical venue owner in the faraway land of (insert somewhat cheesy venue name here) has not felt the emotions you had hoped he would. I'm not saying that venue owners don't deserve respect, but they're just people like you and me, and if they don't quite gel with your music, that's alright. Keeping in mind that they're also running a business, you might just be looking in the wrong place (Never send an email to a potential venue without knowing what sort of music they normally host!). My point is when you get turned down, maybe a few times, by different venues that you KNOW you're a good fit for, be reflective, and be O.K. with critiquing yourself. Are you writing sincere emails that are quick to the point, include your info and links to songs? Are you making sure that you tell the venue what YOU can give them? Sorry, just food for thought. If we don't try to use failures or rejections as springboards for success, then we'll get dragged down by them. It's a never ending battle, because at every level you'll have your share of both. The only way to truly fail, is to give into failure, which you'll never do because you're a driven, talented, and knowledgable musician, right!? I'm reminding myself of an infomercial, and I'm probably starting to run off topic, so I'll wrap this up. We deal with failures on a large scale because (P.S. This part is for everyone, this transcends all occupations) we believe in our work, and we know it has it's place in this world. Somedays will be harder to fight than others, but life is predicated on doing what you want to do with it, and nothing makes success sweeter than a struggle to get it. 

Thanks for reading! Check back in next week for Blog Post #3 and if you have anything to add to this article, comment on it! What kind of failures did you deal with and how did they push you? Did you succeed in the end? Looking forward to seeing some responses! 

-Jamie