On The Rise: Hollywood Rowe Releases His “Take Over The World”

Broward County Florida up-and-comer Hollywood Rowe almost walked away from his dream of making a name for himself in music and he doesn’t want you to make the same mistake. His upcoming debut project, “Don’t Quit Your Day Dream” is intended to keep others inspired to follow their own dreams, no matter what they are.

Newly signed with Dollaz-N-Dealz Rowe had just about given up on a career in music when a friend passed his tunes over to label head AD. Now he is back on track and ready to go the distance to snatch his slice of the pie.

First on deck is “Take Over The World”, an ambition as dreamy as the track he raps it over. Rowe has come a long way since his early days of recording himself on Garageband. DQYDD drops April 28th.

Fast Track To Jail [Print Archives]

Words by: Kyle Eustice

From The Source Magazine Issue #270 | 2016


 

Fitness tracking devices are the latest tools in law enforcement.

When a woman was arrested in Lancaster County, PA for making a false police report after her Fitbit revealed she had been walking around during the time she was allegedly raped, the case opened up a brand new lane for investigators.

The woman, who claimed she was sexually assaulted while asleep in her bed, had been wearing the fitness-tracking device throughout the day, tracking her every movement. Once she turned over the username and password for her Fitbit account to police, what they found contradicted her account of what happened that night.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the first time Fitbit data was used in court. In 2014, a Canadian woman used the data from her tracker in a personal injury lawsuit. In that case, the Fitbit wearer used the data to defend her request for compensation to illustrate she was clearly less active after a car accident.

Although it’s not required to hand over a fitness tracker to police if they ask, they can try to get a search warrant for it, just as they would for a car or cellphone. In the case of the Canadian woman, the lawyers are relying on an analytics company called Vivametrica, which compares individual data to data of the general population collected by Fitbits.

Vivametrica says they are also working with wearable tech companies and healthcare providers, seeking to “reimagine employee health and wellness programs.” With the criminal-tracking element added into the equation, however, it could be law enforcement’s latest tool for catching suspects, an exciting prospect for those sworn to protect the law.

Fitbits, or other similar fitness trackers, can provide details of a person’s activities when the crime occurred, including how many steps taken compared to the rest of the day or how the person’s heart was reacting at that particular moment.

The legal system already relies on a wide assortment of technological self-tracking devices as forms of evidence, such as GPS services, apps for tracking bike rides and even black boxes found in airplanes.

Pending further research, the shift toward fitness tracking data as a source of “truth” will undoubtedly make an impact in the legal system, but just as human acumen can be flawed, so can the information derived from these types of devices.

In the United States, the Fifth Amendment preserves the right against self-incrimination while the Sixth Amendment issues the right in criminal prosecutions “to be confronted with the witnesses” against the accused. Yet with wearable tracking tools, defining the witness is tricky. For now, it’s unclear how courts will handle the possibility of quantified self-incrimination, but in the meantime, police and lawyers have an innovative way of proving their case.

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No Longer A Luxury Good [Print Archives]

Words by: Kyle Eustice

From The Source Magazine Issue #270 | 2016


Solar panels are on the rise in inner city communities

With the cost of living consistently escalating it’s increasingly difficult for low-income families to survive, especially in expensive metropolitan areas. Cutting corners to meet the monthly budget is second nature to many families. Fortunately, there’s an eco-friendly way to decrease the monthly electric bill that may evade most: solar panels.

Invented in 1839 by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for generating electricity or heating, significantly reducing energy costs.

America is in the midst of a rooftop solar boom, with installation up 139,000% in the last decade. Renewable power and energy efficiency improvements could be life altering for inner-city residents and safer for the planet, as well.

In 2015, The White House said it is taking steps to add more solar panels on rooftops in poor, inner-city neighborhoods to cut electricity bills and fight climate change. Dozens of new initiatives were rolled out by the White House since the start of the year to signal President Obama’s commitment to act on climate change, despite Republican opposition.

In an interview with Ideas For Us, Erica Mackie, CEO of Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that installs rooftop solar for low-income families, says providing low-income families with renewable energy and jobs makes “simple sense.”

“The vision is that we make a transition to clean energy, and we do it in a way that includes everyone,” Mackie says. “By everyone we mean everyone, not just certain portions of our society.”

There are, however, some giant roadblocks preventing solar panels from becoming a more common way to generate electricity. According to White House officials, nearly half of all US households are shut out of solar because they are renters or their properties are too small to install panels. Consequently, only about one percent of the electricity moving along America’s grid comes from solar.

Sadly, the inclusion of low-income communities in the transformation of US energy is far from guaranteed, even in the face of powerful political motivations for clean power.

But inner-city neighborhoods could receive more benefits than just lower electric bills by going solar. It has the added benefits of providing local jobs, boosts in property values and exposure to advanced technology, especially for children—crucial in the education of future generations. Furthermore, the more the industry scales up, the cheaper it gets, proving it’s not just for suburbanites and millionaires in search of an ego boost. Making it a way of life benefits not only the planet, but also those families struggling to stay above water. – Kyle Eustice

 

 

 

The Art Of Using Cover Songs To Grow Your Audience

13347744_f520Many artists may have conflicted feelings about cover songs, for although they can be fun to play and offer an easy way to connect with your audience, it can also be irritating when cover songs are all an audience wants, or when they get more attention than original compositions. Here we look at the best way to make cover songs work for you.

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Guest post by Dave Kusek of DIY Musician

Free Webinar April 26th at 4PM EST

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For a lot of musicians, there’s a bit of a love/hate relationship going on with cover songs. On one side of the equation, it’s fun and insightful to cover other people’s songs and, if you pick the right song, fans will really go crazy when they hear a classic tune.

On the other side covers can be downright frustrating. Especially in the early stages of a music career, venues want mostly cover sets, and the covers you release online can seem to get more attention than your originals. It can make you feel underappreciated, almost like the industry is pushing you into a cover band box. Tributes “R” Us.

To help you make the most of cover songs and turn them into tools that help you grow your audience and raise awareness for your originals – instead of being a big roadblock, Kevin Breuner from CD Baby and I are hosting a free cover song webinar on Wednesday, April 26 at 4PM EST.  See the agenda below…

Sign up for free to join us live, or sign up to get the free recorded replay.

Here are some Cover Song Basics and best practices you can start using right now.

1. Make it Your Own

Best way to get people who hear your covers into your original music? Put your own unique spin on every song you cover. That means bending the songs stylistically to fit with the kind of music you play and write. Sometimes that will mean a few minor tweaks or just adding your own color. Sometimes it’s a total genre switch and completely different instrumentation.

Not only does this make you stand out from the multitude of cover songs flooding the internet and venues, it also makes the transition to your original music a lot smoother. In a way, listeners have already gotten a little taste of your original sound by listening to your cover rendition. They’ll have a much better sense of what you’re all about as an artist and will be much more comfortable when you move to the original song.

2. Subscribers Over Views

There’s this fascination with “viral” videos in the music industry. But a ton of views on a cover aren’t worth much on YouTube unless you can get in touch with those people again. We’ve seen a lot of musicians hit it with a crazy viral video only to release an original music video on deaf ears.

So instead of thinking, “How can I get 10,000 views,” get yourself in the mindset of, “How can I get as many viewers as possible to subscribe?” Setting up suggested videos or playlists on your YouTube channel can be a great way to get people to continue watching, which increases the chance they’ll actually subscribe.

This goes for your live shows too. If you are forced into doing cover sets, think about ways you can connect with those people again. Maybe it’s a contest where they have to follow you on Facebook to enter, or even a USB stick that you hand out for free with a recording of one of your original songs and your social media channels written out on it.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Call to Actions

And that leads us into the next point – utilizing call to actions. So what exactly is a call to action? It’s basically just you directly asking your viewers or listeners to take some further action. Maybe it’s watching another video, or subscribing to your channel, or entering your contest, or clicking the link in your description box.

If you’ve never done this before, it can definitely feel a little awkward and even pushy at first, but it’s been proven time and time again that directly asking people to do something increases the chance that they will.

If you’re releasing covers on YouTube, you can easily use “cards” to suggest other videos your viewers can watch next. As you upload your video, you’ll be able to add cards in the “Cards” tab across the top of the upload screen. Use cards to suggest other cover songs or even original songs when people reach the end of your videos.

If you’re doing a cover gig in a venue, it’s pretty easy to add little call to actions as you talk to the audience. Ask them to follow you on Facebook for more covers and originals, or to see photos that you posted from the show.

You could also ask them to visit a certain URL where they can get a few songs for free in exchange for an email address (give them a cover and an original to introduce them to your own music). If you’re really savvy, you could even give out little download cards so they don’t even have to memorize the URL.


As you can see, cover songs can be an extremely valuable part of your approach and can really help you grow your audience and get more fans.

To get loads more cover song tips, join CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and I in a free webinar on Wednesday, April 26 at 4PM EST. Sign up to join us live or sign up to get the recorded replay.

AGENDA

Here are a few things you’ll learn during the webinar:

  1. WHY COVER SONGS? – Learn why covers are so powerful and how you can use them along side your original music to get more attention and grow your fanbase.
  2. WHAT CAN YOU COVER (LEGALLY)? – Stop worrying about whether you need a license for covers, or whether posting them will get you in trouble. Learn exactly what you can cover and how so you can jam on in peace.
  3. HOW TO LICENSE A COVER SONG? – Want to put your cover on YouTube? We’ll explain how that works. Want to release a cover on your album? We’ll show you how to do that too!
  4. USING COVERS TO ATTRACT ATTENTION? – We’re not all out to be cover bands. But you can (and should) still make use of covers in your sets! Learn how to use cover songs to get people interested in you and your original music.
  5. GET COVERS NOTICED ONLINE? – There’s A LOT of cover song out there online. Learn how to stand out and get your versions discovered, shared and noticed.

Sign up to join us live or sign up to get the recorded replay.

We’ll not only be expanding on some of the tips we presented in this post, we’ll also be breaking down copyright law so you know how to release cover songs legally – both online and on your albums.

We hope to see you there!

Dave Kusek is the founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.

Playlist Placement’s Critical Role In Having Your Music Discovered

1While radio may have once been the means of making or breaking a hit, the onset of the streaming age means the playlist is now the primary avenue for listener discovery. Unsurprisingly, this has given rise to a new form of payola, with companies emerging that specialize in getting artists’ music on playlists…for a fee.

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Guest post by Bobby Owsinski on Music 3.0

While radio airplay used to be the lifeblood of a hit (and in some cases still is), today it’s the playlist that really sets the tone for listener discovery. If a track is added to a popular list, its streams will spike and listeners will add it to their personal playlists, which sometimes adds a viral element that spreads to playlists on other networks as well. What’s more, hot playlists are now watched by radio programmers to see both what’s trending and what’s not.

Not surprisingly, pay-to-play has come to the digital age as a new form of payola now attempts to influence what consumers listen to. Playlist promotion, or “playola,” has become a big part of the promotional campaigns for many managers and labels. In fact, prices for playlist promotion can be as little as $100 to a small blogger with a modest following, to as much as $10,000 for a six-week campaign for a major playlist owner. A quick Google search will find dozens of promotion companies that specialize in getting your songs on playlists just about anywhere.

Just like in the old days of radio promotion, competition is now fierce for these playlist spots, so don’t be surprised if the prices continue to rise.

While the playlist culture has been great for music discovery for the listener, it turns out it hasn’t been that great for artist development. Where before listeners were getting to know the artist’s music via multiple songs on an album, that’s all changed as streaming has made the business more song-driven instead of artist-driven. As a result, songs tend to come and go faster, as do artists. The good news is that means there are are always spots open on a playlist for new songs. The bad news is that it’s more difficult for an artist to get long-term traction as a result. Check out this post to improve your chances of getting placed on a popular playlist.

Will The Online Music Experience Another Myspace Moment?

1Here Bas Grasmayer explains why he believes online music may be on the verge of another Myspace style implosion, and why this could open up new opportunities for those operating and innovating in digital music.

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Guest post by Bas Grasmayer of Music Tech Future

An emerging void signals new opportunity for innovation in digital music.

The benefit of writing thoughts down is that you get to revisit them. Six years ago, I penned a piece for Hypebot called The Next MySpace. At that time, people in the music business were desperate to for another MySpace to emerge: the site had been a ray of hope, but as it collapsed, online music was scattered across an immature ecosystem of rapidly growing startups like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Spotify, and many others that were eventually acquired or perished and forgotten. I argued:

The closest we will ever get to a “next MySpace” will be either a music network or a social network that manages to gather, organise and integrate the fragments in spectacular fashion.

DEFINING THE MYSPACE MOMENT

1What I call a MySpace moment is not when everything was going well for MySpace: it’s when decline set in. People started replacing MySpace’s music players, which sucked, with Soundcloud’s beautiful waveform players. People started moving much of their social lives to Facebook (for friends) and Twitter (to connect to strangers). Up until then, the dominant social network had been music-driven — people, especially teenagers, expressed their identities by making long lists of bands they liked.

From the ashes of MySpace, which never managed to recover, rose a new ecosystem of music startups. They’ve managed to make it easy for artists to connect to fans, get paid for online playback, let fans know about new shows, and be able to very specifically target people with ads.

That moment, that void, was a massive opportunity and many companies benefited from it.

That moment is here once again.

THE NEW MYSPACE MOMENT

There are two main factors contributing to a new emerging void for entrepreneurs to leap in. One has to do with product adoption life cycles, which I’ll explain below. The other has to do with the important position Soundcloud claimed in the online music ecosystem.

Soundcloud came closer to being the ‘next MySpace’ than any startup has. And let’s be blunt: the company is not doing well. After years of legal pressure to tackle the problem of works being uploaded to the service without rights holders’ permission, they were forced to adopt a service model that does not make sense for Soundcloud. The typical $10 a month subscription doesn’t make sense. People are on Soundcloud for the fresh content, the mixtapes, remixes, unreleased stuff: the things that will not be on Spotify for weeks or months (or ever!). Why inject the catalogue with music of long deceased people?

There have been reports that Soundcloud would consider any bids higher than the total amount of money invested into the company to date. That’s not a good sign. The road they’ve been forced into is a dead-end street, and the only end game is a quick acquisition.

I don’t think Soundcloud will die, but it is hard for the company to focus on what they’ve always been good at. Now that they’ve been forced into the Spotify model, those are the types of metrics that are going to matter. Subscriber numbers, conversion, retention. So it may struggle to do as good a job serving the audience they’ve traditionally serviced so well. (small note: I love Soundcloud, and the people there: prove me wrong!)

This leaves a vacuum.

Adding to that vacuum, is the fact that Spotify (and other streaming services) are looking beyond early adopters. To understand the phenomenon, have a look at the below graph:

Product Life Cycle & Innovation Adoption Curve

The top part of the graph details the product life cycle. The bottom part explains the type of audience you address during the steps of that life cycle. As we’ve all noticed from the jubilant press reports on streaming’s expansion, we’re in the growth part of the cycle. This means services like Spotify and Apple Music have to get really good at targeting Early Majority and Late Majority type consumers.

If you’re reading this, you’re in the Innovator or Early Adopter segment. Startups typically start off by targeting those segments. So when Spotify moves on from Early Adopters (their de-emphasizing of user generated playlists is a big hint!), it leaves room for new startups to target and better serve those types of users.

FILLING THE NEW VOID

What happens then? Well, we’re going to get to the next phase of the digital music ecosystem – which is mobile-driven, and flirting with augmented reality, VR, and artificial intelligence. Early adopters are likely to keep paying for their Spotify subscriptions – it’s too big a convenience to give up… So entrepreneurs will have to figure out ways to monetize new behaviours.

Now is a great time to look at very specific problems in music. Don’t try to build the next Spotify or the next Soundcloud. For a while, everyone was trying to build the next MySpace — all those startups are dead now. Instead, take a specific problem, research it, build a solution for someone, test it, try it again for a broader group, and if it works: double down and scale up.

Personally, I’m very curious to see where startup accelerator Techstars Music’s current batch will be five years from now.

Nora Germain Shares Advice, Inspiration For Artists

Tab_widthIn this interview Nora Germain, a seasoned violinist and veteran of the stage, shares her extensive DIY knowledge, particularly when it comes to the running a PledgeMusic campaign, as well as advice on cultivating a successful career in music in general.

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Guest post from PledgeMusic News

Nora Germain is no stranger to the stage. The 25-year old jazz violinist has been performing publicly for the last decade, alongside some of the world’s great musical talents including John Altman, Alison Burns, Jacob Collier, and Jon Batiste, just to name a few. The seasoned vet is also a D.I.Y. pro, and has a lot of knowledge to share with artists who are looking to get the most out of their PledgeMusic campaigns, and ultimately, their entire musical careers. Check out our interview with Nora below.

How do you prepare mentally when you play in different jazz environments (for example from playing with a virtuoso soloist like Tommy Emmanuel, or a more jazz/ funk genre style like Jon Batiste)? What are some of the work environments you have had to adapt your working style to fit?

Every artist is different and every show calls for a different type of delivery. Some performers I work with are very active on stage, always cracking jokes, smiling, adding little details. Some really keep to themselves and just play the music the best they can without giving too much of their personality. I like to be more active and playful myself, but it depends on the performance.

Tony Bennett said that there’s no such thing as a bad audience — just a bad performance. What that means to me is that as performers we must feel the audience’s energy, know what they want us to deliver and what they’re looking for in a show, and deliver that. If we don’t reach them that’s on us, not on them.

I mentally prepare by taking a deep breath, always staying hydrated and calm, and remembering that if you do your best and you smile that the audience will always love you for it.

Tommy likes to play really fast, right on the edge of what he’s capable of. It’s thrilling and exciting. So when I’m playing with someone like that who really likes to push you (the bassist for Postmodern Jukebox Casey Abrams is like that as well, and the London guitarist Nigel Price, and others) I try to stay very alert and to be ready for anything. It’s very important to not become tense. You want to be loose and play very light, so you can walk the tight rope, or run it!

With Jon Batiste or some other musicians that are much more groove based, the key is really the attitude when you’re playing. Some other musicians that come to mind in that sense are Marshall Hawkins (who was a bassist with Miles Davis) and Jacob Collier. For those people it’s more about the attitude of each note, and really being in the right kind of mind to freely express yourself. You want to be open, and you have to practice a lot of self love so that you can emote without judging yourself.

Sometimes you want to be a bit more in the background. When I played with Sam Smith I was just in a string section. That can be a great exercise because you want to support the artist without getting in the way at all. It’s the same way when I record with the soul singer JMSN. I’m really in a supporting roll.

Every day requires something a little different than the last, but as long as you’re open to adapting, you can absolutely play with anyone.

You are a successful DIY musician, and have written a book about your experiences that you are selling through your PledgeMusic campaign. Can you share what you think is the most vital online tactic for being successful? Are there pitfalls musicians should avoid to have a successful online/ social media campaign?

Here are a few of my best tips.

First you want to make sure that when you post about your campaign, you’re making a short but concrete ask and that people know when the deadline is. Don’t write a paragraph about what you’re doing. Put the details in a video. Make short posts that include the deadline and the link and then more people will know about what you’re doing because all they need to do is glance to see the information.

Celebrate the small successes along the way. Let people know (on Facebook or in your pledger updates, or via your email list, etc.) when you’ve reached another percent on your goal. Let them know when exclusives are running out and when something inspiring happens with the project. Each success builds confidence in your project in the eyes of potential pledgers.

Get your friends to help. Make a list of people who follow your music and who believe in you and ask them to share your campaign for you and maybe say a little something about why they support you or the last time they saw you play live, etc. Getting a message from more than one source is always more persuasive than getting it only once.

Take the spotlight off of the pity party when you talk about your campaign. Don’t mention that it’s so hard to get people to pledge and that you’re worried about reaching your deadline and things like that. This is PledgeMusic, not GoFundMe. Now there’s nothing wrong with GoFundMe, but PledgeMusic is not a charity website. It’s a place for people to pre-order albums and exclusive experiences. They’re purchasing an artistic product from you — not giving their money away. Talk about your campaign in that way, so that you’re highlighting people pre-ordering your music, not giving money for charity. Be dignified and confident.

If anybody needs any help with their campaign, my website has a form that you can fill out if you have any questions or need some quick advice. It’s www.noragermain.com

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How about in the day to day performing – the audition/job acquirement aspects. Can jazz violinists be DIY musicians easily without the number of showcases available to rock clubs? Do you need to be careful of picking your living locale? Some musicians are overwhelmed once they move away from the safety of their music school environment. Do you have any words of encouragement for expanding the musical horizon? How successful can a musician be on their own – are there good venues once you find the right audience?

Anyone can be a DIY musician. I wouldn’t say that my plan is to run my whole career alone forever, but it’s certainly possible if you’re willing to put the work in. Most of the jobs I book with other artists are jobs that I emailed them about. I find people whose work I like and then I tell those people, “Hey. I’d like to work with you if you need a violinist.” People call you when they know that you’re qualified and interested.

In terms of showcases, yeah — it’s a different world. The jazz world isn’t as organized or productive or as big of a machine in any respect compared to the other music genres. But that’s ok. It just comes back to doing live shows and getting people to connect with seeing you play on stage. There is one thing that jazz musicians have that a lot of others don’t — and that’s our improvisation. That aspect is different person to person, so you have to really work on your craft and improvising in your own unique way. Also, it’s good to write or cover other music that’s maybe played in a jazz way but isn’t necessarily instrumental or in the swing rhythm so that young people can relate to the music as well. I like to bring the best of the past into the now, and create some new stuff too, so it’s a variety of moments. My current campaign is to fund an entire album of original songs by me that I’ll be singing, so I’m adding more of that stuff to the show too.

I love living in Los Angeles and think it’s a great city for music. There are always improvements that can be made. I think Los Angeles needs more dedicated jazz venues so that more people, especially young ones, will have a place to go and hear great tap dancers and pianists, singers, and even jazz violinists play every night. Swing dancing is on the uptake in LA, and that’s employing a lot of jazz bands. But these days, with the internet, and especially if you plan to tour a lot, you can live anywhere. People just have to see the music to know how much they love it, and without enough dedicated (and affordable) venues that’s tricky.

Regarding music school, no. I wasn’t afraid to get away from that environment. I’ve always wanted to be out there, on stage, and trying things live in front of people. I enjoyed my institutionalized musical training a very small percentage of the time, and all through college I was already playing a lot of gigs. I fell asleep in my classes sometimes because I was playing late the night before. I’d say just get out there. You have to test your ideas in front of people, and the sooner you start the easier it becomes. You get better at it every time you try. That’s for sure.

How successful can you be? Anywhere from homeless to Michael Jackson. It’s about how you connect with people. Create the right media and everything will come from that, I think. But in this dystopian music industry, even Aretha Franklin may hot have been signed if she were young today. It’s hard to say what’s possible. There’s a lot to fear and a lot to be inspired by. But none of that matters if you try hard and believe in yourself. That’s the real stuff, and I think that musicians can rise above any political environment, economic circumstance or generational lapse in taste.

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Your book “Go for It …Surviving the Challenges of Becoming an Artist” is meant to inspire. Can you describe what you touch on there? How much do musicians need something to stay tethered to their goals and desires to further their career? How would you convince an artist to stay encouraged?

My book was designed to inspire my young colleagues, people who are professional artists or are working to become professional. It starts with background on my life, but quickly expands to a number of chapters (30 or so) that include topics like stage fright, education, practicing, being a woman in the music world, the appeal of jazz, how to be authentic, overcoming failure and desires to quit, and lots of other subjects as well. I wanted to help other people to believe in themselves, and to write about my career as I’m in the trenches trying to create it, not 50 years from now when I can’t even remember what this period in my life was like. So it’s really an inspirational book for young people, and I wrote it in such a way (or I hope I did) that people who are in other careers or walks of life will enjoy it as well.

Without concrete goals, or at the very least, creative ethics and morals, it’s hard to live a satisfying creative life whether you’re working on your own projects or someone else’s. You have to know what you want to do, what you’re willing to do, and what you’re not willing to do. It’s art after all. It’s supposed to be uplifting, so choose wisely. It’s said in one of the Star Wars films that your focus determines your reality. Watch where you focus your energy, because that’s what your life will become. My book available in Paperback or ebook formats on my PledgeMusic store.

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