A 2017 Retrospective
Some of the People Who Helped Shape my Year Part 2
I left off in June. By the end of July I had moved out of my office at my law firm & was ready to make music full-time. The back half of 2017 was dedicated to making as much music as possible, while figuring out how to run a business.
July - The Rock/Star Advocate - Suz Paulinski
So, I left law. I'm going to run a business. I'm going to finally do what I love everyday. Great! Except I don't really know that what means on a practical level.
I don't know what I should be doing day-to-day. How much time does a successful producer spend looking for clients? How much should I spend on marketing? How do I budget my time to account for my business needs & my creative needs? How do I balance making music with others & making my own music? I had no answers to any of these questions. Suz did.
I know how to make records, I didn't know how to make a business work. I need(ed) a coach & Suz is an incredible one. She helped me figure out what my daily habits needed to be to set me up for success. She's been an ongoing support for me & a champion for us indie musicians.
I think the ongoing support she provides the indie community is the thing I dig most about Suz. She's shown me time & time again that she cares about helping the small guy do well in this music business.
Suz is the dopest.
August - Rupert Wates
Rupert is a very successful indie artist. He tours full-time & writes exceptional songs. I first spoke with Rupert towards the beginning of 2017 after our wives became friends. I chatted with him on the phone for about 30 minutes in my law firm's parking lot over the lunch hour. He was, & continues to be, a fount of knowledge. He has never shown any hesitation to answer my questions about becoming a successful musician. In a time where I feel like musicians are far too competitive Rupert is a fresh reminder that there are enough ears for everyone.
After we first spoke he came to my studio to demo a few songs he had written. Sitting across from him while he recorded was a wonderful experience.
He was also very helpful to me as a new engineer & producer. He wasn't shy about telling me what he wanted & expected from our sessions. Having someone be that clear with you makes it easy to give them what they want. I model all my sessions after what I learned from Rupert.
If you live in Colorado & you'd like to catch Rupert live, you're in luck because we just finalized the details of him playing a house concert in my home on July 28th. I'm honored to have him come play his music in my home.
Rupert also was part of me meeting a new friend, Jeremy Facknitz. You'll read about him below.
September - Ryan Kairalla
Ryan Kairalla is an entertainment attorney from Miami. He's also a podcaster, author, & generally funny guy. I started off listening to his podcast, then I started tweeting him, we got to know each other a little over Twitter & then I read his book.
His book is a fantastic look at record contracts & what to look out for as well as a book of practical advice for the independent musician. I highly recommend it.
His podcast is also a fantastic resource & the main reason I'm writing about him. Several times I've had a music business or law question that I've emailed him. He has answered every single question, free of charge either on his show or in a return email. He could justifiably tell me to buzz off - I probably pester him monthly, but he never has complained or even tried to slow me down. Instead, he helps me, & lots of other independent musicians learn about how to navigate this business.
Ryan even was kind enough to appear on the Break Free Vlog that I do with Anne Luna. He knows our viewership is not huge, but he invested time to help us out. For that, I've very grateful.
By the way, the day after he did the interview with Anne & I Ryan was in NYC with Pitbull discussing a new initiative to help better the lives of students in Miami. He went from video chatting with Anne & I to heading to New York City with Pitbull. Most people in his situation wouldn't give their time to me so freely.
Not all lawyers are bad. Some, like Ryan, are amazing.
October - Laura Allen
Laura specializes in teaching people how to effectively pitch themselves for opportunities. She's an expert in her field & was a guest on Ryan's Break the Business Podcast. During her interview she stated that if anybody wanted to send her their script for pitching themselves she'd critique it. I sent her a video of my 15 second pitch & she responded. I've been using her pitching method ever since.
Sometime after our initial Twitter exchange Laura reached out to me & set up a video call. She had some ideas that might help me develop my business. We spent over an hour talking strategy & implementation. She charged me nothing. She had ideas to help me & wanted to share her expertise.
Her generosity is greatly appreciated.
November - Jeremy Facknitz
I didn't know this but Rupert Wates had been posting on his website that he was frequenting my studio. Jeremy had split a show with Rupert & kept up-to-date on what Rupert was up to. Jeremy reached out to me with a bold idea: can we record an album in a day?
I was immediately on board. The most important thing I've learned over the past year is to embrace who you are & run with it. In 2017 I learned that I value working quickly & not overthinking music. (Thanks Cheryl!) So the idea of recording 10 songs in a day was very appealing.
Not only did Jeremy want to record the whole thing in a day, he needed it mixed & mastered in under a month.
Jeremy came in exceptionally prepared & was able to track 10 songs in a day. He came back in spend a little more time on one of my favorite songs of his & then we spent the next few weeks emailing mixes back & forth as his record took shape.
On a quiet morning I drove the mastered album to his house & we sat in his car listening to it. We were both immensely proud of what we'd accomplished. Making a record can take years. We did it in under a month.
"People & Places" is a retrospective of Jeremy's great songwriting. It's also an album that really shows who I am as an engineer & producer. We made it quickly by trusting our gut & committing to the idea that the most important thing is the song. We made an album with no fancy dance style production or auto tune. We made a raw album that shows the song will always rule supreme over modern trickery.
I'm so glad Jeremy brought me along for the ride. Jeremy will be celebrating my 35th birthday with me this year when he plays my house concert in February. I can't think of a better way to celebrate.
December - My dope Wife (Annette)
Beat of Your Heart is the best song I've done, but it means the most to me. In Part 1 I talked about how Annette & I wrote this song together the day I quit my job. Below you can see our original lyrics (written in the Rock/Star Planner that Suz makes!)
She's been unconditionally supportive this year & played a huge role in every month. She encourages me to keep pursuing my passion while she pursues hers.
We've been together 10 years, married 7. I'm sure it feels longer than that to her, but I'm grateful for every one of those days, months, & years.
Thank you Annette. You were ever present in the most important year of my life.
Thanks for staying tuned for 12 months worth of friends, mentors, & memories. I hope 2018 is as good to you as 2017 was to me.