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Rules Of Life

Kellar, an English Springer spaniel, was born blind. He plays fetch completely by ear. Kellar can hear (or feel) the ball hit the ground, and then it’s a matter of following directions. From the YouTube page:

Kellar was originally trained to play ball with the commands “hot” and “cold”. We later added “warmer”, “passed it”, “left” and “right”. The process took about a week for the basic commands.

Elmo is with his good friend, Lupita. They are talking about all the great things about their skin. For example, Elmo’s skin just happens to be very ticklish. Lupita’s skin happens to be a beautiful brown color. Skin can come in all different shades and colors. Isn’t skin just the best? However, ticklish or smooth or black or brown or white or tan, be sure to love the skin you are in.

One of the nice things about a favorite pop song is that it’s an unconditional truce on judgment and musical snobbery. You like the song because you just do and there need not be any further criticism.

That said, a pop song can be evaluated by several criteria. Composition, arrangement, lyrics, melody, the singer, at least. But then, there’s that indefinable thing that either escapes words or at least cannot be captured by your humble scribe here. There are songs that have the power to move you, over and over again. It is quite often difficult to pin down the exact reason, and that’s what makes the pop songs you like have such an intoxicating effect.

Most people have some favorites that quickly come to mind. I say most because I remember clearly that there were never any records at my father’s place; no music was listened to on the radio in the kitchen, and only sports and news in the car. My father did not rock. He just earned and hated. Don’t end up like this man.

Via L.A. Weekly

You can have a career in music – In The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours, Kevin Lyman will show you how.

If you want to make a name for yourself and make an impact in the music industry – you have options. Kevin is the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Mayhem Fest and the catalyst behind an impressive range of successful projects and artists. In this class he’ll introduce you to your (many, many) options for building a career in the modern music industry. Kevin will talk to musicians about getting on festival tours and about operations jobs for people who are looking to get in on the business side. You’ll learn how to build and maintain a professional brand that will open doors for you and help connect you to the right people and expanding your opportunities in a constantly changing environment.

If you are serious about setting yourself up for a lifetime career in music you’ll want to watch this course. Kevin will set you on track for developing and sustaining a career that lasts.

He’ll be sharing his insights on building a career in today’s music industry via a free Creative Live class that will be livecast September 27 from 9 am to 4 pm Pacific Time. It can also be accessed later for a $29 fee:

Special Guests to include:

    • Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides)
    • Mike Kaminsky (Manager of the Summer Set and 3OH!3)
    • Jake Round (Pure Noise Records)

Click here to join the LIVE studio audience in Seattle!


From NPR:

When you’ve been in the music business as long as Nick Cave, inevitably someone will want to make a documentary about you. From grainy footage of his early ’80s band The Birthday Party to a mid-’90s pop duet with Kylie Minogue that made him an unlikely MTV star, he’s a tempting subject.

Now at 56, Cave still cuts a mean figure in his slim dark suits and crisp white shirts. As a film score composer and novelist, the writer in him couldn’t resist the unconventional idea behind the film 20,000 Days on Earth: a single day in Cave’s life, reconstructed by filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

One thing you said in one of these car rides, you said, “You turn it on, you turn it off. But then one day you wake up and you find you’ve become the thing you’ve wished into existence.” And it was an interesting thing to hear from someone who, throughout his career, has really had transformative moments. Like any time people kind of think they get or know what a Nick Cave album is going to sound like, you would kind of change.

I’ve had to change. Change is important and change is the energy that runs through all of our records. But, you know, there is this question that goes on with celebrities, especially people in the music industry, which I think are different in a way than actors and so forth: What is the real person? What is the person behind the mask and all that sort of stuff? And I’ve always had trouble with this question because I don’t really think there is anything behind the mask. I don’t think there is anything of any substance behind the mask except a kind of withered, etiolated memory of something we may have been when we were younger. I think there’s a desperation that comes with a lot of people in the entertainment business, especially in the music business, or wanting to become something different than you were when you were a child, to become something that you perceive as a grander thing. And I think you give over your life to that wish, you know, for better or for worse.

From Pollstar:

Since the last time we talked, are you still managing your own tours?

I don’t have a tour manager because I don’t want to have another guy who will spend my money and do things differently to me. I know exactly where I want to stay. I know exactly which airline and what time I’m going to fly, and what aircraft I’m not prepared to fly and, in a few cases, which airline I’m not supposed to get into for fear of dying.

There comes a point where you really don’t want to let somebody else mess things up when they’re going perfectly fine the way they are. Happily, let’s say in the last 15 years, the Internet has provided me with the opportunity to do the research of a tour, anywhere in the world. I can find how I’m going to get there, where I’m going to stay, what I’m going to do – every aspect of the whole thing can be ascertained by internet access. And while you’re there, you might as well press the button that says “buy flight” or “pay for hotel now.” There’s little point in doing all of this if you then give it to somebody else. It will take you twice the time and cost you a whole lot of money. And there’s always a chance that somebody screws it up. I’m perfectly happy being a Sunday afternoon travel agent.

That’s one of my hobbies. On Sunday afternoons, if I’m not on the road, I sit and book flights and hotels and travel arrangements, and do tour itineraries. I find it a lot of fun. It’s a hobby.

You mentioned in our last interview that you were giving Mike Rutherford advice about making touring profitable. Can you elaborate some more as to how you know touring strategies rather than a tour manager – allegedly the person who knows all this good stuff?

Well, a tour manager isn’t going to do tour budgets and have the experience or the ability to deal with all the aspects of withholding tax and issues that are perhaps way beyond his remit. A tour manager is essentially a shepherd with an unruly flock. A tour manager is a guy who probably has some experience of travel more than anything else, but his role is fundamentally to be traveling with the band and escorting them through airports and train stations and on and off buses.

But I don’t work with sheep. I work with musicians. My experience has always been that if you give people the responsibility of behaving like professional musicians, they will rise to the occasion. If you treat them like sheep, they very quickly become sheep. Having a shepherd is not an ingredient that is part of my way of doing things. …

You have to imagine the majority of people in rock bands probably do sit down once in a while and say, “I’m going to take my family to, oh, the Carribbean,” and they’ve got to go online and check out some hotels, flight options, whatever, or maybe they’re so incredibly inept and boring that they call their travel agent and say, “I want to go somewhere nice! Send me some tickets!” I’m guessing but I think most people are capable of booking their own holiday for themselves and their family.

And that’s the way I look at it when I’m booking tours. It’s me. It’s my friends and family. It’s my musical family and I’m looking out for them, making sure they get safely from A to B, that they all have access to their flight booking reference numbers, and they can check in online, choose their seats and so on, all of which they’re very capable of doing. And I see them on the plane! I don’t have to escort them through an airport. They’re grown up lads; they know what to do.

So what can other tours do to help their budgets?  

The economy of scale is everything. If you end up with four guys in the band and 20 crew, you’re probably doing something wrong. I mean, there may be an artistic reason for doing that but it’s most likely that you’re way, way overemploying people. And, of course, people will make themselves indispensable … and therefore make [musicians] dependent on them. That’s what I mean when I say if you treat musicians like sheep they become sheep.

So yeah, I think you’re probably talking about a ratio of 1-to-1 depending on a few variables. But if you’re planning on a lot of production then you’ve probably got twice as many crew because you have lighting guys and sound guys and drivers and buses and trucks. But for an average rock band, think in terms of one truck and one bus. That’s probably all you really need, unless you’re Madonna or Lady Gaga.

So you’ll find a bus is the most economic thing in the USA. It’s for sure the best way to do it as long as you don’t give everybody the luxury of hotels as well, except on days off.

In my case, try to play five nights a week on average. Otherwise your days off will be very expensive. … You’ve got to make tours cost-effective, it’s economy of scale, do enough dates to make it worthwhile. It’s about sitting down and planning it in the first place. A simple spreadsheet gives you the answers.

Someone comes up to me with an offer for a show, or two or 10, the first thing I do is a quick trial budget. Say we’re going to Australia. It’s only going to take me five minutes to check out the flights.  It might take me a quick double check to see withholding taxes in that country, how I might offset it with expenses and so forth. Maybe 10 minutes to do a trial budget based on the information. Let’s say 20 minutes, half-hour tops I know whether that tour is worth pursuing. I can go back to my agent and say, “Frankly, it’s not quite worth it for me to do this.” Or, “Let’s go ahead with it. Maybe they can pay another 10 percent higher fee than what they’re offering. See what you can get.” Or I can say, “I think they’re paying us a little too much here and I think they’re taking too big a risk so why don’t we try and negotiate, give them a little headroom to try and make a profit and reduce the fee.” Which, on occasions, I might well do.

But it all depends on that first, crucial decision to spend half an hour on that analysis. It’s not a huge chore. I like that I can do it fairly quickly. I can go into my standard insurance costs and administrative costs amortized across the year. All that stuff is built into the spreadsheet. I just hit the return key and see if there’s a meaningful profit at the end for me to put into my bank account before I pay my 50 percent tax that I do in the U.K.

Marshall Rosenberg, PhD has been effectively mediating conflicts throughout the world for more than 40 years. His method, Nonviolent Communication, has brought together warring factions as diverse as Irish Catholics and Protestants, Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis, Israelis and Palestinians as well as families and communities in conflict.

His method is simply to enable both parties in conflict to listen with empathy to the authentic feelings and needs of the “other” without the need to blame and judge. Things can change when we feel heard as humans.

The film clips assembled in this brief introduction are taken from a much larger documentary film project on finding human-to-human, heart-to-heart common ground beyond the realm of fixed beliefs.

Zen Pencils has used a great quote from Amy Poehler on the subject of Courage. Gavin Aung Than says “She is one of my favourite funny people, known for her portrayal as Pawnee’s Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, which I’m a big fan of. She’s also a Saturday Night Live alum and co-founded the influential improv school, The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Besides being an incredibly talented and hilarious performer, Poehler has started projects to promote women’s rights and empower young girls. Her website Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is a hub for young women to learn and be part of a community, and in her YouTube series Ask Amy, Poehler gives advice and answers questions from fans.

This quote is taken from an Ask Amy video about courage.

Has there been a time when it’s been particularly hard to be creative?

It’s hard making every record at some point and you’ve gotta recognise that it’s gonna be hard and just put your head down and work through it. Sometimes it’s great when things come easy, but if you’re making a whole album there’s bound to be a time when you’re frustrated with one thing or another. Some bands as they get older… I don’t know what happens. They get more money or they get tired. They get used to throwing some bucks at something and making it easier, but you can’t do that with making a record.

Via Drowned In Sound

Are you thinking that maybe you want to be an astronaut, or an author, or a scientist or a doctor? That’s great! And maybe you’re not quite up to speed on the centrifugal force of the moon or how many bones are in your arms, but if you believe in yourself, you’ll get there. That’s the power of yet. You might not be ready for outer space yet, but just work hard and keep your eye on the prize and you’ll get to where you want to be!