Score for Short Film - Two Birds, One Stone

I'm happy to share the final version of a film that I had a chance to write the score for. I'm pleased with how things turned out and I had a blast working on it. Hope you enjoy!

Two Birds, One Stone from Adam Drake on Vimeo.

I landed my first TV Theme song!

I'm still in a bit of shock about this one! I had barely made it back from my trip to L.A. for the 2010 TAXI Road Rally when I got a phone call telling me the news.

As with my most recent placements, I'm not permitted to disclose the name of the show at the moment but I can say that it's scheduled to debut sometime next year on a new cable network. As of right now that's about all I can say. Once the show gets closer to airing and I'm permitted to do so, I'll provide more information.

Again, thank you to TAXI for the connection to this particular publisher which provided me with this opportunity.

- Big Blue

What a great Road Rally!

Got back last night from the Rally. WOW. What another great event! This was my third one and I'd say that it was the best one yet. I told my wife before I left for the trip that this year things felt just a little bit different. I wasn't sure why exactly. Looking back at it now, I think I have an idea. But before I get to that I wanted to touch on a few highlights of the trip.

A long overdue update!

I figured if I didn't sit down and force myself to get this typed up, it might be another couple of months before I posted again! I'll try and keep it short but I do have a lot of stuff to get to. Maybe if I could do these on a more frequent basis, the posts wouldn't be so long??!?!?!? :-)

Placement on TLC's My First Home

I was looking through my ASCAP account online and noticed that I had a new cue sheet listed. Looks like it was for an episode of TLC's My First Home that aired just a few weeks ago.

I tried to find the clip online but wasn't able to do so yet. I'm sure it'll show up at some point, or I'll get the episode on my DVR.

Once again, this was a result of being forwarded by TAXI to a music library.

Placement on HGTV's Real Estate Intervention

In addition to the MTV placement I also found out about another placement today on HGTV's show Real Estate Intervention.

You can view the episode online at the following link:

Their video player counts down instead of up. You can hear my track, "I Said Too Much," starting around the -20:26 to the -19:56 mark.

Placement on MTV's Pete Wentz: EMOgul

I found out earlier today that I had a track placed on MTV's Pete Wentz: EMOgul show and I was able to find the clip online.

You can view it at the following link:

My track is used from around the 0:13 - 0:39 mark. It's one of my pop-punk tracks.

Hard work really does pay off

Last night I tweeted that I was going to be re-mixing some tracks for my "band" Crushing Gray with the hopes to pitch them to a major music library. I ended up staying up later than I wanted to, which for me means it was pretty late as I'm your stereotypical musician when it comes to being a night owl, but it was necessary.

There was a "soft" deadline of today for this particular opportunity. Though I would have a chance to pitch to them again later in the year, I wasn't going to pass up this chance. So before I went to bed I submitted the tracks. We were told that it may take between 6-8 weeks before we would hear anything, though I suppose that probably is a disclaimer for people that submit after the "soft" deadline. Why would I think that? Because I heard back within a few hours...

I Need Your Help

I'm sorta having an identity crisis. OK, actually... I think I've resolved the crisis part, but now I need some help. Confused yet? Let me explain what's going on.

A few months ago I participated in a blog contest. One of the areas that we had to complete was coming up with a "perfect pitch." In other words, we needed to be able to describe our sound/music within 15 seconds. This is also known as the "elevator pitch." I actually didn't have too difficult a time coming up with mine (it's the phrase on my site that starts with "Imagine a steel cage match...") but that was because I had decided in the previous section that I was going to take on this contest as "Big Blue Barry, the artist" and not "Barry French, the composer."

Fast forward to a couple of weeks back. I found out that I was one of the 1st place winners in the contest and I was going to receive a free 6 week PR campaign. And that's about the same time when my identity crisis hit...

Stories From The Studio: Printing FX

I recently signed a deal for a song that I co-wrote with my buddy Joel for our Big Blue Shoes project. It's more of a Pop-Rock/Indie Pop/Rock kind of "band" and a definite departure from my Crushing Gray project and the "typical" Big Blue Barry metal tracks. But I digress... so, the library that is signing the track wants an instrumental version of the track as well as the full version with vocals. No problem. So I thought...

Though it feels like I've been doing this a LOT longer, the truth is, I've only been at this film/TV/production library and songwriting "career" for about two and a half years now. Granted, I've been playing music for a long time, and I did write my first song YEARS ago. It wasn't until January of 2008 that I truly became serious about it.

During these last two and a half years, I've had to learn quite a bit. Some of it was about songwriting. A LOT of it was about song production. I can pick things up pretty quick when it comes to "techie" stuff, but I didn't have the formal background or training that a lot of my peers, colleagues, and competition had. I've pretty much taught myself every step of the way. That's been a very fulfilling process, but I know that I've missed out on some things here and there. Which brings me to the topic of this post... printing FX.

Another placement on TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras

Another ASCAP statement, another placement on TLC. I can get used to this.

I tried to find a clip of the episode online but wasn't able to. I actually purchased the episode from iTunes for a buck. The track that they used was a pop-punk instrumental piece and it was used as "the reveal" at the end of the episode.

And yes, this was a result of a deal I signed with a company as a result of a TAXI forward.

Music Success In Nine Weeks Recap

Before I get to the heart of this post, here's a quick update of what's been going on since we last spoke :-)

While I didn't win the grand prize for the blog contest, I DID win one of the 1st place prizes - a free 6 week PR campaign! Look for that to start within the next month or so... I've been finishing up some of the "busy" work for one of my library deals, ie... paperwork and lots of stems and edits for about 25 tracks. This is a new start-up library that began about a year ago. We now have a MAJOR distributor in place and the first group of tracks will begin to hit the streets in about a month. I also signed my first deal for a vocal song with a very selective music library. The song is a co-write with my friend Joel and is going to be on the Crushing Gray album when all is said and done. I'm sure there's more stuff to update you about but it'll have to wait for the next entry.

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from Ariel Hyatt asking me if I could do a blog entry for her that basically re-capped my experience in her blog contest. She was so inspired by how the first one went that she's going to do another one. She'll be posting my blog summary on her site as a guest blog entry. Below you'll find what I sent to her.

Ariel asked me to provide a summary of my experiences with her first Music Success In Nine Weeks blog challenge. It's hard to believe that it's been three months since the contest ended. Seems like it was just yesterday when I was posting my final entry. But as I look at the calender, I can clearly see that the hands of time have moved well past that point in time.

I remember before I decided to take the challenge, that I was kind of sitting on the fence about it. You see, I'm not a touring artist. Haven't been in a long time. My dreams and goals at this stage are to one day be a full-time composer working with Film and TV. Hence my hesitation about taking the challenge. I wasn't sure how it would apply to me as a "stay-at-home composer." But after some great feedback from some musical colleagues, along with a gentle nudge from Ariel, I decided to take the challenge.

I remember going through the first chapter and just feeling overwhelmed right at the start. Not because of the amount of work, but instead, because of the "type" of work. While my wife is probably more of the "dreamer" type personality, I'm much more of the "nuts and bolts" kind. At my day job, I spend most of my time bringing other people's "dreams" into reality by doing the actual grunt work. So when it was time for me to dream big, I really struggled. And part of the reason for that was because I was trying to walk the line between "Barry French the composer" and "Big Blue Barry the artist." I wasn't sure "who" was taking the challenge. And looking back at the goals that I set for myself, I straddled the line between the two.

As the book progressed, I began to form a clearer picture of who I was as an artist. Developing our perfect pitch definitely helped solidify that "side" of me. As I'm typing this, I have a feeling I should probably read the book again, but this time, do so as "the film/TV composer" 'cause I'm sure my pitch would be different than what it currently is, which is "Imagine a steel cage match between Sevendust and Linkin Park with Joe Satriani as the referee..." in case you were wondering :-)

I remember being excited when I got to chapters 3 and 4. I knew that my web site was in need of some work and this was the perfect "jump start" to help me get it taken care of. I did the re-design myself, and while I'm not a graphic designer, I was very pleased with how things turned out. And in regards to the Web 2.0 sections, I was already doing some of those things and that chapter helped to improve my efficiency. I definitely remember feeling "victorious" at the end of those chapters.

The next couple of chapters, e-mail and mailing lists, were a bit of a challenge for me. And honestly, they still are. While I was in the contest, I definitely made an effort to grow my list, and it worked, as my list doubled in size in just one day. But once the contest ended, so did my attempts at growing my list :-( I do plan on attacking this one again as I did see some monetary results because of it. Simply put, if you follow her advice and stick with it, it works.

The other area that I struggled with, at least initially, was the Continuum program. Of all the chapters that made me wish I was back in one of my old bands, I think this one was it. If it were 10 years ago, I would have had no problem filling up one of the charts she provided in the book. But since I'm not touring and I don't have any merchandise, I wasn't really sure what I could offer. In the end, I wanted to do something that would help my career but at the same time help others and her idea of linking up with a charity really spoke to me. I ended up deciding on donating 30% of my album proceeds for the remainder of the year to 3 different charities (10% each).

It's been great trying to reflect on each of those entries that I did for the contest and remembering all the different things that were going on at the time when I wrote them. The contest was definitely worth doing. I made some new friends through the process as well as got a better definition of who I was and what my long term goals were. I'm also happy to say that one of my goals, to write and sign 50 new library tracks by the end of the year, has ALREADY been met!

So if you're reading this and trying to decide on whether of not this challenge is something worth doing, let me encourage you to give it a shot. There will be areas that you'll find difficult as well as areas that come very natural. But in the end, it will really help you to get a clear definition of who you are as an artist now, where you want to be as an artist, and the tools to help you get there.

Thanks again to Ariel and her crew for allowing me to be a part of the initial challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

- "Big Blue" Barry

First Deal for Big Blue Shoes

Some of you know about my side project with Logan Rayne Pepper that we call Crushing Gray. But I also have another project with my buddy Joel that we call Big Blue Shoes. I'm happy to announce that we just signed our first deal for a Big Blue Shoes song.

The track is called "Our Place" and you can hear it at our ReverbNation profile. The company we signed with is the same one that I signed the 6 exclusive tracks with back in April.

I know this is probably starting to sound like a broken record but once again, this deal is thanks to TAXI. But there's a twist to this story!

I tried to find which listing that I submitted the song to but I couldn't locate it. In addition to the TAXI Submission history page on our account, I also keep very detailed records about every forward and return I get, and yes, I still get returns too.

But the reason I couldn't find the listing was because... I didn't submit it! I've heard Michael mention on more than one occasion that TAXI will often pitch the music from the members without the members ever knowing about it and apparently this is one of those cases!

So once again... THANK YOU TAXI!

First Deal for Crushing Gray

I'm extremely excited to announce that Crushing Gray has just signed it's first deal with a music library!

The song is "Not With Me" and it's one that I co-wrote with my best friend Joel Shoemake a couple years ago. We'd had a couple of different vocalists on it but after I started collaborating with Logan Pepper on the other Crushing Gray tracks, Joel and I came up with the idea of having Logan sing on it, which we think was a brilliant idea :-)

The deal is with a high-end music library. Any guesses as to how we got the deal? If you keep up with my site in the slightest then you already know the answer. But if you don't, here it is. TAXI.

Hopefully I'll be able to report back that the song has been placed in a film or a TV show. Until then, you can hear the song here.

The Flood

Unless you live in the Nashville area, chances are you haven't heard about "The Flood" that we just experienced. The media didn't seem all that concerned about it until several days after the fact.

We were fortunate. Other than our driveway being washed out in parts, which can be replaced, we were OK. Some friends of ours were not as lucky and they experienced some major damage to their home.

Here's a couple of links to some videos that I made on my cell phone of our driveway as the flood was going on.

Link One

Link Two

Signed six tracks to an Exclusive library deal

Once again, I have to thank TAXI for providing me with another deal. It's with an established library on the East coast.

I ended up writing 6 tracks for this deal. A couple of them were hard rock tracks that I typically write. One of them was more of a singer-songwriter track that I've recently started writing more of thanks to another deal that I have.

But the other three were brand new genres for me: Spy music and Sci-Fi. The spy track was an absolute blast to write. It was a bit challenging as I'm not accustomed to writing horn parts but I eventually got it down. And the sci-fi tracks were fun to write too. They felt more like writing sound design than actual 'music' in the traditional sense of the word.

Hope this turns into a great relationship with the library and opens the door to more placements down the road.

Back in the swing of things

I knew it had been awhile since I last posted, but until I actually looked at my site, I didn't realize it had been almost a month! Yikes! Gotta say that the blog contest I participated in definitely helped me post on a more frequent basis.

One reason for my lack of posts is that March is the height of the college basketball season here in the States and I end up spending quite a bit of time following my favorite team, the Kentucky Wildcats. I really thought we were going to bring home Championship #8 this year but alas, that didn't happen. We had our worst shooting night of the season against a team that was having one of their best and in a one-and-done type tournament, that usually spells disaster for you. But regardless, I was very proud of our team this year. I can't remember when I ever had so much fun watching the team play but it was probably the '95-96 season, ie. Championship #6, and the first one that I could remember. I was only 4 when they won #5 so I don't remember that one. But I can tell you exactly where I was at when we won #6 (and #7) :-) Earlier tonight several of the players announced that they would be entering the NBA draft so it looks like next year's team is going to be a brand new group of players. Let the fun begin!

Pop-Punk track placed

I just got off the phone with a producer of a Christian TV show called World Impact and it looks like they're going to use one of my pop-punk instrumental tracks, "The Sun Will Shine," for an episode of their show.

The show will be airing later in the summer and I should hopefully have a link to the episode once it's aired. I'll post more details as they come available.

UPDATE: I've embedded the episode below or you can view it at the following link:

My track goes from 4:10 - 4:45.

Getting Past Your Grief - Full Show from World Impact TV on Vimeo.

Placement on TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras

I was going through my ASCAP statement and noticed that I had a placement on an episode of TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras. This was a result of a forward from TAXI that turned into a deal.

I've included the clip below. My track is used from the 4:35-4:55 section. Or you can view it at this link where it's already cued up for you :-)

Extreme Sports Placements

I just signed a couple of hard rock tracks with a production house that specializes in Extreme Sports films. This came about as a result of a forward from TAXI that turned into a deal. If/when the tracks get used I'll be sure to post an update about it.

TAXI - From a member's perspective

Over the last few weeks I've started to notice that I'm personally getting asked a lot of questions about TAXI. The questions range from "Is TAXI worth it?" to "Is it legit?" to "How much money have you made as a result of TAXI?" and on and on. So after getting asked once again today I thought I would take the time to do a blog about my experience with TAXI so far.

Let me start by saying that I am not a paid spokesperson for them. I do not get any monetary compensation from them. That being said, in order to give full disclosure, I have to mention the fact that at the 2009 Road Rally, I was a part of a 10 member panel during one of the sessions and I was also presented with the TAXI 2009 Inspiration Award. But that being said, I promise you that the opinions that I express in this blog will be completely and 100% my own. Now let's get to it...

Blog Contest Week 9 - An Overview of Traditional PR

It's hard to believe that I'm on my last entry for Ariel Hyatt's Music Success In Nine Weeks Blog Contest. It's been quite an experience to say the least. Some of it has been easy to do, while other times it was definitely a bit challenging. But I guess you could really say that about anything in life.

Blog Contest Week 8 - Creating a Continuum Program

When I first glanced at the title for this chapter, I immediately started having visions of intergalactic time travel and laser beams. But upon closer inspection of the book, I soon realized that it had nothing to do with the Space-Time Continuum. I gotta admit, I was a little disappointed. I thought I was going to be able to put some of my college education to use (I minored in Physics). But my disappointment went away rather quickly once I discovered that this chapter was going to help me come up with a plan to generate a stream of income that will, wait for it... continue... long after the first purchase has been made.

Ariel provides a quick recap of where we should be at this point in the book as it relates to the various tips, tricks, and techniques we've been learning since starting the book. Even though I'm following the majority of every idea and principle she's mentioned, I still feel like I'm just starting out.

Blog Contest Week 7 - Real Live Networking Tips

Before I get to this week's topic, here's a quick update on last week's entry. I set aside some time to go through a stack of business cards that I had acquired over the last year or so from people that I met at the TAXI Road Rally in LA to increase the size of my newsletter list. I'm happy to report that I was able to double the size of my newsletter list! Now, in full disclosure, it wasn't very large to begin with, but hey, that's what this contest is all about right? Taking the steps to build something. I haven't even tackled my "inbox" yet, or the majority of my friends and family either. So I think it's possible that with a little work, this list can break the 100 mark very soon! The next step is to actually send out a newsletter! LOL... That's my primary goal for the week.

Now on to this week's contest. Chapter 7 is entitled "Real Live Networking Tips" and though I'm not gigging out anymore, this chapter still has relevance to me. One of the concepts she mentioned was being a shark in a sea of tuna. In other words, go hang out with groups of people that are NOT doing what I'm doing. One of the things that immediately came to my mind would be film festivals. I actually went to the Nashville Film Festival last year for the first time and was able to make some contacts there. Nothing came out of them yet (other than a few email addresses I was able to collect!) but it's something that I'll be even more prepared for this year.

She also gives some practical advice on things you shouldn't say as well as things you should say, and how to position yourself in the conversation. Some excellent advice that I will be implementing as I find myself in live networking situations. Which these days, don't seem to be that often. I used to spend much more time outside of the house but over the last couple of years, I've really become much more of a home-body. Wonder if it's related to the fact that I got a home studio about 2 years ago. Coincidence? I think not.

That's all for this week's chapter. I'll be posting my entry for Chapter 8 very soon so be on the look out!

Until next time...

Blog Contest Week 6 - How To Build Your Mailing LIst

This week's entry in the CyberPR Blog Contest finds us in newsletter land. Back when I was doing the band thing, I used to send out a newsletter to our email list. But since I made the switch from gigging artist to film/TV composer I just never thought about sending a newsletter. Well, that mindset is gone and I'll be sending out my first newsletter next week. I'm going to try and coordinate them around the first week of the month.

In this chapter Ariel makes the comparison that the size of one's email list is directly proportionate to the size of their income. And while I can't speak about that from the perspective of someone with an email list in the tens of thousands, unfortunately, I can however verify the other end of the spectrum of that statement. But hopefully with Ariel's help (no pressure!) that's all going to change.

She encourages you to set aside a scheduled time once a week of about 60-90 minutes to focus solely on building your email list. So tonight that's what I did. I think I went over the 90 minutes but I figured, what the heck, I'm already behind, time to start getting caught up!

She provides you with five tips on getting more fans onto your list, such as adding friends & family, creating a location to store potential email addresses, offering a bribe, list trading with other bands, and going mobile. I decided to focus on the first three methods mentioned.

For tonight, I focused on adding friends and family, as well as offering a bribe. The past two November's I've had a chance to go to the TAXI Road Rally in LA and make some great connections. In doing so, I've exchanged business cards with quite a few people. So the first thing I did was go through that stack of cards to find some potential list members. I ended up emailing 25 people tonight, using the template that Ariel provided. So far I've had 5 people respond back that I could add them. I think that's a good start!

Also tonight, I went through my followers on my Twitter account and sent a direct message to the 40 most recent followers and told them that they if they signed up for my monthly newsletter, they would get a free mp3. No response on that one yet, but it's not helping matters that about an hour after I did that, the ReverbNation site went down for maintenance.

Earlier in the week I started keeping a folder in my e-mail client with potential leads in it. I'm going to continue to do that and start making that a weekly habit as well. I'm going to grow this list. Oh yes! It will grow!

At the end of the chapter Ariel lists 7 steps to help jump-start your email list. Let's see how many of those I did tonight!
  1. Make dates with yourself for the next 3-6 months to focus on your list? Check!
  2. Create a list of bands/artists you play with? Nope. Might re-visit this one later on when list is bigger.
  3. Draft a "form" email? Check!
  4. Mobile fan club management? Nope, not for me at this time.
  5. Add a bribe to your home page? Check! Though technically, it was already there thanks to an earlier chapter in this book.
  6. Use ReverbNation sign-up widget? Same as #5
  7. Go through MySpace friends and ask for email? Nope. I don't have much of a MySpace presence at this point.
I'll be back soon with the next installment as this contest is coming to an end in the next couple of weeks.

Until next time...

Blog Contest Week 5 - Newsletter, Email List & Surveys

This week's chapter in the CyberPR Blog Contest is centered around a very important paradigm that some artists don't necessarily like to embrace; The concept of thinking of themselves as a commodity and their fans as a customer. I admit, I'm not always comfortable with that notion, but I completely agree with it, especially from a business standpoint. If you want to have a successful business, you have to give your customers want they want. Same thing with being a successful musician, gotta give the fans what they want.

One of Ariel's tips is moving away from the old business model of selling a few things to a large group of people, but instead, sell many things to a smaller group of people. Instead of trying to reach all of the masses, find your hardcore group of fans and deliver products to them that they WANT to buy from you.

So how do you do that? She suggests to start out by building up rapport with your email list. Don't communicate with them only when you're trying to sell something, but instead reach out to them for other reasons to help foster the relationship.

Ariel provides us with her 3-step process on how to get the most out of our newsletter - Greeting, Guts, and Getting. Start off with a personal greeting, something non-musical. Then move to the Guts of the email aka "the meat" of the newsletter. Then the last step is Getting them to act. Put in something that will get them to take action, like joining up to follow you on a social networking site, or offering them a free download, etc...

The next section is about using surveys to find out what your fans want so that you can maximize your potential to deliver it to them. She suggests waiting until you have a real fan base (minimum 1,000 strong) to ask them what they want from you. It's gonna be awhile before I get to that level but fortunately for me, the next chapter in the book is on growing your list :-)

I think the thing that I'll definitely take away from this lesson is the concept of selling many things to fewer people. Not sure what I'm going to do to make that work for me just yet, but I'll be spending some time brainstorming on that one for sure. Might even try and get some ideas from my fans while I'm at it... :-)

Blog Contest Week 4 - Musician's Web 2.0 Guide

Hard to believe that it's been almost a month since I wrote the entry for Week 3 in the CyberPR blog contest. Check out my last post to see some of the reasons (*cough* excuses *cough*) why (as well as pictures of our new cats!).

One area that I've been struggling with as I've read through this book is in the way that I perceive myself as a musician/artist. Here's what I know:

What I know that I AM: a songwriter and a composer for film and tv

What I know that I AM NOT: a touring artist

My dilemma lies in finding that line between writing music for use in film/tv and writing music for mass (hopefully) public consumption. Because I don't sing, or at least not in a voice that most would find pleasing, though I can do the scary cookie monster growling thing fairly well, I typically write more instrumental tracks. And though most of what I do is guitar driven, I am NOT a "shredder" like some of my favorite guitarists - Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Gilbert, etc... - who typically write guitar driven instrumental music.

I do have some side projects with a couple of co-writers that do sing, Crushing Gray (rock/metal) and Big Blue Shoes (indie/rock/pop), but I still have a desire to "do my own thing." I guess what it REALLY boils down to is a fear of failure. I think every artist deals with that though. In this instance, my fear is about something that I'm planning on launching next month. I know that on my own, there is NO WAY I will be able to achieve the results that I'm hoping to get. But instead of dwelling on that now, let me try to get back on topic for this post. Trust me, there will be plenty of time to talk about "the big project" after I announce it next month.

Ok... Chapter 4 - A Musician's Web 2.0 Guide... There was a lot of stuff in this chapter that I was already doing or familiar with. But instead of glossing over it I wanted to put the time in to it as if it was all new to me.

The first exercise was to head on over to and check out some short videos on different Web 2.0 concepts. Though I was already familiar with the concepts, it was fun to watch the videos. They were short, concise and amusing. Well worth the 15 minutes.

Up next was setting up a Google Reader. This one has been one of the best pieces of advice for me personally so far. I had worked with an RSS reader once before a few years ago, not Google's, and just didn't enjoy the experience. But Google got this one right. With the exception of a few social networking/community sites, I've now got the RSS feeds for all of the sites that I visit on a daily/weekly basis set up in my reader. What a great time saver!

The next section was blogging and podcasting. One of the things she mentions to do is to sign up for an account with So I signed up for that and you should be able to see their plug-in is now on my blog.

This next exercise was to identify 50 blogs that you would like to have your music reviewed on. Remember the indecisiveness and the fear of failure from earlier? I think this exercise helped contribute to it... lol... I had to skip this section for the time being. I do plan to revisit it later, but it will be for when I go back through this book for my "band" projects, Crushing Gray and Big Blue Shoes. Actually... I just had a thought... instead of looking for blogs to review my music on the basis of it as being art, I think instead I will look to have it reviewed more for the basis of it's production quality! Yeah!!! I think that will be more in line with my "goals" at the moment. Then I'll start expanding the list to include reviews on the quality of the art. Whew... I'm glad that thought popped into my head. I actually feel a sense of relief, as funny as that may sound.

The next step was to join the Podsafe Music Network. I was glad that the book had the web site URL listed near the back of the book, but it would have been handy had it been included in this specific section as well. I didn't realize it was in the back of the book at first and I ended up going to google to find it. I created an account there and will begin the process of adding my music there over the next week.

The next section was on Twitter, which I've already been using for a while. I've got things synced up now so that when I upload a new track to my ReverbNation profile, it updates Twitter which in turn updates my Facebook profile. Thanks to an article by Robert Holland from - I was able to get my Twitter feed to update my Facebook Fan page as well. Unfortunately, the specific method he was advocating, using Yahoo! Pipes, no longer works due to a change in policy by the Third Party developers. I'm still able to do it, but it's not as "neat" or "clean" as Robert's first plan was but it still does the job.

Finally, the next step was to get set up on Flickr. I wasn't sure if I was going to follow through with this step or not as I was beginning to get concerned that I was starting to spread myself too thin. But I figured I'd go ahead and do it anyway. I created my account and uploaded a couple of live shots of me from a show I played a couple of years ago, a picture of me with the legendary Bill Gaither, and a picture of each of our cats, both past and present.

That's all for this week's chapter. Now that I think I'm out of my funk and moving forward again, I plan on getting caught up this weekend and knocking out Chapter 5 as well as trying to do a better job of organizing my time for blogging, facebook, etc... so that I don't start to get the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the "non-musical" music stuff that I'm trying to keep up with.

Until next time...

An update

I've got another blog entry coming up for the contest I'm in but before I get to that, let me get everyone up to speed on what's been going on the last few weeks. There have been several things that have both helped me stay focused and at the same time keep me distracted.

The short version is that it took me a few weeks to really work through the grief of losing our cat, Grey. There were several days that I just didn't feel like doing anything with music or being active online with Twitter or Facebook, and for the most part I didn't. Now let me say, I'm not one for drama and I'm not out for attention. I wouldn't go so far to say that I was depressed, but I was definitely not myself.

Even today, I still miss our cat but I think the grief is over with. One reason for that is we are now the owners of TWO cats - Ronan (the tabby on the left) and Teyla (the calico on the right). And to any Stargate: Atlantis fans out there, the answer is "yes" but I'll save that story for another day. Needless to say, they have definitely filled a void that our last cat left, and it definitely took the both of them to fill that hole.

Another distraction for me is college basketball season is in full effect right now. My love for music is equaled (some might even say surpassed) by my love for Kentucky Wildcats basketball. And with the season we're having, especially compared to the last two-four years, I'm in hoops heaven right now.

But all has not been lost. There were a couple of weeks in which I actually was very productive on the music front, thanks in part to one of my friends and colleagues, Lydia Ashton. She gave me a chance to work with her on scoring the music for a short action/drama film. We had a quick turnaround time (2 weeks, start to finish) but we were able to get it done in time and the director really liked the stuff we came up with. I'll put a link up to the film as soon as I get one.

This was my second score-to-picture gig and I gotta say that I absolutely loved it. We had to stay close to the temp music, which was fine, but we still had a chance to be creative. I enjoy the challenge of trying to write something that's similar to what the director originally heard when they put in the temp music but is still original and unique and sounds like me. THAT... is fun.

One of the most exciting things that I took from that project was getting to write my first ever non-guitar and non-drum kit based cue. Typically, every piece of music I've ever written has either started with a guitar riff (electric or acoustic) or a groove on the drum kit. But while working on this film, I got to write a cue that was based more on synth pads, ambient sounds, percussion and strings. I had a blast! Once I figure out a "formula", I hope to start knocking out some more cues like that.

Speaking of cues like that... Earlier tonight I got an offer to work on another project for one of the larger libraries that I write for. I'll only be writing a couple of cues for this one. It's a VERY quick turnaround but should be fun.

Until next time...


Earlier this week I read online that one of my favorite bands, Demon Hunter, was about to release a new album in a few weeks. I decided to listen to one of their older albums, Summer of Darkness, while I was working. As I listened to the album, I felt a connection that I can't really explain. I've got hundreds of Cd's and there are very, VERY few of them that I have the same type of strong connection with.

I'll try to put it into words but I doubt I can. The hard part in doing so is that while listening triggered some specific memories or emotions at the same time, they were also generic and vague. Make sense? Nah, not to me either. But regardless... that album makes me feel something.

As I think about it more, I can kind of pinpoint some of the reasons why the album connected with me so much. First off is the music itself. They weren't the first band to do the heavy-yet-melodic style but they were one of the first Christian bands that I personally heard do it that well. And that's another thing... I'm gonna get on a soapbox for a second... OK, actually, I'm not... I'll just say that everything that Demon Hunter did on that album, from the music itself to the artwork, screamed excellence. I wish more people would follow their lead in that regard.

And speaking of the artwork... I have no doubt the visual imagery that they provided for that album is one of the reasons it connected with me so much. It just added another element to the overall listening experience. They do that with each of their albums, another reason why they're one of my favorites.

This is also one of the first albums I got after getting back into music. From around September 2001 to March 2005 I took a break from the music scene. When I got back into it, a friend of mine told me about these guys and after watching a video from their first album I was hooked.

Sorry if this post has been a bit more of free-flow than normal. But I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I wonder how many other people out there have similar albums and stories. Is there a specific album that you have that no matter where you are or what kind of mood you're in, the moment you begin to hear it, you have all kinds of thoughts and emotions rushing through your head? Anyone?

Blog Contest Week 3 - Optimizing Your Website

It's been a bit easier to focus on music this week, especially compared to the previous two. Having to go back to the day job helped re-establish a bit of routine but I'd be lying if I said that everything is back to normal. But I was able to do a better job with my Daily 5 this week, definitely better than the previous week.

Here's a quick update on the six music goals that I set for 2010 back in Week 1's post.
  1. Distribution Model - I'm still deciding on the distribution model for my music but I will have a decision made by next weekend.
  2. Online Presence Integration - I have some integration going on between Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and ReverbNation but I still need to tweak their appearances as well as change the Twitter-Facebook relationship to update my fan page instead of my personal facebook page.
  3. Organizing Catalog into Albums - Haven't touched this one.
  4. Re-Design Web Site - Finished!
  5. Write 50 New Tracks - Should have my first one done later tonight!
  6. Weekly Hour of Promotion - Haven't done this yet. Will start focusing on this one now that #4 is done and #2 is nearing completion.
Even though I haven't seen any monetary success from doing this blog contest (yet), I am already very appreciative of the focus it's given me towards marketing myself and my music. For those who truly know me, they would agree that I'm much more comfortable being in the background than I am being in the spotlight. I don't really enjoy the self-promotion aspect of music. But I also know that if I want to be successful and have a career at this, ESPECIALLY as a non-touring artist, then I HAVE to self-promote, and I have to do it EFFICIENTLY and EFFECTIVELY. That's one of the reasons I decided to do this contest. I'll be completely honest with you... I'm not even concerned about winning... Do I want to win? Yes! Of course I do. I'm VERY competitive. But I can honestly say that I'm more interested in developing a system of habits and techniques that will enable me to be successful over the long run than I am about winning a contest. But trust me... I want to win!!! :-)

Week 3 - Optimizing Your Website is the shortest chapter in the book at only 3 pages in length. But those pages contain 6 steps for maximizing your web site. Some of the steps include adding your pitch to your home page, making sure your page loads in 3.5 seconds, getting rid of flash intros and adding a consistent look and feel across all of your online presence.

Even though I had originally planned to have my web site re-design finished around May, after reading through this chapter I decided to move it up. Instead of writing some new tracks over the holidays, I spent some time writing code instead. I took the steps Ariel mentioned and tried to incorporate them into a new site.

While I was working on this, I heard from one of my old college roommates, Nathan, who happens to have the moniker of being my #1 fan. He's been there since the very beginning when I first learned how to play guitar back in the dorm room. He truly earned the name. The reason he wrote was to give his opinion on my perfect pitch. He mentioned that my more recent material had started moving towards a keyboard-based, dirty synth lead type of sound, a la Linkin Park. And while he thought the pitch was good, he felt like if I was going to continue in that new direction, that maybe I should consider that.

I was glad that he brought that up. And since he's a big fan, I had to consider what he was saying. Even though I know I still have a bit of the Foo Fighters influence in my songs, the more recent stuff doesn't reflect that as much. So I revised my perfect pitch and ran it past him and got the approval from the #1 fan. So here is the new perfect pitch:

Imagine a steel cage match between Sevendust and Linkin Park with Joe Satriani as the referee...

I agree with him that it's more fitting and is a better description of where I'm at now musically, as well as the direction I'm heading in.

Now back to the website... I tried to implement Ariel's 6 steps in my new design. First off, I added my pitch to the site. I put it in a spot so that it's always there, no matter which page you land on, so there will be no doubt for anyone who visits the site as to what my music sounds like.

The next step was making sure the page loads in under 3.5 seconds. I implemented some caching on the back end to help with this process. Another step was to not use a Flash intro. That was an easy one since I don't program in Flash :-)

The fourth step was to implement a consistent look and feel throughout the net. I've partially done this in regards to my other social networking sites but I haven't completed this one yet. Mainly because I was waiting to go live with this site before taking on the other ones. But that will be one of my Daily 5 items for the upcoming week!

The next step was to give away an exclusive MP3 or video or something that would entice people to sign up for your email list. So I made myself a banner ad with "FREE MP3" written on it to hopefully entice people to sign up. The final step is to make it clear to the user that once they sign up they'll be told how to get their free item, as well as make sure they know their email address will never be given out to anyone ever. To handle the first half of that step, I was able use a feature in my ReverbNation account that sends an auto-response when someone signs up for your email list so that made it easy to manage the instructions aspect.

Coming up next week is the Musician's Guide to Web 2.0. Looking forward to that one as I suspect it will be a crucial step in the process of getting my music out there. But now I've got a couple last minute things to check and then I'll be publishing my new site. It should be live within an hour or so of posting this blog.

Until next time...