Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job (and the US Olympic Team for Men's Curling)

I was watching an episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel the other night and saw a feature on the US Olympic Team for Men's Curling.  They're all from Duluth, MN and will probably never get stopped on the sidewalk by a stranger asking for their autograph.  Regular guys from a regular town with regular jobs.  They just happen to play an irregular sport.  At the Olympics.

It's inspiring, what these athletes accomplished.  Curling isn't exactly an amazing draw in the US.  Most Americans don't even know the rules (myself included).  The US Men's Olympic Curling Team collectively made about $19000 last year.  Divided by 5 people that comes out to $3800 a person.  Enough to live on?  Not so much.

So, all of the curlers have day jobs.  Software Tech.  Teacher.  Regular jobs for Olympic athletes.  They've represented their country and now get to go back to the daily grind.  But they love curling so much that they devote whatever free time they have to honing the skills needed to become an Olympic athlete.

I'm not planning on quitting my job anytime soon, and seeing what these athletes were able to do while still holding a regular job makes my decision even easier.  One day I hope to be lucky enough to pursue music as a full time career, but in the meantime, I hope to be as successful pursuing my dreams as the US Olympic Team for Men's Curling.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I'm typing this out on my iPhone. Which is frustrating. And dumb. And what needs to happen to get this blog update done.

I've never been patient. If there was a magic button that would get me to the heights of the music industry, I would press it. But that's not reality. There is no magic button. No overnight success. No secret shortcut.

So here I am. In the middle of a long, arduous, uphill climb that I may or may not finish. And I don't even know if it's going to end up going well. I may or may not fall flat on my face. But all I can do is stay the course and put in the work. And stay patient. And remain humble. And stick to my ideals. And tell captivating stories. And a million other things that are completely do-able.

I can do this. I just need to be patient.

note to self: never update this blog on your iPhone ever again...

Friday, February 26, 2010


Perception is reality.  But a real reality is much better than a perceived reality.

Hypothetical situation:

You have 28,459 friends on Myspace.

How many of those friends are actual fans?  Would go to a show?  Would buy your music?  Would tell one of their friends how amazing you are?

I've been guilty of it.  Spending hours adding random people.  And it feels good.  To pad the friend list.  But what does it actually accomplish?

Wouldn't my time be better spent writing a song that people have to talk about because they love it so much?  Do I really need to be "friends" with someone who could care less about my music and just counts me as another notch on their "I have more friends than you" belt?

No.  I don't.  But it's so tempting.  To troll myspace and add page after page of friends from a record label or another band or a music magazine or a radio station.  It's so tempting.

Just focus, Glynn.

Make music.  Have fun.  Be honest.  Genuinely interact with people.  Play live shows.  Draw people to your page, but let them make the decision.  Because a voluntary friend is that much closer to becoming an actual fan than a coerced friend.

And don't ever feel as if you have to apologize for not "playing the game".  Success is relative, and certain lines in the sand should never be crossed.  You hate SPAM, right?  You hate when a random band adds you, right?  Then don't add to the cycle.  Everything doesn't have to be a popularity contest.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Conversation #1

In a perfect world, people would listen more.  Rational conversations would lead to an open flow of ideas that ultimately would lead to a better place to live.

But it's not a perfect world.  Most of us are self-absorbed and can't wait for our chance to speak and we look straight at a person while they're talking but we're really just thinking about what we're going to contribute to the dialogue only it's not a dialogue if you're reciting an internal monologue to yourself and you don't actually process what's being said so you selfishly close yourself off to different opinions and ideas and it all just swirls around in your brain, never to be retained, ultimately a shame.

Well, I'm going to try and contribute to that perfect world and start a conversation with whoever is reading this blog.

Here's how it's going to work.  I'll ask a question at the end of this blog, and then post my answer as the 1st comment.  Then, you can post a comment with your answer.  It's my blog, so I understand that the onus lies squarely on my shoulders to provide the content, but I am curious to see what things are running around inside your head, too.

Okay... ummm... errrrrrr... hmmmm... let's see...

Here's an easy one (I hope...):

What's the first album you ever purchased?  And when did you purchase it?

It's Daunting, but I Trust You

It's hard.  At least, it is for me.  Maybe "hard" is the wrong word.  Because it's not so much difficult, as much as it is...


Yep, that's better, so let's go back to the beginning with this more accurate adjective...

It's daunting.  To create art and make it public.  To display your painting in an exhibit or offer up material at a poetry reading or play your song at an open mic.  In essence, to take that which is most personal to you and send it out in front of a panel of judges. 

And, sure, you can fall back on "I make art for me and no one else" or "Regardless of what people think, I'm uniquely me and that's a beautiful thing" or "You know what?  I could give two shits what you think because I like it and that's all that counts".  Valid points, but if you really feel like that, go live in the woods and play music to the squirrels and paint for the grizzlies and recite poetry to the babbling brook. 

Art is meant to be shared.  With people.  Preferrably people that want to experience your art, but if you want to busk at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, it's your prerogative.  (Note to self: busking at the 3rd Street Promenade might have to go on my bucket list.)

But I digress...

It's daunting. 

What if people hate it?  What if no one ever comes back to the Myspace page to listen to the music?  What happens if you never sell any downloads or nobody comes to the shows or nobody becomes a fan on Facebook or you never get any followers on Twitter or you keep trying to book shows but all you can get are the cheesy pay to play gigs that are meant to take advantage of any band that can fork over $400 bucks to play on a bill that has an Emo Hardcore group after a Polka Folk Trio after a Singer Songwriter Accordianist?

Valid questions but if you get caught up in all of the negatives you might as well live in a bubble and drink puree'd potatoes for the rest of your life...

It's daunting.

But not to the point where I freeze up and let the challenge eat me alive.

Because I trust you.

You, the fan.

Not you, the casual reader.  Not you, the general public.

You, the fan.

Because the fan connects with the artist and eliminates every aspect that makes the process daunting.  The fan is enamored with the painting and admires the composition of color and escapes into the background.  The fan is thrilled by the use of iambic pentameter and pours over the deviation from rhyme scheme for the sake of emphasis.  The fan falls in love with the songs and knows all the lyrics and can't wait for that guitar riff and anticipates the drum solo and reads the liner notes and waits outside after the show for the chance to maybe, just maybe, meet the band and have them sign the setlist and maybe get a pick or a drumstick.

At some point the casual reader or the general public might become the fan.  But I have to earn that transformation.  With my music, my band, my performances, my tweets, my facebook updates, the websites I link to, the bands I suggest checking out, the way I talk to you before and after the show, the songs I choose to record and release, the venues that I choose to play... all of it. 

I have to earn your fandom.  I have to earn your trust.

But once I've done that, the sky is the limit.  Because it will be a little less daunting to get up onstage and sing my simple songs for you. 

And we'll trust each other completely. 

You'll trust me to create the art.  I'll trust you to be a fan.

If you've liked what you've read, help me out and go back to read this post.  At the very end, there's something I need your help with!!  Thanks!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Expectations and Finding your Niche (or Voice)

Let's be realistic.

The Beatles will never happen again.

The perfect storm of guitar rock pop music and right place at the right time and Ed Sullivan on television and British Invasion and the mystique behind the musicians and those haircuts and the suits and paying their dues in a Strip Club in Hamburg and having the right combo of personalities that turned them into media darlings and the poppy but simple but complex songs AND (just in case you didn't know, the all caps "and" means this is the most important part) actual musical talent deserving of all the accolades...

NEVER going to happen again.

We're too jaded.  Attention spans are too short.  Conditioned to always be looking for the next big thing.  More concerned with image than with actual staying power...

A phenomenon like the Beatles is virtually impossible in today's world.

Which is liberating if you're a musician.  Because it means you can lower your expectations.

The Beatles appealed to virtually everyone.  If you had a television, you watched their historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964.  70 million people watched that performance, and the Beatles had a built-in audience for the rest of their careers (and beyond).

Lowered expectation: appeal to a niche audience.  The internet has made it possible for people to only pay attention to what they are absolutely in love with.  Everything else can be ignored.  And if you're an artist, you're going to be way more successful appealing to people that will become fanatics for you than trying to win over everyone and their mom.

I remember a time when I wanted to write songs that everyone would like.  If a song wasn't working, I would go out of my way to try and mold it so that it had a universal appeal.  And it absolutely killed my creativity and diluted my songs.  Instead of searching for something that was true and genuine and told a story that I could relate to and satisfied me, I was always critiquing my songs from the audience's point of view.  Which isn't a bad thing, unless you forget the reason you started writing a song in the first place. 

Every song should be a glimpse into a deeper part of you, a small window into your own life experiences, your personal perspective on the world, all of the intangibles that you bring to the table.  And just like all of us have different speech patterns and vocabularies and colloquialisms that we use every day, a song should be written in your unique voice.  Only recently have I been able to come up with a description of my song-writing voice, or at least the voice with which I feel most comfortable writing:

stream of consciousness pop rock
youthful exuberance

Hahahaha... even reading that I can't help but think of how forced that sounds.  And I feel like that's one of the beauties of being in Oh Girl.  When we're making up songs on the spot, I don't have time to plan it out and get in the way of my creative process.  It's spontaneous and a tight-rope routine and at any moment it can come crashing down around the two of us and we end up looking like A-holes.  And I absolutely love it.  It's climbing without a rope, a trapeze act without a safety net, Nascar without a seat belt, a road trip without a map.  It's deciding to go to Vegas on a moment's notice because you want mojitos from the parasol bar at the Wynn.  It's driving up to San Francisco for a weekend of festival music then staying up all night Sunday to drive back for work at 8 on Monday morning.

I know Oh Girl has a niche.  And I know that there are at least 1000 people that will absolutely fall in love with us.  And I can't wait to meet all 1000 and make up songs about each and every one of them on the spot...

Wow... once again this blog post has meandered through the forest and back again.  Have I mentioned how much I appreciate you taking the time to read?  Here's a test.  The first 3 people to read this blog then post a comment that refers to this blog update on the Oh Girl Facebook Page wall will have songs made up about them at our next three rehearsals.  We'll video tape the songs and give you a personal shout out at the beginning of each vid.  Then we'll post them on the Oh Girl YouTube Page for everyone to enjoy.

It'll be a small "Thank you" for putting up with this little guilty pleasure of a blog.  I'm falling more in love with it every single time I update. =]

And, to the lucky 3 that have a song made up about them, thanks for being the first 3 of 1000...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Live and Learn and Re-Focus

Effect: No one comes to the show.

Cause: Lack of promotion.

More detailed explanation of Cause:  You haven't put in the work.  No recordings released.  Little footwork done in the form of going to shows and supporting the local scene and networking.  No fans that extend beyond your friend network that will help in spreading the word about the band.  The music isn't phenomenal and ear-catching enough to garner attention.  You were naive in taking a show on a night when there wouldn't be much foot traffic.  You've spread yourself too thin and are still treating music like a hobby instead of a lifestyle and an opportunity to spread art and a way to give the gift of entertainment.

Examine the problem.  Internalize.  And come up with a solution.


Oh Girl is going to be recording as soon as possible.  Because without a physical (or digital) recording there's no way to spread the music, no way to get the band out there, no vehicle for promotion.  Live recordings are fine, but they aren't enough.  So we're gonna be putting shows on hold until we can get in the studio and record some songs for y'alls.

In other news, you rock.  For reading and putting up with my ramblings and being slightly entertained and keeping me on the radar in your crazy, hectic, interesting beautiful lives.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Makes or breaks most relationships.  And being in a band is a relationship.  If you don't at least have respect for each other's musical tastes or your senses of rhythms clash or your music theory skills are on completely different levels or you have different ideas about stage presence or image or interacting with fans or representing your self online or dealing with promoters or being professional during rehearsals and shows... then it's going to go downhill fast.

Luckily, I'm not in that situation.  And it leads to so many possibilities.  Writing songs on the fly.  Trying out new creative musical concepts.  Making up songs on the spot because you know the other musician is right there with you for the transitions.  Giving constructive criticism and not having to worry about anyone taking it personally.

Chemistry is priceless.  And it takes a long time to find the right combination of personalities to make it work.

Oh Girl show tonight.  And hopefully some video footage of chemistry at work will be posted on YouTube by tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jiggity-Jam Planning

Practice with Oh Girl tomorrow morning.

Here's how it should go:

9:00-9:20- Set-up and instrumental warm-up jam
9:20-9:50- Run set songs (Formula, Going Back, Obvious, The Hills, Breathe, Drunk)
9:50-10:15- Work on Maggie
10:15-10:40- Work on Here and Real
10:40-10:50- Improv 2 new songs
10:50-11:00- Run Maggie and Here and Real

Video everything.  Post anything noteworthy on YouTube tomorrow night.

Goals are good.  We need to record at least one actual take our time and make it sound good and release-worthy single in March.  Can't wait to rock it out at the Stargate....

Shut Up and Do It (a.k.a. I missed another day...)

I missed another day.

Because I was tired and didn't know what to write about and was worried that it wouldn't be a good post.


Sometimes you just need to shut up and do it.  Stop planning.  Stop trying to make it perfect.  Just let it flow, get out of bed, and post the damn blog.

That is all.

Oh, wait.  For everyone that's posted comments (even you people hiding behind the veil of anonymity =]), thank you very much for taking the time to read and post comments.  And if you don't want everyone to know that you posted, drop me an email so I can thank you personally!!  And if you don't even want me to know who you are, no worries.  Just a huge thank you for reading!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Starting Over

This blog post was about something else.  And then I decided that it was a topic too complex to be fleshed out in 30 minutes.  So I cut my losses and started over.  Which is easy when it's a blog post.  Not so easy when it's your life.

When do you realize things aren't working?  How do you know it's time to move on?  What are the signs that a complete overhaul is a necessity?

It's not about starting over.  It's about evolving and learning and digesting mistakes and internalizing failure and progressing towards success.  Because you can never truly wipe the slate clean.  You can't unmake what's already been made.  The memories are there, hardwired into your brain.  Even when you break down technique and attempt to rework muscle memory, your previous habits will always be there subconsciously, informing your desires to unlearn the incorrect and replace it with proper mechanics.

What is this blog even about?

Oh yeah, starting over.

Too late now.  Gotta roll with the punches.  And figure out how I got here, and try to never make the same mistake again.

Case in point, note to self, (insert pithy catch phrase here)... it's pretty much impossible to watch the Olympics and publish a coherent blog post at the same time.

I've "started over" musically a couple times.  The grass was greener.  I could sing lead vox and play guitar, too.  Oh, wow, that's hard.  Next time I'll play softer and more controlled so I can work on my vocal pitch during songs.  Hmmmm... you know what?  Drumming is what I should be doing.  Gah.  That's hard work.  I think I'm gonna go the folk acoustic route....  All this starting over just muddied my intentions.  And "murky intentions lead to murky execution" (thanks again @toddsattersten).

So this time, no starting over.  Just open communication and a desire to put in the work and evolve and get better.

Here's the starting point.  One of the first improv songs we performed as Oh Girl:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Artist Ships

Oh, Seth Godin.  Your book Linchpin is ruling my life right now.

"An artist ships."

This idea seems simple enough.  It could be a DUH statement.  Not a difficult concept to wrap your head around.

But then you analyze it a little bit more.  "An artist ships."  Okay, so what does that mean, exactly?  Are you not an artist if you don't ship?  Is shipping the most important part of being an artist?  Do the shipments need to be successful or does the mere act of shipping denote success?  Does the fact that I use multi-syllabic words and the Socratic Method expose me as an intellectual who enjoys the sight of his own typing...?

"An artist ships."  You devise a project, set a deadline, initiate, tweak, analyze, tweak, retool, finish, and ship.  Regardless of whether it's a success or a failure (and in reality, doesn't everything that we do contain varying degrees of success and failure?), you are an artist.  Once you finish the project, you are no longer on the sidelines.  You are a part of the game.  People read your business book and decide whether or not the ideas and arguments are valid.  Web-surfers peruse your blog and subscribe or hit the back button, relegating it to internet anonymity.  Forward thinkers mentally ingest your manifesto and spread it like a virus throughout their tribes or leave it to die a slow and forgettable death.  Audiophiles listen to your song and rush to download the mp3 or flame you on twitter.

"An artist ships."  And learns.  What works, what doesn't work, how to do it more efficiently, where her weaknesses are, what strengths she can depend on, what ultimately leaves her fulfilled and proud and chomping at the bit to ship again.

"An artist ships."  Duuuhhhhhhh...

I'll be shipping with Oh Girl next Monday night.  And I can't wait to be an artist again...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fail Often

One of my new favorite blogs is Fail Often.  It is written beautifully and deals with topics that push the envelope.  Once again thanks to @toddsattersten for the referral.

The title of the blog is enough reason to read it.  Fail often.  For every home run, there are many more strikeouts.  For every perfect 10, there are countless routines that fall short of perfection.  For every hit song, there are a tremendous amounts of duds.  In order to truly succeed, you need to risk horrific failure.

Plenty of cliches, all true. 

Step outside your comfort zone.  Have some bad ideas.  Fall flat on your face.

Then pick yourself back up and continue knowing that you're that much closer to success.

On the music side, Adrian and I are prepping to record some Oh Girl material in March.  We've decided that one of the first singles will be the following song that I wrote about my son Chase when he was three weeks old.  Chase is now 3 months and change, and I can't believe how much he's grown and how much I love him.

Music Monday- Hey by the Pixies (LIVE)

Yes, this music monday post is coming to you on a Tuesday.  Better late than never, says I.

I've been on a Pixies kick lately, watching loudQUIETloud, listening to Doolittle and Surfer Rosa and Trompe le Monde in the car.  I want to write and play music the way the Pixies do.  Loose and lucid and dynamic and cool and disinterested and completely engaged and genuine and fun and cool and fun and loud and quiet and ultimately inspiring.

And, I love this song, even more after having gotten to see them perform it live during their tour last year.  It's not the whole song, but I love that this performance is from 1988, which was before the album was even released.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Uncomfortable is probably a good thing

"I have lots of comfortable songs.  It's time to write some uncomfortable ones." -glynngm

If you're an artist, comfort zones suck.  Comfort zones mean you're relying on that which has already been done which means it's not as difficult to digest which means it's easier to ignore.  And if you're creating art that's easily ignored you might as well be making pancakes or baking cookies or writing a blog.

Seth Godin's latest book, Linchpin, has been challenging my thinking lately.  It contends that we all have the capability to be artists during our everyday lives and that being an artist means doing emotional labor as opposed to the busy work and manual labor that most of us fill our lives with.  The book covers way too many topics to try and even begin to summarize here, but I will say that one of the overall themes of the book relates to comfort zones and becoming complacent. Many of us have become complacent.  We have a job that we're not in love with, but it pays the bills and is easy enough to show up for so why worry about it?  Why challenge the status quo and take it upon ourselves to figure out a different path?  Why not just show up everyday, do what you're told, make a serviceable effort, be a cog in the machine, regurgitate a ready-made message, and collect a day's pay for a day's work?

I've been complacent for most of my life.  But Seth Godin's Linchpin is urging me to make moves and take advantage of opportunities and push boundaries and step outside of my comfort zones.  Because I don't want to just be a lemming anymore.  I have so much more to give and the desire to create art and share art and tell stories and perform emotional labor and go down a different path and work and fight tooth and nail for the life that I know I deserve.  We all have these desires and we all have the abilities to do it.  We just need to step outside of our comfort zones...

Now I need to go get to work on those uncomfortable songs...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cinema Saturday- loudQUIETloud

Thanks to @PasteMagazine for the tip.

Today, Chase and I watched loudQUIETloud, the 2006 documentary focused on the Pixies 2004 reunion tour.  I won't bore you with a review.  If you're a Pixies fan or a fan of good music or a fan of good cinema, you'll do yourself a favor and watch the film.

I will say that my favorite parts of documentaries following bands or athletes or the President or any other famous figure are the behind-the-scenes moments.  Those little glimpses into the human sides of these juggernauts that the public so rarely gets to see.  Charles Thompson's candid interview with NME in which he outlines the tension that led to the Pixies break-up.  Kim Deal's request that no alcohol be allowed backstage to help maintain her sobriety.  Joey Santiago on tour iChatting with his wife and daughter on his daughter's birthday.  David Lovering asking the audience at one of his magic shows to say hi to his parents who are in attendance.

We're all real people with real issues and failures and successes and worries and problems.  Even the people we put up on a pedestal.  And I love seeing the real sides of celebrities.  Sometimes you're pleasantly surprised; other times you wish you'd never pulled back the curtain.

Nowadays, it's gotten to the point where you can't tell if celebrities are being genuine or just putting up a front for publicity's sake.  The internet has given us a 24/7 glimpse into a lot of celebrities' lives, even when they struggle to maintain their privacy.  Is that the trade-off for leading a privileged life?  If it is, why would anyone want that?

Celebrity is evolving.  The line between famous and infamous is being blurred everday.  Why is Spencer Pratt famous?  Are we that sick and twisted to the point of being fascinated by that trainwreck of humanity?  And will there ever be a point where we stop giving in to smut and elevate ourselves to topics that are more important?  I hope so.

Friday, February 12, 2010

GOAL: Lockout by June

Practice space.  Recording space.  Hideaway.  Some of the best times in my life have been spent in a lockout.

Watterson had one for about 10 months in '05-'06.  And we recorded almost every single note that was played in that space.  We had pictures up on the wall and a couch and our own PA and all my amps were in there and I left my computer there as a recording rig. 

It was a great space that we shared with one other band.  We recorded our demo in that space and we practiced for every single show in there, too.  Yeah, we were too loud and yes, when your cell phone was about to ring this weird interference noise would blare through the amps and the PA and sure, it was always dirty and there were always wires all over the floor, and yeah, we didn't get as technically proficient as we could or should have been, but there were moments of complete musical bliss in that lockout and I can't wait to have a space like that again for Oh Girl, for solo stuff, for teaching Chase how to drum and play guitar, for writing duets with Rachel, for recording artists from Orange County, for playing around at 2 in the morning because I've had a great idea...

There's a 99 square foot space in Fullerton that's about 45 minutes away from where I live. 

She will be mine.  Oh, yes.  She will be mine...

I Missed a Day... and Oh Girl

I didn't update this blog last night.

And I feel guilty.  Like I forgot to roll up my windows and it started to rain.  Or I left the stove on during a weekend getaway.  Or it was casual friday and I showed up in a business suit.

Not an overbearing heart in your throat dwell on it make you wake up in the middle of the night kind of guilt.

More of a gee that's embarassing I hope nobody noticed kind of guilt.

Because I'm sure that not many people will notice.  It's just the beginning of this blog and I'm still finding my sea legs and it's definitely evolving and will hopefully be more fully fleshed out soon.

But still...

I noticed and it bums me out because if I can't prove it to myself than it doesn't matter what you think... 


Oh Girl

One of the two music projects I'm in right now. 

A rock improv poppy conglomeration of two.

We're hopefully going to be recording a couple songs in March, shooting some video, releasing them via myspace, and facebook, and some other outlets.  Maybe throwing some stuff on Tunecore.  Possibly on Anjuno

The thing with Oh Girl is we make up songs on the spot.  Kinda like Whose Line Is It Anyway? but with a rock band instead of comedians.

So the A side will be a fully formulated song.  And the B side will be an on the spot improv.

We'd like for the B sides to have crowd interaction, too.  We'll be recording at the Stargate and maybe we can get some people to stop by and hangout and provide the inspiration for the B sides.

I like thinking out loud (on screen, thru keyboard?)...

Oh Girl!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bad Days

We all have them.  Everything goes wrong and all at the same time and you try to keep your head above water but there's no time to catch your breath and all you want to do is absolutely nothing.

Then doubt creeps in.  What's the point?  It hasn't happened yet, so what makes you think it's ever going to happen?  You're writing a blog post about failing when you should be analyzing what you did wrong and figuring out how to be better and practicing guitar and working on lyric writing and crafting that perfect song that conveys everything in your head just perfectly so that the audience understands and connects and applauds and stands and cheers...

Bad day.  First of many.  Nothing and everything to do with music.

Just go play guitar, Glynn.  Forget about everything else and pick up your guitar and play and sing and connect and get past the bad day because we all have them and they don't define us but they do provide opportunities to grow and learn and get that much closer to our goals.

Just hug her, tell her how much you love her, and sing her to sleep...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DUH... Music should be free... And the rules are changing

Chris Knab is a music industry insider with a blog focused on the music biz:  His insight is extremely helpful for the working musician, and he covers a whole slew of topics from knowing your typical fan to how the music biz is changing.  A must read for anyone serious about making money with their music.

My favorite part of Chris's blog is his DUH series: a collection of statements that make you slap your forehead and go, "Duh!  It's so simple!  Why didn't I think of that?"  A collection of DUH statements can be found here.

He also occasionally posts DUHs on his Twitter.

One recent DUH caught my eye more than others.  It relates to one of the biggest developments for not only the music business, but the newspaper business, the book publishing business, the television business, the movie renta... you get the idea...

DUH:157:“Digital files cannot be made uncopyable, any more than water can be made not wet. “.Bruce Schneier

Simple enough.  A digital file can never be fully protected from copying.  There will be a genius out there that can get past the safeguards and bypass the protections and get through the encryption... and the digital file will become fair game to anyone with a computer, smartphone, iphone...

Daunting for the music business to say the least.  Once it's out there, it is out there for the taking.  Songs get passed around from user to user, from hard drive to hard drive, using flash drives or portable hard drives or email or ftp servers or torrent or p2p or... and nothing is protected, everything is free, all the money the label and the promoters and the publicists and the marketing companies, all of their money spent on pushing a product to be sold... all of that money is never recouped because less and less people are actually spending money on the product.

You might think that I've been brainwashed by Bob Lefsetz, and you wouldn't be completely wrong.  But it's not a brainwashing, it's a realization, and an acceptance that the rules are changing.  Hell, it's a completely different game.  The physical album is a thing of the past.  The Smashing Pumpkins are embracing it.  They'll be releasing a 44 track album, one track at a time, all for FREE.  Yep, free.  Gratis.  No charge.  Put your wallet away.

This means two things:

- The Smashing Pumpkins are counting on their fans to compensate them in other ways (touring, merchandise, collector's editions of the album)
- The music had better not suck otherwise there's the "the only way they could get people to listen is by giving it away for free" joke that will get driven into the ground

Well, it also means that more and more bands are going to have to adapt to the new business model that will be evolving over the next couple years.  Your music had better be free and it better be amazing and it better make people want to come see you live and buy a t-shirt and a hoodie and a special physical edition of the FREE music they already have.  Because if the music sucks, you're going to be up shit creek without an income.

This is what has the music business (and the newspaper business and the book publishing busine... you get the idea) so scared shitless.  How are they going to make money?  How are the majors going to maintain their bottom line?  Where are the platinum selling albums going to come from?  These questions suck for the majors, but don't suck as much for the indies.  Because indies are agile.  Indies don't need to go platinum.  Indies need to serve their niche, need to connect with the true fans that bleed for the music, the fans that know all the lyrics and read the liner notes and put up flyers and tweet about tour dates and post pics from the show straight to facebook from their iphones. 

I'm an indie.  Albeit an indie barely out of the womb, as helpless as a newborn, incapable of supporting my head and barely able to suck on my mom's boob.  But it's okay.  Because I'll be learning at a prodigious rate while the old, old dinosaur majors will be struggling to play the old game, with their walkers and hearing aids. 

I'm looking forward to it.  I hope you are, too.

Music Monday- Blood of the Scribe by Lamb of God

This blog is technically being posted on Tuesday.  So sue me...

"Blood of the Scribe" by Lamb of God

I'm not a metal aficionado by any stretch of the imagination.  I mean, I like me some Between the Buried and Me and Meshuggah and Mastodon, but I'm not a full blown metal head.  Oh yeah, The Faceless, too...

Hahaha... but yeah, "Blood of the Scribe".  Chris Adler is an amazing drummer.  All of his work on the album "Ashes of the Wake" blows me away.  YouTube his 2005 Modern Drummer Festival work and sit back and marvel at his live chops.  His footwork is ridiculous, but he's not just about blast beats and extended runs.  He's one of the more musical metal drummers out there.  His parts are intricate and clinical but breathe with the song, too.

My favorite part of this song is the breakdown at 3:30.  For some reason, it feels like they were able to infuse hip hop feel into a metal song.  If that makes any sense at all...

My drive home from work is about 25 minutes, and for the past couple weeks "Ashes of the Wake" has been in my CD player, and I always happen to end up on track 6.  If only I could see how ridiculous I look air drumming and grooving to this song...

On a "set your goals" tangent, I want to try and get Oh Girl onto the Kevin Says Stage for Warped Tour 2011.  Yes, that's right 2011.  That gives Adrian and I about 16 months to get our shit together.  Oh... um... maybe I shoulda checked with Adrian first.  Meh...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What to Post When Nothing Happens...

Daily posts are difficult.  The last thing I want to do is have a daily post for the sake of having a daily post.  If nothing happens over the course of 24 hours, then I shouldn't post an update.  It's a waste of my time, and it's a waste of your time.


I need to make sure that every single day contains something post worthy.  Whether it's new lyrics or a new guitar riff or a booked show or a new fan that I made a connection with on Twitter or an idea to try out or a failure that I had... every day is a new day that contains endless possibilities for blog material. 

How many people approach their lives like this?  I know from personal experience that it's easy to go on cruise control, go through the motions, put in the bare minimum, phone it in, and let yourself get complacent.

But successful people don't think like that.  Every day they're putting their best foot forward, challenging themselves, making sure they push themselves to the limits of their potential.  And over time, they see the results.  They push past the failures and learn from their mistakes and get better day after day after day.

This blog started out with a focus on music.  But I'm figuring out that it's going to be about much more than that.  I have a responsibility to myself to make it about becoming not just a better musician, but a better person.


On the music end, I did begin to write some music today.  It had a Sonic Youth, noise rock aspect to it, which is something a little bit different for me.  I definitely want to try and jam with Oh Girl sooner than later, but the next couple weeks are absolutely crazy hectic.  No excuses, Glynn.  Hold yourself accountable.

On another note, I'm watching the series premiere of Undercover Boss right now, and it is blowing my mind.  Inspirational and eye-opening and completely in tune with what I was writing earlier in this post.  These employees are incredible and are the epitome of work ethic.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Don't put me in a box tonight

I've been in... let me see... (Girl Down, Watterson, Horrors of Toledo, In Defense of Picnics, Gregory Brock, Excuse Me, Can I Finish?, Ryley and the Guys, Oh Girl, glynngm)... 9 bands since 2001.  And each and every one of those bands has contributed to the musician that I am today (so says Obvious Man). 

At a glance, it looks like I've been in 1 band each year for the last 9 years, but the numbers are deceiving.  If you look more closely, I was in 3 bands between 2001 and 2008, then in 2009, I was in 6 bands.  Last year was a busy one...

Why so many bands last year?  Well, I was unemployed for the first half of the year, so along with the lack of a weekly schedule and any job associated responsibility and a steady paycheck (well, unemployment benefits were steady enough) came a mulititude of free time.  And I'm happy to say that most of that time was spent listening to or dreaming of or making music.  Folk followed by adult contemporary then hip hop then good old fashioned indie rock... in regards to the bands I was in, I had no elitest genre loyalty.

Which brings me to the title of this blog post: "Don't put me in a box tonight".  These are lyrics from a Watterson song, and I stand firmly by them.  I don't belong to a certain scene.  I'll dress like a hipster one day, then like a skater the next, then like a complete goober the next.  I like what I like, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable saying, "If you have a problem with that, you can go fuck yourself."

I guess the reason I'm bringing this up is because I was sorting through a hard drive's worth of song ideas today, searching for a musical thread that unified them, examining them to see if it was apparently obvious that I had a particular "style" of writing.  And the fact of the matter is I don't.  I'll write a folk song one day, and a pop punk song the next, and an alt-rock ditty on Tuesday, and a country tune on Thursday, and a hip hop club banger on Saturday... and I used to be semi-annoyed by all of this genre hopping.  Why can't I just stick to the one thing that works?  Am I spreading myself too thin by writing all these different types of songs?  Why don't I fit in a box?

These were obviously the wrong questions.

A better one to ask is "Why would you ever want to fit in a box?"

Why not be in as many bands as you can and have as many different artistic outlets as possible?  I mean, I do get that there's only so much time in the day, and if I want to be a successful musician it only makes sense to know your audience and cater to them and be super, super focused on your image and your scene and your voice and your message...

But... why?

Why limit yourself?  Why pander?  Why worry about if people are listening or why they're listening or if they hate your music or if they misunderstand it or if they misquote you or if they associate you with the wrong acts or if you fit the mold or if you lose market share by being muddled or if you move units or if you even make a living?  Isn't the whole point of being an artist to push the limits of what's accepted, to challenge the status quo, to point out the beauty and the ugly and the failings and the successes and the pretension and the reality and the fantasy of being alive and to do all of this with no motives, no agenda, only because you were born to do it, you get antsy if you can't get all of the thoughts in your head out somehow? 

Isn't that the point?

(I'd like to take a moment to apologize for rambling and to thank you so much for having read this far...)

Don't put me in a box tonight.  When I wrote those lyrics, I thought I was talking to someone else, my parents, my girlfriend, my family, my bandmates, my co-workers, my friends, people at the show, people on the street...

But I wasn't.  I was talking to myself.

Glynn, don't put yourself in a box tonight.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When it rains, it pours...

Quick stylee post today.  I'm off to drive through the rain to see Daedalus and Jogger at the Echoplex.  I'm ashamed to admit that this is my first show at the Echoplex, and I'm very excited to finally go!!

Thanks to KCRW for the tickets.  I was lucky enough to win a Twitter giveaway yesterday for my response to the question "Why do you want to go?"  And I quote, "@kcrw In HB.Never been to Echoplex. It would be a great early V-Day gift for my girlfriend! We had a son on 11/11/09. She deserves a break!"  So off I go with Ms. Rachel Pupa to the Echoplex for a fun date night!!  If you're on Twitter, follow @kcrw!!

I've got a little more time, so I will say that going to live shows always motivates me to get out and play live myself.  There's something intoxicating about performing your material in front of an audience.  If you've ever performed, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't, I urge you to go to an open mic and play the guitar and sing or read a poem or tell jokes or wax political on the inanity of bi-partisanship.  You won't be sorry that you did.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chris Knab is a Real Person (and I am, too!!!!)

Google never ceases to amaze me.  It is more than a search engine.  It is an intuitive, problem solving tool that can lead you to places you never even conceived.  I'm sure there are algorithms and programming and fancy shmancy technical jargon behind Google way beyond my mental capacities, so I'll stick to saying that Google is very, very, very neat.

Case in point... today I googled "aspiring musician".  It's part of my blog's tagline, and I was curious to see where the search would lead me.  The top result was Thoughts for the Aspiring Musician, an article by Christopher Knab from May 2002.  I took two things away from the article:

(1) "There are no short cuts to success" and (2) Christopher Knab left his phone number at the end of the article.

The first thing is a quote from about halfway through the article.  It seems simple enough, a "DUH" statement (more on this in a later blog post), but when you really think about it, it's a very daunting observation.  "There are no short cuts to success".  It is going to take a lot of hard work and good ideas and being in the right place at the right time and preparation and luck and perseverance and personal attention and integrity and an open mind and mulititudes of other factors to have success.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to just fall into your lap.  I'm beginning to realize the truth in that statement more and more every day.  And at times I'm scared shitless, and I think if it's really worth the trouble, and I doubt if I can even do it.  But then I remember that accepting that "there are no short cuts to success" can set you free because it means you're dedicating yourself to the process, not to the end result.  And the process is what's rewarding, the mini victories, the demos, the small failures that you put behind you and learn from, the coffee shop open mics, the days you spend taking baby steps, the late nights spent recording onto the Voice Memo Recorder on your iPhone... It's going to be a fun journey, and I'll be sure to pass up every single short cut along the way.

The second thing might not seem like much, but to me, it is absolutely impactful.  He left his phone number at the end of the article.  Leaving an email address I can understand (which he also does).  You can ignore emails.  But your phone number?  Yeah, you can ignore phone calls, but most of the time, your phone is right there on you and you have to take it out and look at who's calling and decide to ignore them and then the caller can leave a voicemail, which you'll eventually have to listen to and then delete if it ends up being useless or boring.  What's the point of all this, you ask?  I feel as if by leaving a phone number, Chris Knab made a conscious decision to step out from behind the curtain of internet anonymity.  By listing his phone number, Chris Knab is showing he's a real person.  A living, breathing, educated, opinionated person that has insight into the music industry and is willing to share that insight with others.  And I think that's really effin' cool.  In this day and age when SPAM abounds and you open up friend requests from bots on a daily basis, it's nice to know that there are still real people out there.  And for that I thank you, Chris Knab.  I'm gonna follow your blog ( and also follow you on twitter (@ChrisKnab).  And maybe one day, I'll actually call the phone number and have a real conversation with you.

We can all learn a thing or two from Chris Knab and his being a real person.  Nowadays, gimmicks sell, especially in the music industry.  But just as quickly as those gimmicks sell, they fade away into oblivion.  And if there's one thing I don't want to do, it's try to appeal to everyone with a flash in the pan gimmick.  I want people to listen to my songs and connect with them.  I want to be able to have discussions with each of my fans about what my songs mean to them.  I'm not there yet.  But I know "There are no short cuts to success", and as a real person (call me 626-483-9530), I'm looking forward to the process of getting there...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Anjuno and EIY

Twitter has been helping me out a lot lately.  I used to just post inane stuff like "A kamikaze is neither a comic nor an Aussie.  Discuss."  Now, I've realized that there are much more useful ways to use Twitter than as a receptacle for witty banter and useless meanderings (that's what this blog is for!!).  If you follow the right resourceful accounts, you can be opened up to the plethora of resources on the internet.

2 websites have been brought to my attention that may or may not be useful throughout this whole process:  Anjuno and EIY (Thanks to @toddsattersten and @VansWarpedTour respectively). 

Anjuno is a website where artists can post their art and fans have the choice of naming the price they'll pay (Think Radiohead's In Rainbows).  It is a forward thinking concept that challenges the status quo of the current music business model.  With so many available options for the listener, Anjuno acts on the premise that "true" fans will reward artists if they feel the art is truly remarkable.  They call it "the Law of Reciprocity - that people will pay you back for making their lives better".  Musicians and authors can post mp3s and pdfs and leave it up to the fans to price the work.  It's an interesting idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Anjuno does over the coming years.

EIY (short for Earn It Yourself) is an exciting website conceptualized by Sarah Saturday (@sarahsaturday).  Sarah's been working with Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman for the last 6 years and has tremendous experience as a musician and music industry insider.  To read the "About EIY" page is to be inspired.  It's refreshing to see that there are online communities being built that are aimed at putting in hard work instead of relying on "gaming the system".  Users on EIY have a news feed that is based on "My Scene", which shows all the activity from your Zip Code.  It's nice to have such an acute focus on things that are local; start small, build organically, become huge in your backyard, then apply what you've learned to the world at large.  It's a simple concept, but one I've yet to actually apply in any of my previous music projects.  EIY just launched Version 2.0 of the website, and I created my band page today (  I plan on visiting this website often, not only as a networking tool, but because I want to support such a well-thought out and inspirational concept.

This is my 3rd blog post, and I'm realizing that I get sidetracked... A LOT.  I probably started this post about 45 minutes ago and have been zooming around the interweb finding useful links, checking out music, scoping the twitter hurricane.  Here are some interesting things I've found, in what will now be dubbed:

You Kept Me Entertained While I Was Posting my Boring Blog: Sarah Saturday's current band Resource for anyone interested in DIY home recording (great forum, too!)

That's the post for today.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.  I'm sure someone famous said this, but google isn't helping me out on that front.  Very true, though.  It's day 2 of my formalized mission to become a working musician, and while I see the mountain getting bigger and bigger, I know that my biggest hope lies in realizing that one foot goes in front of the other and falling only means failing if you don't get back up...

Since I'm up and on a roll of sorts...

Let's see how my left brain works.

Yes.  I will ramble on this blog.  But there will also be posts about the actual logistics that will go into recording and releasing an album.  Because in my opinion you need to balance artistry with reality...

First things first.  I haven't really ever done anything like this before, so plenty of my notions about the detail side of recording an album might be completely off base.  I'm planning on having people laugh at my naivete.  I'd actually prefer that some do... we can all use some blackboard inspiration material.  But, if for whatever reason, you have an informed opinion that will save me time and money, I am all ears.  This blog is NOT me saying I know everything.  If anything, it's my attempt to reach out to anyone and everyone who can help me along the way because I NEED HELP!!!  Thank you for reading the caveat...

Here's a list of goals (some realistic, some completely off the wall head in the clouds if I pull it off I will be extremely surprised but why not?):

- Record an album (duh)
- Write and home demo 25 songs (pretty much just an acoustic and my voice)
- Bounce these songs off of my musician/ tastemaker network for opinions and ideas
- Rent a 24 hour lockout for one month and outfit it with all my instruments and recording equipment
- Record the album in that month with several guest musicians
- Write a song with Nicole Vaughn for the album
- Open a show for Amber Rubarth or The Paper Raincoat
- Video tape the entire process for a series of "Making of" vids
- License several of my songs for Television/ Film use
- Tour the country in support of the album with Rachel and Chase right there with me!!
- Become a working musician from this album
- Have Seth Godin mention me in his blog as a success story
- Start a label with the help of Chuck Stubbs that focuses on singer/ songwriters
- Play a show at The Hotel Cafe
- Be completely transparent with all of my successes and failures

I'm dreaming big with this one.  Because it's the only way to dream...

I'd like to have a post like this every month or so because it's nice to anticipate and hopefully I can begin to check some items off the wishlist...

Well, so much for left brain logic...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's the point?

I'm 28 years old. 

It's 11:11.  Make a wish.

My son is asleep in the other room.

4 sentences.  3 declarative and an imperative.  Grammar fascinates me a lot and not at all.

What's the point?  Why write songs and think about arrangements and wonder about the logistics of having it actually duplicated and released and marketed and supported with a DIY tour and if it's going to be noticed and who gives a shit if it's noticed and you're wasting your time but you're having fun and shouldn't you be asleep and it's silly, you're a failure, you'll never succeed, you're not good enough, you can't possibly think that this is a good idea, but none of this changes the fact that dreams are meant to be chased and not necessarily caught and nothing worth having comes easy and cliche after cliche after truth after doubt after setback after success after staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering where the time went and taking responsibility for feeling as if you're stuck but you can do something about it so you're going to record an album just for you, nobody else, just for you, just, for, you, you, you...

That's the point. 

Because otherwise you're going to 35 or 43 or 65, and you're going to look back and think, "Why didn't I just do it?  What did I have to lose?"

Thank you for reading and for putting up with the stream of consciousness that will be this blog.  I just hope I don't let myself down...