Quick Marketing Suggestion: Watch This TED Talk With Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer has essentially become a music marketing icon in today’s digital age. This is mainly because of her innate ability to connect with fans in exceptionally interesting and creative ways. She gives her fans trust and in turn receives loyalty. Check out this video to learn from a master!


How to Heal, Get Rid of Your Arm Pain and Tendinitis

Overuse injuries are particularly common in high-performing athletes and musicians. This article focuses on reducing and eliminating forearm pain, inflammation and tendinitis. A while back, I promised you a guide for how you can deal with these problems, so here it is! I tried to keep it concise and informative. Remember, this is based on my personal experience and I am by no means a doctor, so just as a disclaimer, you are applying these methods at your own risk. That being said, I have dealt with tendinitis for many years and have experimented with a multitude of different methods and techniques for overcoming over it. Much of my experience is not covered in this short guide. For further detail or personal questions, feel free to email me at JazzPianoConcepts@gmail.com.

Click here for your free copy of the guide: Guide to Overcoming Overuse Syndrome

Have you had  any experience with overuse injuries? If so, please help our community by leaving your story in a comment below the post, or by clicking the small comment bubble at the top right of the post (if you are reading this on the home page).

Your music is who you are.

When I say that, I don’t mean that your life depends on your music, or that music is all that matters in your life. What I mean is that you can always tell who a person is through his or her music. When you hear an improviser or composer who demonstrates a great deal of self indulgence, overpowering those around him with busy improvisation or writing difficult and pretentious music that serves to impress rather than to express, that says something important about the person creating the music.

If a person is able to write beautiful, tender music, or be sensitive to the musicians he is playing with, this demonstrates a certain legitimate part of the person’s personality. Of course, you might think there are exceptions. For example, what if a person who acts arrogant and selfish on the outside writes gorgeous, tender music? Either way, I personally believe that the music is expressing a part of that person that is not always seen.

Some people are completely incapable of writing beautiful music. Some people are completely incapable of writing exciting music. Sometimes, if you go to a jazz club in New York City and listen carefully to a musician, you can tell all you need to know about his or her personality. If the player is self-indulgent, playing lots of notes while not listening to the other musicians, chances are that this will show through in his personality. That person won’t really listen to you either if you talk to him. And that’s why I think your music is who you are. It is a direct channel of your personality.

What do you think? Is music “who you are,” or are there exceptions to the rule? Leave your thoughts in a comment below or by clicking the little comment bubble at the top right of the post.

Seth Godin’s Message to Musicians at the Manhattan School of Music

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see marketing guru, author and lecturer Seth Godin speak to a room full of dedicated musicians at the Manhattan School of Music.  I think it’s safe to say that many of the people in the room were unpleasantly surprised by what he said. However, his overall message turned out to be a very positive one. Here is a quick review of some of the key points of his lecture:

1) Most of the people in the audience are being scammed. Mr. Godin began to describe what he called “the music factory.” Music schools, and really the educational system in general, are essentially built to encourage more people to become “factory workers.” What does this mean?  The creation of recorded music led to a massive change in the way the music industry functions. It used to be that your only opportunity to hear a piece of music was to see it performed live. Many people would never see the same piece performed twice in their lifetimes. Now, there are hundreds of recordings of the same piece easily accessible on the Internet and often for free. There is almost no demand left for performances of music that is 50 years old and older. Yet at music school, teachers enforce the method of spending hours and hours learning old music. As Mr. Godin said, there will almost always be 100 people who can play an old piece better than anyone in the room. And besides, learning to play old music off of the page isn’t truly a creative process. It’s a factory process. It is highly unlikely to get you anywhere in today’s market.

2) Our “lizard brain” makes us feel apprehensive and often stops us from being brave and doing something new and unexpected. Mr. Godin described our lizard brain, a concept that stems from the amygdala, the part of our brain that makes us feel nervous. However, in today’s world, we are unlikely to face the same threats that made the amygdala so useful, for example, escaping from predators and staying away from cliffs. Mr. Godin suggests that we do the opposite of what our lizard brain is telling us. He tells us to be bold, get naked and expose ourselves, fail over and over in an attempt to do something new and truly creative. This is how to get noticed in today’s world.

3) if musicians can learn to overcome the factory and do something new instead, there is an incredibly positive and hopeful future in store for them.  Today’s market is a niche market. It’s no longer about appealing to the masses, but rather about finding a smaller group of people who truly love what you do. Mr. Godin describes the concept of having 10,000 true fans. If you have just 10,000 people who are absolutely devoted to your art, they can sustain you for the rest of your life. Just imagine, if you had just 10,000 people who would buy your album for $10, well, you do the math. 10,000 may seem like a small number at first, but it isn’t so bad after all.  While he was in college, Mr. Godin realized that if he simply sacrificed getting A’s in all his classes for B’s instead, he could spend 10 additional hours a week working on projects that he was truly passionate about. Do what you are passionate about, not what the factory tells you to do. Instead of spending 8 hours each day learning old music and hanging onto a thread of a chance that you might be that one person who gets to perform Beethoven at Carnegie Hall, do something new and exciting. Be you. Find the people throughout the world who love what you are doing.

As Seth Godin ended his lecture, “I hope you all go out and create a ruckus.”

Mother Monster: How Lady Gaga Created Her Fame

In a recent study by web-based software company Vocus and digital analyst Brian Solis, the criteria for being an online “influencer” was tested and measured. 237 open-ended comments from respondents indicated that the respondents perceived the difference between influence and popularity as such: “Influence drives, motivates, is steadfast, and causes people to take action, while popularity is hip, perhaps amusing and wanes easily amid a fickle audience.” From very early in her career, Lady Gaga built an impregnable brand by choosing a set of values that she continues to stand for today. For example, she strongly believes in positivity and demonstrates this often to her fans by rejecting negative questions or connotations by the media. She also stands strong against bullying, a problem that she herself faced early in her life (this personal relationship with an issue adds strength and sincerity to her brand image). Though her fashion sense is quite eccentric, her clothing choices are powerful not just because of their strangeness but because of what they represent: being your truest self, and being proud to show everyone exactly who you are.

When asked a question at a Google seminar about her new song about this very subject, “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga said that, “Born this way is about saying this is who I am. This is who the fuck I am.” She went on to say that, “More importantly, the song Born This Way is this, like, gateway drug for the album and trying to say in the most literal and honest way that when I go to the monster ball, I see something so fearless and so special in my fans, but I also see something afraid, something that I was, something that was unsure. I really encourage people to look into the darkness and look into places that you would not normally look to find uniqueness and specialness because that’s where the diamonds are hiding.” These sound like the words of an influencer, not simply someone who is popular. She is fighting for her values, and fighting for her fans.

If you know exactly what your values are and you remain strong in the quest to portray them, chances are that many others will share similar values. This is where Gaga’s fame truly comes from. Just as the Grateful Dead created a culture and community of Deadheads, Gaga has created her massive community of “little monsters.” On the surface, little monsters appear to simply be crazy Lady Gaga fanatics that love her music. But they are so much more. The little monsters aren’t all that different from some infamous radical political groups, like the Nazis or the Soviet Union. They are a large group of people that radically believe in a similar set of values, and in this case, Lady Gaga has set those values in stone.

This is a road to fame that many artists have yet to take. However, it is arguable that Lady Gaga’s path to fame is really no different than anyone’s path to fame throughout history. Most artists who are still remembered today are known not simply because of their art, but because they represent something larger than their art—a system of beliefs, something to stand for. They were leaders of a community like the Grateful Dead, or they were leaders of a generation of political and moral thought like Bob Dylan was in the 60’s.

Gaga is no different. She simply has used different tools to achieve her fame, like the internet—Facebook, Twitter, social networking. And she’s lucky. She now has the power to mobilize her followers whenever and however she wants. Her little monsters network (www.littlemonsters.com) is essentially a gigantic home for anyone who believes in what the little monsters represent. According to cbsnews.com, Lady Gaga will be releasing singles from her new album, “Born This Way,” through the online game “FarmVille.” Cbsnews.com also specified that roughly 46 million people worldwide play FarmVille every month, which “might be a social media jackpot for Gaga.” While Kennedy used TV to spread his message, Gaga will use littlemonsters.com. Brilliant.

In the end, it’s not about Lady Gaga. It’s not about Lady Gaga’s music. Lady Gaga has simply turned herself into a leader of a pack, a vehicle for a message, a speaker for her community. She is the president of the little monsters. She is Mother Monster. If we all work diligently to establish our own value system and spread the message as part of our brand, maybe someday we can all become leaders who change the world through with our art.