The Power of a Personal Relationship

WTAMU CapMy daughter is a Buff. And I mean that in the most kind way.

By saying that, I mean that she has chosen West Texas A&M University for her college career. As far as I can tell, her choice was made largely due to the fact that the folks at WTAMU understand the power of personal interaction. Let me explain.

My daughter has always been an artist… musician, thespian, singer, etc. She’s always been attracted to and talented within the area of fine arts. Her main instrument is, arguably, the trombone. She started playing in elementary school and has always done well when she put her mind to it. Therein lies the rub. Her mind was not always put to it.

Last summer, the summer of 2011, she went to WTAMU’s 2-week band camp. It was an event that, I believe, changed the direction of her life. The trombone took center place and she started pursuing excellence. In the past year, she has received several honors, including a seat in the Texas All-State Honor Band. But I digress…

The Best Way to Recruit

As a salesman, I have been particularly impressed with certain segments of WTAMU’s School of Music. Since the Band Camp was held at WTAMU, Ashley had a chance to meet the head of the trombone studio and learn a bit about their organization. This is natural and part of every University’s band camp experience. What followed, I believe, went above and beyond the work of most other Universities.

Within 24 hours of her return from camp, she had received a Facebook friend request from the Professor of Trombone at West Texas A&M. This was impressive. It did not stop there. Within the next week, she had received friend requests from several other WTAMU students from the trombone studio. My first thought was, “wow, someone’s on the ball over there.”

Throughout my daughter’s senior year in High School, the Professor and all her new FB friends from WTAMU were actively following her comments. They interacted with her on a weekly basis. They would congratulate her on milestones and accomplishments. They would give advice on instrument purchases. They were genuinely involved.

Needless to say, my daughter was reeled in – hook, line and sinker.

The Wrong Way to Recruit

Initially, she had expressed her interest in several other colleges. They knew of her musical ability and what she might bring to their program. Only one other college came anywhere near the level of WTAMU, and that was Wayland Baptist University. But even at that, their interest consisted of a generic snail mail/email deluge and a couple of calls from the band director. Oklahoma Christian and Abilene Christian put her in recruitment rotation and she received a few calls from recruiters, never from anyone involved with music. I’m sad to say my alma mater, Lubbock Christian, never even tried to contact her, short of post cards (Ed. note – see responses for correction).

I’m sure, if you spoke to my daughter, she would express other reasons that also influenced her decision for WTAMU. Still, you have to agree that it’s hard to beat the personal attention of a director and 6-8 peers for over a year. My daughter will be a Buff because fellow Buffs took an interest and maintained a relationship with her.

There are all kinds of lessons in that.. practical, social, business and spiritual. What do you think? Can you make any comparisons? Have you ever been influenced by the power of a personal relationship?

OnSong: All You Need is a Tip Jar

If you know me or have been following me, you know I’m a kool-aid drinker for Apple. I am most definitely a mac fanboy. To be truthful, I really believe they’ve earned their spot in my hall of undulation, along with Key Lime Pie,, WordPress and MOTU Digital Performer.

Due to my job situation, I’ve been without an iPad since the first of the year. I honestly didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I have a new iPad now (version not-called 3) and it’s most certainly nice to have it back. It makes information so much more accessible and I’m looking forward to using it in my new position at work (more on that in a future post).

OnSong AppThere is one app that I’ve realized I could not really replace without an iPad, and it’s a great app for live musicians… especially solo artists or small acoustic groups. It’s called OnSong. This cheap little app (only $7.99) is the perfect songbook and chart folder replacement. You can download the lyrics and chords to just about any song you can find online, or simply enter your own. Once you’ve got your library built up, it’s all available at the swipe of a finger on your iPad.

You can set up playlists or set lists. Set the length of the song and hit the play button just as you start the song and the lyrics will automatically scroll for you as you go. Are you using special lighting? Change the appearance of the song from black words on white background to white words on black background so it won’t light you up. Need to practice? Link a song from your song library that will launch when you hit the start button. You can play along and follow the lyrics as you go. Maybe you’ve got accompaniment tracks? Link those up with your audio out. Now you’ve got a confidence monitor and a track player all in one.

There are many more features that you can check out. One I really like is the ability to sync your set list with the other members of your band (as long as they have OnSong). Everyone can see the same charts moving together in unison. This thing will even project lyrics for your audience if you wish.

I would venture to say that, as a musician, this is probably the most important app I own. Pair that with a good iPad stand, like this one here, and you’re good to go for a night of music.

All you need now is a tip jar. 5 stars. Go get it.

Marketing Your Music

Ariel HyattAfter spending many years in the music industry, I am continually amazed at how much things have changed. Almost everything I did as an executive at a music label in the late ’90’s can now be done with the help of 2 or 3 websites. The Rise of the Independents is well under way, which I think is a great thing.

There have been a number of articles written over the past few months about independent artists and what they should, and can, do to help kick off their career. Here is a great article, the first in a series of three, that includes a wealth of information. If you are an aspiring artist, or even an artist that’s been around a while making it on your own, this is a wonderful step-by-step guide for marketing your music.

In this first article, Ariel Hyatt from Ariel Publicity talks about several important areas:

  1. Digital distribution vs physical media
  2. Your online presence with your website, Facebook and YouTube (by the way, did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine at this point?)
  3. Techniques for gathering email addresses
  4. Newsletters
  5. Touring and timing
  6. Merchandising and how to deal with the new digital paradigm at a live event

This is well worth your time to read and I would suggest subscribing. Enjoy and keep making good music.

Marketing Plan Tactics For Independent Musicians – Part 1 of 3: New Album Preparations

I’m No Itzhak Perlman, But I Ain’t Nero Either

The FiddlerIt’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to spread my wings and fly. Granted, I may only be a couple of feet off the ground, but it feels good.

I am, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, referring to the closet full of instruments that have gone largely untouched for 30 years. All through high school and into college, I had the opportunity to learn and play several instruments (mostly strings). Throughout college I had the musical outlets available to continue playing and improving on these tools.

Once I finished college, the chances to play diminished and my chops started disappearing. Any musician reading this will understand. It’s a painful progression backwards. You see others play and you hear music on the radio and you know, without a doubt, you could do that. Or at least, you used to be able to do that. Something inside you wants out again. There’s a little musical Mr. Hyde running loose inside you that wants to emerge and wreak havoc.

Nice havoc. The good kind.

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Should You Buy Professional Arrangements?

sheet music chopinI ran across a blog entry by Mike Chin, co-founder of The A Cappella Blog, and it raised a good question. I thought I might pass it along. It seems to be a pretty hot topic in collegiate a cappella, especially in light of the hit TV show The Sing-Off. I haven’t heard as much about it in the Christian a cappella ranks, but I know it’s present. I’ve dealt with it myself over the years.

He states, “There’s an established market for the sale of professionally written a cappella arrangements. With this in mind, it is best for your group to buy arrangements rather than trying to compose your own?” He goes on to point out dissenting viewpoints.

Buy It Quickly and Move Forward

There’s a pretty good argument for buying an existing arrangement or contracting someone to knock it out for you. As more people come into the a cappella fold every year, the number of arrangers and arrangements increases making songs more available and more affordable. Pay for it and get it done quickly. You’ll save countless hours of energy trying to work out the arrangement that will pay off in a perfected performance.

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