Songwriting Hacks

Hello, my Darling. 

Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat, there are multiple ways to write a song, but first, we must ask ourselves. Who is skinning all of these cats? And why are they doing it enough to know that there is more than one way? 

Skin a WHAT?!?!

I’ve been stupid busy writing a lot of songs lately. Mostly because I have nothing but time now that someone decided to play Jumanji and not finish the game. 

Ahh, yes… Not Goodbye. Hello!

I wanted to share some tips I’ve found to help expedite the songwriting process and stave off the dreaded writer’s block. Obviously, there’s no one sure way to write a song. But these tips have helped me and countless others write songs.

Collaboration

Insert theme song here

Sitting in a room and pounding out the song is one of the best ways to finish a song. I don’t want to make it more complicated than it is. It’s nice to have someone to keep you on track, someone to help you! If you’ve had bad experiences writing with someone else in the past, that’s okay! A lot of us have had an experience like that before! It just means you don’t work well with that person, and you need to move on and stop wasting your time with them (obviously, don’t phrase it that way).

Actual footage of completing a song with someone

Most people try to keep lyrics close to their chest. That makes sense. But if you struggle with writing lyrics, find a lyricist! They don’t have to be musicians. Some people just have a knack for writing words!

A big fear for a lot of songwriters is sharing credit or royalties. Well, let’s take a look at the board real quick…

What the hell? Who the **** tipped me with John Travolta?

You have made less than $100 from your entire catalog. You don’t need to worry about sharing the wealth. Once you’re big and famous, you can worry about that stuff. Right now, we’re just trying to get on the board. Stop worrying about sharing credit with others and realize that a big reason you’re not breaking through is that you are refusing (or not trying) to collaborate. 

Write a shitty version of the song – The Dory method

There is a time to edit, and there is a time to write, and those times rarely convinced. Has this ever happened to you? 

Don’t answer that aloud, I know the answer is yes. 

Willam is not taking the news well.

You’re cruising! You’ve written three lines in a song, and right when you get to the hook, you get stuck. Instead of stopping and focusing on that line, keep that flow and energy rolling through and write another line. Don’t stop, just keep going. Put a place holder if you must. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming… what do we do? Just keep swimming 

Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm Just keep, just keep.

You will come back, you will fix it. Stop trying to be perfect the first try, stop waiting for that perfect line to come to you at your convenience. It rarely does, and while we’re waiting for it and it’s taking it sweet ass time, we can write the rest of the song.

Learn and implement a new chord 

From Uberchords

I wrote a song called “Next Fix” entirely inspired by one chord I just happened to learn! All it takes is one chord to spark something interesting.

This website has a lot of cool chords you can learn at (almost) any level of proficiency.

or use this cheep website 

Start shopping for that new new!

The pressure you have to write a great song is created by you

I’m gonna write a double LP TODAY!

We put so much pressure on every song we write. It’s easy to lose sight of what you really need to be doing here. Cranking out material. Not everything you write has to be heard. You can go back and fix it later. We have to keep writing often! Don’t let the search for a great song stop you from writing a good song! 

Love the heart here

Have the “I’m going to write 100 songs” mentality. I’ve been told by many a producer that this is how we get picked up. More often than not, the song an artist was “sure to be a hit” ended up crashing and burning, and some joke song ended up connecting with others on a deeper level. 

Somebody stop ME! … wait, wrong movie.

If it makes you feel better, you can keep working on that “hit” song while you work on other material. Are you one of those people that can only work on one song at a time? Well, that’s a bad habit, and you need to break it. It’s not something to be proud of, and you can change! 

Song Exploder

Echo introduced me to this a couple weeks ago, and it has changed the game for me! It’s an awesome podcast where artist breakdown how they made their songs. I love it for production ideas. These episodes are short and introduce you to a lot of great new music. Check it out here!

I’m always trying to find some new ways to keep the wheels turning and to get that high of finishing a song. Please comment on how you write (especially if it’s a weird way), and I’ll write a post on it! 

And please like, share and subscribe to this little website! It goes a long way for me! Thanks for the love!

It’s time to stop relying (solely) on your friends to get to that record deal

As a mass panic surrounds us, and the boozy-virus takes all the toilet paper in the country, my mind turns to how fast we can get the ball rolling. I feel that it’s finally time to starting buying stock in Charmin and stop relying solely on your friends to get you that record deal.

The only winner in 2020

Now I’m not saying that your friends are useless, or that they’re not necessary for a musician’s vocation. This post is just a little reminder that you being able to get five of your friends to listen to your music is the least amount of effort you can put into expanding your career (I’m sure you don’t need that reminder).

If your friends are your target audience (and no, I’m not sarcastic here), then you’re doing great! But if you’re always worried no one will show up to your next show other than your best mate. Well, let’s brainstorm.

Today is brought to you by the letter “F” – As in what the F were you thinking?

Who comes to out shows?

Please take your time before answering this. I want you to think about what a fan, specifically your fan, looks like. Maybe use someone else as your template?

Go through your social media and find someone who fits the bill (don’t tell them, don’t be a creep, it’s a fine line we walk here). Does this person ever go out to see live music? If not, that’s okay, but then, how do they consume music? How would they listen to your music? Please don’t answer this immediately, give yourself the time to think, because we are going to be basing a lot of how we proceed off of this answer. 

We should all be doing this. Radiohead does this, Eric Clapton does this, Carlie Rae Jepsen does this. Everyone does this. Maybe you’ll think, “Dude, Radiohead just makes art.” Yeah, that’s what they want you to think. What they do, naturally or not, appeals to a particular type of person. Not to say there is never any crossover. Now more than ever, we have fans of all types of music. But just because I like H.E.R. doesn’t mean I’ll pay to see her. Although I should, because H.E.R is amazing. 

GET IT GIRL!

Remember, we’re trying to expand our reach here. I’m sure you, my faithful reader, have already crafted an excellent sound for your set! I have spent a lot of time trying to “sell myself” to people that never come out to music… like, ever. Sure they listen on Spotify, but they’re not going to come out to a Dean Nelson show even if I pay them to be there. If you take one thing away from this exaggerated point, consider this.

  • Take note of people that go to concerts, local or otherwise. Pitch your music to them (in a non-invasive way)
  • Get involved in the scene. Once you find a friend group, expand! Take note of the people who go out to a lot of the same shows you go to and befriend them.
It’s that easy.

This brings me to my next point.

Be a fan

This is the quickest way to expand the brand. You have to break out of your friend group/Be active in the community. Talk… like a lot! Talk to everyone, get interested in their lives! If you’re introvert, this is hard! I know its hard. Damn, let’s figure this out together. 

Too bad! We gotta talk about it!

For introverts –

Talk over social media

Make it about them

Bring a friend

Leave an idea in the comments! I understand that I’m an extrovert, and it’s easy for me to talk to a new group of people. Social anxiety sucks, and it can be crippling. Let’s not downplay how hard it is to do this! If you have any ideas, leave a comment at the bottom, and I’ll implement it in the text (with credit, of course)!

How do we create a fan?

How did you fall in love with the bands you gush over? Maybe they possessed some traits you wanted? How did you find them? Were they on the TV? Maybe your cool older sibling showed you the artist? I don’t know, but I want you to stop and picture the group/artist. 

Take away the money, and what do you see? What makes them – them

Making a connection – People usually have a strong bond when they see someone perform and feel a personal connection with the artist. Meaning little things like eye contact, simple conversation (post and pre-show) might just be the most important thing we can do to help us gain fans! Yes, it really is that simple. Just remember people’s names, talk with them, and look at them when you perform. I mean, it’s stupid easy. 

Buy my merchandise.

Eye contact – It makes someone feel like they exist. I mean, it’s basic shit people.

Remember names – I found a good trick is to associate their name with a famous person, or an old friend. When I meet someone named Glenn, I file them away with my childhood friend Glenn Woodard.

Ask questions about them – This is easier than you think. Talk to them about stuff they love. Talk to them about who they love. Talk to them about family members. Once you find a commonality, enjoy the bond you share. Learn to be less opinionated when talking to new people.

I recall reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people,” and all of this stuff is brought up. It’s nothing new. Do whatever you need to do to remember a name. There is nothing sweeter to an ear than hearing its name called.

Put yourself in a good light – We often feel like if we say no, we’re not doing everything we can to progress. But if you’re performing at a place with shitty sound and you’re standing in the middle of the crowd, more in the way than listening to… that’s not going to help you at all. In fact, it can really hurt your… what the word we used before was…? Vocation. Be smart about where and what you perform. 

The Social Media Game –

I wrote a post about this a little while ago. For more on just this aspect, check out this link here.

Do you need to post every day? No. And I get that goes against every other blog out there, but this is what makes us, us sweetheart! I mean, are you really hanging on every word that your favorite artist posts? No. You can wait a few days before we post. You need to post often, yes. But constant communication is burning your fanbase out dude. Make them want you. It’s a classic dating technique, and most of us suck at it. 

When we do use social media, we need to think of a couple things.

Create meaningful content often – Meaning if you’re not usually creating whatever you’re supposed to be creating (for musicians that would be, music), The best way to stir up some hype is by creating (duh). 

Don’t copy and paste – We can all tell when you’ve been spammed. It is a huge turn off. Resist the urge to write novels to someone. Keep it real and keep it simple!

Pitch to the game changers 

What is a game-changer? We usually call them influencers. But influencers are generally high up on the chain, and if you can get the ear of one, you’re in luck. Most of us won’t be able to get them. We can find someone who can help us, though. Take a moment and write down three different names of people that usually have a crowd around them.

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Jim is at every house party

Sam has ten people around her at all times

Lisa is well connected with the blah blah blah community

Make these three people are your life long friends. Be genuine! Sweetly ask them to help you bring people to the show! Don’t incentivize them with money or any deals unless they specifically ask. After some time, get them involved in the band somehow! They get it, it’s people helping people… it’s powerful stuff! 

Just make sure you don’t give anyone the crazy eyes when you tell them you love them.

Pitch your music to the music blogs 

Step one – Follow the blogs, stay as up to date as you can. 

Step two – Be active in their forms! Learn and love the music they post about. Hell, go and meet the bands they’re talking about! 

Step three – Give them your music. Don’t be hurt when they don’t take it the first time. Just keep sending it when you feel it appropriate!

It’s as simple as that, and once we have these things in place we can run through the final step.

Finding someone to help fill in the holes of the roles

No one does it completely alone. How do you get these folks that will bat for you? It could just be a parent who believes in you or just wants to help. But we eventually will have to break out and gather more mass as a brand (duh, and the word “brand” is so overused). You will need someone to help with booking (a booking agent), a few people to tap into, and spread the word with social media (street teams), sometimes a manager can help as well. Although most of you are probably already filling one, if not all these roles, it helps take the pressure off a little bit to have some help.

Haha, I should rename this blog, Duh. 

Final thought. 

This takes TIME! Be patient. The first ten times you try to get people to come to your shows, they won’t come. It’s okay, it’s not because you suck, it happens to everyone. If you’re annoying someone, stop it. The first few times you pitch your music, it will be shot down. It hurts when it happens, it happens to everyone. 

Keep honing your craft. Keep being sarcastic about this sickness going around, but be safe you little monsters. 

If you have any extra thoughts, comments, concerns, leave them in the comments below! I Love you! 

The Do’s and Dont’s of Making a Digital Poster

With my latest guest on Music Theory Philosophy being the incredible Ciara Cisneros, I thought it fitting to write on an essential part of every show, the poster. 

ET really racked up the phone bill by using a landline. Whoops.

Have you seen the movie neighbors? If not, skip this paragraph. There’s a scene where Zac Efron (so handsome) says, “Who makes flyers? Old people. Did I bomb that set up for that movie scene? Yes. Am I okay with that, though? Absolutely. Why? Because confidence, that’s why. You don’t need to print out a poster anymore, but you must create a digital flyer for your event. It is categorically imperative. 

No, sorry! I was talking to that dude pantomiming drinking a beer in the background, go about your business being cartoonishly handsome.

It can be a lot of fun to make these posters! It can also be easy to mess it up. There are a few sins we need to be careful not to commit.

  • It’s hard to read the text – Consider this to be on the same level as murder. It’s the number one sin, (or not being politically correct, if you were reading this back in 2018). Let’s look at this mistake I had a little while back 
The Next Band was so good before they sold out.

It’s hard to read the text, right? Isn’t that the point of making the poster in the first place? Sure we want it to be artistic, but we also want to inform our audience where and when the show is! It’s basic, and it’s the biggest mistake we can make. Make sure you can read the damn poster! Which brings me to my next point. – Also, I didn’t list a date. Bonus points to Hufflepuff if you caught that!

  • Beware of blending the color of the text and the background – You want to be able to easily read the text of the poster (duh). We also want to keep an eye on font. Some fonts look amazing but are really hard to read!
Wait, did it say they are playing in Narnia?
  • Utilize negative space – There’s nothing like a nice, crisp poster. Negative space is your friend. Let people enjoy the image you created!

Always remember to check yourself! You should ask yourself is this easy on your eyes? Which are you more likely to stop scrolling and invest time in?

Ahhh… art.
  • It can be crazy creative, but it doesn’t have to be – Sometimes we feel like we have to go 110% on everything (also, that’s not possible). The thing is, you don’t have to. Sometimes you need a poster with your face on it and the show information. A poster is necessary, you should have one for every show you’re playing, but it doesn’t have to be this big thing every single time some shows can simply happen and if it’s stressing you out to crank out something really creative every time – well don’t worry about it!
  • On the other hand, you should know when you should invest the time (or money) into a poster. A good poster can be the difference for someone showing up. Sometimes the invitation is the most crucial part of the party. When I want to kill it with the poster, I will hire someone to make one for me. I will use Alex Ortiz or Ciara Cisneros, and they will crush it 100% of the time. It’s worth the money, and they are a pleasure to work with. If you need someone to make your poster, leave a comment, and I will hook you up with their information! 
Actual footage of someone seeing my last poster
  • Remember the essentials – What do you need to list? Don’t overload the poster with information, but if you’re playing with other bands, list them. That will always win some brownie points with them. If you can tag the venue in the photo, do it! That way, it’s super easy for the people to get the address. You must list the location, time, ticket price, your name and the other bands.
  • Understand the difference between an upcoming shows list and a flyer for a show – It’s great to list all of your upcoming shows! I highly recommend doing this. But there is a danger to creating only a list of upcoming shows. People immediately start to think, oh, I’ll be sure to catch one of those, and then they never think about it again. This is an important lesson. If you give people options, they will not choose. If you give someone one opportunity, they’ll take that option. Keep listing all of the shows! But make sure you’re still promoting the shows separately as well!
Couldn’t have said it better
  • Think outside the social media box – Where else can you post online? Where do you notice upcoming shows? Where do you frequently visit? Are you always looking for posters when you step into a coffee shop? Maybe you’re consistently visiting one website? How do you promote yourself on that website? This is something I’m still working on! I’m trying to figure out where I can post outside of my Instagram. To get to that place, think about how you learn about things, and then find out how to post there! We need to learn how to market outside of Facebook. There are plenty of places we can do this! We just need to invest time and some money into learning. – One more thing, maybe you will learn that posting an upcoming show in a newspaper doesn’t really work for you. Then stop doing it! Keep trying new things until you find something that works for you. I would say the best thing you can do is find a blog/site that lists upcoming events in your area and pay to get on one of these. 
  • People are like bees, we like color – People are attracted to color! Just something to think about. If it’s a black and white poster, it might not have as many people stop as a bright poster would!
I think I remember this episode
  • Lastly, be uniquely you – I know that goes against some of the things I just listed. But you still want to do you boo! A metal band will have a different poster than a singer/songwriter. Ultimately, there are really only a few ways to make a bad poster. Listen to the feedback that you get usually, someone will say, “Wow, I can’t read this.” Or “Damn, this is awesome.” Learn from your mistakes and your successes!

I make my posters through 

I love this website, it’s free and easy to use! You can save up to five pictures, then delete those pictures and start all over again. It’s changed the game for me. If I need a unique poster, it’s totally worth searching on fivver or using Ciara or Alex to me. 

Don’t underestimate the power of the poster and be sure to check out my weekly (ish) show Music Theory Philosophy here.

This Little Light Of Mine, How The Hell Do I Keep It Shiny

I’m working on a new theory about your inner child and my inner child. About my mother’s inner child and this guy, I met named Steve today. His inner child, as well. I won’t mention my father’s inner child, because I’m pretty sure he was born a man. 

Dad?

My theory is that most children are born with a lot of hope and light and love. I have to say most, which is sad to me. The older you get, the more bad things happen to you in life. A close friend dies, maybe your parents pass, or you get your heart thrashed. All of those daydreams amounted to nothing, and before you know it, most of that light has been dulled. You’re working overtime, and life seems pretty empty. 

Meh

Do you remember the movie The Kid? I’m sorry if you do, it doesn’t really hold up, but the concept rings true for our theme. Maybe “Hook” is a better example, the movie was trashed, but hell, I love it.

You are the pan

Before we start, I want to give you a warning. You might feel like you can relive the past. This is not what we’re trying to do. For example, watching your favorite movie from childhood. You might think this would work, but it won’t. Can’t you go back? No, life is different. You’re eyes and mind are more complex. You can’t relive the past, that’s not what we’re trying to do here.  

My case is not that you have to be happy all of the time or to be childish. I want you to have that excitement when you shiver and want to scream. I want you to believe in magic, even though you know it’s not real.

What are some things we can do to keep that light shining within us? God, that sounds cheesy. 

Straight Cheddar

Smile, even when you don’t feel like smiling.

Be observant of other people and truthfully compliment them.

Oh gosh

Dance – I know that sounds stupid. But it really gives that life a little life. I’m not saying you have to dance in public, do it when you’re safe inside your home! Crank on that song that makes you move (basically anything by Earth, Wind and Fire) and cut loose! Just for three minutes, do something that makes you feel kind of silly! Embrace being that silly goose time!

Get it girl!

Be meticulous about cutting out negativity in your life – Got a friend who’s always negative? Well, now, you don’t. Haha, ok, it’s not that easy. But remember this, we’re all sponges, man! If you’re around people that are always down, you’re gonna be down as well. If you can’t completely cut out someone like this in your life. Limit your time with them. You can still love them, you don’t have to be around them all the time.

Allow yourself to daydream – Hope! Dream! Allow yourself to think big, fantasize and

Doh

Talk to your overly positive friend – Are they a little delusional? Sure, but damn, it feels good to be this emphatic. My little sister Sara is not delusional, but damn if I’m not in a good mood after I talk with her! She has the gift, baby! 

Protect what you have – This is kind of reiterating what we just said. I really want to hit home that you have to PROTECT YOURSELF! Stuff like drinking, pornography (didn’t see that coming in my blog, here’s your morality lesson from a fiend) 

I can show you the world

Travel to a new place – Get some brand new eyes. Does it have to be in a new country? No! You just need to go somewhere new. Go explore! 

Being around kids – This could also be hard if you’re not a parent, sibling, or an uncle/aunt. Do your friends have kids? Do you teach anything? Within reason, try to be around kids for a little bit. Get some grass stains on your pants, have a tea party. Be someone they can look up to 

Take away the useless stress – It’s the same point again! Just rephrased. I understand that you can’t take away everything that causes you stress. Hahaha, would that be nice? But there are a few things that you can cut from your life! It’s ok to say, “I took on more than I could handle.” This bullet point is a reminder that you can cancel plans. Your first priority is you. Now, this might be a controversial statement, very Ayn Rand. But it’s important to teach our kids that this is the same thing they should be doing! Of course, your kids should be a top priority. But you also MUST take care of yourself! These little bastard watch and learn from everything you do. If you’re burnt out all the time, your children are going to learn the same habits! I’m not a dad, so it’s easy for me to say. 

Also, damn, I want to be a dad. I still dream about a little tiny girl Dean’l running around. Maybe she’s up in heaven watching me be silly goose it up. If she reads, I can’t wait to play with you, darling.

Lastly, I want to remind you that life is HARD. Things almost never go the way you want them to go, and it’s ok to be sad from time to time. Emotion is a wave. It always comes down. We are programmed to feel neutral, not happy. The last tip I have for you is

Talk to your peers – How relieving is it to hear someone else talk about getting older, to not feel like the only one who didn’t make good on all of their dreams? You’re not alone. Have a talk with a peer, remember we all feel like this!

Enjoy this weekend! It’s gonna be a good one! 

What’s The Next Step?

Hello, lovelies!

The sun is shining, and so am I! I just got over a terrible sickness, and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go! Ready for that next step, which always seems so elusive! Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve got all this drive with nowhere to go. What do we do when we feel like that?

Verbalize and Remember
What are your goals? I don’t mean to play an arena, or to win a grammy. I’m talking about the basic, do you want to perform? Do you want to perform YOUR music? Do you want to grow your fanbase? Maybe you want to do all those things (that’s okay)! Just verbalize what you are thinking, that will help you to find any holes in what we are about to do!

Songwriting
Are you always thinking about writing music or your music? Well, the next step should be to use this drive to write something new! Don’t think in terms of good and awful, the important thing here is to write. Being an original band without music is like being Nike, without selling shoes, or clothing. It doesn’t make any sense. Write now. Write today. Do you know how to write a good song? Write nine bad songs.

Record
Maybe you’re not writing original music, that’s okay! Even still, you should be recording! David Ghrol said, and I quote, “Record. Record. Record. Record EVERYTHING.” Can’t find someone to record you? Do it yourself. If you can’t find someone to record you, look again, be a little more active in the community. A lot of people have some recording experience and are willing to record you for FREE (if not for really cheap). You don’t need to be in a nice studio paying out of your butthole, to create an album. Billie Eilish has taught us that!

It seems a common fear is that you don’t know how to produce the song, which takes its own set of skills. But the way to get good at this is by doing it! Record an EP that sucks. You must do it to get better. We’ve all done it before, and it’s how you get good.

There’s a big hurdle we all have to get over. The idea that you can’t make something that sucks. Or that at the very least you’ll die if anyone sees/hears it. I am living proof that this is not true. If you’re Billie Eilish, you can’t afford to record something, then record it again. Sure, she can’t do that. But you can have multiple versions of the songs. Doesn’t that feel weird? But you can do it! You can relieve yourself of the pressure of writing something “perfect,” which doesn’t exist. There has never been a perfect song and a perfect recording, there never will be a perfect song. You will never perfect that song you’ve been working! So what do you do? Work your butt off on it actively (that’s the keyword there) and then record and release it and move on to the next one!

A quick side note on something that I have found biblically destructive. The thought, I’ve wasted this year. Don’t do it! Just stop! Our focus is here, our time is now! Don’t go back and think about wasting time. If you need to lie to yourself and say it was a learning period when you binged the series Sense 8 on Netflix, then LIE! This looking back on the past on things you could have done is not helpful. If you catch yourself doing it, talk with a positive friend! Hell, send me a DM and we will talk through it. We’re focused on the next step, life is short and beautiful when looked at its entirety, it doesn’t always look pretty up-close, you need some distance! It’s okay! Just focus up starting today! Starting right now.

Booking shows to make money
All you need to do is ask. It is actually pretty easy. Just DM them on Instagram, or write them on Facebook. Call them, email them, don’t stop until they respond to you. Most places (at least in Arizona) want you to play for three hours (with two fifteen-minute breaks). You should always check with the venue to see what they’re expecting from you. Then give them a little extra! Can you bring a lighting rig into a resturant? Nine times out of ten, the answer is yes! Make it a show! Make it a good time for the guest, and you’re sure to come back!

Growing your fanbase
All of these points could be their own separate post. None more so than this point. What are you doing to promote the show? Making a poster and sharing it with your friends? Doesn’t that seem like just about the least you can do? Let’s break it down real quick. You’re inviting the same fifteen people you invite to every show you have, and you’re surprised that your fanbase isn’t growing? Even if you have something great on your hands, don’t sell that product short, we need to get serious about expanding! Not just playing shows. Go out and make new friends. Find new places to explore (not just play music) and be friendly. Stop expecting your friends to carry you to where you want to go! Get people interested in what you’re doing by genuinely be interested in what they’re doing! Make real connections with real people, and you’ll find that your brand will start expanding. Not exploding, but it will be something real. Don’t live in your house, live outside in the world! Does that make sense? It’s like the guy that complains about never meeting any women. The first question you must ask is, are you leaving the house? It should be fun! Become a fan of someone else! Be a good friend to new people! Be a bigger part of the community, and the community will embrace you!

What’s the next step?

  • If you’re a songwriter, it’s to write and record.
  • If you’re a performer, it’s to book and engage.
  • If this is just for fun, than make sure you’re having a good time!

Today is your day! Make it happen, sharpen that focus.

I hope you’re having a great day! If you need someone to talk to, my line is always open! If you need someone to help you get back on track, leave me a comment and I’ll get in touch with you!

Your Schedule Before The Big Show

Do you usually feel overwhelmed on the day of the big show? I have, hell, most of the time, I feel like I don’t even get to enjoy what I love to do because I have SO DAMN MUCH to do the day of the show! Well, it doesn’t have to be that way! We can/should be pacing this bad boy out, so we don’t feel like we’re drowning.

If you feel like I’ve missed something, or I’m overly cautious, let me know in the comments below! 

A month before the show

  • Have your lineup ready – You should have all your ducks in a row at this point, everyone should have more than enough time to clear their schedules and be committed to practicing and learning all their parts. Try to make your first meeting with everyone precisely a month before the show! This gives everyone a real chance to learn and have their roles feel natural. 
  • Start promoting the show – Last time you had a show, did you look out and see a handful of people in the crowd? I have been doing this for a while, I know the answer is yes! I firmly believe the reason for this is that you’re not promoting far enough in advance. When you advertise with enough time, you make the gig feel like an event! This is important! Because I almost always want to be at an event!  Make a poster for the concert! Make it something that if someone doesn’t make it out, they say to themselves, “Damn, I wish I would’ve gone to that!” This doesn’t mean you have to have a smoke machine and lasers. If that’s not your vibe, don’t do that! There are plenty of ways to make it an event, even if you’re simply a singer/songwriting! If you need some help planning it out, drop a line in the comments, and I would love to help you with some ideas that fit your style! 
  • Have your set planned out – I swear I relearn this once a month. Whatever the setlist says, goes. Don’t add something at the last minute. Don’t audible up on stage. Just do what you planned! A HUGE part of sounding tight is deciding well in advance what you’re going to do up on stage! Think of your favorite bands, they don’t wing it! Even if they look like they are, it’s all part of the act! A month from the show, you should have every song listed, everything planned out to the last beat of the show! Oddly enough, this is one of the most freeing lessons I’ve ever learned!
  • Meet with the band – I briefly spoke on this before, but you should have your first meeting with the full group a month before the gig. Work out parts, everyone knows what they need to work on. It’s okay if you don’t have the songs down at this point, you’re teaching them now, and now they have more than enough time to get comfortable! Take charge of this meeting. Before the meeting, write down the points you want to make to everyone. Don’t be afraid of stopping someone from noodling. You have a short amount of time to practice. You have to focus. If the practice is over 2 hours, plan a break for everyone to do whatever they want. This helps everyone focus-up when they need to! 

A week of the show

  • Stage Plot – You should know who’s bringing what, and how it’s going to fit on stage.
  • Instrument Maintenance – When was the last time you put new strings on your guitar? Please don’t answer that aloud, I don’t want to know! You’re a sick bastard treating it like that! There are plenty of places to get your instrument all fixed out and sounding at their best! I love my guitar guy Brendan at The Music Store on Mesa (It’s off of Baseline and the 101). He’s affoardable, fast, and an all-around great guy, he restrings my and intonates my babies! I do this once every 6 weeks. If I have a big show, I’ll get it done a week before the show (just to make sure I have enough time to let the strings set in). Never put new strings/heads on the day of the gig, you’re just asking for problems. 
  • Run those random errands you need to run – Let’s say you wanted to pick up a new outfit for the show. I get it! Get this done four or five days before the show! Make it so that you don’t have a damn thing to do on the big day! Picking up lights for this show? Get it done now! If you’re constructing something for the show, your deadline for that piece is two weeks before the show. 

What to do the day before the show

  • Print setlists – Don’t be a chump and print them the day of the show. The day before the show, you should have the order down. Hell, you should have that down well before the gig, but this is the day we print everything we need to. Maybe you had to cut a song (totally fine! It’s better to cut than to add, leave them wanting more. I’d rather hear a tight 45 than a loose hour). Print a setlist for every single member and one extra for the person running sound (or the bandmember that misplaces the setlist, it happens almost every time). Type on the setlist when you want to promote yourself when/who you have to thank for the gig. When you want to introduce the band. All of that! You WILL NOT REMEMBER to do that on stage. I am figuratively the worst at that. 
  • Pack everything and stage it – Don’t leave any instruments in your vehicle the night before. It will detune in the temperature change or get stolen. Put everything that won’t detune or that isn’t incredibly valuable in the car, but everything else right next to the door, ready to go. This also serves as a checklist for tomorrow. I’m always stressed I’ll forget something the day of the show! Don’t sweat it! All you have to do is set up the night before! Have your outfit set out and ready to wear.
  • Drink a gallon of water – Do you sing? Maybe you don’t? I don’t care! Drink water! You’re giving your body the fuel it needs to perform at 100% you’ll find that you recall things faster when you’re well-hydrated! I know I’m always preaching this, but I do it because I love you! 
  • Remind your crew – Send a text with the setlist, what to wear, when they’re supposed to be there (30 mins before you actually need them there), and the address. 
  • Get eight hours of sleep before the show – Discipline my loveliness! You have to sleep! Since we’ve gotten everything done leading up to the show, we can relax and actually enjoy what we love to do! 

What to do the day of the show

Overall, you really don’t want to do very much different than what you do every day. You do not want to start a new diet on the day of your big show! The stomach won’t know what to do. You don’t want to go on a big run the day I have a big show do you do every day. Please don’t mix up your routine too much, but there are a few things that we can implement to make us feel a little bit looser and healthy and to be our best selves for the upcoming show. If you want to change a diet or something with overall health or routine. Start this a week before the show. That being said, you’re a few things that you can do to really be your best self.

  • Stretch when you wake up – Dedicate 20 minutes to this. Today you want to be loose, in body and in mind. I know this sounds silly. But you’ll be thankful you did! It shouldn’t surprise you how tight you’ll be! When we take the time to stretch, we’re creating a mindset that will follow us throughout the day!
  • Drink half a gallon of water – don’t over-hydrate the day of the show. You will have to pee on stage, it is the worst. You still want to drink enough to stay at 100%, though! Half a gallon should be more than enough!
  • Eat something light – Don’t weigh yourself down, don’t eat anything abundant today! Make sure you’re consistently eating throughout the day. Don’t go hungry. You’re messing with your body and not allowing yourself to perform at 100%. 
  • Warm-up when you wake up – If your guitarist, don’t run the set; just warm up. Let me point out something undeniably obvious. The day of the show is not the time to learn your parts. You should have already got that down. If you’re a vocalist, warm up when you wake up, nothing hard! Just be loose!
  • Dedicate thirty mins to do nothing that relates to the show – This helps you actually enjoy the show. Watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers, read, talk with friends. Just take your mind off the show and relax for a little before the show!
  • Get to the venue early – Are you supposed to be there at 5pm? Be there at 4:30! Give yourself time to deal with the problems that will come up. Don’t trick yourself into believing its gonna go smooth. Something always happens! Being there early gives you time to deal with the problem! If you’re leading the group, someone will get lost (even after you’ve given them directions). It’s okay! Your job is to be ice-cool, baby. The world is crashing around you, and you’re freaking James Dean. Nothing gets to you. 

After The Show

  • After the show – This is cheating a little bit, and maybe this sounds douchey, but I want you to get two of your friends to pack up your stuff while you talk to the people that came out to see you. I understand that this will make some of you uncomfortable. It makes me feel awkward, but these people came out to see YOU! If you feel overly guilty, pay them $5 bucks each! Not a big deal, but it makes a HUGE difference with the fans! 

Precrastinate my lovely! Don’t wait till the day of the show to get everything together! Move all that stress up and spread it out through the upcoming month! I promise you’ll enjoy your set if you do these things!

Have anything special you like to do before the show to help make it more enjoyable? Share with me in the comments! As always, I appreciate your likes, sharing and subscribing to this blog! Love you guys!

How to not be late. Can it really be that simple?

I was recently reading this fantastic article by Leah Ryder via Trello. How To Act Like A Morning Person (Even If You’re Not One) I find this fascinating because I am as far as you can be from a morning person. I’m a creature of the night. Some of my ex’s will attest to my blood-sucking tendencies. 

Oh, Baby!

 I LOVE mornings. I HATE waking up… anyways, that’s not the subject of this blog post. No, but it sparked an idea for a blog on how to not be late! Before we get into it, this is an excellent article, and it deserves some love! Could you give it a read? 

I’m not going to complicate this. This is a straightforward trick I’ve learned. 

My 15th favorite number.

Add fifteen minutes to your trip, and be there fifteen minutes early. More than that, I want you to honestly believe that if you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late. 

Your complaint might be that in your particular situation that if you’re that early, you’ll have nothing to do. Well, you have a phone, don’t you? Read an article, play a game, text someone you’ve meant to reach out and reconnect with, you have shit you can do! Stop pretending you silly goose! 

Oh, I have an even better idea! Pick a book you want to read and see how much you can read before your start time! 

Belle’s essay on cat in the hat brought me to tears

What’s the real purpose here? 

I have found that if you’re up to fifteen minutes late on most things, nothing bad happens. But you are stressed out of your butthole and here the thing, you don’t need that stress in life. 

Not sure how long it takes to get somewhere? Open google maps (**** apple maps, Steve Job’s ghost gives terrible directions) see how long it takes to get to your destination and add fifteen minutes.

Sure, you didn’t want to drive through three neighborhoods and get there twenty minutes late. But those houses were pretty cool, huh?! RIGHT!?

One last thing I have changed in my life that has created a HUGE difference. 

The time to finish up a project is not the day of the project.

We’ve all been through school. You know that sick feeling you have in your stomach the day that your paper is due? I’m not saying you should get rid of that feeling. The fact of the matter is that never leave you. Just move that feeling up one day before the actual deadline (or if it’s a big project move it three days before it’s due). 

Woah

An example of my failure would be that I really, really, REALLY wanted these red light fixtures for my stage set up, right? Well, it’s a day before the big show and guess what. We start on the lights, and we realize we’re missing a HUGE component, and we can not make them in time (what a twist)!

Now, if I would have set the deadline a week before the actual date of the show, I would have had realized we were missing something, and my dream would have been complete! 

It’s not a big fix! You don’t have to change your life. Just make this tiny adjustment of making the deadline a little earlier and then TREAT IT LIKE IT MATTERS! We’re doing this to save us from the stress, my lovelies! 

Let’s make it about music. When should your project be finished? 

What a rousing take on Sweet Caroline, Carl.

If it’s an album 

One month before you release the album 

  • Doing this helps with Spotify algorithms and getting on any playlists. Seriously, Don’t plan on getting on any playlists if you’re not doing this. No self-respecting curator wants to be the last to hear about a release! 

Summary 

What time should I arrive 

15 minutes before I’m supposed to be there

When should my project be finished?

For most things, you should set your deadline one week before it is absolutely due. Push, push, push to make this happen! You should not be trying to crank it out THE DAY that it is due! We’re better than that, my lovelies! 

You’ve got this!

A fan of the blog! Well you can keep up with my day to day shit as well! Just follow me on the major platforms and the old person one (here’s looking at you LinkedIn).

Stream of Consciousness – Your New Tool To Help You Write Lyrics

Stream of consciousness. Everyone thinks it’s the easiest way to write, and maybe it is. But it also is one of the easiest ways to f*** up. 

Stream of consciousness was popularized by authors like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Today we have artists like Frank Ocean cranking out these mind-boggling amazing lyrics. How can we tap into this without sounding like an idiot? 

First, let’s determine What “stream of consciousness” is. 

From Soft Schools 

“Stream of Consciousness refers to a style of writing that is organized around the interior flow of thoughts of the narrator. Just as our thoughts flow, unconnected and sometimes disorganized, stream of consciousness writing is often disjointed, and often lacks traditional sentence structure and punctuation.”

You have probably already written a few things that sound disjointed, maybe you’ve even done it accidentally (haha, scrub)! 

James Joyce wrote the book, Ulysses. You’ve probably written a paper from the spark notes for your college 1050 course. In the book, we follow the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, throughout a day in his life. Joyce is trying to duplicate a common thought process in the day. 

Molly Bloom’s closing soliloquy

“…and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Grammarly just had a conniption with that last paragraph.

It’s poetic, is messy, it’s how we work through things. Doesn’t it feel like you’re pulling back Molly’s face and looking right into her mind? (What a graphic thing to write. My apologies!) 

In music, we can do the same thing! The words convey a feeling through their sounds and the varying meaning between the words and phrases that wouldn’t normally go together.

Pink and White – Frank Ocean

Yeah, yeah oh
Yeah, yeah yeah

That’s the way everyday goes
Every time we have no control
If the sky is pink and white
If the ground is black and yellow
It’s the same way you showed me
Nod my head, don’t close my eyes
Halfway on a slow move
It’s the same way you showed me
If you could fly then you’d feel south
Up north’s getting cold soon
The way it is, we’re on land
So I’m someone to hold true
Keep you cool when it’s still alive
Won’t let you down when it’s all ruin

Just the same way you showed me, showed me
You showed me love
Glory from above
Regard my dear
It’s all downhill from here

In the wake of a hurricane
Dark skin of a summer shade
Nose dive in the flood lines
Tall tower of milk crates
It’s the same way you showed me
Cannonball off the porch side
Older kids trying off the roof
Just the same way you showed me (you showed)
If you could die and come back to life
Up for air from the swimming pool
You’d kneel down to the dry land
Kiss the Earth that birthed you
Gave you tools just to stay alive
And make it out when the sun is ruined

That’s the same way you showed me, showed me
You showed me love
Glory from above
Regard me dear
It’s all downhill from here

Remember life
Remember how it was
Climb trees, Michael Jackson, it all ends here
Say what up to Matthew, to Shoob
Say what up to Danny
Say what up to life immortality
Bending up my Nikes
Running out the melpomene, nicotine
Stealing granny cigs (take it easy)
Gimme something sweet
Bitch I might like immortality
This is life, life immortality

My favorite way this is described is that stream of consciousness is the way that we think every day. I believe this is why it seems so appealing when done well. It’s not as if the person has ADD. Some might even say it… flows like a stream, connecting one thought to the next. 

The words seem like some kind of dream, combining words and thoughts into an overall mood and concept. It’s beautiful when done right. It can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people that way. It’s also excruciatingly easy to f**k up. It’s a fine line from freeform writing and a structure. Keeping true to the idea of an emotion or concept that you are trying to convey.

How can you get better at this?

  1. Read and copy down word for word great artists like Joyce, Wolf. Read and copy Samuel Beckett and William Faulkner. Pick and page and just start copying what they’ve written. Learn from the masters! Being able to tap into this style of lyrics opens a vast new world for us! 
  2. Write a song using a stream of consciousness technique. Don’t overthink it, just pay attention to your thought process and write, write, write. Don’t think in term of good and bad here. We’re just doing an exercise! Can’t think of anything to write about? How about one of these topics!
  • How would I feel if I found out my best friend from childhood died?
  • How would life change you could actually see love?
  • Write about the deepest form of loyalty you’ve ever felt and how that has shaped you to become who you are today.

If you learn one thing today, know that you don’t have to use a specific word to convey what you’re trying to say. Sometimes words just get in the way. Try letting your mind bend meaning to find something you’ve been trying to elucidate.


List in the comments some of your favorite lyricists! I am always looking for something new to obsess over! Thank you for reading, and please like, share, and subscribe to the blog! Every little comment helps with the algorithm! If you haven’t had a chance to read this posts. Give them a quick read!

Want to change your to-do list slump? Try out these tricks

The to-do list is a beautiful thing! I love it. I love the high I get from checking things off my list. I honestly have a problem, because I make to-do lists for idiotic things. 

Nailed it

Do you wish your day looked like this? (I do)

Ahem…

At 5:30 am, I wake up, and I run a quick 5k. I shave and take a shower. I cook a hearty breakfast, and I read through my news apps while drinking coffee. I write a little of my novel for 30 minutes and finish a couple of paragraphs before I head off to work. 

During my lunch break, I read thirty pages of my book of the week then I head back to work.

I return home early enough to start dinner at a respectable time. I feel lucky traffic was so oddly light today. How strange. After my homecooked meal, I practice guitar for two hours. I decided that the band was well prepared, and no practice was needed. I go to bed a little earlier than usual. But I deserve to because I got so much done today. 

How do you make this happen?! 

You don’t. 

Have you at any point in your life regularly got up at 5:30 in the morning for fun? Why would you start now? Even if you managed to do it a few days in a row. The chances of you slipping back into an old routine is around 93%. – Statistic tested and created by me, literally right now.

A lot of bloggers will tell you this is the way. 

This is the way

Real change is excellent! Wanting to better yourself is a great thing. It’s also not going to happen in a day! So this short post is here to help you reconfigure your dreams to something… you know, actually achievable. If you were asked to play Madison square garden, you would bomb it.

Are you not entertained?

Why? You’re not used to playing something like that! I don’t care how talented you are, this is real life, not a movie. You have to work your way up to something like that. The same thing applies here.

If we want to get to a place where we have mastery over every minute. Let’s start with a few things over the next year and see how that helps us. We’re approaching our dream-self slowly.

These are not new ideas. 

Right before you fall asleep, write down 4 things you really would like to get done the next day. 

  • Be brutally specific on what you want. It can be as simple as “Call David.” 
  • Don’t write down the overall goal. Meaning, if you’re trying to paint a picture…
    • Step 1 would be to buy the paint.
    • Step 2 would be to set up a makeshift studio where you can paint.
    • Step 3 would be to paint the background.
    • Step 4 would be to add detail.
  • Make sense? Don’t write paint a picture, write buy paint.
  • Most things on your list will take less than an hour to do. If there is something, you MUST do that takes the majority of the day. Only do that thing between your morning and night. Take the rest of the day off, geez! 
  • If you only do one thing on that list. You had a good day. Start genuinely believing that. If you only got one task done every day, you would have finish 365 tasks that really needed to be accomplished. 
  • No task is too small. Clean bathroom or text Erin back counts as a task. 
  • Physically check off (or type) that you’ve completed the task. Respect that high you will get. 
  • If you are having a hard time doing this. It’s okay. Don’t be hard on yourself. Most people don’t get even one task done most days! If you’re struggling, tell a good from (or hell, tell me) what you want to get done today. Then have them keep you accountable.

Eat the fog in the morning – Such a weird expression. Let’s give some quick background. We’re not entirely sure who coined the phrase. Check out this great article if you’re interested in the conception of the idiom. 

  • The frog is the hardest/most important task for you to complete. The expression is suggesting that you do this task before anything else you have to do that do. In other words, get it out of the way

Delegation – Take this with a grain of salt. I want you to understand that dumping a workload on someone else is something different than delegation (or, at the very least, an unhealthy side of delegation. Let me give you an example.

  • If you’re in a band, like I am, you all have your strengths. Some people just show up, that’s okay. Not everyone needs to take the lead. But recently, I had the vision to create a better stage. I wanted to create something that was beyond my skill set, but someone I know is really great in that particular field (it’s my boy Lee), and I spoke with him and deligated the work of construction said set piece to him. Many hands make light work. Find a way to spread essential tasks between your crew! If you don’t have a team. That’s okay! You probably have some friends or family that would be able to help you do a few things. If you don’t have that… well, I feel a little sad for you, and you can skip to the next point.
  • Always check yourself to make sure you’re not carrying too much or too little. 
  • If someone consistently shirks the work and won’t help with any tasks. It’s probably time to cut them and find someone else.
Let’s see… your kiss? Yep, it made the list!

You’re not going to get to that dream schedule tomorrow. It’s not gonna happen. You’re probably not going to make some drastic life change tomorrow. It’s okay! I don’t think you’d be happy if you did! You work to easing into that through being patient with yourself and starting small! 

Remember that most things can wait till the morning. It’s a very western concept to have something immediately. Don’t stress baby! Just focus and get it done and ACTUALLY enjoy your to-do list! 

Dinner with myself… I can’t keep canceling!

On the flip side, procrastination is what we’re killing off here! Be active in your to-do list!


Agree? Disagree? I want to hear! Every time you share or comment my heart skips a beat! Please leave me your thoughts or if you have any ideas to help others find the path. Let’s talk!