Archive for April, 2010

Could be fun to vote in the American Smooth Jazz Awards

Here’s Fun

Posted: April 12, 2010 in General Music, Music

Here’s a good idea for an artists birthday to give away a free download.

If you go to Herbie Hancock’s Web Site and put in your E mail address you get a free download of a track off his new project

Post Courtesy of Smooth Jazz Network

Here’s an interesting article that suggests Digital Music sales have peaked.

It was thought that one day Digital Sales would compensate for the drop in CD sales but if this is true its not going to happen anytime  soon.

More good news?

From All things Digital:

Remember when people used to predict that digital music sales would make up for the disappearing CD? That’s officially over now: Last quarter, for the first time ever, the number of digital songs sold in the U.S. declined.

Article continued in the link

So the Jazz Record Business appears to be in the toilet so what does the developing new artist do now?

Well an artist friend of mine called me the other day seeking advice as he was planning to make a new CD at his own expense.

A brave guy indeed you may say and he is!

This friend is a fine player and composer who tours with several big acts and this would be his second release.

His first CD sold around 1000 units and some 400 units in Japan.

It was a very frustrating conversation as I realized as it moved along there was not much good advice I could actually pass on to him other than to just encourage him anyway I could.

He asked about getting a Record Deal with a label?

I had to say it was unlikely these days as I know of very few labels signing new acts at the moment.

He asked “Are there companies that just promote and distribute CD’s”?

I told him that one could hire independent Radio Promotion people and a Publicist to promote the CD and get interviews when the CD is released but he would have to pay these cost himself and the costs can be high to find effective help.

There are a few labels that will do this on the basis of recouping these upfront costs from  the artists Royalty income but the problem is that the Artist only receives a royalty payment and if the CD ever recoups these promotion costs only then will the artist start making money towards his initial investment as there is no advance given by these companies and I do not recomend going in this direction.They make money and you don’t ,the same old story with no upfront money.

Overall it was a pretty negative conversation and not too enjoyable and this seems to be happening to me far too often these days.

Its not much fun to have to tell a talented artists they should not give up there day job believe me.

But there were some positives that came out of the conversation I thought looking at.

There is a business model I have seen work and not bankrupt the artist in attempting to get his music out and developing his audience.

The following maybe very obvious and known to many of you but I think its worth writing it down for clarity of what is needed and wanted these days.

1.Firstly one has to Record and Produce their CD for as few dollars as possible based on a realistic estimation of the sales one can expect.

One has to watch for the “not so hidden” costs as it is not just studio and musician fees one has to come up with up front.

Once the CD is recorded one has to press actual product and covers plus there is the cost of the Radio Promotion and Publicist one must factor into the cost of producing the CD and getting it out there.

I do know of one artist that never produced any actual physical CD’s and went totally Internet as downloadable MP3 files and that is an option that can be considered .

But basically either way the idea is to keep the front end costs to a minimum taking into account that one has to invest adequate funds to actually produce a quality recording that artistically reflects ones artistic vision.

I have seen this work now with several artists who have not only recouped their initial costs but made enough money to do another recording as the artist gets the bulk of the income on each  CD sold this way.

This can be as much as $10 or more on a every CD sold so the math is easy.

1000 CD’s sold at $10 profit equals $10,000 in income so one would have to record the CD, press CD’s and covers,pay for promotion all for under $10,000 to break even and thats very possible to do these days with the advent of Pro Tools etc.

Hopefully the Artists one is touring with will let you sell your CD on “their” concert dates and of course one should get ones own gigs whenever possible and sell CD’s at every opportunity.

2.Then one should utilize every internet way possible to promote the CD.

Set up a website if one doesn’t have one already.

Get it on Itunes, Amazon etc and promote it through Facebook, Reverb Nation, an iPhone app, Youtube,, My Space and Twitter etc etc.

Video a live show in the best quality possible and get it on the Internet every way one can and cross link all the sites wherever possible.

One interesting promotion idea I saw the other day is to get ones friends to review your CD on iTunes by using the social networks to promote the idea and request people to review the CD thus elevating its profile on iTunes or any web site as high as possible.

3.Of course there is always the possibility of your CD gaining its own momentum and becoming a “hit” and selling way above what one expected!!

Wouldn’t that be nice!

Good “Word of Mouth” seems to be ones best friend in this whole scenario and I know for a fact that is how Norah Jones had her massive selling CD a few years ago got started. Her CD totally took off on word of mouth and of course once things get rolling it gains a momentum of its own.

I know the above is probably very obvious and known by many of you already but I just thought it worthwhile to write it down as I get the same question asked of me week after week.

The key is to keep the front end costs as low as possible unless one can afford otherwsie but even then it makes sense to keep any project viable and profitable even if one has an investor or is personally stinking rich.Not a common scenario amongst musicians and artists you may have noticed.

“How does one make a Million Dollars with a Jazz Record Label?”

Start with $2  Million!

Horribly true these days I’m afraid but on the other hand there is a business model out there that can work and one can use to get ones music out to the public.

It seems to me that we have gone back to the days of things having to be very real and not hyped when one heard a band at club and bought their CD because one liked it not because some large record label hyped you to buy it.

It actually offers a tremendous opportunity to any artist as there is a real way to get ones art out there through the internet and word of mouth and I believe we are going to see and hear some real interesting and exciting  new music as this business model progresses. Wouldn’t it be great to find another Coltrane with a different twist or a new Miles or develop a new format like Jazz Rap like the Jazz Rock of the 70’s.

New creativity is  needed for sure but thats the subject of another blog one of these days.

We need some new music and composers that will revive the instrumental format and this is  part of the overall problem of the decline in CD sales in my opinion.

Hopefully this blog is a positive approach to a very negative  situation we find ourselves in, in regards to CD sales and will help rather than just talk about how bad things are which seems to be all to common these days.

Good luck and BTW don’t give up your day job 🙂

Here’s a link to a very useful E Book one can download that has a lot of good data for any artist trying to develop his career in this new Music business

And its free to download!

Well the stock answer is Practice Practice Practice!!

And its true I’m afraid thats the bad news as practicing is very hard work and one has to decide to do it and then do it.

Since moving to Florida and listening to local musicians there are some really excellent players but generally the standard of musicianship is not so high as in Los Angeles I’m afraid.

I guess the major reason for this is that  the really good players who are going to make it their careers move to where the work is such as Los Angeles, Nashville or New York?

But looking over the scene I realised that there was a common denominator to the successful musician and artist that I have observed over the years and its an obvious one.

And that is ALL the successful Artists/Musicians practice very very hard  at some time in their development.

They all one for one went through a time of intense practice.


Sure “what” you practice and “how” all comes into it but without spending the hours, days or years it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve worked with some of the Top musicians in the world over the years and by actual observation have seen this to be true.

I remember one pianist I worked for told me there was a time when he was practicing 16 hours a day for a period of many months in a loft in New York. I observed this same artist practice 5 to 6 hours a day when he chose to learn 2 Mozart Concertos in preparation for a live performance over a 2 month period.

5 to 6 hours a day for 2 months including the week ends by the way.

One very well known guitarist’s mother once told me that he never went out and played with his friends for most of his teenage years as he just sat at home after schoool practicing his instrument. She used to try and get him to go out and play with the other kids in the neighborhood to no avail and one can see this in the brillaince of the technique he developed as well as becoming a very fine composer.

By the way he ended up playing Carnegie Hall at the age of 19 years on stage opposite Herbie Hancock.

But even composers practice apparently and I was told that a one point in his career  Stevie Wonder was writing a song a day and it would appear to be true considering at all the amazing compositions he wrote over his best years.

I wonder what happened to those songs he chose not to record because thats 365 songs a year if it is true.

I bet there is some real gems in that collection.

As a musician myself  (I’m a recovering Trombone player) I know there seems to be these barriers one pushes through as one develops ones craft. It takes real effort to crash through them and many hours of practice and those skills I did develop came at high price of many hours of practice.

Even to work at Macdonald’s one needs to practice as a trombone player or this joke becomes a reality.

“Whats the first thing a trombone player says when he gets to his gig?

“Would you like fries with that?”

Or if he only made it Ralph’s “Paper or Plastic”

So I guess the moral of the story is if you are a trombone player and don’t want to end up working at MacDonald’s or Ralph’s you had better “Practice, Practice, Practice or you will end up at Carnegie Hall only saying ” Tickets please?”

All joking aside I believe this is the real difference between the great artist and the average one, they practice their craft no matter their instrument.

Some of you will read this and treat what I say with disdain or as unimportant and continue to wonder why you don’t get so many gigs as the other guy or your career is not going well and blame the record labels and the general state of the music business…bla bla bla….

By the way I include vocalists in this in particular (Sorry but I’ve played with so many over the years that have never thought of practicing I’m afraid)

Well welcome to the reality of how to make it Carnegie Hall.

Its like the excuse I use to hear from promoters “that the attendance wasn’t good tonight because its raining” !!!

Yes right …of course…. thats reasonable its the weather and my answer was always “Well if that were true how come if  the Beatles were playing here tonight and there was a bloody blizzard they would still sell out”

Sorry but there is no other answer but to practice and I can prove it.

I’m off to McDonalds!