music

Week 10- "No, I Am Not Talking About The Election"

Well the title should tell you at least what today's article won't be about. Yes, I have my opinions just like the rest of you, but I don't feel like being crucified for supporting one side or the other, or neither. It's a discussion I'll save for 2020 when Kanye runs. Anyways, I hope your respective candidate wins, unless that is not the candidate that I support, in which case you can soon expect a barrage of some factual, some not so factual information supporting my claim splattered on your Facebook wall. 

So this weeks topic, in the spirit of gathering a group of like minded followers and leading them to high places, is about the effectiveness of social media. In 2016, we as artists, producers, engineers, thinkers, comedians, household pets who somehow created their own instagrams, know that social media is the best form of distribution and promotion that you can get for free. You can reach millions of people with the touch of a button, you can connect with fans thousands of miles away who you have never met, the possibilities are endless. But, here's the catch- you have to work to get there. The thing with social media is that there's always this white noise buzzing in the background, someone is doing something somewhere, and they're most likely getting attention for it. And since attention is a finite resource, obviously you are going to be competing a little bit for other users time when you want to reach them. Yes, you are unique, and you are most likely an incredibly talented and poised individual, but you're a small fish in a big pond. So for the fun of it, lets talk about how you evolve to the point where you can grow legs and walk right out of the pond where everyone can see you (And yes, I suppose we'll also assume you can breathe air by that point- thanks Bill). *Disclaimer- I have not claimed social media fame as a priority, and therefore I am not someone who has had monumental success- but I feel that through extensive research, I can tell you what you'll have to do to reach that point. 

First off, you must be committed and consistent. One good post every few weeks is just simply not enough to interest a potential fanbase. Plan on posting 3-4 times a week, and if it's not a decent quality photo or video, or a clever inspirational quote or piece of advice, forget it. People notice when you're running out of things to say, or songs to perform. Now that being said, those things should not happen if you start to schedule your posts for yourself. Make a day out of it, maybe every wednesday is a new age cover of an older song. Maybe every friday, you do a quick 30 second video looking back at the week behind you. People start to accept those things as habitual and feel rewarded when they can anticipate it and eventually they will want some sort of involvement in your posts. But without your consistency, there's nothing to really gravitate towards and slowly they will miss the things you post and your audience will start to shrink. The second habit that you will need to get into is engaging your audience. Find some dedicated people who like every single thing you post and ask them what they like about your page, what are some of their favorite posts from the past. Did those posts do well for you? Well, it would be pretty stupid to go away from what works. Reach out to your followers and see what really interests them, is it covers, or small blogs, funny or inspirational messages, sharing good music from your contemporaries? There's definitely more that you could be doing to please them. Make it known how much you appreciate the support, and respond directly to people whenever you can, it goes a long way. A lot of the people who support you will also have their own interesting and exciting pages, make it your priority to be active on their pages as well. Don't just "like" something, leave a comment, tell them what you actually liked. It's easy to convince yourself you don't have time to do that, but you do, it's just not as easy as pretending like everyone should just love you and your posts with nothing being given in return. The more you can establish strong relationships with fans online, the more reach you will have when you want them to tune into something. This brings me to my next point, the 7-to-1 rule. The rule is simple; For every 1 post you self promote with, there should be 7 that are just simple entertainment, advice, or engagement towards your audience. The endless self promoting may or may not feel necessary, but I promise that after a bit your followers will not look so fondly upon it. Use that one post to highlight an important event, like a contest you've entered or a gig you really want to get people to. There's times when this rule should be interpreted more loosely (i.e. when you release an album), but generally, this is the trend you'll find on major pages. Don't ask for too much of an already dedicated audience, they're doing more than enough by just supporting you. Self promotion must be shown wisely, when you're careless, it leaves a real bitter taste in everyones mouths. So the last point, and I am always going to be a broken record on this one- Be You. Look, not everyone is an extrovert that's always prepped for a photoshoot and constantly interested in getting themselves out there. Personally, I do not have that trait and I don't possess that type of mindset when I approach social media. But I don't act like someone I'm not. You should always be cognizant of the fact that some of these people know you in real life, and if they're expecting a fireball of emotion and a big personality, and get none of that, it's very detrimental to your image and by extension, your success. People will eventually see through it, and while it's important to try and please people, you have to do it in a way that truly reflects your spirit. That's just so important. Don't compromise your integrity just to get a few more likes on something. Be true to yourself, and other people will join up to your truth. I promise. 

Well, I'm off to a guitar lesson now, I hope the election works out your way, and if not, remember you can always move. Have a great week everyone! Thanks for reading!

-Jamie

Week 8- "Working Through The Rough Patches"

Hey everyone, hope you're all finding this well. This is midterm week here at Berklee and I'm looking forward to crossing the finish line in another month and a half. So yeah, that's how I'm doing. Anyways, this week will not be as dark as the title seems. I want to approach the setbacks for artists, because realistically, none of your idols have become your idols without some pretty intense frustration and perseverance. Let's get into it.

I'll be very honest, I am struggling at the moment. Struggling to write the music I want to write, struggling to advance my career, struggling to figure out exactly what my career is supposed to be. And I am so frustrated. But in reality, I'm doing fine. Why? Because I have come far enough to face these questions. I know that success can be just over the hill and it's perfectly natural to trip a bit before you keep going. Hell, I trip more than I walk some weeks. But that's part of the experience. What's to appreciate about success if you didn't earn it? The hardest fought battles are the most satisfying victories. I know I am never alone in my struggles. There are many artists who are way more talented, business minded, and creative than me who have the same struggles. That's how I know that it's not necessarily something I'm doing wrong. I won't sugarcoat it though, knowing this does not make the struggles easier. In fact, it makes them more aggravating because the seem endless. 

OK, we've talked more than enough about me, so here's the real blog post;

"You're doing what you're supposed to be doing"

Soak those words in. Artists don't get to hear those words often (until they've reached a biblical level of fame where they can pretty much do whatever they please). I think the reality is it doesn't matter what you're doing; whether you're a Musician, an Entrepreneur, a Writer, a Doctor- if you're struggling, it's because you're pushing yourself, it's because you're digging out your path in front of you. If that was easy, we wouldn't respect you so much for doing it. You've set an intense goal for yourself, and you know deep in your heart that it would feel trivial if it was handed to you. Naturally, humans go away from pain and towards pleasure. You're doing something incredible and inspiring, and there's nobody that can put a stop to your progress except you. I can't begin to say how impressed I am by the hard working people who put their heads down and make their dreams into tangible successes. How do they do it? There must be some sort of silver spoon, or maybe they caught a lucky break, right? No. No way. Look money is money, fame is fame, you can put forward all sorts of excuses as to why you will not succeed and why person X did, but at the end of the day, person X just made it happen. I'd be willing to bet quite a bit of money that it wasn't without some otherworldly stress, some tears, and a lot of shutting out the noise that says they should give up. I'll bring myself back in for a second- I think all the time about what if I just quit? Just stopped the music and picked a new career? I could. I might. But not unless I KNEW that it was what I truly needed. But for the moment, I have a dream and nothing can cut me off from it, not even myself. OK- back to the important thing; You, and your "soon to be" successful and amazing career that will offer inspiration for everyone who someday follows in your footsteps. If I can offer you one thing to get through the struggles it's this; DO NOT CUT CORNERS. Did you catch that? Hang on.

DO.NOT.CUT.CORNERS.

Look, it is so easy to want to just write your song, it's "good" and you pat yourself on the back and then feel like Leonard Cohen for a week (If you are a songwriter and don't know who that is, please look him up, please). But really, if you want this music to spread its' wings and take off, it has to be "Amazing". The kind of song that your friends keep on replay, the one people ask you to play at shows. Maybe they even know the words to it. And on the business side, if you want something to happen, don't wait on people to make your career happen for you. They won't. Sorry. You need to be quick on every response, don't be afraid to follow up two or three times with a venue- they're seeing your emails, trust me. Be a fighter and don't feel ashamed of how hard you will push. Be the kindest, most courteous and consummate professional that you can be.  It goes further than someone liking your music. You need them to love working with you. Don't be cheesy, but you should make it known to every potential employer that you appreciate the opportunity to the fullest. Give respect to get it. If you follow this model of living, the world will eventually give into you and your struggles will slowly break up. 

You're going to have some dark days. We all do. Sometimes that's life, other times its because you're being tested. Stay resilient, go seize your dreams. Thanks for reading, I hope anyone who is struggling currently can push through soon, feel free to reach out to me if you need an open ear. Have a great week!

-Jamie

P.S. I love this article, it's short and it's honest and informative, go take a look! It's very specific and a good place to start when you're looking for new angles to work. http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/how-to-succeed-in-the-music-industry-on-your-terms.html

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 5

Hello everyone! I'm back, a little late, but I'm back nonetheless. I've been hearing from various people in my life saying they actually read these posts so I'm excited to dive into this weeks. So without further ado (minus the 3 days since I was supposed to post this)...

Week 5; "Finding Your 'Thing'"

When it comes right down to it, successful people know why they're successful. They know themselves down to all the finer points, strengths, weaknesses, people they work well with, people they need to avoid. And for everyone one of those people, they have a trait that makes them "Them". It's their hallmark, the thing everyone knows them for. They'll have plenty of other skills, but there's one that is top quality. And not so strangely, thats the one they'll advertise. Why? Because you gain notoriety for being a master in one thing, rather then a participant in many. That's not to say you shouldn't have plenty of tools that you bring to the table in any given situation. I can confidently say that I could play 3 instruments for anyone at any given time, record them, mix (not well, but I can), and I am an experienced writer that's eager and ready to collaborate. But when someone wants to know what I do, I am a Singer Songwriter, and then take that a step further, I'm a Pop Rock Singer Songwriter who is always going to entertain and attempt to create inspiring music. That's my calling card. It doesn't have anything to do with my perception of my own ability, fanbase, or anything else. I know who I am, what I am, and I am confident in my convictions. That's what most industry experts need to/want to know right off the bat. The thing that really separates professionals from amateurs is an X factor. Can you play 2 guitars at once? Do you pull out a puppet at your show and be a ventriloquist for 5 minutes? Great! Make it known to people. If you're an engineer, pride yourself in precision and timeliness, if you're a writer, make sure people know that you'll spend any amount of time that they'll need to write the best song. All that being said, have I found my X factor as a performer yet? Nope, and I'm in no rush. It comes with time (or so i'm told) and when it does, it will be authentic. Authenticity is vital to creating a real buzz. I am personally not the guy to deliver dramatic monologues at shows, or show up in costume, I won't have flames shooting out of my guitar, I know my demeanor and I want to be the same person on the stage that I am off the stage. However, if you're a dynamic individual, then be yourself, don't be shy to go off at any performance, you will develop a name for yourself based on how you deliver a show. Regardless of how you act on stage, trust me, you want the crowd to feel like they know you as they leave the room, and better yet, you want them to tell their friends about the experience, whether it was wild, subdued, intimate, violent, amazing, etc. you want to leave your mark as "that artist". Like I said, this comes with time. But when it's there, you have something priceless that is uniquely yours. So if I wanted to sum this week up; Be you, and be the best at being you. Nothing will make a louder statement than having an honest and believable image. That's what the "thing" is, you're you and everyone knows you for it. So I managed to only be slightly cheesy to this point but here comes the downpour you were most definitely expecting. Keep being amazing at what you do, it's going to show if you let it.

Thanks for reading!

-Jamie

Jamie's Blog Week 3

Hey there everyone! As always, welcome, and thank you for reading! I have to say I'm starting to enjoy this blogging experience. I was a bit skeptical from the start, worrying if anyone will read these, but what I'm finding is that even a few people connecting back to me makes it more than worth it. I hope that this weeks post serves you all well, and if it does, please reach out to me. I really do love hearing back from anyone! 

Week 3; "Should I Feel Bad About Self Promoting"?

While I am not entirely sure that I'm the right voice to tackle this, I know that this is a struggle for artists of all varieties and businesses alike. In my past blog posts, I have talked about the endless amounts of work that we will do to achieve the art that we have envisioned. Eventually, it gets finished, and sits in front of you on a kitchen table as a CD or on your computer screen accompanied by the iTunes toolbar and it's "Now What"? Well, this is the part where everyone has their own feelings, so I'll stop speaking universally and just speak to my own intuition. When I have invested hundreds of hours of my own time, I feel that promoting my work is not just necessary, but deserved. If I have created something that I believe is a quality album (EP, or any creation for that matter), I do believe that I would be doing myself a disservice by hiding it away upon completion and only telling people about it if they asked. The issue in my case is that even though I think of self promotion as necessary, I fear that I'm not getting my music out there, I'm just bothering friends who may have gotten a bit tired of my repetitive posts talking "Check this out, check that out", etc. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we tend to measure our likability based on our social media reach and the reactions of others. In my case, I have never had a large presence on social media. I've grown to understand how powerful it is, but I am by no means an expert. It does seem, however, that the more I use it, the more I wish there was a better way to reach people with an honest message.

I started to get off on a bit of a tangent (Better saved for another week), so let me refocus; I do not self promote because I think I am just "that good". I promote my work because I made it for other people. I promote my work because I do believe that some people out there will connect with my songs. I promote my work because I believe that the world always needs new music. I don't know if people see it that way, in fact I assume that for the most part they don't, because really it's not their job to constantly watch my every move. But the reality is part of being an artist is committing to expression and finding the eyes and ears of an audience who may or may not have a reaction to it. We need to stop feeling as if self promotion is taboo because it seems "conceited". The reality is everyone deserves to feel rewarded for achievements at least from time to time. The good news is that it is not hard to make someone feel valuable in the course of a day.  I know that it can change my day, my week, sometimes even my month getting a small compliment from someone who I didn't know even heard my music or was following my progress. It goes a long way, and I think you can do yourself a favor by being there for others, even just with a like on a post or a quick text. 

Thanks for reading everyone, I would say this post was a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of emotions for me, but I hope it finds you well and maybe offers some insight or some reassurance. I'm really hoping to hear other people's thoughts on this whether you're an artist or not, you definitely have valuable input into the conversation. Next post in 1 week!

-Jamie

Welcome To My Blog

So as of this past Sunday, I'm officially a young adult, and my teenage years are behind me. I've been trying to think to myself how I'm going to move forward and keep building on what I've been working at as a musician and as a person, and with the help of a close friend, came to realize I have things I'd like to speak about. I'm a very introverted person, which gives me excessive time to think about life and what i'm doing with it, and I'd like to work on my socializing skills and make that an open forum. I'll be writing in this blog once a week, hopefully until I'm too busy to do it every week, but I have a lot of topics I want to discuss, and I want my peers and people I haven't yet met to talk with me and we can all get stronger and smarter, as well as share a few laughs along the way. Thanks for tuning in, hope to hear from all of you!

Week 1; "Who Am I? And Who Are You?"

After 20 years, I thought I had a pretty strong sense of self identity, but the past summer has really opened my eyes. I got serious about my music and my career, and studied the music industry and how to be a successful DIY musician. I wore several new hats that I had never thought I could take care of myself as my own booking agent, publicist, and producer. I came out with a debut EP and I'm now promoting it (more to come on how self promotion is the most necessary evil in my life). Things have changed a lot for me as a musician and as a person. I'm now embarking on my second year of college at Berklee College Of Music, I've moved into a Boston apartment with a long time friend of mine, and now I'm blogging (that is definitely the biggest surprise to me). My approach to life has changed significantly, and now I don't question my independence, as a student or a musician. That being said, this was a long summer. I was lazy in the way that I didn't get a job, but to say I stayed busy would have been an understatement. I took "Free Time" and really put it to use by building the frame for a career in music and establishing connections as well as starting to put myself out there as a viable performer and writer. I want to share a small experience that I had with my EP because it totally changed my outlook on how to approach my craft. The EP from start to finish took 6 months. That shocked me. I spent about 3 months picking songs, revising and rewriting, making new demos, and then another 3 recording, working with the engineers on the mixes and masters, and then ultimately releasing it and creating CD's for it (they're available on this site if you're interested!). I've never been good at taking my time, I prefer to jump on things and get them done right away. That doesn't mean I never cared about quality, quite the contrary, but I never was willing to do 20 vocal takes for one line, or spend 10 straight hours comping takes for a song. It teaches you about patience, and also giving time to let the dust settle so you can really make sure you're doing your work justice. It was a valuable lesson to me, even though I could get frustrated at times by not getting what I wanted out of the work, I learned to let things take their course while I work. I'd recommend that same mindset to anyone tackling a project in their lives, or even day to day activities or tasks. I did not have a normal college summer, there was no beach trips, or baseball games (played a gig outside of a baseball stadium though), but I feel what I have accomplished and my growth has made up for that. It's interesting how sometimes the experiences that really stick with you are experiences that span months, and conclude over a period of days. So to the title of this first blog post; "Who am I?" I'm a hard working, driven musician who is starting to get his bearings on what he'll need to do to succeed in the industry and will always be trying to learn and grow from experience. Now the better question is "Who Are You"? What are your habits when you work? What motivates you to get the best work? I'm always trying to speak to the people who inspire others with their actions and I have a feeling that if you've read to this point, you've probably experienced similar feelings while working and I'd love to know about what you do! Thanks for reading, tune back in next week for a new blog post! Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter while you're here if you enjoy staying up to date with this, and as always, I appreciate the support!

-Jamie