Welcome to Just Plain Notes
Just Plain Notes: Volume 2.023, January 31st, 2015
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: 51,212
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Brian's Direct Email: jpfolkspro@aol.com
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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):
Just Plain Quotes:

"I don't understand why people think everything has to have meaning. While painting the Mona Lisa did Leonardo Da Vinci intend for it to have greater meaning than a work of art that he made?" -Devin J. Monroe

"I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself." -Aldous Huxley

"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away." -Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885) (WOW..does this one apply today!)

"Learn from the world then do it right locally" -Brian Austin Whitney

"With MUSIC, it doesn't matter or care how good you are, how famous you are, how many other people like your work or even if you finish it... it's just there for you in every way whenever you are there for it!" -Brian Austin Whitney

My Take:

Let's just be honest. Things are BRUTAL out there for people wanting to make a living making music. For a time I was working on a book to help members navigate their way through the industry and though we still have stories and lessons to be learned among our peers, the rules keep changing, the pie keeps shrinking and the talent bar combined with the persistence bar just keeps rising faster than I could update the book.

So what do you do? Here's my general steps:

1. Make music that YOU Love. Don't worry about what anyone else will think. If you only strive to chase what music the industry wants (or worse, what your uninformed guesses are) you'll never find your own musical voice and style.

2. Now that the fun part is over, (i.e. making music YOU love) you need to learn where you stand along the genre/audience bar, the talent bar, the resource bar, the awareness/fanbase bar, the education bar (on a wide array of subjects) and the networking bar. All of these bars are limitless on one end and start at zero on the other. You can never be too far along, but you certainly can need to be further along than you are. Once you learn where you are, next you learn where you need to be and after that, how to get there.

3. Once you get those bars moving in the right direction, you'll learn that what used to be success (such as significant plays of your songs, see below for a Grammy nominees royalty statement) isn't going to pay your bills, you'll need to learn from those finding success and how they do it. Even with all the tools in step 2 working for you, you're still just getting started.

4. Once you've made music you LOVE, once you've prepared and set yourself up to the best of your abilities and you are liberally borrowing all the tricks of the trade you learned from all the success stories you can swallow, and you're prepared for the harsh reality that working in the industry really is, you'll come to realize the following:

--With MUSIC, it doesn't matter or care how good you are, how famous you are, how many other people like your work or even if you finish it... it's just there for you in every way whenever you are there for it!

And while you implement all of the above, and work hard to find the many flavors of success that are still out there to be found with the persistence and talent that saw you through those stages, take a deep, deep breath and realize that after Step 1, you were already a winner in life's lottery because so many out there would trade nearly anything to be able to do just that one step alone. The rest is gravy my friends.

This is going to be a good year I feel. We are getting GREAT music from many of you for the JPF Music Awards (and waiting for the rest of you to get in gear and send us your latest music) which always lifts my spirits and reminds me of Step 1 and how much I love passionate, honest music that moves me.

Learn, Succeed and Thrive! We're All In This Together! Just Plain Folks
2015 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 and www.Hostbaby.com.
Table of Contents:

Folks, I am very excited about today's Newsletter and I hope you'll take the time to read or at least browse all the way through it. You'll find some great info, though it is a bit Country Music/Nashville Heavy, but trust me, there's plenty here to learn!

1. Enter the FREE 2015 Just Plain Folks Music Awards! Info below!
2. Building a Modern Artist by Marc-Alan Barnette
3. Article Link: Nashville's Disappearing Musical Middle Class
4. Article Link: A Grammy Nominees Royalty Sheet: (A sad, sad reality check).
5. Video Link: Excellent FREE Vocal Lessons!
6. Just Plain Funny: All Country Songs Sound The Same and Here's Proof!
2015 Just Plain Folks Music Awards:

We want your music! If you still have CD's of your stuff and haven't sent them to us, please send us a copy for the next Just Plain Folks Music Awards! As always, this is free to do. We give out awards for both Albums and Songs. We do not currently have a digital entry process, so send the CD or a CDR with your songs on it.

Send a copy, with all your contact info including social media, phone numbers, email and mailing address (in case you win something) to:

Just Plain Folks Music Awards
5327 Kit Dr.
Indianapolis, IN
46237 USA

Note: Please do not send anything with a signature required!

And if you have musician friends, please welcome them to enter as well. Just have them sign up via our home page so we can contact them via this newsletter.

Publishers, Labels & Reps big and small are welcome to submit your rosters to us directly!

Please make sure all the songwriter credits are included in the liner notes or on a sheet of paper if needed along with your entry. ALL Genres and ALL levels of people are welcome to enter, we recognized 100 different genres of music last time around from 167 countries!

If you have questions, please contact me (Brian) at: jpfolkspro@aol.com.

Anything released from 2010-2015 (up until the deadline) is eligible!

Note: A final deadline has not been set. We try to give folks as much time as possible to get their music to us. But PLEASE, if you have music from 2010-2014 already sitting around, SEND IT NOW and don't wait for a deadline. Our hope is that we'll transition to mostly 2015 releases as we go forward and there's no reason not to go ahead and send your stuff now.

(Brian Note: Marc-Alan (or MAB) is a long time JPF member and message board user who volunteers to share his vast knowledge on all things "Nashville" and in a discussion we were having I realized his story matched one of my strategies exactly like a real life test case. The strategy? Learn from the world then do it right locally!Enjoy his excellent article below!).

In today’s modern music market, the chances for tangible, actual success becomes more and more fleeting. As encroachment from rampant downloading, file sharing and increased competition, reality television shows, and diminishing returns, it is harder and harder to see bona fide results out of today’s artists, and in turn, today’s writers. The definition of success changes, but there are still examples of it working. And examples of how to approach building a career in the modern era of ‘mostly free” music. This is one of those stories.

In my Nashville based mentor/consulting business, I see many attempting to make that leap from home town heroes to National artist. FRANKIE BALLARD is one of those. At 24 years old Frankie had become the hottest blues guitar player in KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, and the general Central Michigan area. But he had reached a plateau, and wanted more. That’s when he was brought to me. Performing on local blues jam nights, he met a Mexican/American guitarist/writer/NSAI coordinator named RENE MAUVE. Rene is a local legend in the Kalamazoo area, with his Tejano band “LOS BANDITS’ and is known as “The guy” to know in that area for songwriting.

Rene quickly saw extra talent in this guy. Great playability, great drive and desire, great looks, great voice, he seemed to have it all. Except writing chops. He introduced Frankie to this ‘Nashville guy, the MAB”. Sitting with him, during a workshop trip to Kalamazoo, I could tell he really had a lot of stuff on the ball. And in our first meeting, I realized we could work well together. He was, quite frankly, a younger version of me. 20 years before, when I moved to Nashville, I had been doing a hybrid of country, rock and blues, of my own, called IN YOUR FACE COUNTRY SOUL.” But I had been somewhat ahead of my time. Country music had morphed into right where I was. He had influences of the Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many other rock bands of the 70’s era, as well as deep held country roots, from his Father and Grandfather of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle and Elvis. We began work.

The first song, (Nothing as sexy as a woman in) BAREFEET, was a swampy, southern rock styled, rocker, about, oddly enough, Frankie’s attraction to “women’s feet.” Everything seemed to click, with even Rene providing some help on the bridge. And that began a six month long process of him coming to Nashville, me going to Michigan, and exploring where he wanted to go writing wise. We built songs around his personality and tuned into some of his favorite styles and grooves. Subject matter came from his real life. In my teaching role, I get the writer/artist to look at situations around them and turn them into the songs they are passionate about. Great writers make “the ordinary, extraordinary.” And that is what we shot for.
He would perform 6 nights a week with his band, solo, duos, whatever configuration he needed, playing the clubs and bars around his hometown. As his material grew, so did his ability to transcend “guitar player’ to “artist.” He would leave his gig on Saturday nights, drive to Nashville, arriving around 6 in the morning. After some sleep and a visit to downtown Nashville, sitting in with various bands, we would get to work on Monday’s. Writing two songs a day, based upon ideas he brought from his experiences, we built a pretty solid song catalogue. Then two days later, he would drive back to Kalamazoo, to perform that night. He was a tireless worker.

On Month four, I included hit writers who were friends of mine. Jimbeau Hinson, (Party Crowd), Kim Tribble (Guys do it All the Time) and Tim Buppert (She’s Sure Taking it Well), all became Frankie fans and lent their reputation to his growing street credibility. In a town of ‘Who are you writing with?” that went a long way to opening doors. We also began recording. First with two of my existing song tracks, later four songs at a time, after fully performing them out live and working out the kinks on what we had written. As Frankie continued performing with additional material and recordings in Kalamazoo, his star continued to rise. Local radio started playing the songs we had written and recorded. This made him an even bigger local celebrity. Now he was becoming known for his writing acumen as well as his guitar playing.

He began to open concerts for major artists like Shooter Jennings, Dierks Bentley, and Bob Seeger. A radio contest put him opening for Kenny Chesney twice. Now, his Nashville reputation had grown as well, reaching the attention of Muscle Shoals/Nashville legendary writer/producer, WALT ADRICH (Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde, No Getting Over Me, and producer of the band HEARTLAND). Walt had met Frankie Before, but going through Cancer treatment could do nothing to develop him. Building upon what we had started, we wrote two new songs with Frankie and Frankie and I produced his debut CD. Now his reputation was on fire, reaching the attention of local business entrepreneurs, who were asking what we needed to put Frankie “on the map.” I told them at this point, nothing, they might be needed later. It seemed everyone was riding the “Frankie bandwagon.” His shows were selling out, his music getting requests, he was becoming the local hero.

At the same time, Walt, who was leaving Nashville to move back to Muscle Shoals to teach, took Frankie to the top floors at SONY PUBLISHING, the top publisher in the town. An informal meeting with Sony Head TROY TOMLINSON, to just “say hello”, led to Frankie performing a few songs live. As Troy invited members of the staff in, something clearly was brewing. By the time they left, Troy called Walt in his car, and asked him to bring Frankie back the next day, to be signed as a writer. Over the next two months, he was taken around doing the rounds, writing and meeting many other people, doing some Nashville performances, but still commuting back and forth to play in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, all over central Michigan. Never quit your day job.

Two months later, he was onstage at local Nashville showcase club, TWELTH AND PORTER, for the first of two label showcases. Sony, having first right of refusal, decided they had “too many blonde haired, blue eyed guitar players and passed. The second showcase, done two days later, attracted several labels, including WARNER BROTHERS, who signed him. Over the next few months, he was slowly introduced to the Nashville hierarchy, and became “the expected next big thing.”

He would go on to release several singles, which failed to chart higher than mid forties. “Tell me you Get Lonely”, “Buncha Girls” got tepid response, but his touring was gangbusters. Tours with Taylor Swift, Bob Seeger, Jake Owen and others led to widespread demand among a loyal fan base. His viral marketing was gangbusters. A great guitar player with enigmatic persona, surfer good looks (he’s a former baseball player) and tremendous connection with audiences, nothing could stop him live.

But recording success eluded him. Despite being produced by one of Nashville’s hottest producer, Michael Knox, (Jason Aldeen), they were hard pressed to get chart results. Three years later, in February of 2014, he went to number one with his song “HELLUVA LIFE” and followed that up with a second number one, “SUNSHINE AND WHISKEY.” All the cylinders seemed to be clicking.

As of this writing, he is riding the wave of those two songs, touring, and building a stronger fan base. The entire process, took five years of hard work and unending effort. Building an “in Nashville connection, while continuing a “hometown hero” approach, has vaulted him into National prominence.
A two pronged approach must be employed in any National artist now. But it still can be done. FRANKIE BALLARD proves that.
MARC-ALAN BARNETTE is a Birmingham Born, Nashville based singer/songwriter/teacher. He has won major music contests, had songs recorded by SHELBY LYNNE, JOHN BERRY and DAVID BALL. His career as spanned being an artist, writer, and his teaching programs have taught workshops around the US and Canada, and assisted in the careers of WARNER BROTHERS ARTIST FRANKIE BALLARD, Big Machine's STEEL MAGNOLIA, and up and comers like John Maison and Dani Jamerson.

Details on his business, SONGWRITER TOURS OF NASHVILLE, are availible via http://www.marcalanbarnette.com.
Some Interesting Music Industry Articles:

1. The Musical Middle Class In Nashville Collapses (Hat Tip Ande Rasmussen):

2. A Grammy Nominee Shares Their Royalty Statement:

(Brian's Note: This pretty much makes my point above for me!)

3. And finally, when I was touring in Spain this fall I met with Multiple JPF New Age Music Award Winner Priscilla Hernandez singer-songwriter: http://www.yidneth.com. She shared a free resource with us on our message board:

--Today I wanted to share a FREE youtube channel that I think all you vocalists should subscribe to. Some years back I had nodules in my vocal chords not because I was forcing when I was singing but because I was forcing when speaking, and due to my actual midterm job I also have to abuse the voice a bit, so for me it's become important to take care of it, and I randomly found this channel in youtube, and found myself watching all 70 free lessons and building my personal warm up for the voice. This guy knows a lot! and it's sort of interactive too cos you can send questions, and most importantly is OPEN AND ABSOLUTELY FREE to watch for everyone. I was surprised it was all there for everyone to watch, so generous.

well there it goes the link you won't regret to have a look
Just Plain Funny: (Hat Tip John Daubert)

And finally.... for something completely NOT different:

Proof that ALL Country Songs are really the same:
Copyright 2015 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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