Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

E-Music Sources

In The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on April 29, 2007 at 8:42 pm

While many lament the gradual dissapearance of brick and mortar music stores, new virtual store are popping up online. The fact is you can get lost in online music stores for many more hours now than you ever could flipping through stacks of a store’s records or CDs. While it’s easy to think of Apple’s iTunes as the beginning and end of online music, with 29 million unique vistors to its site in this years first quarter, with just a little exploration on the World Wide Web, the world reveals a thick stack of options for discovering and acquiring music.

Check out www.lala.com, where you can trade used CDs, buy discount new CDs, register for music and listen to Internet radio. Great way to get rid of all those CDs you have lying around and don’t listen to anymore by swapping it for something currently you want. The site acts as a middleman to faciliate the exchange.

Or check out www.emusic.com, which is much like iTunes, but charges a monthly rate and offers a great selection specializing in independent music.

Or there is www.Pandora.com. The site’s “Music Genome Project” analyzes thousands of songs to create radio stations for you based on what you say you like. It’s free.

Of course you can also check out La Blogotheque, a French music blog especially notable for Take Away Concerts; video of well known artists performing on the streets of Paris. Really quite cool.

But the hottest new trend is MP3 blog sites. These blogs post listenable and downloadable music, usually with commentary. Some you can check out include:
Songs:Illinois
Swedesplease
Can You See the Sunset From The Southside?

And then there is Daytrotter, which persuades touring bands to stop in Rock Island, IL, record some songs in a studio there and then posts the performances. Innovative and cool in its own right.

But with all this innovation some pure music lovers fear that something is being lost. With the fading of the physical product- the CD case and liner notes- will music feel less special? Will posting songs on music blogs with commentary turn into a new form of advertising and PR instead of for the purpose of enjoying the artists music? Can an artist really ever sell a collection of songs again or is the day of the “album” truly gone?

It seems that only one thing is certain- things will continue to change and so will how we listen to and buy music.

Dream Big, Step Small

In The Idea on April 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Dreams are really important. Life is about envisioning possibilities. In fact, the clearer your dreams are- the more real they become to you. So go ahead! Imagine your dream job, dream life, dream date, dream ANYTHING and EVERYTHING; but imagine it each time in GREATER detail.

In fact, work on trying to imagine every step of your dream; expanding the details of how you might get there until you see the path there. Tell others about how you think you can get there so it becomes more real or write it all down in a journal and refer back to it frequently.

If you can see it, you can be it. The more vividly it appears in your mind, the easier it is to achieve.

But you can never get to any really great spot in life quickly.

It takes time. Lots of time.

Which means if you can see the next 10 steps in front of you, to get to the next frame of your dream sequence, you will be all that much closer to achieving what you dream.

I just came back from another trip to Buffet late last night after another 4 hour flight delay yesterday evening from Jacksonville Florida. Every time I take the 5 pm flight home it’s delayed hours.

Anyway, I spent yesterday morning on the beach walking, my day trying/buying clarinets and then all night in the airport going over and over the speech I am building for my key note presentation on May 4th; and for future presentations.

I think building my speech has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Up until this past year, for the last 15 years, while I have never had trouble speaking in small groups, teaching, or running a meeting with staff at my company; speaking to a large group has been a big challenge for me. Ask me to play something on the clarinet and I would have no problem at all. But speak to a large group? Up until now, it was something I would never sign up to do.

But you see speaking to others, and the more the better, is key to realizing my dreams. I simply must do it and it needs to become easy for me to do.

Who ever said dreaming big was easy?

Today I am taking another small step forward and speaking at a conference at The Illinois Institute of Technology on building inter disciplinary teams in an entrepreneurial environment. It’s pouring rain here in Chicago today. I get to drive into the city in it, walk around a campus I am unfamiliar with in it, all for the opportunity to speak to a group of people I do not know at all. I can’t say these are my favorite things but it’s on days like today, when I feel like I am not sure I can really do this, that I am so thankful I have dreams to reach for.

So I am going to dream big today and step small.

Odds and Ends

In Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence on April 22, 2007 at 1:26 pm

evolution.jpgThis past week has been a magical week for me. Besides the possibility of landing my dream literary agent, former chief editor of the NY Times Publishing Group, and editor in chief of the NY Times Book Review, some other really interesting things happened.

First off, the poem I wrote, It’s A Fine Line, has now been set to music. I recorded it about two weeks ago and we mixed it last week. It’s cool. As soon as I figure out how to put an MP 3 file up on my blog, you’ll hear it. WordPress has been acting up lately and things are not running behind the blogging scene so smoothly, so I have hesitated to take any more time messing with it.

Anyway, I recorded this poem because it will be on my first solo CD; which I plan on having role out with my book. It’s going to be a collection of music and poetry set to music. I think I am going to call it creative (r)evolution.

Yes you can as an artist evolve. You can also turn your evolution into a revolution and change the world with your art instead of wait for someone to think your work is cool and worth paying for. Marketing is everything. Positioning your product is everything. Knowing who you are well enough and being strong enough to do just that is everything.

I also had another really cool thing happen this week. Some big named orchestral clarinetist, who I have not spoken to in a really long time, called me up and we had an exceptionally nice chat. It was lovely.

When your skies are blue and life is throwing you a bone, sit outside in the beautiful spring air, with the lake breeze swooning around you like a dashing beau, and enjoy it. Oh, and the bone too.

It Only Takes One

In Emotional Intelligence, Writing on April 19, 2007 at 11:36 am

It only takes winning one big audition in life to have all the opportunities you ever need.

Just one.

As I search for a star publisher or literary agent, my biggest wish is to find one that has represented or published a fair number of household names. I want an A+ agent or publishing house; really rare for a new author, like me, to find.

This week I am being offered a chance to reach for my dream.

Roger Jellinek, former editor at The New York Times Book Review and former editor in chief at The New York Times Publishing Company, is interested in Starving Artist Not!; my book.

I have worked for 10 months writing Starving Artist Not!; dreaming that maybe I would have a chance like this. It has been a long long time since I have felt this much excitement and felt this alive from my creativity and the possibilities it holds.

Writing has been a wonderful way for me to recharge my creative battery and restore my passion.

This week I have been working extraordinarily hard to pull together the material Roger wants to read for my big audition.

I want him to be powerfully moved, to embrace my mission, to see why I can help so many artists creatively earn a good living doing what they love. I want him to be excited by my work.

But I don’t have control over any of that.

As passionate as I feel about it, it’s out of my hands.

But what I do have control over, right now, is enjoying the moment.

My dream is in front of me.

Right now.

It Only Takes One.

I hope this is mine.

Nicholas Wilton, Artist

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on April 13, 2007 at 2:08 pm

This work by Nicholas Wilton is Called Blue Day.

If Friday the 13th is a ” Blue Day” for you, check out Nicholas Wilton’s other works at this great gallery I found in Santa Fe, NM. www.SelbyFleetwoodGallery.com

I just bought a piece of Nick’s titled “The Desert” and love it! Though actually if you go and look at it (it’s shown online at the gallery), I can’t figure out why he titled it that way.

Wilton’s work is selling really well and is very interesting. Actually all the artists in this gallery are excellent. Happy Friday the 13th!

Niche and Thrive

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on April 11, 2007 at 2:08 am

Thanks to a comment from my post on Joshua Bell, I discovered Natalia Paruz’s site. www.sawlady.com. Who would ever have thought that musical saw playing could be such a great niche?

Well I guess Natalie did!

With musical kudos from Zubin Mehta to Peter Schickele this woman
clearly has a talent both for the unusual as well as for finding a great niche to thrive in!

Check out her site. What she has accomplished is really impressive.

Who says marketing isn’t everything?

In Interesting Articles on April 8, 2007 at 5:57 pm

1621_sm.jpg
This article appeared in the Sunday edition of The Chicago Tribune. I found this article fascinating because the #1 thing that artists typically don’t know how to do well, and most often are not taught how to do really well, is market themselves to draw the right kind of paying audience. I find this article fascinating for this very reason and an interesting way to demonstrate this point; although the article was written for an entirely different reason.

Who you are, what you do and who you offer it to must be well identified. The difference between being recognized as a leader and in this case, a virtuoso, and being passed by like just another one of those “street musicians” lies not nearly as much in your talent as in how you position yourself to be recognized and appreciated. Are you playing to the right audiences? Do you know who will appreciate what you do really well; the most?

Position yourself and your “product” properly by putting your talents and offerings in front of the RIGHT audience that really will pay for them and who WANTS them; here lies the difference between success and miserable failure.

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If a virtuoso plays during rush hour, does anyone hear?
A star violinist in a ball cap hits a subway station to see if he’s still a draw, or even can earn a few bucks

By Gene Weingarten
The Washington Post
Published April 8, 2007

WASHINGTON — He emerged from the Metro and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite?

On that Friday, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

So, what do you think happened?

Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked the same question.

“Let’s assume,” Slatkin said, “that he is not recognized and just taken for granted as a street musician. . . . Still, I don’t think that if he’s really good, he’s going to go unnoticed. He’d get a larger audience in Europe . . . but, OK, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening.”

So, a crowd would gather?

“Oh, yes.”

And how much will he make?

“About $150.”

Thanks, Maestro.

“How’d I do?”

We’ll tell you in a minute.

“Well, who was the musician?”

Joshua Bell.

“NO!!!”

A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston’s stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100.

But in the three-quarters of an hour that Bell played, seven people stopped to take in the performance. Twenty-seven gave money for a total of $32 and change. No, Mr. Slatkin, there was never a crowd, not even for a second.

Teaching Musicians to Be Entrepreneurs

In Interesting Articles on April 5, 2007 at 12:18 pm

It’s ABOUT TIME an article like this got written in a major publication! Enjoy reading it and Happy Easter/Passover!

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Why entrepreneurship training is beginning to strike a chord with faculty-and students-at top music conservatories

by Kerry Miller
Business Week
March 28, 2007

In most areas of higher education, entrepreneurship has long lost its
stigma as a career path for those without one (see BusinessWeek.com,
Fall, 2006, “Hitting the Books”). But at the nation’s top music
conservatories that stigma is still very much alive, despite the fact
that the “traditional” career path for classically trained musicians-one that ends with steady employment in a symphony orchestra-is difficult.

At Manhattan’s Juilliard School, one of the country’s preeminent
performing arts conservatories, Career Development Director Derek
Mithaug admits that the business-y connotation of the term
“entrepreneur” still rubs a lot of artists the wrong way. “We try to
avoid that word,” he says. But getting support for entrepreneurship
training is about more than semantics: Some in music education still
firmly believe that the role of the conservatory is to train musicians,
not businesspeople.

That’s why at many conservatories, entrepreneurship training-where it exists-has tip-toed into curricula under less-threatening guises. Most schools offer at least one elective or workshop in “career development”or “the music industry.” At the Eastman School of Music,entrepreneurship programs are run out of the Rochester (N.Y.) school’s Institute for Music Leadership. Converting the Old Guard

The Institute’s director, Ramon Ricker, says it took some effort to
convince some old-guard faculty-firm believers in “art for art’s
sake”-that the school wasn’t selling out by offering courses that
emphasized practical skills. At one meeting, Ricker went around the room pointing at each faculty member: “You’ve got a summer chamber music program, you’ve got a string quartet, you publish books- you’re entrepreneurial!” And teaching those skills, he says, is about more than building individual careers-as the nation’s symphony orchestras continue their struggle for survival, they’re also vital to the future of classical music.

Bringing music schools in line with the future of classical music is
exactly what Manhattan School of Music president Robert Sirota is most interested in. “The whole infrastructure of music is experiencing seismic shifts, and music schools have to move with those changes,” Sirota says-and just adding a business course or two in isn’t enough to keep up with the times. Although getting even one required course on entrepreneurship into a packed conservatory curriculum is more than most schools are willing to commit to, what’s really necessary, Sirota says, is a radical rethinking of the whole centuries-old conservatory model.

One of Sirota’s sea-change ideas: Instead of requiring all graduating
students to perform a senior recital, conservatories could give students the option of producing their own recording. “It sounds like a small thing, but it would be revolutionary,” Sirota says. “Can we do it? Well, that remains to be seen.”

As an end goal, Sirota envisions “a new generation of performing
musicians who function more like individual small businesses, who work the hypersegmented musical marketplace in an entirely different way.” Figuring out how to get there, Sirota admits, is the $64,000 question. In April, he’s holding the first of several think-tank discussions with various music industry leaders to discuss just that subject. And in a year or two-as soon as he nails down the funding-he hopes to open a new Center for Music Entrepreneurship at the Manhattan School.

Funding from Wealthy Foundations

So far, most of the funding for arts entrepreneurship programs has come from a few wealthy foundations. Among the first was the College of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which opened the Entrepreneurship Center for Music with a grant from the Price Foundation in 1998. Since then, the Coleman, Morgan, and Kauffman foundations have funded numerous other initiatives to further entrepreneurship in music, including grant competitions and mentorship programs.

But critics say music schools still aren’t doing enough to prepare
students for the real world. “How in good conscience can we continue to graduate thousands of students a year who have no hope of getting a job in the field they were trained for?” asks Michael Drapkin, a business consultant and former symphony clarinetist who got funding from the Kauffman Foundation to support an annual conference in North Carolina on
music entrepreneurship called BCOME [link to http://bcome.org%5D.

A New Way of Thinking

He’s not the only one asking that question. “If you talk to people
outside the academy, this is a no-brainer,” says Gary Beckman, a PhD student in musicology at the University of Texas at Austin and a leading academic researcher in the growing field of arts entrepreneurship. But in order for music entrepreneurship to gain more mainstream acceptance, he says the topic has to be academically legitimized. On Mar. 31, he’ll present research at Pepperdine University, at the first-ever panel discussion devoted to arts entrepreneurship as an academic discipline (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/2/06, “Business Plans with Legs”).

Still, says Juilliard’s Mithaug, “It takes time to change culture.” From
a very young age, musicians are taught how to take direction, to be the best by being the same. “[Entrepreneurship] is a new way of thinking for people who have spent most of their lives in a practice room,” he says.

And Juilliard is already a much different place than it was when Mithaug was a student there; the Career Development Office he now directs didn’t open its doors until 2000. Before that, he says, “there was no office, no nothing.” Now about 25% of Juilliard students participate in the school’s professional mentoring program, which matches students up with a faculty member or with an outside professional to work on a project of the student’s own design. Mithaug says interest in the four-year-old program has grown each year, and over the past decade he’s seen a profound shift in student attitudes.

Stigma Starting to Fade

Gillian Gallagher, a 22-year-old viola player, says she has no qualms
about identifying herself as an entrepreneur. After earning her master’s degree from Juilliard she hopes to play professionally with the string quartet she formed as a Juilliard undergraduate with three other students. Besides playing, Gallagher says the group members do all of their own self-promotion-everything from writing bios to contacting programmers.

While Gallagher says most students still seem focused on a traditional career path that begins with auditioning for symphony orchestras, “I can see the stigma starting to fade all around me,” she says.

“There are a lot of musicians who come here thinking that the most
important thing is their art, and that other concerns-like making
money-don’t matter.” Around the beginning of fourth year, though,
“People start to get a little scared. They start thinking, ‘what am I
gonna do next?'”

An Alternative to Ramen Noodles

Angela Myles Beeching, career services director at New England
Conservatory in Boston, says she sees her students go through a similar rude awakening during the professional artists seminar required of third-year students. But she says the point isn’t to scare students away from pursuing their dreams. “Whether you call it entrepreneurship or not, what it comes down to is helping young musicians see themselves as the masters of their future-that they can create opportunities, not just wait to be handed something.”

For some students, entrepreneurship is an alternative to what many
artists have turned to in the past: the day job (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/10/01, “Portrait of the Artist in Red Ink”). At UT-Austin, Gary Beckman says that while the students he teaches certainly don’t buy into the 19th century myth of the starving artist, they’re not interested in entrepreneurship for the same reasons as students in the business school, either. “They’re not looking for a six-figure salary,” he says. “The reason they want an entrepreneurial lifestyle is so they can continue to practice their art-and maybe not eat ramen noodles every night while they do so.”

And Gallagher says that’s not the only reason. “Every conversation I’ve had about the future of classical music comes down to the fact that as musicians, we need to be more proactive.” For example, she says, “a major problem today is orchestras failing-maybe if musicians were more entrepreneurial, that wouldn’t be happening.” But no matter what, Gallagher says she’s convinced that entrepreneurship skills are useful for any musician in the long run-even those who aren’t planning to strike out on their own. After all, she says, “If you’re in some symphony that starts to go under, you’re out of a job.”

It’s A Fine Line

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm

It’s a fine line

Between recklessness and courage

Travel the line

And you will find

That it’s about time

You decide which road to take 

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It’s a long way

Between creation and chaos

With 14 miles to go

Until your heart reads empty

It’s about time

You decide which choice you’ll make 

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You see time moves on

No matter if you ever choose

And time has no desires

Like the one’s inside of you 

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So if you take the road to creation

Follow it until it intersects courage

Remember it’s a long way

So fill up before you get near it 

If you make a mistake

And choose the wrong road

How quickly you’ll see

How fine the line is

Between these two roads 

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Chaos or Creation

Live inside your head

Or live your life

Using your imagination 

Choose a road

Choose which way you’ll go

Whatever’s more important to be

Just remember the difference

Only one can set you free