originality

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 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