littleairplane

This summer, I attended a three-day intensive course entitled “How To Make A Great Preschool Series.” It was offered by Emmy Award-Winning Josh Selig’s company, Little Airplane Productions in NYC.

It was an incredible experience and I learned so much! The presenters were a never-ending A-list of truly accomplished and dedicated professionals. During the three day program, I learned about pitching, writing, curriculum development, directing, music, legal, and production aspects of both live-action and animated preschool programs.

The overarching message I came away with was “through education, anything is possible!” The presenters were incredibly informative and encouraging, and they all offered to help the attendees beyond the conclusion of the academy.

Much like Berkleemusic students, the attendees were an eclectic mix of diverse professionals with a common passion and a desire to learn more. Whether it’s music, preschool program development, or any professional pursuit, I’m constantly reminded that continuing education and lifelong learning is key to a successful and rewarding career.

Thanks Josh Selig, Tone Thyne, Jeffrey Lesser, and Melinda Richards and all of the Little Airplane Academy staff and Instructors for an amazing experience and a reminder that anything is possible through education!

Picture 8
Debbie and Friends Remix Contest Site

Berkleemusic is THE place to learn about what’s happening in the music industry and how to effectively leverage the tools available to today’s musician to market music both online and via traditional outlets. We have courses on the Future of Music and the Music Business with Dave Kusek, Online Music Marketing with Mike King, Concert Touring with Jeff Dorenfeld and John Czajkowski, Music Industry Entrepreneurship with George Howard, and the list goes on and on.

I often say that in addition to being the dean of continuing education at Berkleemusic, I am also a student. I’ve learned so much from the curricula and instructors listed above, and I’ve have the good fortune to be able to apply this knowledge to my own kids/family music project, Debbie and Friends.

The most recent outgrowth of my music business education with Berkleemusic is a fan-engaging remix contest for kids and families. As our courses teach, visionary artist managers such as Terry McBride of Nettwerk have been doing this kind of things for years with mainstream artists. I’m hoping it will be successful for kids/family music and with our fan families who want to engage in musical activities beyond listening. My producer, Michael Carrera, prepared a GarageBand version of one of our new songs that was originally produced in Logic. There are a lot less tracks than the original version, but we wanted to make the GarageBand file manageable for our young producers. The contest is now live and can be found here.

The contest just launched and already we’ve been able to monitor interest and excitement from our fan families and people in the Remix world. Remix Comps not only embraced the idea that’s outside of their genre, they also made a special effort to convey this is a contest geared towards kids/family music.

It will be interesting to see how the contest unfolds. I’ll report back on April 5, to announce the winner and share the experience.

What kind of fan-engaging ideas have you been able to try with your music as a result of your studies with Berkleemusic?

Digging into Topspin

Feb 21 2010

It’s true that in addition to being the dean of continuing education at Berklee, I am also a student. I learn so much from our Berkleemusic students, instructors, and staff on a daily basis.

Just last month, we launched a brand new online course by Michael King entitled Online Music Marketing with Topspin. It’s a brilliant combination of cutting edge, best practices in online marketing wrapped around the new direct-to-fan sales and marketing platform, Topspin.

The course is extremely popular and by the tweets and blog posts of our current students, it’s a hit! For me, the course and the Topspin platform provide practical tools that I’ve been able to use immediately with my own kids/family music project, Debbie and Friends. With very little effort, I’ve created streaming audio and video widgets, as well as “email for media” widgets, like the one shown below.

When logged in, my Topspin account shows me all of the additional “shares” this widget has and the number of hits it’s getting in each location. The email for media widgets are so effective, in fact, that my email list is growing in a way that only used to happen at shows. It’s very exciting to see how well it all works, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this platform can do!

The Topspin account interface is easy to get around and the tools provided are extremely practical and useful for today’s aspiring musician (author, etc.). Next month, when it’s time to release our new CD, I’ll begin digging into the sales functionality of the Topspin application and will have more to report. In the meantime, what has your experience been with Topspin so far?

fox2
Debbie & Friends on Fox TV’s “24″!

It’s hard to believe after posting about this licensing opportunity more than seven months ago, the Season Premiere of 24 will air this Sunday night, January 17 at 9:00pm EST. I’ve been told that two Debbie and Friends cartoon music videos will be playing on a TV that Sutherland and a young girl will be watching together.

This is just one example of what an exciting time it is for musicians to find licensing opportunities for their music. I am proud to say that I was able to put this opportunity together because of all that I have learned from our Berkleemusic instructors and their courses in music production and music business.

I hope this story will inspire more of our Berkleemusic students to monetize their song catalogs through licensing opportunities.

Please tune in this Sunday to see Debbie and Friends’ children’s music videos on 24!

I had the opportunity to talk about Berkleemusic on Fox Business News Live on Friday, Dec. 18. This will become part of a larger music business piece to be aired nationally soon. I’ll be sure to post the date when it becomes available.

Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com

It truly is the “best of times” for independent musicians right now. I’m reminded of this fact each week as new opportunities for licensing Debbie and Friends’ songs unfold.

This week, “Three Pigs and a Wolf,” the same animated music video I blogged about being licensed for use on the show “24,” has just been licensed by a Canadian textbook publisher. The video will appear in a Teacher’s Guide/DVD product for second grade reading programs and distributed throughout Canada.

Just like the “24” opportunity, this came about as a result of a strong web-based presence for the music and the use of online communication tools.

The textbook publisher found my animated music video on a parent-vetted video aggregator site called Totlol. The Totlol video description includes links to my Debbie and Friends Web site. The Web site contains a “contact Debbie” email link. The publisher emailed me their permission request and proposed budget, and in less than a day we had a signed license agreement and video files FTP’d to the publisher.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier to have my music used for educational purposes. Story Songs, such as “Three Pigs and a Wolf,” are intended to be a fun reinforcement of a love of reading for kids. This licensing opportunity will further that mission while providing a new income stream for the catalog.

What an exciting time to be in the music business, indeed!

The playing field has been leveled for independent musicians. It’s true! I have had a series of events and opportunities recently that led me to believe opportunities abound for independent artists who control their own work and leverage the online tools of networking and promotion.

Here’s what happened…

Last week, a friend told me about a Craig’s List ad that stated an “unnamed network” was looking for children’s music to use in a “popular television series.” I responded, like hundreds of others, by throwing my hat in the ring with You Tube links to animated versions of my children’s songs with Debbie and Friends. Five days later, I have signed contracts with Fox Television to use two of my animated songs on their hit series “24″ in January!

I know “24″ is probably the last show you’d expect to find Debbie and Friends music. Our songs are written for the preschool set and their families. However, there will be a scene in an episode of “24″ next season with a young child watching TV, and that’s where my children’s music videos will come into play. The two music videos that will be featured on the show are:

“Three Pigs and a Wolf”
An original song based on the classic children’s tale.

“Hangin’ Around”
An educational song about animal group names such as a school of fish, a flock of birds, etc.

The whole process of licensing the music to Fox has been incredibly smooth. There were no agents, no libraries, not even any existing relationships to leverage (this time!). Just a Craig’s List ad, a response with a You Tube link, verification of ownership, contracts, attorney’s review, signatures, FTP files, and it’s on. Indeed, the playing field is leveled. What a great time to be an independent musician!

Of course, these things don’t always come together so easily. Relationships are an important part of the process as are skills in songwriting and music production. To learn more about Songwriting for Film and Television, check out Berkleemusic’s new online course by Emmy Award-winning composer and Berkleemusic instructor, Brad Hatfield.

The playing field has been leveled for independent musicians. It’s true! I have had a series of events and opportunities recently that led me to believe opportunities abound for independent artists who control their own work and leverage the online tools of networking and promotion.

Here’s what happened…

Last week, a friend told me about a Craig’s List ad that stated an “unnamed network” was looking for children’s music to use in a “popular television series.” I responded, like hundreds of others, by throwing my hat in the ring with You Tube links to animated versions of my children’s songs with Debbie and Friends. Five days later, I have signed contracts with Fox Television to use two of my animated songs on their hit series “24″ in January!

I know “24″ is probably the last show you’d expect to find Debbie and Friends music. Our songs are written for the preschool set and their families. However, there will be a scene in an episode of “24″ next season with a young child watching TV, and that’s where my children’s music videos will come into play. The two music videos that will be featured on the show are:

“Three Pigs and a Wolf”
An original song based on the classic children’s tale.

“Hangin’ Around”
An educational song about animal group names such as a school of fish, a flock of birds, etc.

The whole process of licensing the music to Fox has been incredibly smooth. There were no agents, no libraries, not even any existing relationships to leverage (this time!). Just a Craig’s List ad, a response with a You Tube link, verification of ownership, contracts, attorney’s review, signatures, FTP files, and it’s on. Indeed, the playing field is leveled. What a great time to be an independent musician!

Of course, these things don’t always come together so easily. Relationships are an important part of the process as are skills in songwriting and music production. To learn more about Songwriting for Film and Television, check out Berkleemusic’s new online course by Emmy Award-winning composer and Berkleemusic instructor, Brad Hatfield.

The Art of Learning

Jan 02 2009
books

Happy New Year! I just read my first book in 2009, The Art of Learning: A journey in the pursuit of excellence, and wanted to share it with the Berkleemusic community.

Author, and eight-time National Chess champion, Josh Waitzkin chronicles his life through the lens of learning, focus, and achievement. The principles provided are solid and proven, and the real-life examples based on Waitzkin’s life experiences are intriguing and heart-warming.

The book is filled with information about how we learn, and is based on the findings of Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of developmental psychology. Dweck looks at entity and incremental theories of intelligence and the behaviors associated with them as applied to learning. The information is great for anyone interested in lifelong learning.

Waitzkin makes the point that a key component of high-level learning is cultivating a resilient awareness that is the older, conscious embodiment of a child’s playful obliviousness. The “balance beam,” for example, is wide for child who will readily try again after falling. However, for an adult, the beam becomes much more narrow as we grow keenly aware of the risks and dangers of falling/ failing.

Continuing education and lifelong learning are the keys to any successful career path or endeavor, and Waitzkin’s ideas presented in this book are applicable to all pursuits.

I highly recommend The Art of Learning.

A “must” read!

Oct 18 2008
mavericks
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Mavericks at Work is a wonderful collection of case studies showing innovation, originality, and creativity in education and in the workplace. A must read for artists, music educators, and business professionals alike.