The Wisdom of Listening To Your Old Recordings

A man who realizes his mistake and does not correct it is guilty of two mistakes.

–Anonymous

 

Dear Students,

Listening to your old recordings can be a humbling experience. But there is wisdom to be found every time you cringe when you listen to yourself.

I had the great fortune of coming upon some of my demo recordings from 6 years ago when I was living in San Francisco.

This was before I’d ever taken a voice lesson and I was nuts about songwriting.

At the time, I was writing and recording one song a day. I did this for one month. I called it the Demo a Day challenge and I uploaded the new song every night.

I would wake up, go to work, get home, write a song, record it, upload it and fall asleep.

I learned a staggering amount about how to manipulate your creative force. I realized that there was no such thing as creative block. All you had to do was force yourself to sit down and write a crappy song.

But let me tell you; your ear has never been more sharply attuned than when you are listening to your younger self on a recording.

When I listen to those recordings now, I don’t think about the songs, I just hear my vocal and guitar mistakes.

But I also hear what I would do differently now.

When you are in the midst of creating something new, you’re often perplexed with the feeling that something is wrong, something doesn’t flow, or something just feels strange.

This is where voice lessons come in handy. In a voice lesson, you will always have an expert ear to hear what that strangeness is.

In a couple years’ time, you won’t believe the mistakes you will hear on those old recordings.

But more importantly, you will know how to fix them.

Not Listening

I Am Grateful to Be Your Voice Teacher

Dear Students,

I am grateful to be your voice teacher. And I’ll tell you why!

I think it’s time to address an important, but often overlooked, ingredient in your success as musicians.

Gratitude.

So many people think that to be successful, everything must line up to work perfectly, and this leads to your phenomenal success. But there has NEVER been a musician that hasn’t encountered a lot of obstacles.

I believe that the most important ingredient in your success is the gratitude for the ability to learn from your obstacles.

It’s easy to be grateful for success. But the challenges are where you learn.

I try to adopt this as a philosophy for everything I teach.

Look at the biography of Beethoven. Most people know that Beethoven was hearing impaired, but not everybody knows that he never even heard his later compositions.

If you’ve ever written a song, you can understand how amazing this concept is.

I have a hard enough time writing a crappy song with two really well trained ears.

Can you imagine being able to compose a sonata without being able to hear anything?

From Beethoven we learn to grateful for what we have, while we have it.

But Beethoven’s story also informs us we have a choice.

Are you going to engage with these obstacles as challenges, or are you going to be grateful for the opportunity to learn from them?

I would bet that for every challenge you face, there is something to learn, to gain, to improve upon.

Heck, you can find something to improve upon every time we work through a scale.

So be grateful that you have a voice that is challenging, always growing, always mysterious.

After all, without difficult voices, there are no good voice teachers.

Beethoven

How to Avoid Paying for Music Exposure

A music city like Austin, Texas has numerous opportunities for musicians to be putting out their music. There are so many venues, media and ways to advertise your music, it can be tricky to not get swept up into this simple trap:

Paying for music exposure.

In a music city like Austin, TX, you are swimming in a sea of competition.

The competition for people’s attention.

Nobody has enough time to search for your obscure new single if it’s not easy to access. And no one is going to go to the trouble of seeing your band play without having heard you or talking to someone who’s heard you first.

Here’s where the real sharks come in.

Paid advertisements, search engine optimization, radio mentions and ad space.

None of them free.

It’s easy to think of these venues for exposure as investments. Any ad rep is going to tell you how many hits their website gets a day, who their average client is and how rich and easily persuaded they are.

But that doesn’t necessarily bring you customers. It doesn’t even bring you fans.

The only real way to build buzz around your music is to get people talking about it. And that, my dear friends, is FREE.

So how do you get people talking about your music?

It requires two important elements.

First, you must have a product worth talking about. A CD, a new single, a video. Something that people can find and listen to, and most importantly LIKE.

Second, these people need to be able to listen to your music in a risk-free environment. This is something that the advertisers of the world can never provide. The potential fan always knows they’re being sold, so they won’t bite.

When you provide them with your music risk-free, the potential fan knows they’re safe to listen and really feel your music out. This is why it is so important that you have a product worth talking about. The biggest free album giveaway in the world won’t bring you exposure if the songs aren’t worth talking about.

Once you have your two elements together, you can put them into action in the following fashion.

  • Find a way to expose people to your music without paying for it (this doesn’t mean that you aren’t incurring opportunity cost, it just means you’re not paying to reach people)—sites like reverbnation.com and bandcamp.com are great for this
  • After some time, your great product will find a small group of fans who love you and want to tell everyone about you
  • Reward those people by staying in contact and asking for their help in telling others
  • Repeat this process with your larger group of fans

 

 

Covering His Ears