KoriSoron Follow Up – Video – New Shows – And A Useful Audio Hack For Piezo Guitars

The KoriSoron Soft Launch

The soft launch went well and to answer the Craigslist Question raised in the previous post, yes we brought people and made money in tips (more than we would have made for the same number of people playing a club with three other people on the bill.

Farzad Golpayegani (the other guitarist in Korisoron) has been editing video and posting them (a thankless job the table he had the camera on had people talking the entire time so finding segments without conversation was difficult but he did manage to pull these together.


Upcoming shows:

We DO have more shows coming up as a direct result of this one:

  • Friday, September 12 Moon and River Cafe – 8pm-10pm
  • Thursday, September 25th – Proctor’s GE Theatre (as part of Festival Cinema Invisible‘s kick off event) 7pm-10pm full information can be found here!

And more shows coming up in October and November while we prep for a new recording.

The Audio Hack

We have an extra ZT Lunchbox Acoustic coming to us but we weren’t able to coordinate with ZT in time for the Moon and River gig so rather than having one great sound – we ended up going direct to the PA. While that isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world, it was a drag to hear that piezo through a PA tone.  (BTW – We are SO excited about the ZT Acoustic amps because they sound simply AMAZING).  There was no Pie in that piezo….

While Farzad was editing the video he texted me and asked if I could check out the audio from the Zoom H2n recorder I had on site.  I had run a line off the Fender Passport PA into the recorder’s 1/8″ input.  The sound was what you expected by now but then I remembered something…

Didn’t I have a Yamaha AG Stomp, that’s specifically designed to handle piezo guitar signals?

A trip to GC to pick up a $50 Behringer mixer w. an FX send on clearance got me this:

AG Stomp

Here’s what’s going on here:

As I already transferred the WAV file to my laptop, I used Fission to break it the large file up into individual tracks and then ran the signal out the headphone jack of my Apogee Duet (to give the signal a little better sound) and into the Behringer mixer. The Behringer didn’t allow me to run the FX send off of the RCA inputs, so I used a stereo 1/4″ to 2 1/8″ cables to get the signal to the 5/6 channels of the mixer.  Since sends are typically mono on units in this price range and the return is stereo, I set up the gain staging of the unit and ran a single cable from the FX Send to the AG Stomp input then ran the stereo send back to the Mixer.

Funny thing though…..

I couldn’t get the return blend to sound right in the mixer, so I just ended up going direct from the headphone out of the AS Stomp back into the H2N.

I’m guessing that here in our story is where the questions will start.

Couldn’t you (I) have just done that in software?

Interestingly enough, I tried using the Positive Grid Jam Up Acoustic Sim with a Line 6 Sonic Port and it didn’t hold a candle to the AG Stomp.

and yes, I probably could have used a plug in like MonoMaker and just run a signal out of the laptop into the AG stomp – but honestly this was just a much easier solution for me.

How did it turn out?

Funny story…

Apparently I had the wrong setting on the Hn2 which recorded the line in AND anything coming through the PA on the mic. This means it was affecting a wierd mix of the direct signal AND a recorded room tone that was recorded BEHIND US sitting on the piano!

The short answer is it sounds better than the unaffected file bout would have sounded WAY WAY better if I read the manual and had the H2n on the right setting.  As I type this, the audio is still rendering, so I’ll have to post excerpts soon.

You may be thinking at this point,

Oh that might be useful for me later on.

Here’s the thing though….

This process started at 10am.  It’s 12 hours later and I’m still working on it.  Mind you, I DID get a few other things done in that time, but it took a number fo false starts to get it together.  Had I thought of it, I could have run it through the FX send of the PA and saved myself A LOT of editing and rendering time later.

So the lesson I’m really facing here is, do it right the first time because sometimes the cure is just as bad as the ailment!  The good news is that the idea is an interesting one, and I may use this approach for additional guitar processing for recording in the future.

More photos, clips and other miscellany to come!

In the meantime, our website and FB page are in a soft launch – but we’re putting content up pretty regularly now so you should see more things there each day from here on out.



As always thanks for reading!


Customer Service Growing Pains or No One’s Ever Happy In A Compromise.

Wait, what about the books now?

As many of you know, a while ago I made a shift away from offering PDFs directly and moved it over to Lulu (which also distributes it to Amazon).  I did this for several reasons, but mainly I wanted the customer to be able to order the books and download them instantly.  Sometimes, schedule conflicts held up orders and while people were really cool about it – I know that when you order something you generally want it RIGHT NOW.

So the plus side is that the orders go out immediately.

The down side, and it’s a near insurmountable downside for me, is that while Lulu and Amazon have some analytics about who orders books –  I have no way to contact people to thank them or to talk to them about any aspects of the book that they dug, disliked or just didn’t get.

All I have is this blog and that co-opted Ambrose Bierce (?) reference in the title that reminds me that the nature of service mandates that while you can’t give everyone everything always – you should always give them the best of what they’re asking for.

So a few things then:

1.  If you’ve ordered any of my books in a print or pdf format – THANK YOU! It’s really appreciated and I hope that you’re getting something out of them.

2.  If you’ve ordered any of my books from Amazon or Lulu please feel free to drop me a line at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com with any questions, comments etc.

3.  I’m really trying to get in touch with anyone who’s bought my Pentatonic Visualization book from Lulu or Amazon.  I have dates and sales numbers but no names and I’d really like to get some supplemental material to you!  This also goes for those of you who bought the Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns book who haven’t gotten the free bundle that compliments the book.

4.  While I promote Lulu and Amazon evenly – I should mention that Amazon is currently selling physical copies of my books at a 10% discount from Lulu.  I know that PDFs are convenient, but these books are really designed to be something that you hold (or put on a music stand) and flip to a physical page.

Again, thank you for your support, you indulgence and for your interest in anything that I’m writing about or doing.  I hope that any or all of it helps you in some way shape or form.


ps – The Devil’s Dictionary was a hugely influential book on me.  I thought Bierce gave me the compromise quote – but I may have cobbled it together from a few other sources.  If anyone knows a source, please drop me a line so I don’t have to be the pompous ass who quotes himself ; )

For those of you interested, Bierce’s actual definition  was,

“Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.”

 – Ambrose Birece, The Devil’s Dictionary

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 17 – Makin’ Mu-sick With Not-Peggios

Hello everyone.

Here’s another short lesson that may keep you busy.

One thing to consider in any of the material I’ve ben presenting is that all of the modes, scales and other materials that I’ve presenting are all just tools to get to making music.

So here’s an example where I’m “breaking” few of the rules I’ve previously posted to get the sounds I’m looking for.

The lick.

Here’s a lick I threw out over a C minor 7 vamp:

Click To Enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Here’s the audio:

(If the play button doesn’t work – just click on the title and it’ll load in a new window).


Some “Broad Stoke” notes.

  • Contrasts play a critical role in having a good solo.  In the case of soloing over a vamp like this, I would either start spare and build into something rhythmically active or hit the gas out of the gate and then wind down (or further up) into something.  Since I’m playing something rhythmically active in the example above,  I’d probably phrase a series of short sparse lines after this and then build it back up again.
  • Speaking of rhythm, I usually try to start long passages off the beat.  It just allows the phrases to breathe a little more and starting fast passages on the beat makes me think of ’80’s metal.  Not a bad thing – but not what I’m always going for. ; )  Also the patterns are based around 4-note patterns so I’ll typically play them as sextuplets to make the phrasing less well… ’80’s metal.
  • The Paul Gilbert-ish pattern (ascending phrases that descend on a note and then ascend again) is one I use a lot.  Part of that use here is pedagogical.  By using the same rhythmic idea, it allows people to focus more on the notes being employed.  (Part of this is hoping that if I keep putting Paul Gilbert tags in my columns that he may find this blog eventually!)
  • The best thing I could do in this context might be to play nothing – but that makes for a boring lesson. Typically in soloing I want to be pretty deep in the song after a lot has already been said before I start putting my $.02 in.  When I see people starting to solo before they even know what the melody is, I kind of know what to expect.

Some Specifics.

  • The first chord is a C minor 7, so one of my first thoughts is to superimpose a G minor idea over it, and my initial thought was G Harmonic Minor.  To extract the “not-peggio” I start with a three-note per string harmonic minor scale from Bb….
G Harmonic Minor from C

See my previous lessons if the interlocking 2-string patterns are unfamiliar to you!

and then remove the first and third note on the low E, D and B strings.

I’ve notated this below as both 1/16th notes and sextuplets.

Notpeggio Extract
  • As I mentioned in part 16, with this approach, I tend to keep the arpeggio shape in position which means moving the shape on the highest two strings down.  So instead of starting on the pitch G on the B string I start on the F#.
high E string pattern

previous 6-note pattern – revised 6-note pattern

Conceptually it’s a small shift but it changes the six-string extraction to the following:

Modified patternwhich fits under my fingers much better.  While the interlocking two-string patterns may be confusing, the resulting “not-peggio” lays out nicely between the 6th and 10th frets.

  • Chromatic alterations.  If you look at the initial lick, you’ll see I alternate between the F# and the F natural.  Again, these patterns should just be viewed as a launching off point to develop your own ideas.

The Arpeggio

At the end of the phrase I slide up to an F and then descend on a Bb arpeggio.  For visualization purposes, here’s a version that starts on the beat:

Bb Major arpeggio w. encircling

Notice that on the bottom three strings I incorporate an encircling motive where instead of landing directly on the note D on the D string, I land on an Eb, go down to C and then hit the chord tone D.  This is a great way to add some zip to arpeggios and get a little extra mileage from a well worn melodic device.

This is a short lick that may take a while to get under your fingers!  I’m only playing it around 100 bpm or so as that’s the pocket I felt, but if you’re unfamiliar with sweep picking or the encircling idea with the arpeggios even getting it clean at 90 might take a while.  Just go slowly and work on the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and Hand Tension).

That’s it for now!  I hope this helps and I hope that this lesson gives you some inspiration in developing your own melodic devices!


p.s. – The Rest of the “Not-peggio” posts can be found below:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 16 – Not-Peggios Positional Lesson

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 15 – Not-peggios – Harmonic Minor Version

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 14 – Not-peggios – Melodic Minor Version

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 13 – “Not-peggios”

p.s.s. – If you like this approach – the following books may be of interest to you!

guitarchitect-2 harmonic-combinatorics melodic-patterns positional-exploration

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 16 – Not-Peggios Positional Lesson

Hello everyone.

This is going to be a short lesson as the concept is really simple but making it work requires a lot of shedding.

For those of you who have been following the guide to Modes might remember that back in part 3a/3b, I outlined a method for connecting 2-string modal patterns positionally using a simple rule where:

(As the scale ascends the patterns descend and vice-versa)

so that this C Ionian fingering


Can be broken down into three distinct two-string patterns:






(You can review the earlier posts if this looks unfamiliar to you)

And the not-peggios?

Guess what?  The not-peggio shapes I’ve covered work the same way.

Previously, I took the two-string shapes and moved them in octaves – but looked at positionally…

C Major Positional Notpeggio I

Note that the first note of each 4-note goes from C to B to A.  (Or uses the C Ionian – B Locrian – A Aeolian shapes).

Since the pattern contains a c and a f (and avoid note over C Major) I decided to use this form over the relative minor (a minor) In this audio example below, I’ve played an A minor (add9) chord and then played the notes as a sextuplet (then as 1/16th notes).

What’s cool:

  • The resultant sound is somewhere between a scale and an arpeggio
  • All the notes from the parent  scale are present but divided out in different octaves
  • The concept works with any of the two-string shapes I covered (major, melodic minor and harmonic minor)
  • The pattern can be adapted to work over any diatonic chord (Try this one over D minor as well)

What’s jive:

  • The pattern features a funfy positional shift between the G and B strings which is VERY difficult to get smooth when descending.

The Workaround:

The workaround is very simple, I just change up the pattern order on the b and e strings.

In the example above I replace  C Ionian – B Locrian – A Aeolian shapes with C Ionian – B Locrian – G Mixolydian.  That results in:

C Major Notpeggio II Positional

It does make the overall pattern a little more scalar, but the only main difference is that this pattern lacks the A note.

In the audio below, I just played a sextuplet pattern and ended on the B (the 9 over A minor) the first time.


Okay!  If you like this sound – here’s what I think you should do:

  1. Go back to part 13, part 14 and part 15 and review the Major, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor 2-string shapes and related chords.
  2. Record a diatonic chord from a group and practice one ascending pattern positionally over the chord.
  3. Try changing chords over static patterns (and vice versa) and start to make a record of which patterns you like over which chords.

This might sound like a lot of work, but the reality is that pretty quickly you’re going to find one or two of these that you really like and the idea is to tae those and try to incorporate them into your playing as thoroughly as you can!

I hope this helps!

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 15 Not-peggios – Harmonic Minor Version

Hey everyone,

As promised, here’s a follow-up lesson that takes the approach I explored in Part 13 and Part 14 and now applies it to the Harmonic Minor scale.

I’ll use C Harmonic Minor in this case – but this idea will work on any root.


Before we get too far into the lick side of this let’s look at the chords to see what we can play this over.

Here are the diatonic triads and 7th chords.

Try playing the initial C Harmonic Minor shape over any of these chords…

Harmonic Minor Notes:

  • C Harmonic Minor is spelled C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B, C – and from the root note the step and a 1/2 between the Ab and the B is a very distinctive sound of the scale.  
  • This scale has a lot of cool arpeggios and chord scale associations, but the most commonly used scales and modes are the root scale and the mode based on the 5th of the scale (R, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7).  Having said that, modes starting on the b3 and 4th add some really cool sounds as well.

Now let’s talk about visualizing the scale.


Harmonic Minor

I’ve talked about my approach to Harmonic Minor briefly in part 9 of this series – but as a brief review:

Major Scale/Modal Visualization Review

  • The guitar fingerboard can be divided into 3 sets of two strings. Any 2-string fingering pattern that starts on the B string can be moved to the same starting pitch on the D or the low E string and keep the same fingering.
  • The major scale can be broken down into seven two-string modes that follow a specific order based on its scale degree from the parent scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). The two-string patterns are modular and can be adapted to positional playing.
  • Instead of thinking of individual modes when playing,  I tend to think of larger tonal systems (i.e. I think of C Major all over the fingerboard instead of D Dorian or A Aeolian.)
  • By thinking of the fingerboard in a larger scale – it makes it easier for me to navigate Melodic and Harmonic Minor as – solely from a fingering/sonic visualization standpoint – I just see it as variations of the Major scale patterns.

To visualize Harmonic Minor patterns – simply flat the 3rd and the 6th of the Parent Major scale. (i.e. to visualize C Melodic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb, and change every A to Ab).

It’s important to note that all of the fingering conventions mentioned here are solely to assist with visualization as Melodic and Harmonic Minor really aren’t directly related to the Major scale sonically.

Here’s C Major

Here’s the audio.


In all the audio examples, I’ve played the example first as sextuplets – then at a slower tempo (i.e. 16ths) – then as sextuplets again.


Here’s C Harmonic Minor

(the only differences are

the E has been changed to Eb and

the A has been changed to Ab)



Harmonic Minor short cuts:

To visualize Harmonic Minor Patterns – simply flat the 3rd and the 6th of the Parent Major scale.

(i.e. to visualize C Harmonic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb and every A  to Ab).


Here are the pattern adaptations.  In a situation like this, it can get confusing to remember a formula like “Dorian b2, b5″ so as an alternative you may just want to try remembering something like “Pattern 1″ for Ionian b3, b6, “Pattern 2″ for Dorian b2, b5, etc.


Here’s the same scale pattern – I left off the text “Pattern 6″ in the example be by mistake but the sequence is Ionian b3, b6 (Pattern 1 ), Locrian b4 (Pattern 7) and Ionian b5, bRoot (Pattern 6).  You can really see this if you compare it to the initial major patterns.


Now let’s take this not-peggio idea from the last lesson and apply it to C Harmonic Minor starting from G.

In each of the following I’ll show the 2-string pattern followed by the 4-note “notpeggio” extraction from that fingering and then show the multi octave form.

Note:  The extraction always starts from the second note of the 6-note pattern – so while the first example is extracted from the F Lydian fingering – it’s viewed as a G based pattern.

From G

F Based Pattern

Note: this G-based pattern is the same as the C major and the C Melodic Minor G shape. It’s functional but a little plain sounding over a G major chord.

From Ab

G Based Pattern

Note: this R-3-#4-5 extraction works great as a lydian sound from the Root (Ab Lydian in this case) or a Dorian Sound over the vi (F minor in this case)

From B

Ab Based Pattern

Note: even though the original shape is different, this R-b3-b4th-b5 extraction is the same as the Melodic Minor pattern and is something you may want to explore over diminished chords.

From C

B Based Pattern

Note: this C pattern shape is the same as the C-Based C Melodic Minor pattern.

From D

C Based Pattern

Note: this R-b3-4-b5 extraction is right out of the D-Blues scale and can be used in the same context (just remember to resolve the Ab!)

From Eb

D Based Pattern

Note: this is a new shape from the other patterns we’ve seen. The R-3-4-b5 (i.e. major b5 (add 11) sound mixed with the min3-min2-augmented 2nd construction and the added chromatic weight from the G to Ab  makes it sound a bit harmonically unsettled over an Eb root.  I think it’s one of the more interesting sounds of the scale along with the final extraction….

From F

Eb Based Pattern

Note: this is a new shape from the other patterns we’ve seen. The R-b3-#4-5 (i.e. minor add (#11)) sound is a really nice spice to incorporate in your melodic ideas!

Here’s an audio sample of the 3/4 measures in ascending order from G

Next TIme?

In the next lesson I’ll look at using these extractions positionally.  It’s a Scott Collins original idea – and not one that I’ve heard anyone else really employ in this manner!

Practice Tips

As always, focus on the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and hand Tension) when playing through these and make sure to have the timing locked in as you increase the metronome speed.  This approach is just a short cut to getting the patterns under your fingers.  By practicing them slowly and increasing the performance tempo gradually, you’re also getting the sound of them in your head – which is critical if they’re something you want to integrate in your playing!
As always, I hope this helps and thanks for reading!
- SC
PS – One plug here.  If you like this idea – I go MUCH deeper into similar concepts in my Guide to Chord Scales book – which covers every unique melodic combination from 3 notes to 12-note scales!!
Print editions of this book are available  on lulu.com or on Amazon (amazon.comamazon.co.uk, or amazon.fr).

P.S. If you like this post – you may also like:



Embracing The Setback

I was working on a project last night that wasn’t going particularly well.

In fact, I had been avoiding it for the last year or so, and I remembered last night why this wasn’t done before as my usual modus operandi of:

  • tacking the project head on
  • getting reminded by a kick in the face of why I had abandoned it previously and
  • ultimately reaching a frustration threshold that required putting the project on hold again

was already in full swing.  

And then I remembered something, from the Hagakure,

“Seven times down.  Eight times up.”

I’ve written before about increasing one’s awareness for potential lessons that you can learn from a given situation, but I think it’s important to revisit this area periodically as it can be a stumbling block.

Old Definitions

I used to get really frustrated when things didn’t work out.  Admittedly, my capacity to fail at things is world class.  For a long time my success rate for projects turning out positively as I expected them to was about 5%.

I would look at those situations, and analyze them endlessly to try to figure out what was wrong and see what I could learn from them.

But there was a commonality with the 90-95% failure rate.

That commonality was me.

Re-defined results

Once I stopped blaming external forces, and started taking on the blame, I realized that this issue wasn’t execution – it was expectation.  I had expectations of making things work through sheer force of will, even when a more objective observation would have revealed that financial, technical or scheduling shortcomings were things that could not always be overcome by sheer force of will.

So I started working on a modified time set.  I didn’t worry about how long it took for me to get something down.  I didn’t worry about having to have something perfect.  I just did the best work that I could do, and did it as often as I could.

If I had written my first guitar book and expected it to set the world on fire, I would have been crushed at never getting it out the door.

Instead, I developed another project and used the skills and focus from the first project to make a better book.

My print editions are now getting proper covers – some of them TWO YEARS after I wrote them.  If I settled on a crappy design and locked myself into that two years ago, I would have had something amateurish that I would have been ashamed of.  Now I have something I can stand behind.

That never would have happened if I had been in a rush.  If I had had expectations that it was going to be perfect or be nothing.

Now I have 10 books that I’ve written (8 of them published).  I’ll write more.  But if I had stopped when the first (still unpublished one) didn’t pan out – I never would have completed the others.

You will face setbacks in whatever you do.  The reason to embrace them is that if you have a setback, it’s because you’re doing something.

Consider this for a moment.  If you try to move 100 small things forward and 95 of them fail – you’re still 5 things further ahead than you were.

So now I’m plowing through that project – as painful and slow going as it is – not because I have to get it done, but because the intertia in getting that thing done will act as fuel for all the other things I have to do.

And there’s a lot to do.

I hope this helps!

As always thanks for reading.


Let’s Stop Blaming File Sharing And Start Building B(r)and Loyalty

A good friend of mine (producer, mixer, engineer and man about town Will Kennedy) was kind enough to hip me to an Atlantic Wire post that concerned Chan Marshall from Cat Power declaring bankruptcy and not being able to mobilize funds to tour.  The article went on to state:

“Everyone knows that artists go out on a financial limb by committing to creativity as a career. But it’s beginning to look like even the most successful musicians—the ones that grace magazine covers and inspire bloggers to gush out 2,000-word think-pieces—soon won’t be able to eke out a living from their craft.”

As a possibly relevant aside, the article also speculates that recent trips to Mt. Sanai (including one in 2006 for alcohol addiction), and possible complications from angioedema might also play into monetary woes faced by Ms. Marshall.

Will posted this piece on Facebook and talked about how people should consider this story when they think that file sharing doesn’t affect artists.

And he’s right.  Filesharing is a problem.

But in my opinion, Will’s comment is what really got down to the core issue.  File sharing is only part of the problem.  The much bigger issue at play concerns people’s perception of file sharing and what they’re willing to pay for.

“NRA quotes?  Really?”

The NRA has an awful slogan/ bumper sticker of, “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”  To which I would say that people can kill other people but they can do it more easily (and be more cavalier in the initial act) with a gun – so both people and guns kill people.  I’ve seen several heated arguments escalate to the point where if someone had a gun, they would have used it. It would have been regretted a second or two later, but where a fist fight generally goes a couple of punches before someone’s body says, “Ugh this hurts.  I don’t want to do this anymore.”, a gun in the hand of an inexperienced user provides a distanced violent immediacy that removes that moment of analysis/realization.  People pull the trigger first and then deal with the consequences later.

Building on this metaphor, if filesharing is the gun that everyone worries about then apathetic consumers are the ones who pull the trigger in a cavalier way not knowing or caring how it affects the people who made the thing they’re using.

And make no mistake about it, the consequences for musicians trying to support themselves through music are economically violent.  Consider this for a moment, despite the fact that more musicians than ever are playing and recording music and releasing it on their own labels, the number of musicians I know who support themselves through music in any capacity decreases every year.

Money for Nothing and chicks for free”

The most interesting thing about the post for me were the comments after the story.  I was surprised by the number of informed musicians (and people close to musicians) who brought up a number of interesting points like this:

“Speaking from personal experience, you do not go into the indie music business without an entrepreneurial attitude. Being in a band these days is no different than running a start-up technology company… you have to be agile, you have to produce, you have to capitalize on every opportunity and revenue stream. If you think otherwise, your endeavor will fail. I get a lot of flack for saying “entrepreneurs thrive, artists starve”… but it is true and I will continue to repeat it as a mantra to every young band that I council.”

However, as artists we need to recognize that many people still view the arts like this:

“”I have a job where I get paid by the hour. Guarantee that I have made less in the last 10 years than she did last year alone. Boo Hoo. You are more than likely correct in your statement that she just can’t manage her money. Or entrusted her finances to someone who was a leach. either way, no sympathies.”


I remember the first time I came home from college and people would say things to me like, “Oh music.  It must be nice to sit around and just strum your guitar all day.  I actually had to work in my classes.”  If you’ve ever been to a college level aural skills/ ear training class you know how much work goes into getting through that material.

But the public perception is that musician’s don’t work.  They party hard, sleep late and play some music in between.  The public perception is that musicians lead a charmed life where the cash just rolls in for doing nothing.

Changing public perception and opinion…

As artists we need to stop blaming file sharing for all of our economic woes because people don’t care about how it affects artists.

We need to build brand loyalty (or in many of our cases BAND loyalty).  If consumers have no emotional connection to artists or services, they’re not going to pay for them.  Or they’re going to use services like Spotify and think that they’re supporting artists in some way even though the actual payments to artists are more symbolic than anything.

As artists, we’re going to have to start subversively educating the public about how much work goes into what we do.  The whole, “I work really hard to not make any money.” blanket statement hasn’t gotten us anywhere, so we need to change tactics and connect with people to garner support.

When the general public hears that musician’s can’t support themselves they say, “Awww….little Jimmy guitar is going to have to work for a living now.”

But many of those same people would also say, “Oh my son Jesse!  He went to school for anthropology.  $60,000 in debt and he can’t get a job.  It’s awful to spend so much money studying something and work so hard and not be able to support yourself doing it….”

While personal contact provides the deepest connection, it may make sense to work large and then small.

…one episode at a time

Perhaps what we need is something like a reality show.

That is, IF the show were a gritty reality show with creative involvement by working musicians that followed a struggling band (with likable and preferably good looking musicians) trying to make it, and showed how much work goes into gigging and how little it pays.  There have been several “get in the van” -style documentaries like this – but I think a weekly show (more intervention and less American Idle) could be the type of thing that could do it.

You think it’s a bad idea?  Sharon Osbourne was quietly managing dozens of bands before the Ozzy reality show.  Now she’s an actual celebrity and their children Jack and Kelly have also parlayed the jumpstart of public awareness of them into actual careers.  Reality shows give a temporary boost in public profile to individuals, but I think the format could be subverted that in a way that it showcased and act AND acted as a platform for larger issues.

In terms of demographics it should probably be a country band in a large city like New York or a big theatrical band like GWAR,  Watching people (an audience likes) sleep in vans and postering for shows all day to play a gig and make little or no money is a struggle that an audience could identify with.

I’m being a little glib about this – but the point is that as musicians we need to start a process of getting the public to identify with what we do and we need to do it it a subtle, if not entirely subversive, way.

Why do people buy girl scout cookies?

Because they like cookies.

But they also buy Girl Scout Cookies as opposed to any store bought cookies because they’re supporting the people behind the cookies.

It’s not just you

And to clarify, the problem of supporting yourself through your work isn’t just for indie artists.   Classical music can’t figure it out either.  Large symphonies can’t put on a show without massive corporate underwriting and they still need to charge $60-$120 per ticket.  Museums need funding and underwriting.  Clubs make their money on the two-drink minimum or the meals served.

Two types of musicians

There’s a huge generation gap in the music industry.  Older musicians are, by and large, horse and buggy users.  Wet eyed and maudlin about the good old days, they all own cars but can’t understand why no one wants to pay to ride on their buggy when it’s such a good buggy and people always used to want to ride it.

Many of the current crop of musicians are used to not making money.  They expect that they’re going to have to make money from other things.

The entrepreneurs on both sides of those fences work on things that make money.  They keep expenses down and watch money.  They diversify streams of revenue.  They don’t count on one thing and the successful ones work harder than most 9-5ers.

Again with the Kindle book Plug?

I’ve talked a lot about this in both of my Kindle books (An Indie Musician Wake Up Call and Selling It Versus Selling Out), but the issue is that, as musicians, we haven’t built brand loyalty.  And, economically we offer a silly product.

I’m not overly fond of the comparison between paying for coffee and paying for music (even though I’ve used it myself) but the difference between the two is telling.

When you buy a coffee you make a decision about the place selling the coffee.  If you like the coffee and you perceive it to be a good value, when you want a coffee you might be more inclined to go with the known quantity and buy one at the place you got it before (if it’s convenient for you to do so).

Musicians sell mp3 of their music but when you buy the mp3 you never have to buy that mp3 again.  It’s like a bottomless cup of coffee you can enjoy at home. Additionally, instead of people coming back to get coffee from us when they want one, musicians only get another sale if we offer a different coffee that apeals to someone.  People buy your cd and they’ll only buy another one from you when you have another one out.

Find the fan and turn (him or her) on

This is where fans come in.  Fans get things (mp3s, videos, etc) from wherever they can because they want them now, but they buy things from you, because they want to turn other people onto it.  For about 3 years, every time I’d find the Mimi cd (Mimi Goese solo record on Luaka Bop) in a record store (remember those?), I’d buy it and give it to a friend of mine.

Fans spread the word and even when they can get them for free, they’ll buy things from you because they feel connected to you.

So, as artists we have two choices

a.) we can find new ways to reach people, educate people to garner sympathy and support, build connections and develop a fan base to support what we do


b.) we can blame file sharing for why no one has any money and talk about how great it was back in the day.

We can either start defining the future or be defined by it.  Which do you want to do?

As always, thanks for reading!


ps – As I mentioned before, much of this is addressed (in much more depth) between my two Kindle books, (An Indie Musician Wake Up Call and Selling It Versus Selling Out).  If you don’t own a Kindle, the kindle app to read it on your phone, tablet or computer is free from Amazon.

And if you already have a copy of either book and could take a moment to write short review on Amazon, I’d be truly grateful.