Looking Backwards. Springing Forward!

This month. It’s March! And it’s almost over. So quickly it slid in, and so fast it’s marching out towards April.

This is the time of year when I like to take a little time to reflect back over the years since I shifted gears and went into a different direction. It was nine years ago when I launched my new company (www.gloriagreenentertainment.com). The date I chose to go live with my website and the announcement about my new venture was not random. I chose March 20 — the first day of Spring — for a reason. Actually, for many reasons.

Spring has always been the season many people associate with new beginnings. Life! Fresh starts. It’s the time of year when early flowers force their way up through the ground, and trees start greening up; others budding in preparation for the blooming show they’ll give us later!

I had every reason for wanting to make a fresh start in my career when I did. So the seasonal timing of it seemed only fitting. And while I have no regrets for forging ahead with Gloria Green Entertainment, there’s a lot I would do differently. If there was a time machine that I could jump into, and take the knowledge I have gathered, I would definitely apply that information, and make some major changes to my launch, my focus, and my time; doing things a little differently than I did starting out in 2009.

Looking back over the past nine years, here’s what I learned.

  • People will use you. This was not a new concept to me. I’d met users throughout my life, and even worked with some, no matter what job I was in. But striking out on my own, where my income was dependent upon closing deals, it was definitely frustrating after spending hours in meetings and/or conference calls; even traveling to the location of potential clients, only to figure out what they wanted more than hiring my company was gathering my expertise.
  • People will take advantage of your knowledge and network. I’d been somewhat forewarned about this one. After reading a blog by an Industry Insider, I attended a seminar he held that was designed for the many music industry people who, at the time, were all finding themselves in this new “entrepreneurship” world all around the same time period. His caution…don’t let someone pick your brain for a cup of coffee. It was interesting that he used that term, because I’d stop counting the number of people who wanted to “grab a cup of coffee,” and “pick my brain,” which was just code for “I want to know what you know and who you know, but I don’t want to actually pay you any money for it or invest in you by hiring your company.” I was surprised and then somewhat sad that so many other of my industry associates were having the same experience. Some of us even dealt with some of the same “brain pickers.” It was one thing to receive email from complete strangers. Those I could blow off, questioning the gall of someone to think what I spent over 20 years building, they could just take advantage of over a $3.00 cup of Starbucks! But then there were the people who worked in the industry; other areas, or perhaps just not as established as where I was. Those are the ones where I had to take a step back, shake my head and wonder why (sometimes after the fact), they could think it’s okay to take advantage of their former industry peers.
  • People will want something for nothing. Probably the biggest lesson learned is just how much some people want something for nothing. It’s one of the biggest issues I caution my students about even today — to beware of the “friends” and other people they might know who ask for something (input on a project, help with artist development, assistance connecting with people in the industry, access to network and favors, hours of phone calls “bouncing ideas around!” etc.), but don’t want to give anything in return! I would even have been happy if they were willing to barter our expertise or services. Once, I had someone who wanted my help in public relations for one of their clients. I was willing. But weeks later, when I asked the same person if I could see a sample copy of a management contract they had for one of their clients, there was silence. No return email or text…for weeks. Until I happened to run into that person at an industry event, and asked them in person. The excuse was to blame their partner who didn’t want to share information that they had paid for. I went home from that event with the “REALLY?” expression still on my face. What the heck did they think I had just done for them?!

There are many lessons I learned over the pat several years. Actually, anyone working on anything over the course of time, will learn lessons that they wish they’d known sooner, and with the additional experience that years bring you, discover which of those things they would make a point of not to repeating.

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Springing forward into the coming years, I’m more ready now to deal with all of those same things today than I was all those years ago. I am moving ahead with many things that’s to come, which not only includes relaunching Gloria Green Entertainment later this Spring, but also continuing my full-time job as a college professor teaching Music Business to the next generation of music industry executives.

Lessons learned. Time passed. After looking backwards at my mistakes and successes; I’m ready to look forward to my next season. And so much more…

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There’s No Such Thing as an Overnight Success

I spent my Friday afternoon at a workshop designed for faculty and staff development.  The speaker started off by sharing some of his background and his personal and professional journey, which was very impressive. At one point we had open dialogue about some topics, before he returned to his powerpoint to share some final thoughts and quotes.

We talked about the importance of taking care of our Mind, Body, and Spirt. But there was really just one line in a quote that stood out to me the most; almost the moment he read it. The sentence was “…the will must be stronger than the skill.”

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The entire quote stuck out at me as I immediately went from the gym and an athlete, and thought about music, and some of the students I’ve taught, artists I’ve worked with, and people who have asked me questions about how to break into the music industry. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this quote in its entirety, but oh how true it is.

Every new semester I have students in my class who raise their hands when I make the rounds of asking what each student is interested in doing after graduation, and get to the “be an artist” part. By mid-semester, my questions are more direct.

“What are you doing today to help reach your goal of becoming an artist; to be someone who can see success in the industry?”

I’m always careful to tell them that success isn’t measured by how much money is in their bank account, how many cars they drive, or how large their house is. But for those interested in being a commercially successful artist, they need to be working towards ways to make a living at what they do just as much as someone who wants to be an attorney, a teacher, an accountant, or an NBA All-Star.

But what I often find are those students who say they are artists, but their actions don’t line up with their words. When pressed, I find that they are not (and in many cases have never been) out performing anywhere. Many don’t have websites, haven’t posted any of their music online, and are inactive on social media, other than their own personal social media pages where they share photos of their vacations, and videos of pets and babies.

By the end of the semester, my message is this: You can call yourself an artist all day long. You might even have an incredible voice, and back in high school, may have won every talent competition you entered. But if you are not putting in the work today — writing, recording, performing, promoting yourself — then it’s highly unlikely that you will see any real success; because your actions don’t show that you are as serious about doing this for a living as you claim.

It might seem harsh to tell college students that they aren’t real artists, but it’s also a reality check. For those who really have “something deep inside them…” they need to understand that it’s not just the skill (talent), but has to also be their will — a willingness to put in the work — and that it “must be stronger than the skill.”

I’ve worked with some talented artists before, both at a talent agency and my own company, and in both places it wasn’t hard to tell which artists had the drive, who worked hard, did everything they could to improve their skills, increase their exposure, worked it at every opportunity they had. Versus others who sat back, doing the least amount — not willing to practice (sing, play, dance) on a regular basis; or sacrifice with less TV watching and more band practicing; doing less Instagraming selfies, and more posting updates of what they are working on, where they’re playing, what they’ve been up to. Getting out there and performing in front of audiences, working on their website, learning about style, stage presence, and branding are just as important as being able to sing, because you have the voice for it. In other word, being willing to do more of the hard, less glamorous stuff.

An industry associate of mine recently posted online a list of comments attributed to Tyler Perry, regarding building your platform; something she said her mentor had shared with her. Her mentor told her that within the list, she was not doing well in two areas. One of the things that applies here is this:

“Stop wasting your time on TV, Games, Dumb stuff, & People…”

Does that mean never watch television, never play video games, or to become a hermit and never be around other people? Of course not. But for those who are serious about achieving their goals, following their passions, and not just sitting back dreaming about what they want to do “one day,” it means making sacrifices and actively working at doing what you need to in order to help accomplish those goals. It also means taking back some of that time when you’re doing something else (sitting in front of the TV, the computer, or on a smartphone), and instead using that time to work on your craft, improve upon your talent, and get to the place you want to be — to become a “champion” in your field.

Torrez Marketing & Productions

So 2018 is here! You’ve made more personal new year’s resolutions, and now you’re re-evaluating your professional goals; reassessing which ones you reached last year, and what changes you want to make for this year.

If one of those goals include starting your own business, expanding the company you already have, creating a secondary revenue stream, or turning that hobby into a source of income, then one of the things you’ll want to be sure not to overlook is your Marketing plan.

I often tell my music business students that it doesn’t matter how talented they are, how well they can sing, or how many songs they’ve written. If they don’t know how to promote and market themselves, then they won’t be able to sell their music, increase their fanbase, and grow their business. The same principle applies for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Let me introduce you to Gabe and Danielle Torrez and their company Torrez Marketing & Productions (TMP). Gabe and Danielle are storytellers from Nashville, TN. Driven by a desire to make your brand shine, TMP specializes in creating shareable content that your followers, friends and business contacts will want to watch and repost.

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Prior to creating TMP, Gabe Torrez worked on the creative team at Bethel World Outreach Church bringing messages to life through video and visuals. Danielle (Kimmey) Torrez formerly worked as Director of Marketing for eOne’s Worship division, and is best known for being one-third of the singing group Out of Eden.

Together, Gabe and Danielle take their shared industry knowledge and utilize it to create fascinating business branding videos, music videos, wedding videos, and much more.

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To contact TMP for more information and pricing packages, email Gabe Torrez at torreztmp@gmail.com or call 615.500.0596. Samples of their work can be found on Youtube at Torrez Marketing & Production.

What Did You Get for Christmas?

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Was it a brand new guitar? No? Perhaps you already have one that’s been collecting dust because you never learned how to play. Or maybe you play a little, but haven’t figured out how to go from amateur hobbyist to a professional guitarist. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play guitar and work professionally at it, but haven’t found a teacher who can also share tips on making it in the music business, then meet singer/songwriter, and classically trained guitarist Robert Arthur! 

 
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In addition to his one-on-one personal lessons offered locally in Nashville, TN, Robert is now accepting guitar students via Skype and FaceTime. A graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors degree in classical guitar performance, Robert was a full-time guitar teacher in Union, SC before moving to Nashville in 1992. He has toured extensively with country music artists Brad Paisley, Jeff Bates, The Henningsens and many others, and has performed with legends like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, and shared the stage with a number of other country music stars. 

“My guitars have seen all the lower 48 states, Canada, the Caribbean!” Robert Arthur

As a studio musician, Robert has spent many hours in different types of studios, recording hundreds of sessions, from very low-budget demos to major label records. As I songwriter he has been blessed to have had three major publishing deals, and over 100 songs recorded by small independent country and Gospel music artists, and major-label acts such as Chris Young and Brad Paisley. One instrumental cut with Paisley was nominated for a Grammy.

Robert wants to put his vast experience to work for you helping to equip you in many styles, on acoustic or electric, and to share his special insights for the guitar playing songwriter! He is passionate about the guitar and would love to put that passion to work for you! Contact Robert Arthur at: SirRobArtMusic@bellsouth.net for more information about pricing, scheduling, etc.

Listening is not the same as Learning

Just two months before the start of another school year. I’m not counting down in anticipation of returning to work. But I am thinking about how fast life seems to be flying by. Three weeks ago I attended my niece’s high school graduation.

The thought of her being 18 and heading off to college this fall is just mind blowing. There’s the obvious…the passage of time that just doesn’t keep up with the calendar, the clock, and everything else that makes it unbelievable that I’m 18 years older this month, anymore than it does that she’s a high school graduate!

Then there’s the realization that she, like so many other teenagers, are heading off to college, ready of their freshmen year; full of knowledge, hope, excitement, and — unfortunately, already set in her way. You know, like many of us were who “knew everything already;” whose parents were old-fashion and out of touch, and couldn’t tell us anything. And even when they tried, we didn’t listen.

But these students? The ones I see in class and walking around campus. The teenage and young adults who spend the money and the time attending school, and who say they’re interested in a career in the music industry, but their actions (and inaction) doesn’t support what their words are saying. I’m still scratching my head at many of them.

The music industry is a competitive place. Getting a job in it has almost nothing to do with what degree you earn. But it does have to do with what information you learned; knowledge you gained; experiences you had; people you met; abilities and talents you have; and the drive to succeed.

I spoke at and lead a panel discussion at the Music Biz conference in Nashville back in May. The topic was on how students could increase their chances of alining internships during school, and jobs after graduation. The three-day conference cost several hundreds of dollars for industry persons attending, but less than $75.00 for students. There were dozens of seminars offered throughout the day; industry-related social activities each night; an awards luncheon included in the costs, and literally hundreds of professional industry executives and other persons speaking, sitting on panels, and walking the halls of the event. I spent months talking about the event coming up; weeks strongly encouraging students to register and attend; and even in the final days of school, had emails sent to everyone in the program. In spite of that, not even a dozen students attended.

 

So if a student or anyone else, says they’re interested in finding a job in the music industry, why would they not want to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about it; to meet people doing it; and to network with others who are also trying to get in it? Why does a student need to be pushed into finding internships, or volunteering at industry functions, or joining industry-related clubs and organizations?

Shouldn’t those who are serious about a career in the industry be in happy active pursuit and doing all they can to be competitive enough to get the job!?

My niece isn’t pursing a degree or career in the music industry. She wants to be a nurse; a neonatal nurse to be exact. She plans to spend her life helping to save babies’ lives. I applaud her for that. It’s something she’s been interested in since she was a young child herself; and it never changed through the years. But my prayer for her is the same thing that I say to my students — that their desire is not to learn enough to pass a test or get a good grade in class. But their desire should be to gain the kind of knowledge they will need to put what they’ve learned to use in the real world, and do something to make it a better place for everyone!

An Artist’s Perspective

So one of the really great things about teaching in the Recording Industry at a university so close to Music City is that there’s so much talent, knowledge, history, and clout just a few miles away. And while you may think most people would want to keep all of that power to themselves, I have found that there’s far more music industry insiders willing and even wanting to share their stories, give advice, and leave students with great nuggets of wisdom about this business we call the Music Industry — what to take away from their courses; how to build a better “hands’ on” resume experience, who the players are; how to become one; and how to get things done! Of course, it helps that I was one of those “Insiders” and I still carry my “Music Biz card.” But I’m still always happy when I get a yes from associates and industry executives who will make the 30 mile drive from Nashville to Murfreesboro to share with my industry students.

Today, one of my Artist Management classes had the pleasure of hearing from a singer/songwriter, and his journey from college to internship, and landing not only his first job, but a record deal after that. If you’re interested in Daniel Kirkley’s story, you can check out his website at www.danielkirkley.com.

But it is the pieces of advice he left with my students that I’ll share here.

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I.  Networking — Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and get to know people in the industry.

II.  Take Educated Risks — Someone is always watching you. They want to see what you can do and what you’re willing to do.

III.  Never Stop Working — Know what you want. But don’t be so focused on a single thing that you miss other opportunities.

IV.  Enjoy the Ride!

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Afterwards, I shared with them Daniel’s first music video. His new EP will be released by the end of the month, along with a new video.

Do You Know Latin Urban Gospel Artist Michelle Bonilla?

If you’ve never heard of her, let me introduce you! Mixing her blend of hip hop, Latin, pop, and urban Gospel style in her high energy performances. Michelle reaches audiences of all ages. She can sing. She can dance. She’ll entertain you, and then sit down and talk with you. You won’t leave one of her shows without knowing more of who she is and why she does what she does. Just take a listen here.

Now it’s time for her to return to the studio and make another record that old fans will love, and new and curious fans will embrace. And she’s using kickerstarter to get things started. Help Michelle do what she does best…sing, perform, and record the kind of music that you love!

Click on the link for more information about how you can be a part of making it happen:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/michellebonilla/michelle-bonillas-new-album-freedom