Can you hear me knocking?

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I was thinking today of something that happened when I was as kid.

It was late afternoon in 1971 when I looked out the window and saw two young Mormon missionaries headed up our path.   My father was an ardent Catholic and a major proponent of “leave us the hell alone” as exemplified by his aggressive phone hang-ups and doors slams directed at chipper sales people.  I did not expect it to go well for these stewards of what I saw at the time, as a mysterious foreign and perhaps threatening faith.

To my surprise my father let them in, set down all five of us kids and let the two young men show us a film about their faith, followed by us asking questions.   This visit had a big effect on me, and I still think about it all these years later.   I don’t remember anything about the movie or the discussion.   I just remember the part where my father opened the door, the part where he proved his own faith by living by it, by not being threatened.   And how he showed us all how to be respectful, to listen and to learn.

This lesson in open mindfulness and kindness has served me well in the Music Industry. When I first started out it was an industry of big dreams and pushy people looking for a fast way forward. Ironically, the faster things got the less forward everyone else seemed to move. Now it’s faster then ever. Theoretically, you could make a video right now in Zimbabwe and it could go viral in Tokyo in ten minutes.   That could have never happened, even ten years ago.

BUT (and there’s always a but) – in 1971, if you lived anywhere near a population base, when you turned on your transistor Radio you where sharing that music in real time with hundreds of thousands of people within a few miles of yourself. The music would waft through homes, diners and cars – like a big collective sno ball.   People would talk about it, share it and if they liked it – make it a whole lot bigger.   It would roll right across the country gaining momentum and becoming part of our national sound track, a collective cultural reference that still rings in our hearts and minds.

Now, with so many means of distribution and such aggressive forces trying to control them, collectiveness has turned to fragmentation. When a massive Ice Berg breaks into hundreds of little icebergs, navigation becomes more important than observation.   And so it is with the Internet. Unlike the radio, there is no one filtering for creativity or worthiness, there is simply you, letting Pandora or Spotify create an algorithm of what you already like.   They do the navigation for you and you just let it happen.   But here lies the rub, if we only explore what we already know than we never try anything new and we never grow, personally, artistically or as a society.

So now, when I struggle respecting others, and when I forget how to listen or just feel like I just don’t wanta know something, I think about my Dad.   And I open the door.

How to use a phone

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GET TO THE POINT!!!!!!!!!!

I have a saying,

“People who insist on doing everything on the phone.
People who want you to be their secretary.
Same People.”

Seriously, as our ways of communicating continue to simultaneously multiply and fragment into tiny little pieces of etiquette less transmission, people seem to have forgot (or never learned) the very basics of professional communication.

Gone are the days when someone picked up the phone and said “Hi this is so and so, can I help you”.   You are lucky to get a “what” or an answer at all.  What is most likely is that you will be talking to a voice mail.   Conceptually, a voice mail leaves a strong impression if done right and can cost you a gig if down wrong.  This is based on the simple theory that if you cannot properly execute a voice mail you probably suck in general (as far as being professional).   This industry is too hard to deal with slackers or laziness.

Here are the do’s and don’ts if you want a call back.

Do’s
Make sure you have a good connection.  You won’t know if your vm is inaudible.

1: Leave your name FIRST (say it slowly and clearly)
2: Leave your Phone Number second.
3: Leave a clear to the point message about what you want and the best way to reach you.
4: Give the recipient enough information so that he can effectively respond.

DONT’S
1.) Don’t babble.  Plan what you are going to say and say it.
2.) Don’t leave your phone number and name at the end of the message.  The recipient will have to listen to the whole message to retrieve it, if he does not write it down properly.
3) When it comes to your name and number, slow the hell down.  Yes, you have said it 1000 times but the recipient has not heard it before, so say it slow enough to write down.  It is in fact the single most important info you are offering.
4.)  If you are not getting a response, then follow up with an email, or review the persons listed contact info.  Many, many, many people will not do business on the phone.  Especially people who work in loud environments.
5.) Don’t not leave a message.   Just because you call everyone on your received phone call list does not mean anyone else will.   And many people will not pick up the phone if they don’t know what the conversation will be about.
5.)Don’t guilt trip the recipient as to how many times you called or who else you called or whatever.   You, may very well be the reason there is no response.  Nobody wants to work with a whiner.  Respect the fact that some people are either too busy to get to you in the time frame you want them too or that they may not be interested in what you are offering.   Nobody every said the whiny wheel gets the oil.
6.) Always follow up a deal in writing or you have nothing.  Just words and air.

Passing thoughts on Fan Base

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The industry is much more fluid now and partnerships are the only way to replace the former gate keepers.   The innovators of the “hey day” are aging out with limited infrastructure beyond monopolized sheds and casinos to replace them.

The soil that once was lush and green for live music is now leached of life.   New players struggle away in coffee shops, restaurant corners and third stages of festivals.

But there is one thing that has not changed, the power of the fan base.   A fan base provides not only financial stability and longevity of success  but more importantly, it allows the artist to pursue real creativity without being beholden to anyone but the people who truly love their work.

An artist without a fan base is like a general without an army.  No matter how brilliant he/she is, he/she will conquer nothing.