Today I got around to working on a lyric video where a few days ago I decided I would try it one more time. The main reason why had more to do with not being entirely happy with the first attempt.
The last several weeks have been highly productive with a lot of output. Not only for music, but for videos related to my music as well. I’ve been working diligently on making lyric videos for a whole lot of my songs. Generally it’s been taking about 3 to 4 hours for very song to get 2 lyric videos per. One song in particular is called Supernova (expect it’s release sometime in 2020, that’s the current plan). I had done a lyric video for it, but the video I had in the background was poorly shot – me handheld of footage from a 4th of July fireworks show.
In looking back at it, I felt it just seemed to lo-fi. Didn’t fit the title well enough and in a sense, lazy. I thought fireworks would work, but the quality of the video in low light from a phone, meh.
Now that I’m starting to dig further into the capabilities of Motion, I’m figuring out ways to really make things pop, or sometimes taking an easier route. Today however was a day of really making something pop. I managed to create a really cool outer space animation that looks super stellar (pun intended). This took a good deal of time, but the end result is something that is constantly evolving over the course of the song and it’s interesting to look at.
I still have to get the words in, but I’ve found a cooler font, a nicer look, and animation that makes more sense. Thus all the way around, I’m happier with the result so far. I believe I will get the lyrics in and done tomorrow.
Musically, I’ve got another song that I’ve been working on with Chris Hellstrom. It’s turning out really great too. Fun lyrics. Fun concept. Tongue in cheeky type of song. One that has more than one hook and one hook in particular that I imagine might become a catch phrase. Two reasons on that, one, the melody is easy to remember. Two, the words will catch people by surprise and they’re words that a vast majority of people say – but may not have said them in this order or sung this way. But once heard, you can’t forget it.
I did get the mix and master of another single done a couple of days ago. It’s on the list of videos that needs to now get done.
Additionally I’ve been asking fans of sports teams like the Washington Nationals (congrats to them for winning the World Series this year) if they would send me video footage they’ve shot for lyric videos. HINT HINT. If you’re reading this and your a fan of a sports team – I ask you to reach out with video footage you have rights to, if you would.
This same thought about lyric videos for teams has led to another idea for me. But I’ll keep that under wraps for the time being. Though you’ll likely see the reason pop up on my website in the not too distant future.
As a musician, I love analog but I embrace digital. Actually I don’t just embrace digital, I love digital as well.
It amazes me that there are still people who will bring up the Analog Recording is better debate. I get it. You can’t let go of your past.
I’m fortunate enough that while I started recording in a bedroom with a TASCAM portastudio, you know the ones that recorded 4 to 8 tracks on a cassette tape, I quickly moved to digital recording as I saw the future. I learned oodles about recording and noise, thanks to that old portastudio. Hell, I have 100s of cassettes that I should transfer into my computer. Though at this point I would have to borrow a working portastudio as I gave mine away to a budding musician. She never gave it back.
Another reason I don’t go digging thru those old tapes is that it would only be a reminder of my beginnings, I highly doubt any of those recordings would ever be salvageable.
I never released any of my song recordings done on tape. All recordings I’ve released were all digital recordings.
However, I have worked on other people’s projects that were recorded on tape. Some sound great, some, not so much.
I quickly moved to digital recording on a computer as soon as my budget allowed me to purchase an audio card. I was limited to 4 tracks, but what a difference it made in sound quality from a portastudio to a computer. What I discovered though was that digital is not forgiving like tape – it was a mirror image of what you fed it. There was no magic vibe automatically created by digital recording.
So I learned that you have to give digital exactly want you wanted, otherwise you’d get disappointed. That made me more determined to make sure I understood how to perform and record to get what I wanted.
Recently I got into a discussion with another songwriter about recording formats. They came right out saying that digital sucked and analog ruled. Their claim is that 1’s and 0’s can’t supply depth to a recording.
Spoken like a true novice.
This particular songwriter claimed they wanted to learn what the differences were between analog and digital. However, with the opening salvo being that digital recording was already weaker, it made for a lame way to claim they were looking to start a conversation to learn such differences.
My answer eventually boiled down to this:
“The difference is mental. Entirely mental. If you actually believe you will achieve a better recording with analog gear – then you will. If you believe you will achieve a better recording with digital gear, then you will. It’s entirely a mental thing for the artist.
In blind A/B tests, you will never know the difference. So why does it matter?
What matters is the performance of the artist/band and the competency of the engineers.”
They had nothing to hit back with.
Of course it helped that other producers jumped in talking about the advantages to digital recording: Speed, ease of use, etc. One older producer went so far to say that one couldn’t pay him enough to go back to working with tape and all analog gear.
Over the past several years and as recently as a month ago I’ve upgraded to newer audio interfaces. The most recent update is the Apollo 8p Quad. It gives me a bunch of additional processing power, along with enough inputs to now track full bands if I need to.
As you know with my career, I’ve been an in-the-box guy for a long time now. I use a laptop (along with a specially designed midi pedal) for my live guitar rig too. That’s how in the box I go.
Great recordings still require several things. An awesome musician or musicians to perform. A means to record. An engineer that understands those means. A quality mix engineer. A quality mastering engineer. These are things that are needed to get an awesome recording. It doesn’t matter if it’s analog or digital (they’re just means).
It doesn’t hurt to have great microphones. It doesn’t hurt to have great mic pres. It doesn’t hurt to have a great room. It doesn’t hurt to have awesome outboard gear. Those things will enhance a recording, as long as they’re used appropriately.
I love the idea of analog, but I embrace the beauty and ease of use of digital.
As an artist I’m really opposed to the idea of censorship, especially in music.
Recently there’s been a backlash against certain artists and styles of music. Actually there’s probably always been a backlash or at least groups of people wanting to prevent others from hearing music. The simple word for it is censorship. If music history memory serves me, there was a severe backlash by Christians against the music of artists like Buddy Holly and also Elvis. The humor of that is Buddy came from a religious family (unless I’ve been misinformed).
Then in the 80’s there was the PMRC that used a censorship tactic to ban music thru the use of the government and silly stickers on physical releases.
This might be a first. There are police departments in the U.K. that are asking YouTube to forcibly remove music videos with violent lyrics. I don’t condone it, but I can understand the reasoning. Apparently these artists use the platform to tell rival artists what they plan on doing to them, when, and where. Think of it as a public musical version of the Firms that fight at Football / Soccer matches.
That’s an interesting line to be drawing. On the one hand, if its legit musical expression, it shouldn’t be subject to censorship.
On the other hand, if its gang messages disguised as music, then it constitutes as actual threats, hate speech and violence. That presents a problem. Might be reasonable to apply censorship to that.
This style of music is becoming known as Drill Music. Its new to my radar and I’m not gonna sit here and explain it like I’m well versed in it. I’m interested in videoing my first listen to a popular Drill Music video and taping my reaction, much like how the Lost In Vegas boys would do it. Enjoy as its my first reaction video.
Even in the early days of rap, which is the parent of Drill, there were rap battles. East coast, West coast blasts that apparently led to the deaths of Tupac and Biggie and likely others. At that point there was also a strong musical resistance that expressed life on the streets in the dark parts of major cities. Music was a great way to resonate that harsh reality.
Drill music isn’t the first style to have a censorship request from law enforcement agencies. I’m specifically referencing N.W.A. as a group that got hit with warnings from the law, amongst others like Ice-T, KRS-One.
As you can see/hear, I’m kinda clueless to the U.K. brand of street music with lyrics like this. But I can certainly imbibe the vibe that they’re laying down, musically speaking.
Scam Artists on Social Media
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in contact on Instagram with a random person who claimed to be in the business of music PR. Today it came to a head. Or rather the point where I needed to send the money or back away. That was the TL;DR version, now let me rewind a bit and you can read on for the whole story…
The Reach Out
I was originally contacted by Instagram user samantha.jenkins97 (a private account that has few followers and posts) telling me that she really liked my song Rise Up and felt she could help make it go viral on Spotify. Therein began the aforementioned conversation. Because what musician wouldn’t want to have their music go viral, right? However, my initial reaction to her was, that’s a political song that isn’t likely to go viral.
She felt that political songs were hot right now. I’m guessing that was due to Childish Gambino having just released This Is America. Which is also very political, in a very different vibe and very different sonically. Plus, he’s already a known entity. So its easier to make that fly.
How Did You Get Verified
She started asking me how I got my Instagram account verified. Generally I don’t respond to people that ask this question because the reality is, it doesn’t matter. I have no connection to get someone else verified. There is a person (one of those scam artists) whom we’ll call Victoria who claims she got me verified, but the reality is it was another organization that I’m part of who asked due to an event that was supposed happen for my career.
After that little stint about verification came the pitch of getting me on some bigger playlists from Spotify. Like actual Spotify curated playlists, not just some random playlist by Bob in Nebraska (no offense Bob). As someone who dealt with this same thing a little over a year ago, and getting burned hard, my red flags started to go up. I decided I would play this out and see if this person is legit.
On a side note: We all hear that music services (Spotify, Apple Music) claim to be fair about the distribution of music. But, behind the scenes, a few of us know there is actual payola going on. The labels have relationships with Spotify, Apple Music, et al in order to push their artists onto those official lists. Its the backdoor dark alley secret that no one wants to talk about. Scam artists prey on unsuspecting musicians / artists straight up because of this.
I mention to “Samantha” that I don’t think Rise Up is the right single and she asks for other songs to check out. I point her to some other singles. She comes back saying Touch is THE one!
My first thoughts were, who else has she worked with? So I message to ask. “Samantha” messages back to say she doesn’t give out that type of information in order to protect other artist’s right to privacy. Then messages to say she’d do the same for me. Well hot damn isn’t that special?
Hell if I was planning on doing business with someone and a potential client wanted a person to reference for my qualities and work ethic, I’d go and ask some previous clients to see who’d be willing to chat. If I’m good at my job, and I am. I’m pretty darn sure, most anyone I’ve worked with would be more than willing to put in a good word.
Then “Samantha” turns it around by messaging me some questions about who wrote it? Who owns it? Who produced it? There were more questions that came out over the course of the conversation. Like, did I have paperwork on the rapper who rapped the bridge? Am I with ASCAP or BMI? Have I ever been arrested? Do I abuse people?
When I mentioned I was with SESAC she responded with being unfamiliar with them. That made me think hmmmm.
The last two questions came the day after Spotify pulled R. Kelly off the service due to sexual abuse charges. She claimed her Spotify contact asked her to ask me. I believe this was an attempt at showing her “inside line” to Spotify was legit. Though in my mind I was thinking, at least she reads the trade websites.
Once Bitten Twice Shy
I explain to “Samantha” that I already got burned last year by someone who claimed the same shit. “Samantha” messages me that she’s not a scammer and that she feels bad for me about the last person (the sympathy card got played very timely right there woo hoo). She’s willing to cut me a deal! I ask what the deal is and she proceeds to tell me that for $1,000 she can get me on several big Spotify playlists, and possibly some Apple Music playlists too. But because she’s doing such a great deal, she wants a 5% cut of royalties for the time while the song in question is on the playlists. That right there was the reason for the questions about ownership.
“Samantha” then mentions that she’d also put me in touch (no pun intended) with a major booking agent once the song started racking up streams. For that she wanted 5% of the first 5 shows I get from a booking agent named Caroline Yim that “Samantha” wants to connect me to. I’m betting that Caroline is totally unaware of this person. I should mention that Caroline Yim specializes in Hip Hop & Urban, which are not my genres and also recently switched from ICM to CAA.
* On a side note, the person I got burned by was a little more forth coming with a phone number and general whereabouts.
Who Are You
I ask who she is and where her business is located. “Samantha” responds with an explanation of not having an office because it costs too much and ignores the question of who she is, other than saying she is in PR. She asks another question that makes me think, this is better to answer on a phone call. I inform her that its better if we talk about it on the phone. She refuses. Wow, shocker!
Hell yeah! I’m certainly willing to send someone I don’t know, who won’t divulge an address, or phone number, a $1,000. Sounds like a great deal! [That is full blown sarcastic prose btw] My hair began standing up on my neck and its telling me beware of scam artists.
Actually I didn’t respond that way. I did text that it sounded like a reasonable deal. Read on to see my attempt to figure out who this person is.
Mind you, I get it when you already know someone and they’re willing to talk to you “off the record” about things they can connect you to. There’s always a certain element of needing to keep things out of the limelight. However, I didn’t know this person. There is no track record. She had no known quantity of being able to back up her claims and at this point she’s entirely unwilling to get personally involved, so to speak.
I look up the username and the email address on Instagram. I find a couple of different accounts. One is a person attempting to be an Instagram model. Another is a nail technician, which I take it to mean a finger nail painter. The 3rd is the person who is claiming to be in music PR. So yeah, 3 entirely different accounts to the same limited information. This is another red flag to me.
The Compliments & Bait
I message saying that I’m willing to continue thinking about paying the $1,000. “Samantha” starts messaging me at random times texting things like, my Spotify contact is telling me he can get you on 3 or 4 playlists. That he loves the song. Thinks it will blow up. She also messages saying that once I’m on the bigger playlists it means I’ll get on to lots more little ancillary playlists and continue to rack up even more streams.
Then came her messages about an Apple Music contact that also loved the song and would put it on some of their playlists, provided I make the payment. See, I’m get a two for one now!
I want to know what playlists from each service. So I send a message asking. “Samantha” tells me she has to ask.
A while later I get a message about Spotify and the playlists were Fresh & Chill, Everyday Favorites and Guilty Pleasures. I search for them on Spotify and sure enough they exist. Then some time after that “Samantha” messaged me again about Apple Music. Her contact there said he’d get me on the Alternative and The A List Alternative playlists.
Being that I don’t have Apple Music (if only I had an image of me doing a surprised Deadpool impression that I could insert right here), I went to Twitter and asked my followers who, if any, were on Apple Music.
I got quite a few responders whom I in turn DM’d asking if those particular playlists existed. Sure enough, they existed. “Samantha” also threw in a message saying there would likely be a few others, but only wanted to say what was guaranteed. But this still feels like a scam to me.
Lets Do A Contract
At this point I message to “Samantha” that I would feel more comfortable if we had a contract about the 5% that I’m to pay her from royalties earned from the duration of the playlist placements (keyword there is the duration of the actual placements). She replies to me that she believes I’m honest and trusts that I would pay her back.
Well gee, I’m flattered! And damn right I would do I what I say I will do. No, really, lets do a contract. “Samantha” messages me that she’ll whip one up later in the day. A glimmer of hope that I may actually get something concrete that would protect us both. Maybe she’s not one of those social media scam artists after all.
I thought this type of praise a bit too soon.
When Can You Pay
Before I get a contract, I’m asked, are you ready to pay? I message saying I will be when I get the contract. Then she offers that I should pay via Venmo. Mind you, we had actually discussed the pay part days earlier. She wanted Venmo. I suggested an escrow account where the money would be released when the placement was proved. She balked after asking me to explain what an escrow account is.
We’re back at the point of me wanting a contract, and all she wants is to get paid.
I had done some research on Venmo only to find out that Venmo has no recourse to get you your money back if you pay someone – seems Venmo, despite being owned by PayPal, was never meant to be a means for conducting business. And yes, there are plenty of Venmo scam stories. Essentially Venmo is like PayPal’s Friends & Family or MoneyGram or Western Union. Once that money reaches the end party – you may as well kiss it goodbye. So when she messaged again asking for payment, I respond with a desire to use PayPal Business for the funds. I know full well that PayPal Business has the means to refund the money if the deal goes bad. “Samantha” balks again saying, that will take two weeks! Oh, and how safe and easy it is to use Venmo.
I’m In No Rush
I’m a career musician. I’m not in a rush for instant fame. Would I like for my music to hit the big time? Hell yes, and I know its good enough to be there. I also know that music is a business and most of it is conducted in person. By people who actually meet face to face or are willing to give each other their email address(es), phone number(s), place(s) of business etc.
The Full Court Press
As of today (the day I’m writing this all out) the barbs came out. Its do or die time. “Samantha” is messaging me saying she has laid the groundwork and that I need to pay up or I’m gonna make her look bad. I respond with, I haven’t gotten a contract about the royalties. She fires back with, we have two months to figure that out. She is under the impression that Spotify and Apple Music pay out two months after stream. The reality is, it takes 3 months from a stream to see the pay, sometimes more – I don’t correct her on this as it might give away that she is trying to scam me.
Again, I mention I’m ready to move forward when I get the contract. She starts hitting back with insults and that I’m missing a big opportunity. It goes back and forth with me saying that I’m not willing to give money to a person who won’t give me an address, phone number, email, etc. She keeps saying that this isn’t how its gonna work. If there’s anything more scammy that scam artists can say, I’m not sure what it would be.
She messages more about needing to pay. I make the same response, when you tell me who you are, I’ll pay.
Needless to say, she said she wouldn’t tell me due to concerns for her privacy. Then accused me of stringing her along.
Well yeah, who the fuck is ok with giving a good chunk of change to an anonymous stranger on social media? Especially one who refuses to speak in person on the phone, give an email address or a place of business. Or wants to be paid via a preferred method that has no recourse for getting money back if the deal isn’t fulfilled.
I thought it had ended when I kept asking for her information before I would send the money, by literally copy and pasting the same answer several times. But I was wrong… After about an hour, as the image shows, she sent some more messages (remember to read them in reverse order, bottom up).
There’s an old movie with a famous saying of Stupid is as Stupid does.
Watch Out For Scam Artists
To my musical friends and extended family: Please be on ALERT if you’re contacted by Instagram user @samantha.jenkins97. Also, if you’re contacted by someone by the name of Victoria with a nickname of Tori on Twitter @toriiiiiii_v who claims to work for RCA. Hell for all I know, they’re one in the same person.
As a musical artist I would ask that you share this story. We need to watch each other’s proverbial back, especially if music is our sole source of income. This post in and of itself should go viral.
Since you got this far: I ask you to follow me on Spotify
I’ll ask you to sign up for my email list <click here>
I’ll also ask you to playlist the songs in the post, it helps more than you know.
As you’ve probably heard, Malcolm Young passed away over the weekend.
Malcolm Young Guitarist
Before I even had an inkling of playing guitar (or any instrument for that matter), I had already felt the power of AC/DC. Staples of the party scene growing up with songs you hear at parties like Back In Black and For Those About To Rock. They are the kind of songs that drive people to join the legions of air-guitarists everywhere.
When I started playing guitar I assumed that Angus Young (Malcolm’s brother) was the mastermind behind such powerful songs. He was the focus, he strutted around in that school-boy outfit. It made sense to me. It wasn’t until later that I learned Malcolm was the real writing force.
I always appreciated how AC/DC was able to make heavy loud guitars sound like they belonged in everyday songs that could be anthems. There’s a lesson in every one of their thunderous hits and Malcolm Young certainly should be studied in music schools. For no other reason than what it takes to make a guitar stick in your head and never leave.
Jealous is too strong a word, but I am certainly hoping that at some point in I might be able to deliver a guitar song so filled with power that it becomes an anthem.
The world will sorely miss what future riffs could have poured out of Malcolm Young’s mind and fingers. RIP to one of the original gods of rock.
Its been a rough and tumble year. Things started off looking extremely promising then in a matter of months multiple projects and one bigger one all came to a crashing halt.
Rough and Tumble
The rough… A person I was working with for a nice boost on streaming media ended up stealing $14,000 from me. That might not sound like a ton of money, but as a non-signed artist that is paying for everything – that puts a serious dent in your operational cash flow. This is one of the primary reasons I’ve been so quiet here on my ‘dot com’. I’ve been out money to make things happen when I should have been seeing a return.
In turn, this slowed my process down on making the finishing touches on my website. (grrrr).
Its made it difficult for me to upgrade gear.
I’ve been unable to do any PR.
Not a fun position to be in.
Right now I have someone working on getting that money back from them, but after 3 months of trying, I’m beginning to lose hope.
Another element of fallout from this is losing the lovely lady I had been dating for nearly a year. That was a blow as well.
The tumble… They (whomever ‘they’ are) say “roll with the punches.” I’m feeling more like I’ve been tumbling. Whilst I’ve been recovering from the theft, I’ve been finishing music. Lots of music. Some with co-writers, some for TV placements, some for my future releasing. Writing and recording all this music is part of what keeps me sane in such a conniving business.
In other news. A device, that I developed for my own use a couple of years ago, is now generating interest from a couple of companies. I had a meeting with one company a week and a half ago at the end of July. The meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes. That 30 minute meeting ended up lasting an hour and 45 minutes. To me that’s a very good sign and sometime next week I will reach back out to them to follow and see where their thoughts are. In the meantime, I’ve started the patent process to make sure my idea is protected.
Some friends of mine have started developing a content platform for YouTube. As it turns out, my channel and website titled Inside The Recording Studio will get rebranded to be the umbrella for all the content. I’m looking forward to providing cool content about gear, recording and the process of creating music.
As I sit here recapping on several months of what feels like waiting in a holding pattern, I’m working on keeping a positive attitude going into my birthday. I’m taking yet another trip around that sun. Despite being beat down again in my career as a musician, I can be grateful for being alive and healthy!
As the song image for Spotify shows above – I will Rise Up!
I’ll work on being a bit more energetic with content here. In the meantime, thank you for reading.
BTW – if you haven’t joined my email list, please do!
Rise Up My Juicy New Single
How To Find
Time to drop a little knowledge on ya in order to find my new single Rise Up. It released on Friday January 20 and can now be found on your favorite digital service (hint, my favorite is Spotify). That means you’ll find it at places like Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube, and more.
Of course you could also listen to Rise up right here on my website on the Rise Up page. Of course that page also contains the lyrics, artwork, and liner notes. Kinda like having a web version of hardcopy version’s full blown information.
Significance of Rise Up
You might ask yourself why did I release it on Inauguration Day? Its a great question that has a real live answer.
The answer is, I felt it my duty to call out the fact that the country has elected the wrong person. A person who claims to be for the “little” guy, but in reality is solely out for himself and his family. If there is one thing that I hope to achieve, it is to have people Rise Up against going backwards in this country. My desire is to see people gather and protest. To demonstrate. To call out the elected leaders to start doing their jobs rather than creating chaos.
In all, regardless of whether you are a republican, democrat, independent, Green Party, tea party, whomever – you can put this song to use. In fact, I’d love to see you putting it into action. Share your photos and videos, of your using it for protest, with me on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be happy to RT or share the love. Go forth and make use of your freedom, before you lose more of it. Enjoy it, sing it, share it!
Happy New Year to ya. Its already time to say goodbye to 2015. In one way I’m wishing 2015 could keep going as its been a pretty good year. However, I’m already looking at 2016 as the launch pad for several great things to come.
Via Twitter I was asked by Jodsters if I’ll be releasing more singles in 2016. The immediate answer is yes. I have several new singles lined up and in the can. So to speak. Currently working on the video ideas to get them fleshed out and ready to release along side each single.
Along with that will be a better media presence. Gotta start stepping up the streams and plays for the newer music.
There will be one more push with Touch. The next single coming for release is called “Thump Thump Thump”. A juicy rich groove of a song that as some Jodsters have said “Make you want to move your feet in a happy manner.” I’m sticking to that funky audio lap-dance for your ears type of thing.
I got a killer gift for Christmas of a GoPro Hero4. Thus I will do my best to shoot more video and get it up on my YouTube channels and other social media. Should make it a lot easier to shoot, that’s for sure. The bonus is, I’ve recently met a couple of people and reconnected with some friends who do a lot of things behind the scenes with creating film/video. As I team up with them, it should lead to some really cool video output.
Plus, I’ve been asked to put my greatest guitar lesson on video. In case you didn’t know, I used to teach guitar lessons. There’s one super important lesson that no other teacher on earth ever teaches. Though I’ve long wanted to start a guitar lessons website geared around great lessons on playing guitar – I haven’t yet gotten around to it. Thus I will make sure this highly valuable lesson gets shot, edited and put up on my YouTube channel for everyone to enjoy. Lucky you it won’t cost you $100/half-hour to get it.
Already on January 1 I had some fans asking about my dog Dorian. Telling me they’d like to see more pics and video of him. Thus if you’re down to see more of my dog, go follow his twitter account @dorianthedog. The more feedback he gets, the more video and pics he’ll deliver.
There are a few things that are happening with the older catalog. If things go right, it will mean a nice payoff that will help springboard the new singles and more. Unfortunately have to be like Apple on this and not say anything further.
Goodbye 2015. You’ve been really good to me with delivering a network TV theme. Nightwatch on A&E if you have not yet seen the show. Here’s to 2016 bringing me 3 more this year – that’s the goal.