Seville, Spain – Semana Santa

 

60 seconds in Seville, from my One Cool Minute channel on You Tube.

 

Discipline (n) ;noun

The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

I have a lack of discipline. I never had discipline “instilled” in me by some outside force. No difficult crucible to engrain a dedicated focus that would benefit me for the rest of my life. Thus, I am fascinated by acts of human dedication, especially ones I can see in person. A prime example takes place in southern Spain each spring, in a festival called Semana Santa in Seville, Spain.

Seville is a mid sized city straddling the Guadalquivir river in the southern part of Spain, not too far from the Straight of Gibraltar. Thoughts of North Africa entered my mind but that would have to wait until another trip.

A week of solemn processions under cloudless skies where life size statues depicting the life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are walked through the streets of the city on the backs of parishioners. Starting with Viernes de Dolores and culminating with Resurrection Sunday, dozens of parishes will walk their floats from their temples to the Cathedral (the big one near the Taco Bell) and back.

I arrived in the early afternoon after a 5:00AM wake up call in Amsterdam. From the Airport to the City Center the streets got narrower and narrower until resembling something out of National Lampoons European Vacation or the Italy car scene in Master Of None. Luckily I wasn’t driving, though I thought I’d have to exit the car through the sunroof (I didn’t).

The first afternoon was spent walking around the city looking for parades but none were to be found. I walked into a luxurious hotel and asked the folks where the processions were, they handed me a map not made to scale where North was upside down. I discovered this is par for the course in Seville. For reasons too boring to get into here, it’s hard to get a good map of the city other than a GPS based phone map.

Evening turned into night and still no sign of the parades. I hadn’t seen one hooded figure with a huge candle stick, or a giant float depicting the crucifixion. By midnight, the early Amsterdam morning caught up with me so I decided it was bed time.

A couple hours later I woke up to a strange burning smell, and sounds not unlike a big cocktail party. I stumbled over to open the balcony doors and was met by a parade happening just below me.

Hundreds of hooded Sevillians walked down the narrow street. Long candles in their hands dripped hot wax on their cloaks while a crowd of onlookers watched from the sidewalk in the 90 degree heat. Men, women and children were all dressed up and involved in the procession. Some even walked barefoot as a sign of penance. I wore shoes and took pictures from the balcony with air conditioning at my back.

The next week was spent following the processions around town. Some during day, others during night. Most were accompanied by marching bands, a chosen few were completely silent.

An interesting side note, Dunkin Donuts is called Dunkin Coffee in Spain. Not sure if this is the case in other parts of Europe. I’ll have to keep an eye out on future trips.

I definitely want to experience Semana Santa again, I had a super great time and still look at the pictures/videos every few days. In the meantime, I’ll be in LA at the Animal Shelter writing music to fund my next adventure and working on my discipline….

$100K A Year In Syncs

I’ve seen a lot of offers for online courses to teach you how to earn “six figures” a year writing music for syncs.

Here’s a 20 minute video detailing how to do it. I’m not going to type out the blueprint in print, you’ll either have to watch the video or listen to the audio version which is linked below.

Continue the discussion on the YouTube video and hit up the YouTube detail page for my contact info!!

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=LvoxQqB8pu4

Fulfords World – Gavin Alexander (Vapor RMW)

I met up with Toronto based Music Supervisor Gavin Alexander at the Durango Songwriters Fest in Ventura Beach, CA. As we were catching up in the lobby I broke out my podcast equipment to record an episode. Many thanks to Gavin for recording with me. Check out the podcast below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel!!

John

The PAY TO PLAY Challenge

There’s been a noticeable increase in “composers” or “licensing experts” trying to charge upfront fees to submit music for licensing opportunities on behalf of musicians.

I invite all of them to participate in my PAY TO PLAY challenge. Here’s the guidelines.

  • The “licensing expert” in question sends me their most recent ASCAP/BMI/SESAC writers royalty check.
  • If they’re earning more money than one of my top three writers, I’ll officially endorse their company on my YouTube channel, on panels etc..

Unless they take me up on my challenge (and win), they’re ripping you off.

Any takers?

Unique ways to stack paper with MUSIC.

 

 

A thread on Gearslutz.com got me thinking about unique ways to make money with music. Here’s what i came up with. What do you think?

1) Holiday album with kids singing. Half original music, half public domain standards. 

I had this idea about 10 years ago. For some reason my roommates at the time absolutely hated this idea. I love it. It’s a sure-fire way to get music on Spotify and Pandora’s holiday playlists. Don’t let the fake “cup of coffee” stats fool you, streaming is lucrative if you own the master and publishing. Labels won’t disclose the amount of money they receive for their masters since it’s so lucrative.

2) “Misguided Kidz Bop”. Kids singing Drake, 2Chainz, Weeknd songs.

A great way to get featured on blogs. People will listen simply for the novelty. You don’t need a publishers permission to cover a song and sell it online. Of course you still have to pay them, but they don’t need to “clear” the song as if it was for a sync.

3) A rap-themed holiday album.

Write some holiday themed rap songs with holiday sounds embedded in the beats. Would do great on holiday themed content. Remember Outkast’s first single?

4) Record really great instrumental pieces, furnish them to rap producers to “sample” ala Frank Dux (the musician not the guy from Bloodsport).

If you have an under-utilized live room, record some instrumental interludes and put them on the web for producers to sample. The rise of “in the box” recording created a dearth of new, really great analog based instrumentals.

5) Approaching a film director offering to score the film in exchange for an equity position in the film instead of an upfront payment. 

Not only will you be in the music business, you’ll be in the film business. Films are always looking to cut costs. Offer them a FREE score in exchange for an equity position in the film. Parlay that into some nice panel appearances at film festivals to get more work…which you can charge upfront or take similar equity positions.

6) Re-score public domain films and release the soundtrack commercially after uploading the re-scored film to YouTube/Vimeo.

I think this is the coolest idea of the bunch. Take an old film and re-imagine the score with current sounds. Instant feature on both film AND music blogs. Upload your new original score to Spotify, iTunes etc.. and parlay your newfound press into more gigs.

7) Team up with a video production company, run around to local businesses offering to shoot commercials with a brand new custom jingle.

This works best in smaller cities/towns. You’re not looking to break the bank with this, instead earn a nice supplemental income while building your reel. Scout the local TV production companies and offer your services as a jingle writer.

After writing a few jingles, everyone in your city will be aware of your music. I’m sure the person who wrote the “GET IT AT GALPIN” jingle has no problem getting meetings in LA. The whole city KNOWS that jingle backwards and forwards.

8) Rent out your studio space to youngsters who want to make YouTube vids.

If you have a studio with a large “live room” it can easily be repurposed into a video production space. Each hour your live room is empty you’re losing money. Rent it at half price for people that bring their own equipment to shoot videos. Invest in a green screen to attract the most creators possible.

If creators want to use the AUDIO equipment they’d pay a higher rate.

9) Cold call 100 TV shows and ask what type of music they need, and if there’s anything in production that needs a theme song.

A sure-fire way to get work. No excuses just do it.

10) Book a rave at a local event venue.

Find a turn-key venue with insurance, security, bar tenders etc.. put down money to reserve the night. Charge a $20 cover, book some DJs with good marketing/social media skills. This will also grow your social circle. Bigger social circle equals more opportunities.

11) Start a YouTube channel about your personal trials and tribulations in the music business. Do 3 vids a week, get NI, UAD etc.. to sponsor your channel.

This is the most time intensive. Very doable if you have a personality and record/edit video. This also opens up a world wide audience of potential customers, buyers of your music etc.. You don’t need a Pensado’s Place level production, wonders can be done with a simple laptop webcam.

12) Host a stand-up comedy night at your recording studio. You can get A+ level standup talent to perform.

Celebrity level stand-up comedians play ancillary markets, invite them to perform at your studio. Charge $20 per person. Get some local openers who can bring a few heads each. All you’ll need for audio is a mic and decent PA system. The room is already treated for music so it should be easy to dial in clear audio.

The $16,000 ASCAP Check

A writer I know landed a $16,000 ASCAP check.  While my LA animals have seen their fare share of $16,000 ASCAP/BMI checks, this check went to someone in an East Coast “fly over” state.

For the rest of my people NOT in LA, NYC, Chicago etc… here is a blueprint of how to land your own $16,000 ASCAP/BMI/SEASC check..

Consistency is key. If you can only spend 10 hours a week doing music, working two hours a day for five days will be more beneficial than working 10 hours a day for one day. If you only work one day a week, you don’t have a chance to listen with “fresh” ears until a week later.

Stay on brief. If someone asks you for Urban Comedy, don’t deliver Rick Ross style gangsta beats. You’d be surprised how many people can’t keep to a brief. Nothing more to say on this subject except to say again, STAY ON BRIEF.

Chill with the excuses. A lot of musicians are super hungry and willing to work BEFORE I agree to work with them. Then all of a sudden it’s the excuse olympics.  I’ve heard it all. One guy took 6 months off cause is Cat died. Another guy blew a deadline cause he had to drive to LA from the bay area for a “jam sesh”. GTFO with that nonsense.

If you approach your production music career in  blue collar fashion you’ll be on your way to a great royalty stream. Treat it like a job. It’s a fun, satisfying job but still a job. Don’t flake!

 

AMSTERDAM

I went to Amsterdam. It was interesting. Some places didn’t accept cash, other places didn’t accept credit cards.

VidCon Europe was the reason for the trip. I can’t wait to attend the one in Anaheim this June. I always had other things to do besides VidCon Anaheim but this year I’m making it a point to attend. The level of pure creativity can’t be match by MIDEM, Cannes Lions, Real Screen West, or any of the other “creative” conferences taking place this summer.

I ended up meeting the folks from Sailing La Vagabonde, one of my favorite YouTube channels. Check this video if you want to watch two photogenic people sail a boat around the world.

 

I did my own lil vlog about Amsterdam. It’s not public on my YouTube channel but you can watch it here.

 

 

London

I went to London on the way to VidCon in Amsterdam. I like flying into London for a couple of reasons..

1) I get to see and catch up with some cool people.

2) If you fly to other European destinations from London you get a stamp in your passport.

I stayed in a penthouse apartment next to the Tower Bridge. The unit below mine caught on fire the first night i was there. No smoke alarms went off, although i noticed a burning type smell, which I ignored until hearing someone shouting FIYA FIYA in a British accent. I avoided the elevators for the rest of the trip.