Tag Archives: kindness

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.

Warning Signs You May Be Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Sometimes the best way to see problems with yourself is to watch someone else act exactly like you do. The behaviors of other people doing just what you do should cause you to pause, reflect, and go “Don’t I do the exact same thing? Oh, that’s gotta change!”

I say this because I’m guilty of doing some of the things that bother me the most about other people. Taking yourself too seriously is certainly one of my flaws, one that I’ve spent the better part of the past 2 years trying to correct. I used to be really bad. Now it’s a less-frequent problem.

Here’s how I know I’m taking myself too seriously, and the problems it’s caused me in connecting with new people

I’ve been working in radio for a long time. I’ve been making a radio show in the same town for over a decade. That can lead you to assume that just about everyone knows about what I do. Not true, yet I used to think that if someone didn’t know what I did they must have been on another planet.

This is the "Angry Rooster Face" dubbed by Mrs. Smith

This is the “Angry Rooster Face” dubbed by Mrs. Smith

I used to get offended if someone who claimed to listen to the radio station I worked for hadn’t heard of The Appetizer Radio Show. Or, even worse, if someone asked about the food that I talked about on the show. I make this face when I’m confused (see left) that my wife calls my “angry rooster face.” That’s the face I used to make if someone made a comment about my radio show and said something about me talking about food. “I thought you said you listened to my show? I’ve never done anything about food specifically. What are you talking about???” would be the thoughts going in my head, but I would not say such things. Yet you wouldn’t have to struggle to see those thoughts on my face. This face and this look don’t hide too much.

Either way, my attitude was that of an asshole. I took myself way too seriously and potentially offended good-hearted people who might have otherwise actually given the show a listen. I assumed that since I was so passionate about my work, everyone who asked me about it must be too. I assumed that if someone showed the slightest bit of interest in my work, then they should know all about it and not need me to explain to them why it is important.

You know what they say about what happens when you assume? Except I’m just the one who was the ass.

Seeing the other side of the serious-taking-issue has revealed a lot of the negative side effects that this attitude can have. It’s also the exact opposite of grace and humility. There is a good chance that you haven’t read my About page, or looked up the articles I’ve written for Sonicbids, CMuse, or other sites, or heard all the episodes on the DIY Artist Route Podcast. That’s ok. Do I want you to experience these things? Yes, of course. Is it a prerequisite for us to connect? Absolutely not.

I’m saying all of this because it’s important for us to put our contributions and our stories into perspective. This is especially true as we’re trying to reach new people we don’t know with our work. I’m not the only music curator discovering excellent talent. I’m not the only radio host who has been showcasing indie and unsigned music for years and years. Several great music radio icons preceded the work I do. The same is true for artists and businesses.

You have a passion for your songwriting and the mission behind your music. However, there are other very passionate, talented, and inspirational songwriters who are changing the world.

Keep that in perspective. It’s great that you’re not alone. What is it about your work specifically that is remarkable? What completely unique and uncommon thing makes you stand out from others who are doing similar work? These are the pieces of your communication that need to come out with new people who are being introduced to your work.

Where I see Too-Serious play out the most

Music submissions are the prime place where I experience my old behaviors play out, and it’s mostly in a digital format. Not every artist who submits music gets accepted. This is true on every platform. When an artist sends an email to me that is full of links to videos or songs, I don’t always follow all of the links. I honestly don’t always spend 15-30 minutes diving into a band’s music, especially not when the sender is a person I’ve never interacted with before. Remember strangers and gold?

I may not read all of the sender’s bio either. And when I reply and ask specific questions to get the artist to tell me more about what makes them unique (or essentially sell me on why their music is attention-worthy), some musicians take that as an affront to their music. That’s not the case.

The reality is that I don’t know the artist (yet), and the first impression they’ve left is that they take themselves so seriously that someone who wants them to tell their story makes them upset. It’s an artist giving me their own angry rooster face, and expecting the interest to be natural and inherent. I hope this isn’t the response that other music curators are receiving when they interact and don’t instantly jump into the musician’s work. It may produce worse results.

Here’s the Takeaway to save face and the connection potential

Most new people won’t know your backstory, and they may not give you the attention time you seek at first. Instead of taking yourself too seriously and getting offended at what a stranger doesn’t give you right away, nurture the first spark of that interest. Build a dialogue. Approach the potential connection with grace and kindness. So many good things come out of a change in perspective and a better attitude.

That’s the win that comes out of this reflection. When we see ourselves in other people’s behaviors we want to see happiness and joy, and not something that leads to looking like the backside of a donkey. Donkeys don’t win beauty pageants, even social ones.

Grace and respect in meeting new people, and learning how to approach strangers in a way that builds their interest while also getting you what you seek is the subject of my debut book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. Officially it’s out on May 3rd but you can grab the first 4 chapters for free now. Click Here.