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#1112595 - 08/08/16 01:48 PM ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?  
Joined: Jan 2009
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Nashville, Tn.
ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?
by MARC-ALAN BARNETTE
8-8-16

In my capacity as teacher and mentor to people seeking to expand their musical journey to Nashville, I am asked a lot of questions. They include inquires on the craft and process of writing, the do’s and don’ts of recordings, videos, the web, live shows, the finer points of networking and most importantly, “WHAT IS THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NOW?”

All are very good questions and often have very complicated answers. But it also creates it’s OWN set of questions. These are some that anyone thinking about trying to do this, anyone sitting behind a computer keyboard, picking up a guitar, taking those non-ending piano and voice lessons, going for those auditions for the reality shows, or just playing on an open mic in their local hometown, or the significant others or relatives of those who do, these are a few things that you need to think about along the way.

WHAT IS IT THAT HAS ATTRACTED YOU TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

WHAT IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT MUSIC INDUSTRY?

YOU, WANT TO 'FIND OUT ABOUT THE COMMERCIAL ELEMENTS OF THE MODERN SONGWRITER" WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

WHAT DO YOU DO CURRENTLY, DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY, TO INCREASE VIABILITY (fan base and REAL SUPPORTERS, not Internet only) IN YOUR HOME AREA?

WHAT DO YOU DO TO EXPAND WHAT YOU DO INTO A LARGER REGION IN YOUR OWN AREA?

WHAT IS YOUR VIRAL PRESENCE?

WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET “OUTSIDE” YOURSELF. WHAT SONGWRITERS OR PEER GROUPS DO YOU BELONG TO? DO YOU ATTEND WRITERS NIGHTS OR OPEN MICS OR SONGWRITER LECTURES OR WORKSHOPS IN YOUR AREA?

WHAT KIND OF ‘TEAM’ DO YOU HAVE AROUND YOU?

WHAT IS THE FORMAT FOR YOUR MUSIC. DON’T SAY “I WRITE EVERYTHING?” BE SPECIFIC.

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION FOR YOUR MUSIC AND THE FORMAT YOU CHOOSE? DO YOU KNOW THE HISTORY OF THAT FORMAT?

NASHVILLE IS A 100% CO-WRITING TOWN. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BRING TO THE TABLE FOR CO-WRITES, WRITER’S ROUNDS, PUBLISHING CONCERNS. OTHER PEOPLE’S BOTTOM LINES?

WHAT IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF “PITCHING OR PLUGGING” SONGS?

WHAT WOULD MAKE MODERN DAY ARTISTS, CHOOSE YOUR SONGS OVER THEIR OWN?

WHAT WOULD MAKE A VENUE WANT TO HIRE YOU OVER OTHERS DOING THE SAME THING?

IN THE AREA YOU ARE IN, WHAT DO YOU DO TO SHOWCASE YOUR ORIGINAL SONGS OVER THE COVER SONGS?

IF YOU PERFORM LIVE, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF ORIGINAL OVER COVERS DO YOU DO?

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF PRIMARILY AN ARTIST OR PRIMARILY A WRITER?

ARE YOU AWARE OF THE EFFECT OF MUSIC STREAMING AND THE INTERNET ON THE INDUSTRY?

HOW DO YOU THINK PUBLISHING. RECORD LABELS, ETC. WORK TODAY?

ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 08/08/16 01:51 PM.
#1112664 - 08/09/16 11:04 AM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Dave Rice Offline
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Hi Marc:

Short answer: NO! Wisdom arrives late in life and I wish I had taken up something else. Sure, it has been fun... but there is no money in making music... unless you already have the pathway paved with gold from some big outfit controlling a big share of a shrinking market.

I could have taken a job at McDonalds after retirement and saved the money after paying taxes... and had more to show for it than all my earnings after considering expenses. Heck, I could have invested a small percentage and possibly grown the proceeds into something I could donate to charity.

I consider myself a writer. I wish I had stuck with the novel... or written short stories for publication.

My perspective has evolved and now, I do what I do musically for fun and consider it an expensive hobby.

There are those among us here at JPF who possess the talent to succeed in music but it is a real gamble. You must be willing to forego all other meaningful pursuits and dedicate 100% of your time to songwriting or performing. That does not leave much for living a normal life and the pursuit of happiness.

Thanks for the reality check.

----Dave

#1112669 - 08/09/16 11:42 AM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Dave,

Good to hear from you. I did this mostly in response to some clients I have been working with recently. And it is now something I do routinely when new people come to this town. We are besieged but thousands and thousands of people, mostly A LOT of under 25 year olds making their pilgrimages, with "Momangers and Dadingers" in tow, all coming to the "land of milk and honey" where they are "JUST DRIVEN TO BE.."

I also get a LOT of older people (over 30) who are also seeking their placement in all of this. They are often business owners, people with careers, Doctors, Lawyers, scientists, builders, construction people, pharmecuetical representatives, insurance people, etc. you name it, trying to find a second career, or replace their current one.
You KNOW the economy is bad, when Insurance people and DOCTORS, are looking to music as something to FALL BACK ON!

I understand it from pretty much all points of view, having started at 14 years old, been an artist, writer, performer, producer, chief cook and bottle washer and see it from both sides of the desk.

So I consistently try to develop approaches for people to maximize their efforts, yet minimize the time and money they spend on those efforts.

That is what this is. It won't fit most people, particularly over here, but it is good for all to see some of the requirements of the modern music era.

MAB

#1112679 - 08/09/16 12:54 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Well, yes, humm, and so forth,
The trick is to keep your wits about you when everyone else is losing theirs.

Yes, I know the economy is bad, but you can't tell that to John V. who thinks the water is just fine! Jump on in!


Ray E. Strode
#1112685 - 08/09/16 01:29 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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I doubt if most of them would admit it, but I would bet that a lot of your clients are trying to make in music because they don't want to study the things that would provide them with a lucrative job and income. Stuff like math and science and geography and languages. Music is easy and fun, so they think. And you can drink booze and smoke pot while you are working - try that in any other line of work.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#1112699 - 08/09/16 03:14 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Colin,

There are a lot of reasons. We have all sat in a bathroom with a hairbrush, thinking we were onstage in front of thousands of people. I used to completely get dressed up, grab a baseball bat or tennis racket, put on GEORGE HARRISON'S CONCERT FOR BANGLEDESH, and pretend I was right there with him, Ringo and Eric Clapton. Knew the lyrics of every song to that, Rare Earth and Three Dog Night, hear the crowd scream and THAT WAS ME.

Later one, when I learned to play guitar, I would spend Fridays and Saturday's playing with my amp turned up to those same songs.Every live album, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, KISS, BOB SEEGER, you name it, THAT WAS MY DOMINION.

Over the years, I've actually gotten to PLAY with some of those people, piano Nicky Hopkins and several hit musicians and artists. Just this past Sunday I was jamming in a living room with people who play with Phil Collins, Cheap Trick, and others.

But it took years of work, learning a craft, networking and being on top of my game to do that.

Now, people sing friday night Karaoke tracks, get a video done and are told by all their friends and family how great they are. They post all this on FACEBOOK, YOU TUBE and TWITTER. They write and play their own songs and record them on camera phone videos, post them on Social Networks and THEY ARE STARS.

They come to Nashville because EVERYONE is coming to Nashville. It's in a boom market and people come here every day. Having an ABC television show for five years and now being picked up on TNN, pours gasoline on a Forrest fire. And of course, they can't walk the aisles of a supermarket, or in a shopping mall without seeing front page magazines like Cosmo, Entertainment Weekly, US, Playboy, and every other magazine without having Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, or Keith Urban on the cover. Most television sit comes now have a country music component in their story lines. Most lately, the Tim Allen vehicle THE LAST MAN STANDING, had one of his daughters forming her own band, and Reba McEntire being on the show as a reocurring character. And then, of course there is DOLLY.

Younger kids LOVE to wear their JOHNNY CASH and MERLE HAGGARD t-shirts, and claim them as their own heroes. Downtown and Lower Broadway are now so busy they are going to have to SHUT down all traffic and just use buses or other methods because it can't acommodate all the cars. It is a parking lot. Or should be, because you can't FIND parking.
It is Bourbon Steet, Beale street and mardis gras all night every night.

So yes, they come here in batches. About 600 a week. That is offset by around 1200 a week that move home lasting 6 months to two years. Most of them realize the odds, run out of money, patience and time. Biological clocks start ticking. Girls want to raise families or get into real jobs. Guys have to have three jobs and finally realize that living in the parents basements will give them some breathing room.

The attrition rate is around 95-98%. Anyone that I see or work with, basically in the back of my mind, I am saying "Check back with me in three years." Most of the people I see, I see one time and they either speed up the process, or get better prepared for it. But they all learn reality.

I term it "FRESHMAN, SOPHOMORE, JUNIOR, AND SENIOR YEAR. Just like High school and college. And they all last THREE years. Which is why Nashville is called a "TEN YEAR TOWN." Actually a little more like TWELVE OR FIFTEEN, but who is counting?

Most are weeded out. They become hometown heroes and there is nothing wrong with that.

Just another day in TWANG TOWN.

MAB

#1112776 - 08/10/16 05:27 AM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Kolstad Offline
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Good batch of questions, I'd bet most youngsters wouldn't think of it 360 like that.

I wonder how many of those blank sheets you have, though? Over here, nobody for the life of it would ever consider being a songwriter. Very few (mostly guys) would consider being a musician or sing, but songwriting as a particular focus is something you do or consider if you fail as an artist. You almost always have to have artist credibility in order for others to consider your songs, over here. There are exceptions, but they are few.

Over here, the arts, of any kind, are dismantled, demeaned and dismissed as something that cannot contribute to the world, or be of any relevance. When they are probed with that throughout their teens and twenties, they go out and support piracy parties, who believes intellectual rights belong to everyone by default.

But either way, the ones who are up to it, and the ones who are not, can benefit from trying to answer these questions. Makes the deal, real :-)


Buzz Tracks
Making media sweeter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buzztracks
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/buzztracks
#1112817 - 08/10/16 03:52 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Aaron Authier Offline
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Aaron Authier  Offline
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Or be related to a writer in Nashville that's had exposure. I used to look up the names of all these writers I'd see in the credits and often times it would be someones relative.

#1112818 - 08/10/16 04:17 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Aaron Authier]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Aaron,

That is actually VERY untrue. Quite the opposite. Being "related to someone with a successful career as a writer, artist, or whatever, is more often a detriment than a plus. Always more of a legend to live up to, and the chances that a past sibling, Father, Mother, husband, wife, etc. has done something to tick off someone in the industry is higher.

If you mean by "being related" as a working relationship with someone who has success, that is actually the ONLY way it works. Everyone has to "write up", partner up" with people that have had previous success. That is the nature of this business and always has been so.

MAB

#1112819 - 08/10/16 04:24 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Kolstead,

I don't know what you mean by "BLANK SHEETS", I don't have many of those. These are generally questions based upon questions I am asked when people come to town. I sit with them and see what they know about the music industry and what they are trying to do.

I listen to the questions THEY ask and then try to help them through it. I was just encapsulating what they need to be thinking of when they are trying to come to this town. I meet with a lot of parents, a lot of significant others, and people who also are interested in how all this works. These are the kinds of subjects I cover.

It is more geared toward ARTISTS, but WRITERS have to understand what artists go through in order to gear what they write, who they write with, and how to cater their pitches to the real industry. If you are "just trying to be" a writer, with the desire to get songs "out there", you need to know what the people who are "out there" are going through.

That's why I posted it.

MAB

#1112820 - 08/10/16 05:13 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Aaron Authier Offline
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Well the most important thing for a writer to possess is a likeable personality. In my opinion. Is that close Marc?

But the thing that will hold you back the most is your songs sucking.
I don't think most amateur writers are halfway to being considered a good writer.
Some write too many words, some write too many cliches. It's not often you hear a song with a fresh take on something. A thread about current songs and why we like or dislike them would be interesting. Maybe I'll make that.

Last edited by Aaron Authier; 08/10/16 05:13 PM.
#1112886 - 08/11/16 01:29 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Aaron Authier]  
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Hey Marc,

Yep, all well said. At one time you actually had to PLAY first. Know all your theory and go through a process.

Now ? There is no process, as most wish to skip now for later.

That doesn't work, as you'll always be caught out at a level you're not redy for, hence the huge attrition rate.

Slow and steady wins every time. Little steps..... little steps.....

cheers, niteshift

PS - Nashville has always been a players town, but I hear it has having a resurgence of the player mentality, in all genres from classical to whatever. Comments ?

#1112887 - 08/11/16 02:15 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: niteshift]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Aaron, now THAT is where you are exactly right. The people who show up, have a great attitude, are willing to work, are flexible and bring a lot PERSONALITY wise are the ones who succeed.

What we have is an amazing amount of MEDIOCRITY. If you guys remember the cassette tape era, you will understand this. You would get an album or a cassette and make a copy of that. Then you or someone else would make a copy from THAT, and so forth and so on. Wioth each generation the quality gets more diluted.

That is where we are. EVERYONE out there are just bad generational copies of other people. If you go to a YOU TUBE site on the latest Taylor Swift, Adele, Keith Urban, or whatever video, and look to the right of it and you will see hundreds of younger people doing the EXACT SAME SONGS THE EXACT SAME WAY.

Now, in an era that the hardest thing to do in music is to MONETIZE what we do, the LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS BRING IN ENDLESS COPIES OF THE SAME THING.

But no one seems to get that. They spend all their time copying someone else. And you can often tell before they open their mouths by how they dress, act and approach everything who they are going to be. The hot model looking girls are going to be just like Miranda, Carrie and Taylor. The backward cap wearing guys with the "Cash" t-shirts and holey jeans are going to be Bro country. The "Berklee music school" graduates that think they are John Mayer by using every guitar chord and inversion, and a syllable on every beat, so much that it is just a giant migmosh of sound instead of a cogent song.

yes, they are the SAME RHYMES, SAME TITLES, SAME STUFF. It sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. "Wah wah wah wa wah wah..." There are so many "GLOW SONGS" that NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION.

I had a girl and her mother here two weeks ago from Canada. Totally BEAUTIFUL, 19 years old, and very sweet. But EVERY SONG had the SAME CHORD STRUCTURE, had the same lyric patterns and was about the same subject. Breaking up with guys and how terrible guys were. She had no dynamics and I could not understand ONE WORD she said, even while sitting there READING THE LYRICS.
Every time I would make a critique, no matter how in detail it was she ARGUED WITH ME. She would say "Well that is just POP" music. She would tell me why I was totally wrong. Well even Pop has to have something INTERESTING. She didn't.
And she did the SAME SONG NINETEEN TIMES. And never once saw what she was doing. And her entire attitude was "I KNOW what I'm doing! Wait'll they get a load of me." This was AFTER SHE WAS REFERRED TO ME FROM THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE WHO HAD THE SAME IMPRESSION OF HER AND HOPED I COULD HELP HER BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE COULD.

After she finished and left I had three workmen working on the house. They all were in the music business in one form or another, one was the son of one of the biggest record executives in Nashville history (remember that thing I was saying about relatives not getting breaks Aaron? That's what I mean)
but he spoke up and said "Man she was about to wear me OUT! When she did that one time we've heard it! But she just KEPT DOING IT OVER AND OVER!" This is from a guy who grew up around some of the biggest legends in country music. Knows what he is talking about.

And that is what we get.

Niteshift, I have a bit of a different opinion of Nashville because I have been here for nearly 30 years, had a good understanding of the history before and have known a LOT of people over the years. I see a pretty wide spectrum. When it comes to players, the head of the Musician Union is a good friend of mine and I am always around them. have probably had 200 of them in my bands alone, not to mention other people I have just randomly come into contact with.

There are many elements of Nashville that have NEVER CHANGED. The different styles of music, the different pockets of interest, "players mentality" has always been there. Most of you only see things from a very outside perspective. Through media, the Internet, other people's perceptions, which are not always good because they are mostly made up by people who have tried to come to town, come up short and blame the town, companies, the "powers that be" (that really don't even exist)or other circumstances for their own shortcomings. The biggest downfall are over-expectations and just plain quitting. And 90% of musicians, writers and artists wounds are SELF INFLICTED.

I have seen all this from a variety of perspectives, from one of the "old dogs" who have been around for a long time, to continually looking at it through fresh eyes and ears through people I work with. I have tried to describe that over the years, and people like Mike Dunbar, myself and other pros try to point out things many of you don't get a chance to see first hand.

Things like Ray Strode" wanting to hear music that he thinks is country. It is still out there. It is still going on. It might not be on the mainstages of country, but it is still there. Not just from many of his heroes, but from NEW people who market their own brand of country. You people that might be a throwback, like Kurt Fortmeyer, who is a great writer and creates his own way, albeit probably not with as wide spread success as he would like.

We see thousands upon thousands of people coming in and out of town and a really booming industry and town. And yes, it creates a lot of things that are not great. A business that follows the leader even when the leader might not be someone to follow. But these things tend to work themselves out, changes come and we try to deal with them as we can.

But all in all, I wish everyone could come here, see some of these things, the good and the bad. Would really affect how some of you view what is going on and my guess would be that you would each find your own pocket, your own niche, your own group of people and friends that would help you to see it as I do.

So the more things change, the more they stay the same. you have to find the bright spots and not worry so much about what you can't do anything about.
Never let your highs be too high or your lows too low.

Remember, you don't choose music. Music Chooses you.

MAB

#1112890 - 08/11/16 02:35 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,840
Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,840
Brunswick, Ga. USA
Golly, Well,
I was traveling thru Nashville the day after HawkShaw Hawkins,Etc. were killed in that plane crash. It was in the morning papers. I had written a song in the Motel where I was staying. Somehow I found a Hole-in-The-Wall Recording Studio, basically a tape recorder and a microphone. I went in and was going to record the song, of which needed some fine tuning. Don't remember what the guy charged but before I could do anything, he matter-of-Fact told me if I didn't belong to the Musician's Union I couldn't play that guitar! Well so he lost out on a few bucks and I packed up and left! Do I really want to do this! Well I ain't give up yet!

Today I have a good system of pitching material even there are not many opportunities to submit.

Some of my songs are posted on a Web Site listed under New Web Site on the Industry Board.

For those trying it in Nashville you need a good Track Record already before you try it.


Ray E. Strode
#1112995 - 08/12/16 06:30 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,840
Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,840
Nashville, Tn.
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS???? Good Lord Ray, were you traveling by Conestoga Wagon train on your way to California for the gold rush? LOL! I didn't even realize they HAD motel studios at that time.
JUST KIDDING RAY! You know I share your love of history.

That used to be a big thing, that if you weren't in the Union you couldn't play. It also caused sessions to be very expensive. You;d have to hire five players, have to have an arranger, have to pay the session leader double. MAN, I'm glad I never had to pay those fees, I would have NEVER recorded anything.

But interestingly enough, musicians make about the same now as they did in those days, so the more things change....
MAB

#1113005 - 08/12/16 07:15 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,413
Aaron Authier Offline
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Aaron Authier  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,413
You should have told her to come to JPF, we could have torn her songs apart (nicely of course). For once I'd like to hear a song sang by a woman about guys not being so bad. I don't think one exists.

#1113016 - 08/12/16 11:42 PM Re: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? [Re: Aaron Authier]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,840
Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,840
Brunswick, Ga. USA
Heck No Marc,
I was traveling by Pack Mule. I don't think they had invented the Contestoga Wagon yet. Those folks traveled in style!

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 08/12/16 11:44 PM.

Ray E. Strode

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