Happy Holidays

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in the Cozmic household, as we prepare for the holidays.  For me, it has been more chaotic than normal, because I’ve been spending every free moment listening to new music and discovering a ton of talent I never knew existed before. Yet, despite the chaos, it is turning out to be a wonderful time for us.

The blog, while still horribly disorganized (does it show?), is obviously up and running.  I’m already working to provide a little more structure to it in the future.  The first couple of reviews are coming along nicely, and should see the light of day in the next couple of weeks.  The Podcast is still heading toward the first episode early next year.  I’ve been doing a bunch of audio testing and tweaking over the last couple of weeks to get familiar and comfortable with both the hardware and software.  I can’t wait for the first interview (wonder who it will be??).

To all of you, I hope this season is full of love and joy in your lives.  To all of the musicians reading this, please keep doing what you do.  You are changing the world of music and the business of music each and every day.  Your dreams get a little closer to reality with each passing day.  To those of you who are fans of music, may your holidays be filled with great new music from indie artists everywhere.  And to everyone, thank you for your support over the last couple of months.  Without all of you, none of this would have any meaning.

Peace out,

Coz

Make Me Want To Listen To You

Well, I’ve been at this for right around two weeks now.  I’ve listened to literally hundreds of indie artists and groups in that time, and have found some absolutely incredible music.  However, I’ve also had to pass on a large number of groups. I had to pass on some because the social presence was a hot mess.  I had to pass on others, because it appeared that I was more eager to learn about them than they were to show me what they’ve got.  In other words, I was having to put a lot of time and effort into something that should not be so hard.  And if I, as someone who is looking for new talent, is having such a hard time, what about the casual listener, or potential fan?

Here’s a few suggestions from me to help you gain better traction and ultimately build your fan base.

Keep your social media information current.  I can’t begin to count the number of groups I passed on, because links were broken or no longer existed.  Don’t assume that someone who has stumbled across you on Twitter, or any other site, is going to devote hours to finding your music.  They won’t.  Neither will I.  There is way too much competition out there who is making it easy to discover them.  Make sure you regularly audit your social accounts to ensure the most up-to-date information is provided.

Keep your music towards the top of your social feeds.  It’s great that you have great reviews and fan feedback to share.  I want to see every show you are playing advertised.  But, in the end, it should be your music that is front and center.  Don’t get into the habit of assuming everyone reading a feed is already a fan.  Give the newbie a taste of what you are and watch your fan base grow!

Stay active on your social feeds.  Social media can be the greatest form of advertisement at your disposal.  It’s free and easy to use.  But a feed who’s latest post is six or seven months old doesn’t paint the picture of someone trying to spread the word.  As I mentioned above, keep you music towards the top, but let the public also know what is going on with you.  New gigs, new reviews, anything to show that you’re still alive musically.

Don’t hide your music on your website.  You are a musician.  You create great music.  People are coming to your website because they want to hear your great music.  And despite all of these facts, more often than not, I am required to go hunting for something to listen to.  Much like your social feeds, your music should be presented front and center on your home page.  That doesn’t mean it all has to be there, but there should be one song to let me know whether or not I want to explore further.  Even a thirty second clip is enough to let folks know your sound. I get the fact that you may not want to give something away for free, but the small sacrifice of allowing folks to hear even a part of a song pays off in the long run.

So Who The Hell Is Cozmic Debris?

It’s an honest question, and one I knew I would have to answer at some point.

I grew up in a small town in northern New England.  There, at the age of five, my love for music began.  I would get home from morning kindergarten, have lunch, and then every afternoon, my mother would take me down to the basement, where we had an old upright grand piano, to teach me about music.  However, before she ever allowed me to play a single note on the piano, she taught me basic music theory and how to read music.  It was only after I mastered this that she started teaching me how to play piano.

And so my love affair with music began. I picked up clarinet in elementary school, and through my teen years learned how to play sax, oboe and flute.  I took piano lessons on and off through high school.  My dream job was becoming a high school band director.  I had my little four piece high school rock cover band, with dreams of hitting it big and touring the world.  And I had no doubt that I was going to be a musician for the rest of my life.

After graduating high school, I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, pursuing my dream of teaching music.  It should come as no surprise to hear that the 3 1/2 years I spent at Berklee were the most formative years of my musical life, but it may surprise you to hear the lessons I learned.  The first of these lessons was learned within my first week- I was not going to be a performer that set the world on fire.  The small town boy was now surrounded by a level of talent that many of us can only dream of attaining.  I was in class with musicians who are among the Music Gods of my generation.  I didn’t possess the drive or commitment necessary to hone the craft of the instrument.  I had friends that spent every waking hour practicing, when not in class.  They were perfecting the art of music performance. I could never find the need or desire to do the same.

You would think that would be enough to crush any musical aspirations I had, but it didn’t. I had other lessons to learn.  The next lesson was that while I couldn’t make that full time commitment to the instrument, I had a knack for writing, arranging and orchestrating music.  I was the book smart musician.  Those great performers I mentioned could play circles around the competition, but always came to me for help when it came to the classwork.  What was so difficult for them came second nature to me.  I still use the writing techniques I learned in the classroom to this day.  In addition, I was exposed to so much ‘new’ music, listening to styles and groups I had never encountered before.  This allowed me to develop a huge palette of musical tastes.  It also refined my ear to be able to quickly identify really good music, no matter the genre. I have the ability to listen to music in its purest form, dissecting the layers of a song and hearing each instrument distinctly from the others.

It was only very recently that I was able to look back at all of this and understand what was going on at the time.  For the performers, their instrument was the end to the means.  All of the work culminated in their playing proficiency.  For me, it was just the opposite.  The instrument was a means to the end.  Playing gave me song ideas, which I would then commit to paper.  And while I never had the commitment to be a performer, I would stay up all night, writing original music and arranging known music.  It was fun.  That was my place in the musical world.

It was a much different time in the world of music.  In order to be successful, you had to be discovered by one of the major labels, which meant you had to be a performer.  There was no internet, and the ‘independent’ music scene was extremely localized, with no way to garner attention outside of a relatively small region.  The ability of a songwriter to break through, simply on the strength of their compositions, was contingent on being in the exactly right place at exactly the right time.  I never had that kind of luck.

I left Berklee, not necessarily disillusioned, but more wandering aimlessly. I had discovered that the world of teaching required much more structure than I was willing to provide, meaning that it was not a good fit for me.  I worked in local record stores and did some local open mic nights (while not proficient, I could still play) for a number of years.  As I entered my thirties, I got married and started a family.  It was at this point that I decided I needed to put music off to the side and focus on providing for my family.  I felt I needed to become a responsible adult.  And here I sit, over 25 years later, sharing the story.

The story might be incredibly sad if it had ended there.  But it didn’t.  I have been in and out of music during that time, doing little things here and there.  A little over year ago, I rediscovered my passion for writing music.  It took a huge crisis in life for that to occur (more on that another time), but I have slowly reintroduced myself back into the community I love and have missed for too many years.  I was also introduced to world of today’s indie music scene by an old high school friend.  And now, I have a new dream, which is to help this new generation of performers and artists gain the largest audience possible by putting some of my talents to good use.  This is my way of giving back to the art form that I have loved for longer than I have been able to read.

There you have it.  No regrets, no hard feelings.  I am a musician.  Always will be.  And now you know a little bit about my story.  However, I think I still have a chapter or two to add, and I believe a happy ending is even in the works.  Stay tuned, because this should be a load of fun.

 

And So The Journey Begins

It’s been a little over a week since I started this blog, and I have been a busy little beaver.  I decided to start building a following on social media first.  The   I created both a Twitter account and Facebook page for the podcast.  I am slow rolling the Facebook page out, but have been very active on Twitter.   As expected, I have ‘discovered’ many new performers from all over the globe.  One of things that has struck me is the quality of the music I am hearing.  Production quality for a lot of what I’m hearing rivals anything coming from the major record labels, and this reinforces my belief that the indie music scene is much more vibrant and exciting than the commercial-centric stuff heard on the radio.

The reaction from the music world has been fantastic.  I’ve started making connections with some of these artists,  and I’m starting to feel like a part of the community for the first time in 30 years.  I never realized how much I missed it until I started following the trials and travels of this new generation of musicians.  It takes me back to the days when I was pursuing that same musical dream (more on that another time), and makes it obvious that this current passion of promoting and exposing these artists is my way of giving back to the community I have loved my entire life.

Once the social accounts were up and running, I had to turn my attention to the technological challenges of producing the podcast.  As you can probably determine from the picture, I have way more than the average computer setup in my studio.  The room is broken up into three distinct areas- a traditional office workspace (left side of the picture), a corner for my keyboards (not pictured) and then the monstrosity which is my recording desk (right side of the picture).

The recording desk consists of five stationary monitors, powered by three desktop PC’s.  One PC is dedicated to my music composition, another to run email, social and other random internet stuff, and the third one is the powerhouse I use specifically for recording.  It has Sonar Platinum, Finale and Audacity loaded on it, which allows me to record a variety of mediums.  I currently have two audio systems set up (a Klipsch stereo setup and a Logitech 5.1 surround system), with a third planned in the coming days.  Using different systems allows me to hear my recorded work with the different colorings of each of the systems.  Overkill?  Most likely, but it works for me.  Rounding out the setup are a no-name Chinese condenser microphone (which is amazingly responsive) and a set of Audio Technica noise cancelling headphones.

So, to sum up all of the above, I have everything I need to get started.  The journey should move to the next stage shortly, and I can’t wait to see what it brings!