Let’s Just Go Starts Streaming Today
My new single titled Let’s Just Go went live early this morning on all the major streaming and digital services. Think of being in a Tesla launching into ludicrous speed while having Gal Gadot riding shotgun as you go into the wild blue yonder. A whole lot of fun for the blacktop adventure that awaits for the summer.
TL;DR: For those who want to know more…
A Little History
A few years back I got invited to perform at a songwriter’s in the round event. I was placed on stage with some heavyweight songwriters who have written for acts you’ve heard of.
Was I intimidated? No. Well… No.
I had already met several of them before. But there was one guy who I hadn’t met and he had the biggest cred list of the bunch.
Pre show I had asked the two I did know, James Grey and Warren Sellars, if they would play rhythm on one of my songs so I could go and kick into a solo. They agreed. Yippee!
Fortunately during the song the guy you see in the background Kevin Fisher also jumped in.
After the set I was greeted by Kevin who came up and said “We need to do some writing together.” You have no idea how cool that made me feel in that moment.
Forward A Few Years
Kevin is a busy guy. We kept touching base but had a hard time finding time to connect to sit and write. Thanks to technology, we used FaceTime when I finally found an idea and we both had time to flesh out a song.
Over the course of a couple of FaceTime sessions we cobbled Let’s Just Go into a full acoustic guitar and vocal tune that we both enjoyed. From there I took on the task of producing it into the sonic vision that would be released with me at the helm.
Originally my girlfriend at the time sang the female backing vocals. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned, we split up and even more unfortunate – she’s not on speaking terms. Of course I made the mistake of not getting written permission to use her vocal. Mostly due to thinking I’d have permanent permission via marriage. You live and learn, right?
That version of the song had Kevin’s publisher thinking we’d be able to get a car commercial. Exciting to envision.
New Female Singer
Rather than attempting to get someone with no desire to speak with me to agree to sign off on her voice, I opted to hire another vocalist and remove the ex’s voice altogether. Off I went to the local musician’s hang to ask around for quality female singers. This led me to Amy Lynn Whitcomb.
There is the possibility you’ve heard of her. Provided you’re a fan of The Voice, or have seen the a cappella group JANE.
I listened to the tracks she sent me as examples, in return sent Let’s Just Go over to her to see if she was up for it. Bingo, she loved it.
We found a time for her to come over to the studio and replace the previous female vocals.
Amy did an awesome job. She took direction and was even able to hit notes that seemed near impossible, you can hear a seriously high octave harmony in the chorus. That’s Amy, not a pitch shifter, I’m impressed. NAILED IT – would be the catch phrase I’d use.
I sent the revised version to Kevin and he loved it. With two thumbs up from Amy and Kevin it was time to get it out to you.
I’m excited to see the journey this song takes from here on out. Hit me back when you add it to your road trip playlists, I’d love to know.
Life sure loves to throw a 180 turnaround don’t it?
If you hadn’t heard, I am to be going out on tour this summer. Opening for a significantly bigger artist.
Said act has disappeared into the ether, so plans have to be changed. I’m currently doing a zag when I was supposed to be doing a zig right now.
See, I was anticipating being homeless for a good portion of 2018 and on into 2019. I mean that in a great way. The plan was to be out on tour for 18 months, initially kicked off with the aforementioned artist. Its not a state secret that it takes roughly 18 months straight of touring in order for an artist to gain critical mass.
Based on the scheduling that was planned for, I should have been in Los Angeles now starting several weeks of rehearsals. To make sure the show was as tight as can be and to work out all the parts for everyone.
Said artist had requested that we were to be in the city of the first date of the tour a week early so that rehearsals could be done with their crew to work out the sound and the transitions between my crew and their crew. Smart thinking if you ask me.
Speaking Without Contracts
The drag is, I hate talking about projects before contracts are signed. This business is so erratic that its impossible to judge what is going to happen. We were to get the contracts for the tour in early February. Which meant we had a deadline for getting things in place in order to be ready to sign said contracts.
In a 180 turnaround, there was a desire to make a soft announcement about the tour to companies that I have endorsements with. Which is ideal at the winter NAMM show that takes place in late January.
I felt pretty darn secure in that my camp had gotten everything that was requested of us for the tour a week prior to NAMM. It didn’t hurt that there was a lot of communication happening between our respective camps. Thus I started leaking the tour plans to my endorsors. Introducing band members to them and helping band members to get endorsements with other companies that more directly related to their instrument.
Part of leaking the tour plan was to talk about how I was planning on doing the sound setup. A 180 turnaround from how its normally done.
All band members, apart from the drummer, had agreed to use a laptop and an audio interface as their sound source for their guitar sounds and vocals. This was a great selling point for several companies I have endorsements with. Most bands don’t do this. Consistency of sound and ease of setup for soundcheck is the primary reason. It really reduces the sound person’s job to mostly dealing with the drum levels, as that would be the most inconsistent source of sound.
With the rest of us going direct and using in-ear monitors it reduces a ton of the guesswork of sound. The guitar, bass, and vocal rigs would remain the same with very minor tweaks needed for levels and PA eq. That’s the beauty of the computer setups.
I found a fantastic company to make a rack setup to house the computers and audio interfaces. Which would have made setup a breeze. Especially since we’d all be wireless. Pretty much plug in the power. Plug in the midi switchers (my custom HIVE) for switching sounds for songs. Then plug in the output of the band to the board. No mics on instruments to mess with, other than the drums.
It started 180 turnaround about a month ago. I began reaching out to other contacts to find another tour to hop on. I felt like something was wrong when the communication tapered off from the artist’s camp. That’s when I was asked to make a list of a bunch of other bands I felt would be a good fit.
Then while in the middle of a writing session for another musical project I got a phone call from the point person putting everything together.
The first thing I was told was that the agent who was dealing with the extra dates, between the weekend dates with the artist I was to open for, the press and radio stuff – decided he was going to quit music. BOMB Drop…
Next up was the announcement that the person putting all the other moving parts together decided to also get out of the music business and become a preacher. BOMB Drop 2.
One of the main contacts I had reached out to find other bands came back saying: I can’t find anyone else who is doing an actual tour. Everyone is doing one-off dates. BOMB Drop 3.
A few days ago I started informing people that I had told at NAMM that the tour had gone into the ether.
The beauty is that everyone in the music industry can relate on some level. The pouring of support that I got back from people was certain uplifting. So many providing words of encouragement and some sending similar stories of things that have happened to them.
After the 2nd round of emails that I sent letting out what had happened, I got a call from an unlikely source who had contact with someone that had a cursory role before. Its a little early to tell but I’m encouraged about the initial contact.
To be continued…
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.
The G League, I wonder how many fans of the NBA are actually aware of it?
There’s a few new changes in the basketball world in this past year. Actually since roughly February of 2017. Prior to that the NBA’s development league was known as the D League. Now in a multi-year deal with Gatorade its known as the G League.
Another change is the number of teams. Previously there were 17. The total now is 27.
Why do I know this
I wrote a song called Do You Want To Play that has multiple versions of the song. Like lots of multiples. I’ve done versions for basketball, baseball, football, and hockey.
Once I completed them I wasn’t sure that I’d ever pull them out again. However, the change of the league name to G League and all the additional teams left me with a gaping hole. So I dug it out.
My recording software has been updated substantially since I last worked with the song. One of the handiest new features is something called Track Alternatives. Which gives a producer the means to make edits to little portions of an audio without increasing the need for plugin load, or massive track counts.
I took the needed vocal file for most of the song and clipped out where I needed to update team and G League parts. This made it real easy to quickly sing new parts.
A side effect of doing parts for the G League is a new mix. Much like the updated recording software, there are also updated plugins. All this led me to saying, I don’t want to do a whole new mix, but alas, I couldn’t stop myself.
After getting the original files transferred into a new file template, it really made sense to just do a new mix. I was able to get a crispier sound on the guitars. A little more punch and depth to the drums. There’s a bit more sizzle on the vocals and the bass gets a little deeper in vibe. Its crazy how a little adjustment in a song mix can alter the feel. These are subtle changes individually, but together it adds up.
Along with a new mixes for the G League, I have to do new masters. In case you’re not aware there is a process called mastering that provides a song recording with its final sheen and gets it to sound good on a variety of sound ups.
In the couple of years since the last compilation release, the state of music delivery changed drastically. Now instead of a single master meant for being super loud on a CD, there’s one master for Apple Music (and services that operate at -16LUFS, that’s a relative volume level for the laymen out there) and there’s a master for Spotify (and services that operate at -14LUFS).
Yes, I’m that bizarre that I do specific masters for the service the music is going to. I do that so that I’m not left wondering what the music is going to sound like based on automated volume level changes that occur to meet those service outputs.
All it really means is that the music will sound more dynamic.
I’m currently doing all the master outputs as I’m writing this. Listening intently for any output errors. Thus one goal is to make sure I release this set of songs before the next season starts. Thus if you’re a fan of any team in the G League, I do hope you’ll stream your team’s song.
Looking into contacting Gatorade’s marketing team, as I do have an advertisement idea as well.
Oh and I’d like to get in touch with various team’s marketing departments to talk about doing a pregame performance of the song for fans of the team.
Looking forward to the G League’s season later this year!
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.
Now that I’m back in the studio, there’s been a desire to do some vocal experiments on my part.
One of the things that producers worth their salt will do is experiment with different combinations of gear. Though there’s still some bronchitis to deal with, I have been getting a few hours here and there to try out some new signal chains and see how they affect the sound of my voice.
Thanks to modern technology, its actually extremely easy to try out a much wider range of gear without the insane costs. Thank you Universal Audio and the Apollo system!
There’s a project for TV music where we’re in the final phases of recording and mixing. In this project I’m spending some time to run some vocal experiments to hear the differences of what comes out. My most recent chains have included and API vision strip into an LA-2A. Then the absolute newest chain has been a Neve 1073 into a Studer Tape Machine followed by an LA-2A. Each lends itself to a different vibe. Don’t think I don’t realize that those gear terms likely all sound greek to you. They’re all geek to me!
The image above is of my current favorite. What makes it strange is that when I solo a vocal recorded with this chain, it actually doesn’t sound all that great to my naked ear, but in the right track… It causes the vocal to sit like I can’t believe. The ultimate in vocal experiments, when you think the sound is bad, but its oh so right for the song.
Along with the plethora of original tunes for this project are 10 cover songs that are so different from the originals that it may blow your mind. Hell not even may, they will blow your mind. A few of them are very different vocal experiments for me. It all comes down to figuring out the right way to present each song so that it has the right twist to give the song a double entendre.
And therein is my one reason to ever do a cover, to give it a new meaning!
You can’t control crazy!
About an hour ago as I write this, a post I made on social media picked up a few responses from a few people. Then came a crazy response that caused me to think, hey, this might make a humorous response. Off went my reply into the social media ether. Or so I thought.
I didn’t expect to suddenly be inundated with a slew of posts where each one made less sense than the one before it. Some insulting. Initially I thought it prudent to explain the humor. Then it went even further south. Its like I tapped into crazy. Or rather some person’s crazy that I eventually had to think to myself. Stop responding.
I ended up wondering exactly what set this guy off. So I make a small trip into his profile. I find someone who fancies themselves a lyricist. One who has publicly promoted a known company that takes hopeful musicians/lyricists money to make demos and offer a publishing deal that is about as good as a rubber quarter for spending. Who knows, maybe this guy is the next country version of Bob Dylan, I’m not willing to find out.
After that trip down the rabbit hole, I continued to get posted – despite my silence. I hit the mute button as I had to remove myself from the situation. It was making my brain hurt.
It seemed quite similar to an exchange I had with a stalker a few years back. Yes, I’ve had a male stalker. You try to be nice and the person continues to be less than considerate, that’s when you have to put the real distance between yourself and their crazy.
In happier news, I’ve been finishing a bunch of tunes destined for TV. Pardon me while I put focus back into the music.
I’m gonna go right out there and say sore throats suck. I’m pretty sure there’s very few people on this planet that actually like them.
Right after I pretty much get my digital life back on track, I came down with some mild bronchitis. Maybe its some sort of bodily retaliation for spending so much time on something other than music?!? Eh, no. I don’t believe that. Obviously I came into contact with someone somewhere that probably had it.
It might have been the trip to California. Namely the plane ride. Recently read that you’re only likely to get ill within a few passenger rows of someone else. Which means it would most likely have been the flight to Los Angeles. As that flight was full. The return flight was probably 10% full, if that. Very light flight.
Around Thursday of last week I started feeling rather beat when I woke up. Mind you this would have been about a week plus of incubation. I woke up to feeling a little lethargic and coughing profusely and wanting to get something out of my lungs.
Could I have been singing to hard the several days before that? Tough to say. Yes, I’ve been in the studio working on a few new projects, especially now that my digital life is up and running again. I had been pushing pretty hard on a couple of heavier tunes destined for film/tv worlds. My throat was a little overtaxed, but nothing that a night of sleep wouldn’t cure.
Instead I started hacking up bright green goo. I hate sore throats, and shortly after the goo, one kicked in.
As things go, being ill means it progressively gets worse before it gets better. Not the case here. It has remained mild enough that I’m still quite functional. Not 100% full capacity but still functional.
Despite feeling beat down for the past few days, I’m taking in as much rest as I can – while still attempting to get things done. Which means that today I’ll be opening up to singing again. I’m coughing less, throat is less sore. Will need to keep an eye on it, because pushing too hard means I may fall completely down the illness rabbit hole where I don’t want to be.
Wish you well and hope you’re in great health, have a great rest of your Monday.
p.s. – join my newsletter.
There’s been an undue amount of silence on my website and social media. For those not interested tl;dr – this is a rundown of my past two months of real silence.
Silence on a Journey
Its been a tad quiet on my website since late November. That wasn’t by design. It was by life. The music industry generally shuts down in December and at the end of 2017, I ended up holing up myself with family and pretty much working on a project being planned for later this year in 2018.
I did my annual pilgrimage to NAMM in Anaheim. Letting out a little information about the upcoming plans, which isn’t something I’m want to do. Mostly because without a contract in place – its really all air being blown about. Its better to keep the silence when things aren’t in stone. Despite that, I and a couple of future bandmates got to partake in seeing Andy Grammer rock the outdoor stage at the convention center.
His songs are enjoyable, but after seeing him live I now understand his real talent. Putting on an awesome show!
Certainly gave me a bunch of ideas of breaking my live silence, when plans for later this year come thru.
Solace in Skiing
Winter got turned on its head. Eastern states got pummeled while the west was left nearly bone dry. Due to a bunch of unscheduled trips away from the studio, I turned to skiing to realign my soul. There’s a spirit in the high altitude that isn’t matched anywhere else. There’s a freedom to life when you succumb to gravity and let it pull you down mountains as fast as you can stand to go – and I can stand to go pretty damn fast. Most skiers can’t keep up. Thinking about that, it would be pretty awesome to spend a day skiing with Lindsey Vonn. She and I could just run the mountain in silence, but I’d probably gush in admiration.
In March I came to a realization that my old hosting service wasn’t going to be updating their backend software. After a couple of years of asking for updates, and being told, we’re eventually going to. This led to reaching out to my friend Derek Sivers. He suggested that I ought to strike out on my own and go self hosted. He claimed I could do it in a week. Therein began a real fork in the road for 6+ weeks. The true moment where I pretty much went into digital silence with minor moments of social media posts here and there.
Technology isn’t a stranger in my life, but I’d never considered learning to run my own server stationed on the web. Yes, I have a server at home that allows me to house digital copies of all my media and gives me an encrypted way to control my studio machine from afar. That’s far cry from the open ocean of the internet.
I began learning how to install an entirely different operating system than what I was used to. This led to a rather steep learning curve. I pestered Derek about software and options of what to do, until he pretty much said – I’m going out of contact for a couple of weeks. Fortunately I had a brother from another mother in Jesse Stern who was taking a very similar journey.
A crash course of learning the ins and outs of server life. It was eye opening.
Security was the original breaking straw of why I wanted to find a new host. I was installing the latest and greatest of operating systems, web serving software, databases, email, ftp and vpn setups. My first attempt found me about a 4 days in and suddenly locked out of my own server. Oops. My second server went much better, but still took a good deal of time.
Then came the need to extract all my data off of my old host. It spread into so many different areas. Once collected I found that it was roughly 1.6 terabytes. I couldn’t imagine I had that much data stored in places. It accrued in silence over a bunch of years.
A harsh reality smacked me in the face. A blog site that I used to run on a daily basis Single of the Day, took me hours to port over. Several thousand audio tracks. Plus an unruly database. It took me 3 days to delete hundreds of thousands of spam comments because WordPress couldn’t handle doing it itself. If you don’t think spam takes up much space – I learned that it was several gigs in my database. Once removed from that site’s database, it shrank from multiple gigs down to a few megs. Wow!
Come later this year my silence from Single of the Day will be broken. In the meantime, I will spend random time here and there to convert old posts to the newer format. A format that showcases posts like before, but instead of using MP3s, I’ll be going for digital streaming posts namely on Spotify. It falls more in line with my original goal of getting artists I’ve posted about, paid when people listen.
When email finally switched and went online with the new server, I was terribly naive. Within 24 hours my father’s email account killed my email setup. Yes, I’m hosting my dad’s website and email. He’s like most older people who aren’t terribly savvy with their email account. Tons of spam. It didn’t help that my ignorance also left my email server software open to outside users to crack and send spam.
There wasn’t much silence from my mouth after that realization.
Rebuild It Again
I had to destroy another server and start from scratch. By this time I was getting pretty darn proficient with installing things. However, I decided to switch hosts to a new cloud host as I was disappointed with the previous cloud host and their lack of customer support. The fortunate thing was, all my websites and other valuable info had been pared down to roughly 15gigs, far cry from the original 1.6 terabytes. This also meant spending more time securing the backend.
It took another week to get it close to running full speed. Email still eluded me.
Then I took a trip to see about a girl. Talk about a waste of several days of time right there.
I kept working on email. Making sure all my certificates for my domains were in order. I doubled down on securing the email server. To the point that once I got it working, it wasn’t fully working properly. I have about 180 email aliases. I do this in order to find out where what companies end up selling my info to spammers. Then I can delete that alias. It took several days to figure out a setting in the software that was missing literally two words from the code. Those two words cost me several days of time in getting email back to fully functional.
Amazing. That’s the word I’d use for what happens to servers. They get brute force attacked. Which is why I ended up installing software to ban intruders. Fingers crossed it keeps things at bay.
At this point, I’m breaking my silence because yesterday I finally got all of my digital life back up to speed. Up to speed on way more modern software. I revamped this website and offered up a request to the software creator for a desired change to the music pages. They liked the idea, hopefully they’ll implement it soon.
This digital journey led to my websites serving pages faster than ever before. My email is running better than ever before, plus I’m getting less spam and I can see that despite spammer attempts to break in and send spam, so far its not happened. I’ve switched to a new email list software that I’d really love to have you on (hint hint – signup using the form at the bottom of this page!) It also means my phone and laptop are running faster, because I run a VPN for my data needs in public.
Back to Music
I’m back in the studio saddle. Still working on the plans for later this year, I’m really hoping to have some awesome news to share about that soon (I really thought it would be all set back in February). In the meantime I’m finishing up a slew of music for a new library. I’m finishing up several singles to add to the stockpile. And I’m ramping up on additional plans for later this year. Until then, please go listen to my latest single Rise Up!
Thanksgiving 2017 has rolled up on us (my U.S. friends). What are some of the things I am thankful for this year?
I am thankful that I have family who support my musical endeavors.
I am thankful that I have a gift in creating music for you.
I am thankful that I have fans that love what I do.
I am thankful that I have been able to recover (slowly but surely) from a large theft.
I am thankful for the team of people who are forming around my music.
I am thankful for the people involved with a music festival / conference I’m putting together.
How About You
What are you thankful for, drop me a comment.
p.s. – may you have a wonderful experience with your friends, family, and/or loved ones this day!