Welcome to Just Plain Notes
Just Plain Notes: Volume 2.014, February 28, 2014
Written by Brian Austin Whitney
Visit the Website: www.jpfolks.com
Mail CD's @ 5327 Kit Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46237
Copyright 2014 Just Plain Folks Productions.
Just Plain Folks Member Population: 52,111 Just Plain Folks on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JustPlainFolks
Brian on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Austin.Whitney
Brian on Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Brian on Twitter: @TheBAWhitney
Just Plain Folks Org on Twitter: @JPFolksOrg
Would you like to join the JPF Networking Message Boards?
It's quick and easy. Just click the link and choose a password and user name and you'll be posting in no time! We'd love to hear from and about you. You can get peer feedback on your music or lyrics, find people to co-write with, get answers to just about any music related question and promote yourself and your gigs on the appropriate boards. It's a very friendly place where over 20,000 of your peers hang out!
To register: (It's a separate registration from JPF membership): http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?action=agree
Just Plain Quotes:
"If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there." -Yogi Berra
"Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
"When you have the courage to tell the truth about what you're really afraid of, fear doesn't have control over your life." -Ali Vincent
"Delusional Creative People + A Scam Artist = Tragedy" -Brian Austin Whitney
"Sometimes offering advice to those not ready to hear it is a futile effort, but for those ready to be helped, you can really save someone's bacon." -Brian Austin Whitney
As the old cliche goes, the more things change....
In the pre-Internet days a myriad of scam artists preyed on the easiest targets in the world; Creative People Who Crave ANY Kind Of Positive Reinforcement or what I like to call CPWCAKOPR. (Well, okay, not really). It is SO easy to take peoples money by telling them what they desperately want to hear regardless of the talent level involved. So many, especially folks getting started, are just SURE their music is superior to all others, often after hearing accolades from family and friends who know little or nothing about the realities of the industry. The vampires suck them dry by mesmerizing them with more false praise, usually after hoisting up some credentials amounting in reality to getting coffee for a famous producer or having a major artist cut 25 years earlier, or perhaps a real career before falling on hard times and turning to a life scamming clueless newbies out of their retirement money.
This happened in part because so little good information beyond old wives tales about how things worked was available. That changed when trailblazers like John Braheny, Len Chandler, Diane Rapaport and others exploded on the scene educating writers and artists about how things really worked in the REAL music industry and also how to avoid scam artists. Following that trail, organizations like NSAI and Just Plain Folks expanded on their foundation and were joined by a plethora of similar online groups and sites such as Indie-Music and one of the oldest remaining online sites for Songwriters, Jodi Krangle's MusesMuse. These (and other) tools, resources, organizations and educators worked to dampen the dominance of those scam artists.
We couldn't save everyone. In fact sometimes offering advice to those not ready to hear it is a futile effort, but for those ready to be helped, you can really save someone's bacon. Other times, such as when a retired lady from Florida spent 30K dollars on a single song demo, her first ever written, because the scam artists had convinced her that with the right people (they'd had some industry successes decades earlier) producing her demo, she too would have a major breakthrough to commercial success. Of course after she realized nothing they said was true beyond when the check was cashed and she had her vanity demo, she came back to all 6 of us who had begged her not to do it and demanded we try to help her get her money back. That ship had sailed. Delusional Creative People + A Scam Artist = Tragedy.
So what does that have to do with today? We now have some of the greatest tools, information, expert help and technology that has ever existed to help an artist succeed. At the same time, we have a whole new world of scam opportunities hiding behind bogus technology, unfair agreements to log on to a site which may leave you without some rights to control your music once you click "agree," and general confusion as to what offerings are legit and which ones aren't. I came across one such questionable situation this week. The gist of it was a company claiming to monitor all musical usages in countries around the world so that a composer could check a title to make sure they were getting paid for all the uses. However, when one of our members tested it, they failed to pick up any usage of a track with multiple active and ongoing usages in the USA alone. The service is quite expensive, especially for an indie level composer/artist, but it smartly feeds on the paranoia many creative people have that their work is being used all over the world and they aren't getting paid for it. They use that distrust and suspicion against the artists/composers. In this case, Informed Creative People + A Scam Artist = Enlightenment and Awareness with little harm done.
In this case, ironically, the companies who had licensed the track and the libraries involved had tracked it all accurately and paid appropriately for the usage which this company failed to notice and these were high profile placements/usages. Our member smartly learned a lesson by carefully testing the veracity of the company's claim and took the one month loss on that single title as a long term win knowing not to spend serious ongoing money with them (at least not yet). Any technology can mess up or fall short, but when he politely questioned the company and even supplied links to places where the use of the track was still ongoing and had been for the entire month they tracked but missed it, the representative played politician/used car salesman and deflected the question then gave an irrelevant answer that didn't address their failure. This guy is savvy and careful and ultra professional, even being careful not to burn any bridges, even with a company making big promises it isn't keeping.
The bottom line; even with all the tools, resources, help and his long experience, the brave new world is still several steps ahead and provides a welcome hiding place for the same old scam artists or ne'er do wells. I hear about these things almost daily, including several similar complaints about the company in question. Trust but verify. If something sounds too good to be true, it still usually is. If in doubt, ask for a little help from your friends, but make sure they are offering facts and experiences and not opinions. All the old cliches still apply.
Like this one: Let's STILL be careful out there!
We have some updates about the ongoing film project included below. We've gotten some wonderful videos from you and we welcome you all to keep sending us your best efforts.
And I just set up my first twitter accounts, but I haven't tweeted anything.
For Brian: @TheBAWhitney
For JPF: @JPFolksOrg
This is a very long newsletter in plain text. Feel free to skim, use the scroll bar to find what you want, or read it on the JPF Facebook pages or our Message Boards in my Blog area. It is much easier to read it there than in an email!
Learn, Succeed and Thrive. We're all in this together!
Table of Contents:
Please enjoy the excellent article "Get Your Song To The Top Of The Pile" written by Robin Frederick and Courtesy of our friends at TAXI!
01. GET YOUR SONG TO THE TOP OF THE PILE By Robin Frederick
02. 2014 Just Plain Folks Video Spotlight & Awards Entry Information
03. 2014 Just Plain Folks Music Awards Entry Information
04. Singing/Acting Film & Documentary Opportunity for JPF Members!
05. Just Plain Folks finally has a Facebook Page! Like Us and Join In!
06. Brian is on Twitter!
2014 Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsors!
TAXI: The world's leading independent A&R company, has been successfully helping Songwriters, Artists and Composers get their music heard and signed by top Publishers, Major & Indie Labels, and Film & TV music supervisors since 1992. TAXI, is your best bet! See them at www.TAXI.com.
CDBaby: The best place to sell your CD's or music files on line. They also have the best on-line hosting service called Hostbaby. Nobody else even comes close. See them at www.CDBaby.com
SongU: Want to learn the craft of songwriting with the online atmosphere of a university community? Check SongU out, they're great people who are great at what they do! Sign up for a free trial today! www.songu.com
Muses Muse: This is the brainchild of our longtime friend Jodi Krangle, a sort of sister site to JPF focused on Songwriters. It is a great community and like JPF it is free! www.musesmuse.com
Future Of Music Coalition: The FOMC is our political action partner in all things involving legislative and technological issues important to our community. They are free to join and all the work they do gives you a voice, through us and them to those in power in the USA. Find them at www.futureofmusic.org
If your company would like to become a Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsor please contact Brian directly at email@example.com or send me a note on Facebook!
GET YOUR SONG TO THE TOP OF THE PILE
Use the “sorting technique” to move to the head of the line.
By Robin Frederick
Author of Best Selling Books: "Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting" (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982004001
) and "Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV" (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982004028
) available at Amazon.com.
Music supervisors play a crucial role in finding songs for movies and TV shows. They interpret the musical vision of the director or producer and then find songs that will realize that vision. The schedule is almost always tight and so is the budget. By understanding how music supervisors streamline this process, you can give yourself an advantage, making your song easy to find and, when they find it, right for the use.
Imagine that you're a music supervisor who just got a call from a trendy young film director. “Hey,” he says, “my new indie picture could use a few songs. It’s an action-adventure saga with a romantic love story in a doomsday scenario kinda thing. Lemme hear some songs ASAP.”
You meet with the director to watch the nearly completed film. Together, you identify six scenes that could be enhanced with the addition of a song. You'll need to give the director at least three song choices for each of the six scenes and hope that one of the three will strike him as the right one—a song that will enhance the scene and make it more compelling for the audience. You've got a week to find the songs. Here’s what you do:
First, you turn to your own collection of music, which is extensive. “Extensive” is an understatement! A music supervisor’s library may run to thousands of tracks. Your lifeline is your music database, where these thousands of songs are categorized and labeled, roughly like this:
• Song title
• Music genre
• “In the style of...”
• Lyric theme and content
• Mood/Emotional feel/Tempo
• Artist name and contact information
=> SEARCH BY “IN THE STYLE OF”
As the director filmed one of the big action scenes, he used a well-known Mainstream Rock song to give him a feel for how the final scene would look and sound. He loves the song but there’s not enough money in the budget to license this hit, which could cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, you need to look for something more affordable that has a similar sound and feel.
To replace this song, you look under the “in the style of” heading in your database for a song that you've noted as being similar to the hit song in energy, feel, and style. You're in luck; there is one song. The music and vocal have a powerful, raw quality that’s reminiscent of the hit. The structure shares the same sweeping dynamic build to the chorus. The lyrics communicate a comparable emotional urgency. No attempt was made to create a “sound alike,” just a song that evokes the same overall feeling in the listener. Good!
=> SEARCH BY GENRE AND SONG TITLE
Another scene in the film focuses on the moment when the romantic leads meet for the first time. The scene has a quirky, light-hearted feel. A Modern Pop song with an unpredictable melody, whimsical lyrics, and a unique, appealing female vocal could underscore a scene like that quite well.
In the Modern Pop genre in your library, under “female vocals,” two titles catch your attention: “Stumbled Into Love” and “Just the One I'm Looking For.” As you listen to “Stumbled Into Love,” you find that the chorus refers to “Joe in San Antonio” and the song is really about a relationship that stumbled and ended. There’s no Joe in San Antonio in this movie, a point that could be distracting to viewers, and the title is a clever twist that only becomes clear if you listen closely to the entire lyric—that’s not what you want the audience to be doing. The singer’s southern accent and the pedal steel guitar both suggest that this track might be closer to the Alt Country genre than Modern Pop. You move on.
The title of the other song, “Just the One I'm Looking For” underscores the content of the scene and the rest of the lyric focuses on and supports it by listing a dozen fun, fresh reasons why he’s just the one she’s looking for. The instrumental arrangement features the kind of off-kilter drum pattern and strummed acoustic rhythm guitars that are a feature of the Modern Pop style. The vocal is youthful and playful, another characteristic of the genre. Bingo! You found a good one.
=> SEARCH BY LYRIC THEME AND MOOD
The film has an upbeat ending; disaster has been averted and the romantic leads end up together. You want a song with a lyric theme that reinforces that mood. Under “Lyric theme and content” there are several songs with positive, optimistic themes that might work: "The future looks bright. Good times ahead. We're gonna make it."
You'd also like a song that will put the audience in a “feel good” mood as they leave the theater. You check the songs you found under “Lyric themes” against the “Mood/Emotional feel” category and find three of them listed under “Happy/Hopeful.” As you listen, you find that one starts out with an optimistic feel in the verse but turns darker in the chorus. Another has a simple, childlike quality that you feel is too one-dimensional for the end of such a complicated movie. The third one has a strong, uplifting, anthem-like sound that should give the audience exactly the emotional lift you want.
REACHING OUT TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
At this point, you're still looking for at least a dozen or so songs to play for the director. You start making phone calls to small publishers, music libraries, and independent record labels.
In order to give them an idea of what you want, you describe a mood or feeling (“anxious, lots of adrenalin” or “lighthearted, romantic”), a theme (“hammer the enemy” “a bright future ahead”), and artists that are similar to the sound you have in mind (“kind of like Nickelback” or “a la John Mayer and Jack Johnson”). It’s vague and inexact, but everyone knows this is the only way to do it. Each person you call is going to search through a music database in the same way you did, with thousands of songs categorized in ways that are similar to your database.
(To find out more about how this works read "Put Yourself in a Music Supervisor's Shoes." http://mysongcoach.com/put-yourself-in-a-music-supervisors-shoes
SONGWRITERS: USE THE SORTING PROCESS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Now that you've put yourself in a music supervisor’s shoes, it’s time to jump back into your own. Did you notice which songs went to the top of the pile?
1. A song that shared some of the musical style and emotional qualities of a current hit. The hit song was too expensive but gave the music supervisor a direction in which to search.
2. Songs that clearly fit into a genre..
3. Songs with titles that described their theme and lyric content.
4. Songs that had a universal theme, one that might support a scene or an entire film.
5. Songs with a well-defined emotional feel.
When crafting your songs for film and TV, keep this “sorting technique” in mind as you write. You'll make it easy for music users to find your song. While it may not end up being the right song for that particular spot, you'll make sure you've been heard. If the music supervisor likes your song, you can bet they'll keep it in mind when the right use does come along.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR...
Robin Frederick has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R at Rhino Records, Executive Producer of over 60 albums, and the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982004001
) and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982004028
) used in songwriting courses at top universities and music schools. For more songwriting tips and tools, visit www.RobinFrederick.com.
Just Plain Folks Video Spotlight and now accepting Video Submissions from YOU!
We're now accepting video submissions for the 2014 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. Before we could even announce it today we got this email with the following video. Here's what it said in fairly typical promotional release language:
We're happy to say we just released our new album "Pleasure Island" by The Mast!!
Here's the latest video from the album if you didn't catch it yet. It features a 22-month old baby DJ who tricks his baby cam, escapes from his crib, and throws a party for his pals.
Video: So Right http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsAoQfvV0Fo
But once I watched the video, I realized it was far from typical. The song is outstanding (good enough to score a nomination in most years on its own), and the video is charming and makes me love this band even more. Check it out above, you'll like it!
So I decided it would work perfectly as a way to launch our 2014 JPF Video Awards entry process. First, you need a good blurb about the video which tells the story behind it (or some other compelling introduction). See their example below:
The Making of "So Right" by The Mast:
We made the video ourselves. I directed and edited it and Matt filmed it. The 22-month old DJ is our nephew. He always likes to play with our gear, with the keyboard and the iPad. One day I was watching him playing around with it all and thought it would be great to make a video. After I had storyboarded it, I showed a friend and thought, am I nuts to think a 22 month old can, or at least look like he can, escape from his crib, get dressed, call his friends, and throw a party? We realized the only way it would work was if we could turn the filming of each shot into a game so he was entertained. Also we had to keep each shooting session very short. We filmed for probably about 7 minutes a day, literally in 1-3 minute intervals over the course of 5 days, except for the day with all the kids. That was a full-blown party and we filmed for about an hour. It was a lot of fun for the kids and the parents. I'd do something like that again ;-)
It did by the way premiere in Interview Magazine, and was posted in USA Today and Huffington Post, but in very hard to find places! ;-) Enjoy and thank again, Haleh & Matt from The Mast
Next, include all your contact information, name, address, phone, website, preferred email, Facebook and other social media you're on and anything else you want us to know along with the video name and direct link, preferably on YouTube .
IMPORTANT: In the subject line of the email, please place
"2014 Video Submission (Band/Artist Name and Song Name)"
Example: (in the subject field of the email entry)
"2014 Video Submission" "The Mast: So Right"
(if you don't do this, it will get lost never to be found or included!!!!)
Email this entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll send out updates on final deadlines for both music and videos (and lyrics which we'll cover in the future)
We will also feature some of our initial favorites on our website and other social media. Yup... free promotion!
2014 Just Plain Folks Music Awards
We are still on hold concerning digital entries. While we wait, you can enter your music right now for free by following the instructions below.
We are now officially accepting entries via CD directly to JPF. Send us any CD's released AFTER 2009. (i.e, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). We expect to continue accepting entries through much of 2014 directly and will give you plenty of warning before we cut off entries. Much of it depends on our Digital Entry process. If you already have music ready to go, please go ahead and send us a CD copy. We accept ALL genres of music and last time around we had 100 different genres of music from 168 different countries submitted for the awards. The bar is set pretty high, but if you have what it takes, let's hear what you have!
Inside your package, please include ALL contact info including full name and position (singer, artist, drummer, manager, publisher, attorney, whatever), your full mailing address, your phone number and cell number, and if your CD case does not include a listing of all song titles and songwriters, including whether or not the song is a cover or public domain, you MUST include a listing of this information for your music to be considered in the awards process. In addition, please include your contact info on the physical CD's itself (meaning unwrap it and write it with a sharpie or in some other clearly readable way) because CD's are quickly separated from their cases in our screening process and if your CD has no contact info, band name, album name and song listing, we may not know who you are and would have no way to find you.
Once you've met those requirements, you may also include band bios or whatever else you want. (Press kits, T-shirts (3X is the size), Hats etc. as we collect them and if they fit, I wear them while attending events, showcases, tours, conferences etc. If we get enough cool shirts and hats this year, we may even have a category for best Promotional Item).
Send the package to Just Plain Folks, 5327 Kit Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46237.
We do NOT return CD's and we cannot offer direct feedback or critiques simply because we receive thousands of CD's a year and during the awards the numbers are much higher. But we do listen to all the CD's we receive in the order we receive them.
JPF Founder Brian Austin Whitney is working on a music/film/documentary project:
We have had some truly AMAZING people express interest in this project. We still need to fill some roles however as the project is still in development and is ever changing. If you have previously submitted, don't worry if we haven't contacted you yet. Several of you will likely make it into the final project, but we're still developing the characters and some plot changes, so please be patient! This film screenplay won't be finalized until the end of this year (2014)!
Remember, we need males and females of all ages, shapes and types. You must be able to sing and/or play an instrument! Please include links to headshots we can download or copy and links to your music and any video clips as well as your resumes etc. See below!
New Girl Group forming for possible indie film/TV series and live performances:
UPDATE: We have had some wonderful and talented people express interest in this project. Keep in mind that even if you don't make the final main cast, there will be walk on/sing on roles as well as segments/interviews in the documentary project that will be shot along side the film. We are using influences and inspirations from those of you we've met over the years but also from some of you who have stepped up to be involved. The cast numbers have fluctuated up and down (mostly up) and some plot lines abandoned and others added. The main goal for me is to have a lot of fun making a labor of love and a big love letter to everyone who has ever touched JPF over the years. Everyone who has so far auditioned via the submission process is still in the running to being involved. I am having to work on this in free moments where I can be in the mood to work. Easier said than done sometimes!
Needed: Female Vocalists of all styles: We need POWERFUL vocalists in all genres of music who can demonstrate the ability to harmonize with others across multiple genres of music. Preferred Age: 20-50. Acting experience is important, acting talent required because you will be on film playing a musician. You might even be cast in a genre that isn't your normal thing, so be willing to be flexible. Size and looks less important but vocal ability is a must and charisma is as well. You must have live performance experience, this is not a learn as you go project. There's just too much talent out there.
UPDATE: There will be two types of original music included in this film. One will be an array of genres performed in character by each leading role. The second will be some group songs which will have the vibe of Depeche Mode musically and mood wise (Think "Never Let Me Down Again") and En Vogue's "Free Your Mind." One of the male roles will be singing with the lead females and the other two major male roles will do their own thing in as yet undetermined genres. We'll also have a spoken word artist with a significant role.
Please email the following:
Contact Info, Links to: (no files please) Electronic Press Kit (if available), Performance Resume (including age and general music performance & acting experience), YouTube clip of at least one live solo/featured and group harmony performance, Links to 3 music tracks featuring your voice as well as at least one example of you harmonizing with others. We also need to see what you look like in at least 2 different looks as well as full body shots in everyday street clothes and make up so we can see how tall and heavy/thin you are. We need diverse body types and looks, so please show us who you really are so we can cast appropriately from among those who qualify vocally. Please DO NOT spend ANY money putting this together. This is simply a project in development. If you are missing any of the above, tell us about your interest and experience and we'll let you know what else we need if we're interested.
Place: Singing Project (along with your name) in the subject line and email it to email@example.com.
This is NOT a reality show format. This is an album, film/TV and online project.
Note: We are now also looking for 2 male vocalists/actors and cast additional cast members to add to this project. One must be able to perform on an instrument, act and sing, the other must be able to perform on an instrument and act and can be older in the 35-70 age range.
Just Plain Folks (Finally) Has a Facebook Page:
Okay, so I avoided it for a long long time. But I finally gave in and dipped my toe into the Facebook world. I barely have my own page and the JPF page is mostly a stub so far but I'd love to have you join us. And, anyone who considers themselves a Facebook expert, please help us out to build a nice community page there! Like the page or better yet, join us there! Here's the link:
Official JPF Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JustPlainFolks
Official JPF Facebook Group called JPF on Facebook here:
Yes, we're going to try Twitter!
Here's our new Twitter accounts:
For Brian Austin Whitney: @TheBAWhitney
For Just Plain Folks: @JPFolksOrg
I need to learn what I am doing there. So bear with me and it would be nice to have some followers to help get me started! Now if I can just learn to use only 140 characters!
Copyright 2014 Just Plain Folks Productions