Not My Time

Every so often I’m asked, “whats going on with your project?” or “when are you coming out with new music?” …I’m not gonna lie, starts to get to me after a while because end of the day I’m an artist. I’ve been wanting to put out some of my own music since the conception of AG One — I mean point blank that was the point of creating AG One. . .its just not my time.

When I was working on my first project back in 2007 with Mr. Notes, he was always stressing to me, “know your strengths…” I’m a performer, and had a hard time recreating the energy I had on stage when I was staring at a mic in a vocal booth. Now, of course I’ve become more accustomed to working in a studio and getting the sound I want for any particular song. The trade off: I haven’t performed since 2009. I’ve grown significantly and developed as an artist since my first project and I’m sad I don’t get to showcase it.

I’m reminded of a story by Berry Gordy, he always wanted to perform but knew he wasn’t the best singer or performer — but dude could write his ass off. He could definitely hang in a session as a musician and he’s jammed with the best of them. He knew better than to try to take on the added demands of being an artist when he had a business to run. But one night, he showed up to a random blues bar and did an open mic set — and just rocked out with the house musicians. No one knew who he was because at the time people only knew the name and not the face — so he used a stage name.

I am very much in the same boat. I love performing, recording and making music and would ultimately love to be an artist. First and foremost, I’m not gonna put out work that isn’t dope. Secondly, with any corporate ladder that you climb…you have to start somewhere — many times in music you start off as a songwriter/producer or an artist. From there you work your way up to the AR, executive producer, or even label exec, etc.

I’m definitely not trying to look like Diddy and have people think the only reason I am able to put out my own music is because I have the money to do it — on numerous occasions I’ve heard people say, “Diddy wants to be an artist so bad..but it just doesn’t work for him.” From his ghost written verses on tracks with Big and Mase to what ever it is he’s attempting to do with Diddy Dirty Money. . .I’m not saying his ventures aren’t lucrative, its just not the direction I’m trying to go.

After a lot of thought, I think the a happy medium would be for me to write and record a couple songs a year, and perform for benefits and charity events — who doesn’t need a tax write off?

Its a seemingly win-win situation:

  • My personal music library will grow
  • I’ll get to perform
  • I’ll get to create
  • I’ll still be able to run my business

There’s no money selling music

One of the first conversations I ever had with TC (circa 2007/2008), before she came on board as Publicity Strategist for AG One, was about the direction of music sales. We were at Florentines — one of the teams favorite local Fullerton jump offs — and in the midst of all the commotion from dancing bodies to a crowded bar, we were sitting behind DJ Roial 1‘s booth and started talking about how record labels who expect to sustain financially in the next 5 years cannot continue to be reliant on revenue generated from music sales. I told TC that within 5 years iTunes would no longer charge per song download…it would become membership based and for a set fee you’ll be able to download X amount of music a month…and so on and so forth with the algorithm.

Approximately 3 years from the day we had the conversation I am writing today to admit that I was wrong…and here’s why.

I recently saw a commercial on TV for Rhapsody that said they are now offering unlimited downloads and streaming of music directly to your phone, iPod, computer, etc. for a pretty reasonable monthly fee. . . I was wrong, iTunes slept on it. Either they missed this new trend or are in the process developing a more efficient means of “selling” music.

But this goes to show that the huge decline in music sales is ultimately forcing a change for digital distribution. This is no longer just a problem that labels and artists have to face.

Its always going to cost money to make good music — plain and simple. But with the convenience of being able to download music free via the Internet makes it hard to recoup the funds invested. The quick fix that labels have taken as of recent is to implement a new type of record deal: The 360 Deal.

I have never been a fan of the 360 deal — not to say they aren’t a brilliantly thought out means for both labels and artist to mutually benefit…However, I am not a fan of them because of how they are manipulated and leave even the most successful artists struggling at the end of the day. With the need to survive artist have no choice but to tour more (keeping them away from families and studios), rush to finish albums to generate revenue (ultimately hurting the culture of quality musicianship), and leaving our music outlets flooded with catchy singles (because catchy singles sell, albums don’t) …which ultimately leaves artists in a seemingly treadmill type lifestyle they call a career.

The long haul fix: Branding. 360 deals are an attempt to do this, but I believe there is a better paradigm that will be far more lucrative for artists, musicians and music companies alike. I have my theories and I’ve put some into practice. Some have generated the expected results, others have not — I’m still perfecting those.

For now I’m happily building a nice strong foundation for my castle to rest upon — its almost done. I still strongly believe music will not be a lucrative means of income within the next few years. I’m preparing AG One to sustain independently of that revenue — what about you…will you survive without it?

Featured on The Speaker Box Blog

Precedents and Standards

I’m often asked who I look up to as an artist, or who inspired my style as a poet, emcee or writer — and that’s easy to answer. I could go on for days listing singers, songwriters, emcee and poets. The tougher question to answer has been, “who did you model AG One after?” The honest answer, its simple — I created an home for artists, namely myself, that would stand behind someone with talent that had something to say in their music but needed an avenue to be heard [of course there’s more to it, but I’ll save that for my first prime time interview :)]. I came to terms with the fact that I would never be signed to a major and get the type of love that I’d want to music to get — from a business perspective, I’d be joell ortiz’d, if you will.

Mr. Notes and I often joke around saying that AG One really started as concept for an album, and grew into being a lucrative business venture. Now, in no way did I declared my mission to be that of trying to emulate a Motown — that is a staple in music history.

…There is a lot to learn from Berry Gordy and how he built his indie label into a music empire. How their sound is so special that no one has yet come close to replicating it proves that there was more than music being made — they set precedents which became standards for them, standards that many artist spend a career trying to attain, or live up to.

I’d have to say that at this point in my career I’ve really started to look up to, and am attempting to learn from, Berry Gordy and Motown. The way he built his empire from nothing, started a music revolution and made a strong presence as an Indie label..and not only did he manage the business aspect of the music game, but he was also on the creative team as a song writer, too.

Keeping the faith [foto]

I’ve been reading a daily devotional that was given to me by Mr. Notes — and though a couple passages didn’t quite sit right, for the most part reading it soothes me.

As far as the picture goes..its amazing what you can do with a lamp and a curtain in your living room.

These kids came to play [fotos]

I wanted to dedicate a post to my friend who has done something I have been wanting to do since I hung up my cleats — coach.
The Kick off.
The Huddle.
The Face off — so intense.

Touchdown
Great Blocking = Great kick return..fundamentals
Good Defense.
These young kids need role models…but when you take on the role of being a coach or mentor who learns more — the student or the teacher?

In god we trust; all others must pay cash. [foto]

After eating at the neighborhood favorite Chinese food spot, China King, I opened up my fortune cookie to the message above: In God we trust; all others must pay cash.
In the music game you have to have a strong team and even stronger support network to help you maintain your sanity, hold you accountable and of course keep your best interests in mind.
There will be instances in which people will try to weasel their way into your good graces with hidden agendas to take advantage your good nature. You soon learn the hard way that although having good working relationships with your peers is important — they are WORKING relationships and should be kept as such.
End of the day its a business, and that should be well defined.

Artist Development Vol. 3

This is why artist development is so crucial. When you edit your work some much digitally to sound amazing…you struggle to recapture that same sound live.
Its important to be able to outshine your recorded work because if people are content with just listening to your music rather than seeing you perform…you won’t last long…sooner than later there will be no money left in the music sales paradigm..
I’m just sayin.