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!

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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.

Album back2
Marty Gold conducting.

My grandfather, Marty Gold is a pioneer in music and music technology and has always been a true inspiration to me. He is the reason I became a musician. As a child, I loved listening to him play piano. I was intrigued watching him write orchestral arrangements on a stack table by the pool, and I loved playing in family jam sessions with him over the years.

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Conducting the family band.

Marty Gold has enjoyed a diverse career in music. He toured with the Korn Kobblers as an arranger/pianist in the 1940s. The 18-piece swing band was all the rage and their best-selling records played on 175 radio stations daily in their heyday. The Korn Kobblers had some of the very first music videos on record.

Marty Gold left life on the road and soon became an A&R man for RCA Records in NYC. He arranged and produced such artists as Sarah Vaughn, Peter Nero, Lena Horne, and Marian McPartland. He also led The Marty Gold Orchestra and arranged, conducted, and recorded dozens of records for RCA, Decca, and others. Some of those recordings were among the first to be in “Stereo.”

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A few Marty Gold Orchestra records.

This became a theme for Marty Gold: always on the cutting edge of music technology. At the age of 70 he got a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. He learned to use Finale music notation software at the age of 80. And now, well into his 90s, he continues to use the tools of technology in music.

When he retired from RCA, Marty Gold wrote arrangements for school orchestra and band for Warner Bros. Publications, Alfred Publishing, Carl Fischer and others. Some of the highlights in my own career have been where our musical paths have crossed. In the early 1990s, I was a music education editor for Warner Bros. Publications and as we were developing a series of Song/Activity books for Shari Lewis I was able to bring my Grandfather in to write all of the piano arrangements. Shari was thrilled to work with Marty again (he produced her records many years prior). For me, it was so exciting to be working with my grandfather professionally. Now, 15 years later we’re still working on projects together and it continues to mean the world to me.

With Father’s Day approaching, I want to thank my Grandfather, Marty Gold, for being such an inspiration to me. I am thankful for the career I enjoy in music and am thankful he modeled such an inspiring life in music when I was a child.

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Marty Gold and me in 2006.

Who inspired your decision to pursue a career in music? Please share your stories.

Berklee Today, Berklee’s Alumni Magazine, just published a feature story by Julie Pampinella on Children’s Music.

Check it out here.

Berklee Today, Berklee’s Alumni Magazine, just published a feature story by Julie Pampinella on Children’s Music.

Check it out here.

You landed the gig!

In order for your show to be a huge success, there is a lot of work to do be done. Whether you play in a steady band or have a roster of musicians you call upon for different types of shows, the logistics and communication needed to pull it all together can be immense. The band leader in charge of making it all happen has to communicate with the players, the sound/light people, the booking agent, the club manager, the promoter, media contacts, fans, street team, etc.

If you are in charge of organizing your band’s gigs, Basecamp is about to make your job a lot easier. I call it “gig management software” because it works so well in that capacity. But really, Basecamp is a web-based project management application useful for all kinds of projects from shopping lists and vacation planning, to Web development, and the planning of a new business. Personally, I have found Basecamp to be the perfect solution for managing the logistics and communication for my growing list of Debbie and Friends gigs. Basecamp has made my gig management responsibilities so efficient that I wanted to share my experience with other musicians.

Basecamp provides a platform for communication. You can share everything anyone needs to know about an upcoming gig within the program including rehearsals, set up and sound check, directions, parking, load-in, stage plot, set list, dress, promotion, email campaigns, travel arrangements, guest lists, CD and merch sales, and more. Before discovering Basecamp, I used to manage these elements via email and phone. I found myself sending and resending the same information to the various parties involved in the gig right up to the day of the show. It was an unwieldy amount of information that inevitably led to miscommunication and a lot of extra work for everyone involved. As my gig calendar began to grow, and the logistics became more intense, it became clear that I needed a Web-based solution. Basecamp does all that I hoped for and more.

The best way to see all that Basecamp can do is to view their audio/video tour.
While it’s true that you can do the same kind of project management with Wikis, Google Apps shared documents, and other web-based applications, I personally like the turn-key, templated approach in Basecamp. And, my band members are very happy with the adoption of this program. It truly makes gig management, communication, and planning much easier for everyone.

In a word, Basecamp completely rocks! For more information on how to use Basecamp for gigs, click here.