Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ass over Teakettle

As my "About Me" states, and as I've alluded to a bunch of times, I am a marketer by trade. I draw big pictures, I brand, I package, I strategize. I pay attention to what's important to people — artists, presenters, journalists, fans. I help develop and assess what the Word is, who would be most interested in the Word, and then connect with the best places to get the Word out. It's what I do. And I love it. Specifically, I think it's the bee's knees. This is all great and awesome for my career — my fantastic new biz partner and I have announced our joint venture, I am absolutely loving the work I'm doing for my first client, I plan to do a very good job. Et cetera.

But when it comes to my own music-making, it means that I am ass over teakettle. I mean, I am sitting up high on my horse maniacally whipping that cart.

For example, I'm on the train. BAM. A song bolts into my head. Chunks of lyrics, like they're free downloads from some Universal Creativity Bank. Snippets of a melody, maybe the entire chorus, maybe just a solid hook. OOH-RAH.

And then I start scribbling them down, fiddling with the ideas. What about this next? Or this? Yeah, yeah, yeah! The spaces fill in, the words keep flowing through, it's almost finished. HUZZAH.

I sit down at the keyboard and map out the chord progression. (Removes monocle, sets down quill.) I guess in rock they're called changes. Fine. So I "map out the changes." HMMM. I GUESS THEY'LL DO.

GIDDYUP. GIDDYUP. GIDDYUP. GIDDYUP. GIDDYUP. The marketing cart comes tearing in from behind and the next thing I know it's dragging the poor undeveloped song by its ankle. BUMP — FLIP — SMASH — down some old beat up pot-holed country path.

Marketing brain computes in overdrive. Before the song is written, it is given a title, placed on an album, and cover art is envisioned. The album is given a title. A short list of prospective producers, publishers, and record labels has been generated. A venue has been identified for the album release. A band. How the band will be branded. The kind of show we will put on. Does anybody have a beard. What we will wear. (My shoes will be green.) Which bloggers and journalists will be invited based on their interests in X Y Z. Which music supervisors at which ad agencies might be the right fit for a commercial sync. WHAT?!

You must understand, this happens almost instantaneously. This baby can get from songwriting to crazy in about 6 minutes.

OK, I'll be nicer. It's not crazy. It's what I do. And for my clients, that's a damn good thing. But the catch is, the Flash Marketing Storm raises the water level waaayyy to high for me. I'm a pro marketer. But I am a beginner songwriter. And the fact is, I need to splash around ankle deep in a neighborly creek for a while. As in, record one song. Let it be itself. If it's mediocre, who cares? It's just music. Unproduced, unmixed, unmastered. Played by whatever instruments I have on hand, or joined by whatever friends are happy to come over and play. And by "play" I mean for fun.

And so, I am very happy to say that I have found the pause button on marketing brain, and I have also found a mandolin-banjo-guitar-violin friend and a super tech-savvy video-editing and audio-learning husband, who are going to help me record one of the first songs I ever wrote. The plan is to do this in our basement before Christmas.

And the audience? Not music professionals. Not labels or producers or music supervisors or publishers. Just friends and family and friends of friends and sojourning readers and music professionals who happen to also be friends or friends of friends or sojourning readers.

So, who wants a copy? Think of it like an mp3 Christmas card of original music (and I'll try to think of it that way too).