Welcome to Just Plain Notes
Just Plain Notes: Volume 2.001, September 30th, 2012
Written by Brian Austin Whitney
Visit the Website: www.jpfolks.com
Mail CD's @ 5327 Kit Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46237
Copyright 2012 Just Plain Folks Productions.
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Just Plain Quotes:

"Never, in all our history of popular music, has there been such a plethora of composers - professional, amateur, alleged - as we have today. Responsible, of course, are those two fresh hotbeds, the coniferous cinema and the radio. The merciless ether - by unceasing plugging - has cut down the life of a popular song to but a few weeks, with the result that anyone who thinks he can carry a tune - even if it's nowhere in particular - nowadays takes a 'shot' at music-making." -George Gershwin, ranting in the New York World Sunday Magazine, May, 1930.

"The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary." -Vidal Sassoon

"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these." -Paul Harvey

"There are so many tools out there that I think sometimes while collecting shovels people forget to dig the darned hole." -Brian Austin Whitney

My Take:

Hi Folks! We've finally turned over the ticker from 1. to 2. on our Just Plain Notes newsletters. In the past decades that I have been sending them out, so many things have changed while so many others are still the same. The big difference I notice is that no matter how many new tools, gadgets, widgets, web sites and technologies come along, they are always being replaced just about the time you are competent enough to get anything out of using them so people often start all over. The basic old school stuff never seems to change though and yet always seems to work.

So here's just a few old school nuggets I find never go out of style or usefulness:

1. Networking: Ah, that's become one of the most overused and misunderstood buzz words in the world. Everything is all about networking. I remember back in the 1990's when we first started seriously talking about networking, even then many people missed the point entirely. Networking is not about amassing names or contacts or web registrants or email list members or god forbid Facebook friends. Networking is about building a team of contacts whom you can help take a step forward and who can help you as well.
5000 Facebook friends mean nothing unless you actually KNOW all 5000 and you've met most of them face to face or you've spoken with them using more than a short text or email blast. Give me 50 real contacts who I personally know, who I have had a meal with, who I have had over to sleep at my house or sacked out on their couch over 5000 names on a list who I collect like key chains made in China from every tourist trap I pass by. And even if you really do know all 5000 of those people on the list, do you really speak to them all? Do you really know what is going on in their lives? Are you up to date on their music or their career goals or what might be holding them back at any moment? Sure, you may keep track of their successes, but that's like collecting trophies, it doesn't really help you win the next tournament. By the way, 5000 is actually a good number, but we'll get to that later.

Bottom Line: Don't confuse number collecting with networking, it's not the same thing. Know the differences and become a real networking machine.

2. The craft of performing and writing: There are so many tools out there that I think sometimes while collecting shovels people forget to dig the darned hole. More than ever, in this very tough economy and music business, the artists who put the most focus on their craft are doing the best. Lady Gaga (who we saw here in Paris last week) rose above being a solid but typical singer songwriter to the current Juggernaut of success. She's entertaining. She's the most interesting person in the room at all times. She's the queen of stage and performance craft and she also knows how to write a great pop song. The skills she uses were learned and perfected in ways available to each of you reading this. For songwriting, older, readily available books on the market are still quite helpful to learn the basic skill sets you'll need. You can also learn essential business concepts which will serve you well. Look for John Braheny and Jason Blume for starters on how to write a solid song. When it comes to performing, there is no substitute for seeing (and then doing) in person. Find out the local acts who are the biggest consistent draws in your area and go see what they are doing. Even if it isn't your genre, watch how they interact with and please their audience and how they keep the show moving and vary the dynamics to keep the audience engaged. Also note mistakes and missed opportunities. You don't have to mimic, though I doubt Lady Gaga has a problem borrowing ideas from others and then exploding them. I mention her because after seeing her perform here in Paris, I am convinced she has it all figured out about as well as a commercial artist can right now. Look her up on Wikipedia to see how many holes she's dug with every shovel she's ever come across. Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Gaga

Bottom Line: Old techniques and readily available tools can give you the same skill set that any current artist uses to succeed on radio, on stage and in the media today. Learn them and actually use them. Genre doesn't matter, successful skills and techniques are shared between all of them!

3. Trends: The music industry has always been about trends. Now people seem obsessed with what is "trending" on Twitter and the web in general. That's all well and fine, but the relevance to you is what is going to trend in the future, not what is trending now. Now is too late. So how do you know what will trend in the future? One approach I use is to go to the wonderful trend laboratory that is one of the large independent music sites such as CD Baby and do some research. Sure, 30 seconds isn't a lot, but when you find something so new and interesting that it causes you to search further for their work (or even buy it like we did in those old days) you may be hearing the next music trend as yet undiscovered. If it were me (and believe me over the years it has been and still is) I'd contact that artist directly, tell them what I thought and if things go well, start a new friendship. You can also, to a lesser extent sadly, still go out and look for it at live music clubs, but I'd take a big open mic (especially one that has bands as well as solo acts) each playing 1 or 2 songs, and sit back ready to hold your ears in horror at some, but also to pick up on what is really happening. So few of my active musician friends spend enough time listening to other independent artist's music or seeing other indie performers. They live in a shell and unless they come up with an unaided stroke of genius, it's awfully lonely in there. Nearly everything has been done more than once already, but trends aren't about inventing the wheel, they are about what necktie will be in fashion next week.

Bottom Line: What's next? You'll find it if you look and listen. And you don't need to copy, you need to find kindred spirits who will help you grow and with whom you can collaborate, mutually inspire, compete with and from whom you can stylistically steal. (After all, all music has been stolen over and over by more than just down-loaders).

4. Finally, as I said before 5000 is a good number. For the past 20 years I have been preaching to artists to build a fan base of 5000 lovers of your music and spend your time hyper serving them, replacing them with new folks as they come and go and stop worrying about being a "Rock/Pop/R&B/Rap/Country etc. Star." You can have 5000 Facebook friends, so use that tool to learn how to actually get to know 5000 people who LOVE what you do and keep them coming. If you have no fans today. Set a goal to find 10 new fans a week. At the end of the first year, you'll have over 500. I know artists who could live off that many fans. But all the hard things you learn to get to 500 will inform you how to get to 5000 and perhaps for some of you 50,000 or far more is in reach. As you begin to pass that magical 5000 number of REAL fans, you can start bringing on a team of people to expand your operation. If you are starting from scratch, you NEED to work hard enough to earn that first 500. Consider it like going to school. If you're already fortunate enough to have many more real fans than that, ask yourself if you know them well enough to have them over for dinner, or to be invited to their home to spend the night when you are on the road in a city or country far away. Those are REAL fans. I have walked this walk. It works. (And remember, the entire planet is your potential fan base).

Bottom Line: In this never before seen music world, those who claim to be your biggest fans are often the first ones to steal a free copy of your next album while they sip a 7 dollar coffee drink and use the free Internet to do it. But you really CAN make a living, even a great one, if you focus on the fans you have who REALLY care about you and your music and you stop chasing the rest. Then you can put all those media, networking, writing and creative skills to work making them happy, being your own boss and living the real dream while making the music you want to make on your own terms. If you have the talent and follow these simple ideas, success will come your way. Either way, we'll be cheering you on and here for you if you need help along the way.

Au revoir from Paris, France, September 30, 2012!

Learn, Succeed and Thrive. We're all in this together!
Table of Contents:

01. Support our Sponsors: It's a win/win/win!
02. Just Plain Folks finally has a Facebook Page!
2012 Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsors!

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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
Copyright 2012 Just Plain Folks Productions

Brian Austin Whitney
Just Plain Folks
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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