Debbie and Friends is working on our first-ever Christmas song called “Santa & Baby.” The song’s groove is inspired by the Spin Doctors and the song itself inspired by this picture of my friend’s dog named Baby.

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Baby! Photo by Beth Oram Photography.

Our friends at Planet Sunday are hard at work on the cartoon version while my producer, Michael Carrera and I finish up the production of the recording. Below is an “animation rough” also known as a storyboard. The finished version of this cartoon music video will be ready in time for Christmas 2011.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we always like to give our fan families an inside view as what’s in the works with Debbie and Friends!

Enjoy the (preproduction) story of “Santa & Baby”!

Following up on the previous post… here is the “Wendell” cartoon by Debbie and Friends.

I’m excited to share a brand new cartoon music video from my kids/family music project, Debbie and Friends. The song is based on the classic tale of Cinderella with a few twists including a focus on friendship and self esteem for girls.

From the onset of the project, I wanted to make sure our fan families were involved in the production. We launched a “fairy selection” vote via our Debbie and Friends Facebook page and asked our fan families to help shape our version of the Cinderella story song by voting on one of the following fairies.

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The fairy “Godfather” won by an overwhelming majority!

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So, my producer Michael Carrera and I worked on some dialog, and then he summoned his best “Brando” voice for the recording.

We launched the new cartoon on our YouTube channel yesterday and the response has been very strong. Our fan families feel a real connection to the piece having been involved in the storyline and character selection from the beginning.

Presenting “Cinderella” by Debbie and Friends. I hope you enjoy it!

Special thanks to Planet Sunday of Wales. They are brilliant animators and add so much creativity, humor, and quality to everything they do.

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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!

It’s an exciting time to be a musician. There are so many new channels of distribution, new formats, and new delivery options that can help you expose your music to potential fans. I have found animated music videos to be an excellent platform for reaching new fans and reconnecting with existing ones.

The three main ingredients needed to produce an animated music video are:

1. A fully produced song that lends itself to visual representation. Although the example that follows is for children/family music, animation can work for any genre or age demographic.

2. A graphic designer to create compelling characters and imagery.

3. An animator who can storyboard the project and create the animation.

The entire process can take 6 to 12 weeks.

Start with a Song
All Debbie and Friends’ animated music videos are based on the original songs that we perform from our CD, Story Songs and Sing Alongs. The final mastered version of the song is used for preproduction planning purposes only. The audio mix is somewhat different in the animated feature to best support the visuals.

Our most recent animated music video was based on our “Jack and the Beanstalk” story song.

Jack and the Beanstalk by DebbieandFriends

Main Character Design
A creative brief is sent to the designer, Robert Heath at Barkley Studios who designs the main characters and elements of the story.

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“Jack and the Beanstalk” main characters by Rob Heath.

Backgrounds and Scenes
Next, the designers and animators at Planet Sunday create backgrounds and scenes to support the characters and the overall storyline.

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Jack and the cow.
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The Giant taking a nap.

Storyboard Sketch
Once the characters and background scenes are developed, a storyboard movie is created putting rough action sketches to music. We typically do two or three iterations of the storyboard movie before locking it down and going into production on the final movie.

“Easter Eggs”
Al Hirschfeld, the visual artist best known for his cartoon-like line renditions of musicians and actors, always hid his daughter’s name “Nina” in his artwork. Along this line, all Debbie and Friends’ music videos have a “Spider” that drops down and makes a brief cameo at some point during our cartoons. It’s become a fun activity for our fan families to “find the spider” and write to tell me where it is. This is another example of how the music videos help us stay connected with our fans.

Final Movie
The finished movie is uploaded to our You Tube channel and related children’s music video sites such as jitterbug.tv and totlol.com. They are promoted to our fan families via our Debbie and Friends email newsletter, Facebook posts, and blog posts, etc.

The animated music video becomes a viral marketing tool as our fan families share the links and embed codes with their friends. The videos have proven to be great market research tools as well. We are receiving lots of requests to turn the music videos into a DVD product that can be played at home or in the car. Individual music video downloads can be made available to purchase as well. And, the animated music videos can serve as licensing vehicles for film and TV placements.

Indeed, it’s an exciting time to be a musician!