Tag Archives: album

Rachael Yamagata Shares Love & Music Entrepreneur Help

Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata

I have to admit to having some excitement about this podcast episode. I’ve been a big fan of Rachael Yamagata‘s music for a long time. Going back at least to 2003 when I first heard her self-titled EP and then in ’04 with the release of Happenstance.

Great musicians write songs that connect with our individual stories, and those stories become a soundtrack to our lives. Happenstance was that for me in many ways. The driving beat and stinging lyrics to Letter Read remain one of my favorite songs. It’s probably one of the best sad/breakup songs out there. Add her piano-driven, jazz-styled songwriting to the rest of that album with tracks like Under My Skin, Reason Why, and Be Be Your Love and you have plenty of reason to explore her songbook.

rachael-tightropewalkerThis past Friday, she released her latest album Tightrope Walker. It’s simply brilliant. And it’s already getting featured all over the place. The Appetizer Radio Show is showcasing it, as well a great indie radio platforms like Mountain Stage, NPR Music, and more.

I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with someone whose music I’ve followed for years but not ever talked with. I finally had the chance to find out. I want to give a big thanks to my good friend and past DIY Artist Route guest Chandler Coyle for helping to make this wonderful conversation happen. Chandler is a connector, and one of my favorite people.

Here’s what I discovered right away in talking with Rachael: the music connection is the tip of the iceberg. It’s really a heart connection that draws us towards the artists we love.

By heart connection I’m referring to the philosophies and ideals we live by. For me, I believe that love is the highest calling we can have. Inside of each of us is a garden. What we plant in our hearts turns to fruits we produce with our lives. My mantra each day is to plant love inside my heart and mind so that it can be reaped to give to others. This is the heart of Growth Farming.

There’s a principle of Like Attracting Like and that’s certainly something that every one of my friends who are past guests on the podcast have in common. We all believe that joining forces to help others is the path to take to succeed. Rachael is a wonderful example of just the heart and mind to do that for artists and entrepreneurs alike here.

Big Takeaways In This Podcast With Rachael Yamagata

My wife Mrs. Smith was very pleased to learn that, like her, Rachael is a very big cat fan. She shares a bit of insight into her love for her cats in this conversation. I thought that was just perfect. One day we’ll have to find a way to get Mrs. Smith and Ms. Yamagata together to compare cat notes, don’t you think?

Writing relationships in their ups is not always easy, but writing about the downs comes more naturally. Some people try to figure out why relationships go the way they do instead of just complaining about what didn’t work. For songwriters who dive into this side of the story, it takes on a whole new thing. We also learn why my friend William Fitzsimmons and Rachael should do a co-write together.

The entrepreneurial side of art and music is certainly within the grasp of any artist who wants to be successful. However, the ball is in your court. If you want to win in this realm, you have to learn everything you can about how to be a business with your music. It’s the realm of what Rachael refers to as “Artist As CEO.” She gives plenty of insights into how to make that happen here.

Patience is a struggle for everyone, especially artists. However, the process of learning an instrument shows us that we can adapt to changes and work towards improvement. She admits to writing a lot of really long and really bad songs early on in her career. We need to make mistakes often to be able to learn from them to grow.

Ultimately, her greatest desire as a person is to leave am impression on this world as someone who exhibited unexpected kindness. As she puts it, “I observe a lot and I love finding that thing that someone would really enjoy  that they don’t know how to ask for and get it into their world.”

Great Rachael Yamagata Quotes From The Podcast

” I think my calling card has always been just to remind people to connect with one another and we all have our stories and are much deeper than whatever masks we put on in daily life.”

“Emotions are so powerful and they hit you in a way that intellect doesn’t. You don’t have control over them often. You don’t always understand them.”

“I am so obsessed with my cats I have to be careful in conversations.”

“There’s a lot of studying we can do and a lot of direct connection with fans, who are your greatest asset as a DIY artist.”

Listen/Download this episode:

Rachael is a fantastic songwriter, musician and human being. This conversation really blessed my heart, encouraged and inspired me in a lot of ways. I hope you have a similar experience.

I also encourage you to dive into her latest album Tightrope Walker, and her deeper songbook. It’s some of the best music you will ever hear. Cheers!

Sponsor For This Podcast Piece

Bandzoogle: Bandzoogle gives you all the resources you need to do everything necessary for success with your music online. You can sell your tracks, merch, and bonuses, build your email list, and more all from your own domain (instead of what bandcamp and similar sites have). PLUS, use the promo code “DIYpod” to get 15% off anything on the site.

Sometimes When You Need Just A Little Encouragement

Image by Megan Lynette

Image by Megan Lynette

It’s the start of a new year. Most of us are busy setting to work on getting things really going so that we can achieve our New Year’s Resolutions, or more practically that goals we set to build on last year’s victories.

Are you with me on this?

Here’s something that keeps popping up here and there in just the 4 short days of 2016, and I want to focus a little time on it now with you so we can move forward to achieve our shared and individual goals AND enjoy the process.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement.

I’m going to be tempted to get bogged down in details with finding the right THIS or the best THAT to use in employing strategic elements to reach my goals this year. And there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll see someone advertising on Facebook or soliciting on Google that they were able to build, grow and reach millions of new people with tons of new business, all in just 3 weeks (or something ridiculous like that), and I might feel like I missed the mark.

I’m still working on reaching the big goals I set 3 years ago as far as reach and I haven’t made it yet. But I will.

However, I’ll admit to you that I do get a little discouraged at the pace of growth sometimes. You might get discouraged too, right? Do you feel a little bit thrown off like you missed the boat when you see an ad or a pitch for an online course, Ebook, or webinar where someone claims to have done something that you’ve spent months or years working on, and they achieved it in days or weeks? Most of these claims aren’t entirely accurate (experience showed me this unfortunately, but that’s a conversation we can have later) yet the feeling is real.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement to see that when we keep working, stay focused on our goals, and put to use the insights and ideas that even outside events show us, good things can hapen. We’ll see our dreams come to life, and we’ll celebrate the victories that accomplishing goals brings us.

With the notion that disappointment might try to sneak in and throw off my groove, I’ve been on the lookout for some small pieces of encouragement, and have successfully found a few. I want to share them with you, so that you can grab them when the little antagonizing voice of disappointment or failure comes sneaking up on you and tries to throw off your groove. Then you can punch it in the mouth with this great stuff.

Here we go.

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First, I’m a football fan and being from Houston I celebrate the Texans. Sorry Cowboy fans, it’s been a tough year for you guys. Hopefully something good can happen in the offseason.

The Texans made it to the Playoffs this year for the first time since 2012, beating the Jaguars yesterday 30-6. It was a tremendous game that saw the defense do things that would make for a full season highlight reel. The encouragement I found from this was more than just a victory, and more than just a trip to the playoffs. These guys had been written off as losers and a lost season just 8 weeks ago.

Think about that.

Most teams who start 2-5 don’t end up with winning seasons, and they also don’t make the playoffs. The coaching staff (led by Bill O’Brien) changed the way the team practiced, putting the decisions of game-time flow in the hands of the players instead of telling them what to do during the week. That changed everything. They went on to win 6 of their next 8 games, take the team to the post season and do what the sports world had said wouldn’t happen. That to me is encouraging. It means that when things aren’t working out, I can change something small, or something off the radar and get better results.

Switching from sports to politics might be a little off-kilter but that’s ok too. I don’t want to weigh in on the political race of 2016, because it is a bit of a divisive mess right now. However, it’s interesting to look at some recent news posted on the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont (who is running for the Democratic nomination). Like him or not and regardless of your political views, he should be someone that entrepreneurs, small businesses and especially musicians pay attention to because of his grassroots growth.

Remember that little temptation I mentioned earlier that most of us fall prey to, the one that tells us we’re failing if we don’t grow exponentially in our platform audiences in a short amount of time? Bernie has done something in his campaign that most crowdfunders dream of, let alone small business startups and DIY musicians. He’s raised millions of dollars appealing to people on a personal and real way.

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I took this little pic off of Facebook because it’s the easiest to illustrate. Again, I reference these stats and Bernie’s growth not because of his politics but because of how he’s connecting with real people. On a whole, I’ve talked a lot about the difference between building empires and building communities. I believe community building beats empires over time. It would appear that this is true based on these stats too, regardless of whether he wins the nomination for the Democratic party or not.

The encouragement I get from seeing this little blurb is that when you are real with people, appeal to individuals on a common level and not segregate others out or kick people out because of some jaded belief system, you can build strong and powerful bonds with people of different walks of life, different cultures, different beliefs, but shared values. Isn’t that what makes strong communities vibrant and thriving?

A more little note of encouragement on this piece-note that the average gift to his campaign is less than $30. That’s less than the average contribution to a nonprofit fundraising campaign, a public radio pledge drive, or a crowdfunding campaign for a tech startup. Again, it’s not about the size of the gift but the way that individuals are impacted. I can be encouraged by that. How about you?

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

One final piece of encouragement to start the year off, this time I’ll dive into a different realm in music. I confess to spending absolutely zero time looking at anything involving pop music. I admit to following the latest news with Adele and Taylor Swift only because of the impact of the music licensing royalties with Soundexchange and the new lawsuit against Spotify because it pertains to my work (both in radio and in working with musicians). Their shared impact on music streaming platforms is intriguing as well.

Plus, in an age when music streaming is the standard method of listening for most people, their success highlights the fact that people continue to buy albums. Musicians, make note of this.

I heard a little bit of both Adele and Swift’s albums from 2015. My conclusion? Not really impressed, and it’s not because they’re pop stars. I don’t get the heart, soul and powerful presence from them that I do from the albums by Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell (Sing Into My Mouth), Trevor Hall (who had 2 releases in 2015 and both were stellar) or Brandi Carlile (The Firewatcher’s Daughter). Only Carlile among them got national recognition (via a Grammy nom). Yet despite the lack of national attention, these artists continue to grow their audiences by making great albums, convicted to the notion that real music is found in a full album experience that they deliver time and time again. By the way, they’re all nominated for a big award I do every year and you can hear 2 cuts from their 2015 releases HERE.

In a music world (and industry) that seems to be dictated by flashy imagery and millions of social media imprints, here are 4 musicians who don’t fit the pop culture’s mold of success and yet they continue to write, perform and thrive. That my friend, is inspiring. Here’s the thing though, these are just a very small group of the many MANY musicians out there who are thriving and winning in this constantly changing marketplace for music, one where the industry is panicked. When you connect with real people by giving them a powerful experience, you will win. That’s the way it works.

What experience are you giving?

That’s the question I’m asking myself every week when I sit down to produce The Appetizer Radio Show. What experience am I providing? What experience do I want my audience to have? I think that every musician and every business owner should let that question pass through their brains at some point during every week, at least a few times. In the end, it’s the experience that brings people back to us, that we build community together with, and who help us reach the goals we set out for ourselves.

Did you need a little encouragement to start your week? Good. Now let’s move forward together!

The Changing Attitudes Of Real Music Fans

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Write, blogger, and true music fan Dan Carlson

As I get older, I realize that my preferences for music enjoyment have shifted. I’m not just talking about a changing attitude towards certain genres but also the way music impacts me.

Strangely enough, an old friend from college posted something similar on his Facebook page, which lead to a long thread of several people commenting on their changing attitudes towards music, especially as we (collectively) get older. Seeing that the music industry has shifted significantly in the past 5-10 years, and that artists who want to really grow their audience should look towards attracting real music fans, I decided to talk directly to my friend and get his perspective.

Dan Carlson is a writer, blogger, and true fan of good music. He writes for himself and a few larger publications. His blog post Shuffled & Paused is what led to the original discussion. I asked Daniel a few questions about his listening preferences to get a better grid for this shift. Also, the conversation will shine a light on how you as an artist can learn to attract fans of whole albums, fans who buy instead of stream, and those fans who love discovering new music. Here are the questions and Dan’s response:

How important is a good album beginning to end for you to want to buy it?
Dan: The cop-out answer is “It varies,” but it’s true. It helps to think of two categories of purchases: artists I’m already familiar with, and those I’m not. If it’s an artist I know and have previously enjoyed, then I might be predisposed to like them and not worry as much pre-purchase about the entire record. If I’m sampling someone new, I’ll listen to snippets of a few songs; if there are a handful, or even just a few, that I hook into immediately, I’ll be inclined to pick it up.
I also expect to spend some time with an album, too. I know I’m going to listen to it a couple times at first, then repeatedly over time, then maybe revisit it later. Some albums I love every song, some I love even though I skip one or two tracks each time through. If I wind up loving most of the album, I don’t hold the outliers against the whole, if that makes sense. (Random example: I really liked the soundtrack to “Inside Llewyn Davis,” even though one of the songs is not my style. So I just skip it)
How have your music buying preferences changed in the last 5-10 years?
Dan: They’ve gone down overall. Part of it’s because I don’t regularly visit music stores any more, and once you’re in the store, you’ve already got the momentum to make a purchase. I’ve bought a number of singles, though, sometimes songs that I loved when I was younger and just wanted to own again.
Would you rather stream a song or album online via Spotify or Youtube than buy an album online (via iTunes or Amazon)?
Dan: I’d rather buy because I like knowing I own a thing. Like, Netflix is cool, but you can never trust its streaming service for reliability. If I really want to be able to watch a movie (and enjoy the best possible picture and sound), I’ll buy it. I stream on YouTube at work sometimes, and my wife loves Pandora. But if I want an album, I want to own it.
What factors do you consider before you buy music these days?
Dan: First impressions are big: Do I like the sound? Do I connect fairly quickly? If it’s a new artist to me, do they remind me of some other artist or sound I like? Do they seem authentic? Also, what are people I trust saying about them? Everyone has that friend(s) or site(s) whose views they trust, and when I see those people mention an artist, I’m more inclined to check them out. Buying online, the cost is usually about the same ($8-$11 for an album), so it usually comes down to the intangibles.

 

Dan also said that he trusts his friends and a few choice outlets to introduce new music to him. This is the power of the Super-Fan (aka your core audience). Once you get in and become a passion for a true music fan, they will share your music with their circles, who are most likely to trust their friend’s recommendation than something they find elsewhere.

Read more of Dan Carlson’s unique insights, as well as his fascinating take on movies on his Blog.