I got a couple of opportunities to be a DJ during the holidays that just passed. I enjoyed it! It is completely different than actually playing an instrument and/or singing. It is a very different thought process. I am used to calling out tunes and creating “segways” between songs. With prerecorded music, I can do it, but it’s done mechanically…still creative, but not so internally. I prepared for these parties by gathering the songs I thought would work and then I had to practice using the equipment with the software. Thankfully, I am pretty good with computers and figuring out what knobs and buttons do what. The best thing I did to get out of my “comfort zone” confidently, was to allow myself the prep time to figure it all out. Practice…practice the logistics, practice the song changes, and practice setting the rig up. There was different wiring, I used a different PA system and incorporated lighting effects. I was getting paid for this stuff so, I wanted to do the best job I could. All in all, I was told, it turned out pretty good! You can teach an “older dog” new tricks!!

Being I have no resolutions, I was examining the behaviors that need to change if I’m going to get “stuff” done and keep myself balanced while doing it. So, a few days ago I started practicing the keyboard and checking out all the settings, tones and special effects. Mind you, I have had this keyboard for a few years, but never allowed myself the time to “dig into it” and learn what it is all about. That’s the “kicker” with technology. You become familiar with it, and if you leave it for a while, the relearning curve can be a challenge. I will be relearning my digital recording board as well. But, I am now “finding” the time.

Physically, I was feeling a little stiff. I had been doing a short yoga program regularly…I don’t know what happened to that. All I know is that I wasn’t doing it anymore. Today I brushed off that DVD and did the stretching and balance exercises. My back was making all kinds of sounds! Anyway, that old DVD is going to be new to me again! All the best to you in your new adventures or old ones that fell to the wayside…

I am really looking forward to my work that needs to happen next year. Rather than call the changes I need to make resolutions, I will call them commitments. Commitments to myself and my art. There have been many instances where I have allowed myself to get “pushed and pulled.” This upcoming year I am committed to not getting overly “absorbed” with other people’s circumstances or issues. It is not that I will not be around for others, it just means I will be more aware and mindful of making time for myself and my projects. I will make my “work” my priority as I now know, there is no other way. There will always be other things and people to tend to. Those things and people will need to be balanced with my creativity and performances. Bring on 2020…Happy New Year!!

One of my nephews, who is also a songwriter, asked me how I write songs. What is my process in completing a song? He was getting stuck on creating lyrics and was getting frustrated. I suppose he was thinking I have a formula. If you were to look up the word creativity you would find that one meaning is to invent something new, something tangible that was once just an idea…something in your imagination or just a thought. I believe true creativity comes from our “inner selves”. I get a “gut” reaction to create maybe without even a single chord or progression in mind or a melody or lyric. Sometimes all of it just flows from within. And the chords, melody, and lyrics all happen at the same time. Other times I may have a melody in my head and that’s it. Then I play around with some chords and see what lyrics flow with that progression and rhythm that I am creating. Sometimes a lyric will just “pop out” with a melody and the mood of the song is set. Life does get in the way sometimes so, I may start something and have to come back to it much later. I have the luxury of not having to write five songs in a day because of a deadline and payment being withheld. I don’t subscribe to having to write songs like its a race or a competition or to write in a predefined manner. For me, all my songs have a piece of “me” in them. Sometimes they are inspired by others and their life circumstances, but still, “I” am “in” the song. So, what I said to my nephew in writing lyrics…tell a story worth telling. Have each verse progress your story. Use images, be descriptive so that the listener goes someplace with you. Have your syllables and phrasing in sync with the rhythm and the feel of song. Songwriting is an art form. Art should not be forced…in my humble opinion. I am still “working” on my art…Be well!

Are you grateful this Thanksgiving? You may not celebrate this US holiday…but, it is an excellent excuse to remember or become more aware of all the people and experiences we all have had in our lives. Hopefully, we have grown in someway from all of them. No two families are the same…most have their challenges…some are together and some are fragmented…some hug each other and others don’t talk to one another. Whatever your situation, accept was is and come from a place of compassion. Things have a way of working out in the end in the most remarkable ways. Happy Thanksgiving!

I had made a big deal in my mind about having to draft the necessary contracts, agreements and forms for my Limited Liability Company. It is a publishing and recording entity as well as providing live entertainment. I had done the research, but then I had to pull it all together. That was what I was putting off…kicking the can down the road…

Now, the business side of me wanted to get all the pieces of the puzzle done before the creative side of me could get going with my projects. Well, my creative side became impatient and said enough already! Get it done. So, I did. Not exactly fun or exciting, but it is now a great relief to me. If you are a DIY musician and trying to accomplish as much as you can correctly, this list of forms may be helpful.

First, I had to assign my copyrights to my LLC, the publishing side. There is no specific form for that so, I had to create it based on other’s templates. The Library of Congress has a DCS form that must be completed and accompany your form with the proper fee.

I needed a Waiver Disclaimer Release Authorization in case I need to hire a musician or two to finish my recordings as I can’t play every instrument! That’s so the person knows that they are being paid for their recording services and that they won’t receive residual payments or royalties.

I also needed a Publishing Agreement between myself and the LLC. I chose a Single Song Agreement as you can use that for one song or several at a time.

A Recording Mechanical License agreement was needed between the publishing side of the LLC and the recording side. A publisher needs to give permission for an entity to record the songs that it owns the copyrights.

Then I needed a Recording Contract between myself and my LLC.

Being optimistic, just in case someone else down the road wants to record one of my songs, I needed to create a Mechanical License. Lastly, in case someone or a company wanted to use a song of mine in a commercial, music video, film, theatrical production or television program, I needed to create a Sync and Master License.

There are other forms…various releases for locations and people, video production agreements, single songwriter’s split sheets, cue sheets, producer agreements…you get the picture. I may not be done yet…but, I’m done for now!

With so many distractions and so many people, things and events pushing and pulling at us it’s amazing we can get any of our goals accomplished! I recently had a “curve ball” thrown into my mix of life. I had to keep myself “grounded” in order to plow through what was being presented to me. The situation is not over and I will continue to need to adapt and make changes. Well, in this case I needed to learn to set clear, strong boundaries and accept all that was and is in this “curve ball.” I also needed to learn how to manage my time and energy better because all of my performances and other responsibilities were and are still happening. When I am given challenges and what appears to be an obstacle…I step back and ask myself…what is the lesson I am supposed to learn? Why is this being presented to me? I know that everything occurs for a reason and is designed for my growth. Keeping that in mind…I don’t “fight’ what is happening…I face it. The fastest way to get through a storm is to head straight into it and get to the other side. One can not outrun a storm any more than one can outrun their past or their fears. Best to acknowledge, accept and face what is before you… Be well!