Why I Watch the Hallmark Channel

Why I Watch the Hallmark Channel

It’s a Saturday afternoon in mid-July and I’m sitting at home watching Mistletoe Over Manhattan on the Hallmark Channel. If it sounds like a Christmas movie, you’d be correct. Both Hallmark stations are featuring Christmas in July this summer, running previously aired Christmas programs. I’ve seen this one numerous times, as I did the one that was on when I first turned on the television. But I’m still plopped down on my sofa, pretending to get work done, as I veg out in front of the TV — because it’s too hot to be outside — watching Christmas movies in July!

I haven’t always watched the Hallmark Channel; and I certainly typically reserved the watching of Christmas programs for the holiday season. But I’ve seen my own consumption of these programs increase, throughout the year, over recent years; especially the last three. And according to several articles I’ve read recently, apparently I’m not the only one.

Forget about the talks regarding the increase in primetime ratings, the shift in gender demographics, and growth of viewers among the coveted 18-49 year olds.  I personally started watching the Hallmark Channel as an escape from the world which seems to have suddenly started to lose much of its collective minds! As much as I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand; not remaining informed about the things going on around me and what’s happening in our country, the bombardment of negative, divisive, and depressing news that’s filled the small screens lately has become too much to consume on a regular basis..

I no longer enjoy watching dramas and crime stories, because the plots are too real; many times snatched right out of the headlines of the day. Reality TV is a train wreck, the talent shows seem rigged, and most of the sitcoms are no longer family-friendly.

In the past, I’d always turned to stations like HGTV and the Food Network to get away from all of the craziness of the real world. They were such great stress relievers. But they’ve changed so much over time that they are no longer enjoyable to watch. I mean, HGTV seems to only be about renovating, flipping, and buying homes. Gone are the decorating shows and programs focusing on actually THE home; and people enjoying being at home! They might as well call themselves H-TV, since there’s pretty much nothing going on with the “G” category of their name — no gardening shows whatsoever. And if you’re not interested in people competing, you might as well forget about watching the Food Network; at least not at night! Of course, that’s the time of day when most working people get a chance to watch anything.

What the Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channels have figured out is the adult formula of Disney! The programming is simple — positive, family-friendly, uplifting, encouraging, and inspirational. The Christmas shows are almost always stacked with the stereotypical trappings of the holidays — overly decorated homes, lots of glitter and gold, snow covered yards, roaring fireplaces and fire pits, snowball fights, plenty of homemade cookies and a gingerbread house, hot cocoa and cider, and of course an ice skating rink — mostly all in the same show! And then there are the romance programs; sectioned off seasonally — February’s Valentine’s Day programming, Spring romance, June weddings, summer and autumn themed love stories, which all have the story line predictability of a sunrise over the Atlantic ocean!

And in spite of knowing all of this…I love it! We all do; those of us who keep helping to grow the Nielson ratings for this network.

But why do we love it? Why do I watch the Hallmark Channel?

  • No politics! Not even when there’s a politician in the storyline.
  • No murderers.  Though someone has usually lost a mom or dad; a spouse, or child, and that loss is typically what brings them together with the family or love interest in the story.
  • Family first. The importance of family, even in conflict, is never taken for granted, and ultimately, the “good” character traits are attributed back to someone important in their family.
  • Everyone who loses a job, finds a bigger, better one. Or they strike out on their own, following their passions and dreams that their regular job kept them from achieving.
  • Love wins. Even if the person has to discover the true meaning of love along the way, and/or ends up with someone different than who they thought they were in love with.
  • No illicit sex scenes and no profanity. I can watch Hallmark with any age member of my family and friends.

I watch the Hallmark Channel in part to be reminded that good entertainment doesn’t have to include sex, drugs, violence, and heaven forbid — politics! People are interested in their entertainment —  music, movies, literature — to be entertained; to enjoy their time in front of the screen or in a book. I think that too many writers, television and movie studios and executives, songwriters and music artists forget that. 

I think Hallmark is accomplishing that, at least in my household, and with many of my friends.

Now, if they would only work on the lack of diversity in their programming!

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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 Happened to Summer?

IMG_4300Wait what?!! Is it time for school already? Where did the last three months go?! Maybe I say that every year, but I don’t think I’ve had a summer quite as busy as this one. Funny thing is that while most people think teachers and professors “get summers off,” they don’t realize how much work we’re involved in during those months — research, writing, presenting, prepping classes with fresh material — and that’s not even taking into consideration that sometimes that includes teaching summer school classes. Teaching summer school wasn’t in the cards for me this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a packed year filled with plenty of school/work related projects filling up those weeks.

August

Was there anything else happening around the country this summer?  EclipseMTSU had its own official viewing event, including artists from our record label, astronomers and other scientists from our university, and a great place to view the historic totality event.

My job that day was to help transport the student artists to and from the stage and the “make-shift ” backstage green room area — a room in the College of Media & Entertainment! The music was presented by several artists, and me always being in the PR mindset wherever I go, I used every opportunity to also try to get them in front of any of the reporters on campus with a microphone and the time for an interview! 

At the end of the day, the event didn’t disappoint. And so it was more fun than work!

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Before the Eclipse, there was LA

The time I spent in the library working on a paper in June paid off when I had the opportunity to present that paper two months later at the MIRA conference (Music Industry Research Association) in Los Angeles. I was excited most about this opportunity because the association included a number of people from outside the music industry. MIRA’s goal is to bring together experts from different disciplines who are doing research about music and the music industry. I had the chance to meet and later speak to other academics, including some from Business Schools, as well as researchers from music platforms, like Pandora, and other music industry professionals.

 

Women in Film and Television

I also managed to squeeze in another speaking engagement, this time with the ladies of the Nashville chapter of WiFT. The topic was on how to engage students and academia into independent projects. I have enjoyed the chance to connect with other people and non-academic organizations this summer; expanding my network.

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One of the first things I say to my students during the first week of school is that while they might be enrolled in the Music Business program of a Recording Industry Department, today’s music industry is as much about the bigger picture of the Entertainment industry — music, film, television, video, sports — as it is just about songwriting, recording, and performing live music! You have to get out and meet and mingle with other people doing things that might influence — directly or indirectly — what you do, and expand your network to keep creativity at the forefront.

Looking forward to what this new academic school year will bring; new faces, mostly open minds, with their own dreams of making it in this Music Business!

Labor Day is Not Just for Cookouts

So we’re two weeks into the new college academic school year, and we’re having our first break — Labor Day! Every few years, I like to remind myself of the historical significance of some of the holidays we often take for granted. Labor Day is one of those. Another day off from work; no school; an extension of the summer vacation. I’ve heard it referred to by almost everything except what it was designed for, and the reason the first Monday of every September was put aside as a holiday.

According to the Department of Labor’s website, Labor Day is intended to be dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Like many other American holidays, I sometimes think if the real meaning and purposes of these days, which we set aside for either celebration or remembrance of something significant to the values, growth, or protection our country, are buried under the day-long or weekend obligations of parties and picnics; camping and cookouts. Or drowned out by the advertising sounds of retail shopping, car dealer sales, and specials on in-ground pools and summer inventory clearance!

Social and economic achievements of American workers. That’s saying a lot; especially in these modern times. How often do we think about what we do, and how those things contribute to these achievements every day?

There’s a lot of “labor” that goes into working in the entertainment industry; whether you work in motion pictures, television, radio, sports; even gaming. And then there’s music, which I believe also helps to contribute to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”  They all require a labor force!

Not everyone understands that while from the outside, this industry might look glamorous, the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to make it successful. “Overnight” successes are years in the making. And it could be decades before you see sustainability in many artist’s careers.

The word “labor,” means to “work” or “hard work.” The noun for “work,” is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. In spite of the definitions, people still complain when they have to “work;” and when what they’re doing is “hard,” and requires a mental or physical challenge.

I asked students an open-ended question on their first quiz this semester. I wanted to know what they were looking forward to learning and getting out of the Artist Management class. There were several predictable answers expected from someone taking a course such as this. But one student made mention of the fact that while they were interested in working in the music industry, they didn’t want a job that required more than a 40-hour work week.

I chuckled when I read this, but I did not directly challenge the student on their thinking. Obviously there are some jobs in the industry that are basic 9 to 5 type of positions. But I did take the opportunity to let them know that management was not one of them; neither would be most of the jobs related to building an artist’s career.

Working in the music industry, and certainly in artist management, is not for those more interested in keeping up with the clock and hitting some magical “end of the work week.” It requires labor. Hard work. And it will at times be taxing on both the mental and physical capacity of the person doing it. But if it’s something you’re seriously interested in doing, it can and will also be rewarding. And like most things, that means it’ll be worth the time.

A Vision for the Future

“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2

Sunday night, I spent the evening with a group of creative and energetic ladies working on a fun project — creating a Vision Board. We all work in various ares of the entertainment industry and are members of a wonderful organization: National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment (NABFEME). Being the beginning of another new year, it was the perfect opportunity to do a project like this. So we grabbed stacks of magazines, scissors, glue sticks, and got started.

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A Vision Board is simply a visual representation, put down on a board, of someone’s Goals, Dreams, Aspirations; I guess you could even say their Resolutions. What is it that you want to accomplish — to travel, read more, pursue something you’re passionate about, start a business — in a given time period; a year, five years; or any given point in the future.  But when one of the ladies asked if anyone had a Wedding book, I could hear snickering, until I and a couple of others said, “Why not?” If a vision board is suppose to represent your goals, and one of your dreams includes getting married, then truly — Why Not include that!? That’s the cool thing about laying out a plan. If it’s going to be real; something you’re working towards; something attainable — then it must also be honest. It must represent who you are and what you want. It’s your vision for yourself; not someone else’s.

It’s been a really long time since I actually put together a “Board.” I prefer journaling my thoughts, and keeping goal-setting, and my deep dreams to myself. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to think about how someone else might perceive my vision; or to hear the snickering about something they may find surprising on my list. That doesn’t mean I won’t put it down; or at least in the security of one of my many journals. By participating in this exercise with fellow strong, confident, creative women, it opened the door for me to be able to speak more openly about those key words of promise and finding pictures of concrete examples of the very things I have every intention of working towards and accomplishing for my life. I also got to meet and make new friends, network with future associates, and have fun sharing my vision with other visionaries.

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If you have never done a vision board before, try it. Go ahead and cut out those words, phrases and photos from magazines and newspapers. Write those thoughts and inspirational and motivational sayings down. Stop by Michael’s and pick up a board to display them — full view for you to see and be reminded of daily. And then go for it! It’s your life. It’s your future. It’s YOUR Vision!

 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18

GMA Dove Awards Announcement

The 44th annual GMA Dove Awards will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at the David Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, it’s not too late. Support the Gospel Music Association and your favorite Christian and Gospel music artists.

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IMG_4973 Nashville Mayor Karl Deen Welcoming the Dove Awards back to Nashville!

IMG_4976 GMA Executive Director Jackie Patillo welcoming Press Conference Hosts Doug & Jaci from Salem Communication’s The Fish radio station.

IMG_4978  94 FM The Fish radio morning co-hosts Doug and Jaci (Velasquez) introducing press conference special guests

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For more information on the Gospel Music Association and the GMA Dove Awards, go to http://www.gospelmusic.org!