Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You're Calling

I'm just putting this out there to get my thoughts out.  I'm not looking for compliments, I'm not looking for pity.  Just perhaps a good discussion or even just something to get off my chest.

Have you ever felt like you know what your calling is?  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you know you are meant to do something almost like it is a built in "no-brainer."  When you are doing that thing, know that you are doing what you were created to do.

That's how I feel about music.  I've recorded 7 albums now.  My second album, "Synthpops" had a few songs that were even played on underground radio.  There was a song on that album called "I'm A Pop Star" which has proven to be my most popular song ever.

I've always gotten very positive reviews on all of my albums (except for Fluffy, which has received 0 reviews, positive or negative).

Yet, in spite of all of this, in spite of the feelings that I am doing what I am called to do, I feel that it goes mostly unnoticed. I have a few faithful fans, and I really love and appreciate each and every one of them for all they have done with funding various albums, with helping to spread the word, etc., yet, I have a meager 128 "likes" on my music page. (As if Facebook is the end all / be all of popularity).  I get very few hits on my webpage.  Very few listens on Spotify, Rhapsody, etc.  I've tried to run various promotions, none of which succeeded.

Basically, this is leaving me with feeling that "My calling" is nothing more than "My hobby."

I know I'm not the best vocalist out there.  I definitely wouldn't have a place in The Voice, or American Idol or even America's Got Talent, but I have perfect pitch, and I can hear harmonies like nobody's business.  Also, not to "toot my own horn", but I'm an excellent song writer, an accomplished arranger, and a decent producer.

I've gotten a few minor music jobs on local TV for advertisers, and have done soundtracks to several local indie movies.  (all to great review).

Yet, I still feel mostly unnoticed in "the music world."

Mind you, I'm not looking for notoriety or fame, just some people that are touched by my music.  Some people that can identify with it.  Relate to it.

Appreciate it.

Again, I know the few fans I have do identify with it and love it.  I guess I'm looking for that on a larger scale.  Rather than the maybe 15 people that feel this way, I'd like to see 15,000.  Even 1500.  In fact, let's start small and get 150.

The 15 I have are amazing, wonderful fans.  They truly are.  I couldn't even do any of this without them.  My family has been amazingly supportive as well.

Any of you that may be artist, maybe you can understand how I feel.  Artists are very emotional people.  We want to create our art not only for ourselves, but for others as well.  Not necessarily to relate to them on an individual basis, but to relate with them corporately, so to speak.

You know "that song" that you hear, that has always meant something to you.  "That song" that speaks to you like few others?  Or "that story" that means more to you than mere words can describe? What about "that painting" that somehow captures your very being and places you right there in the scene?

As an artist, I strive to create "that moment" for people.  I have one fan, my #1 fan, Naomi Hanvey, that has expressed a "that song" of mine.  It's a song I wrote called "Cannot Look Away."  She has told me that she would listen to "that song" over and over and it would give her strength.  She also has a "that album" of mine as well, called "Stating The Obvious."

It's an amazing feeling as an artist to know that someone has connected with my music, and ultimately me in "that way."

But I have to say, it's like a drug.  Not that I'm not happy to have made that type of connection, I just feel that since I believe this is my calling that I'd like to make more of those connection.  No, I wouldn't "like" to.  I need to.  I need another fix.

Does any of this make sense at all?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bad Reviews

If you are an artist, I am sure you know what it is like to receive a bad or negative review on your work. Yesterday, I was bombarded with bad reviews.  And I paid for the "opportunity" to be reviewed by 20 "random people" in what is called a Crowd Review which is a service by Reverb Nation.

The thing is, I guess I misunderstood the fact that I thought they were going to be from people that had some kind of "professionalism" and the ability to give constructive criticism as it is called a "Radio Test."

I am really regretting that I did this Crowd Review. I feel like I wasted not only my money for this "opportunity" but almost feel like I wasted my time writing the song.  I've never been so discouraged about my music before. Now, not all the reviews were terrible, but the bulk were, and honestly, to me, they have more weight than the few good ones.  Not that I agree with the weight, but it always seems like the bad things people say stick with you more than the good things, right?

I'm probably going to kick myself for doing this, but I'm going to share the reviews and my comments on each.  The ironic thing is the song is called "Never Give Up" and these reviews almost make me want to. haha.

First, here is the link to the song.  If you want to listen, please do (it will open in a new window): http://www.reverbnation.com/midiboymusic/song/19546341-never-give-up

Here goes...(in the order I received them)

Review 1: Odd, in a good way. The track doesn't feel like it matches the lyrics. I actually wanted to skip this one but, after letting it play and listening to the strong, positive lyrics, I like it more.
Ok, not too bad, actually.  I don't think that being "odd in a good way" is bad.  He says the track doesn't feel like it matches the lyrics.  I'm not really sure what he means by that.  I wish I could ask him.

Review 2: The beat and the melody are okay but the instruments are horrible. The vocals are even worse. This is terrible. I don't think anything can fix this. The chorus is too simple. The lyrics very cliche. It's just lame.
The instruments are horrible?  Ok.  This person obviously doesn't like electronic music.  I get that.  Then the vocals come.  Wow. Are they really THAT bad?  I know I'm not a great singer, but I don't think I'm "even worse than horrible".  And what's wrong with a simple chorus?  And the thing is...it may sound simple, but keep these things in mind...the chorus is based on a simple speech by Winston Churchill.  I wanted to capture the simplicity of what is considered his most powerful speech ever. We tend to over complicate things in life, so I wanted to reflect on this simple, yet truthful message. If he thinks the music is simple, that's his opinion I suppose, but any person that truly understands music can pick up on the quirky sets of three that the chorus is based on where the verse is done in sets of 4.

Review 3: Intense introduction with the heavy electronic beats. Very strong and vibrant sound. The music was very rich and distinctive. The vocals were out tune once the song started. Some parts of the song sounded choppy and cut off, pitch problems and very weak in quality recording. The lyrics were unique, but the chorus parts were very out of tune and repetitive. The lyrics had a good message, but the background vocals were very unimaginative and weak. The song was lacking in professional quality feel. The ending finished in a very awkward way.
As I started reason this, I was happy that this reviewer thought the music had strong and vibrant beat and the music was rich and distinctive.  Then he decided the vocals were out of tune. Really?  I guess I can sorta see how this reviewer might think that.  I didn't use any autotune on this piece at all, but after I read this review, I ran the vocal line through Melodyne (a program that tracks tuning), and it only detected minor variances from on pitch...the thing is, it detects things like that when you slide from one note to another note or even use vibrato.  Almost ALL singers do this, AND on top of that, no signer can ever be 100% right on pitch at all times. It would sound like AutoTune set to "Cher mode" so to speak.  Then he goes and says the chorus was very out of tune.  WHAT?  I can't accept that.  The chorus is NOT out of tune even one little bit.  In fact, it's probably one of the strongest vocal lines I've ever come up with.  Wow.  Yes.  Choppy.  Repetitive.  Whatever.  The "choppy" was intentional.  I think that's the hook of the chorus.  So he doesn't like it.  That's fine.  But it's not out of tune.  The song is lacking a professional quality feel?  Wow.  Really?  Then why is it trending?  Yes.  It ends in a "very awkward way".  OK.  Another hook based on the hook of the chorus.  Oh well.

Review 4: Oh god. is this from the Lonely Island? This song just sounds so silly. The music is alright and the lyrics are good but the way they are sung make it sound like a joke. Maybe if it sounded like you actually meant it would help.
Really? Lonely Island?  Did he actually listen to my song, or did he just decide to write a random review?  Whatever.

Review 5:  The backing track is very good and sounds very modern. I think the echoing on the vocals ruins the introduction. The vocals make the song sound dated and it is hard to understand the lyrics, as the vocals sound very dreary
That's not the introduction.  It's the first verse.  Hard to understand lyrics though?  Really?  Vocals sound dreary?  Good!  That was the point of the verses.  This guy gets it and doesn't even realize it.  Did he listen to the chorus?  Nothing dreary there.

Review 6: Good use of instruments, they compliment the tone of the vocal. The song flows well with a good range of styles and tempos especially the whispering section. This results in the song being kept interesting and fresh. Good work
Thank you. I needed this needed this one.  It seems he may have even picked up on the quirky timing of the chorus.  Thank you very much.

Review 7:  The melody of this song is very peaceful as well very up lifting . The lyrics are very encouraging. The bass is at the prefect level. I really enjoyed listen to the type of instrument that where playing in the background. When listen to this song it make you feel as if you can over come any thing that get in the way of you becoming a better person. I truly feel that this song has a lot of potential and one day it just may very successful.
Again.  Thank you!

Review 8:  Musicality is horrible. Bass beats are not timed correctly with one another. Vocals are horrible. Both lead vocals and chorus. While I appreciate the message of the song, it's very very generic. This is almost a joke song to me. I don't see this song being popular.
Musicality is horrible.  Really?  So you don't like the style?  Bass beats are not timed correctly?  Not sure what he or she means here. They are perfectly timed.  They are a Karma pattern.  They are perfectly timed.  It's not even possible for them not to be.  Maybe this reviewer doesn't like syncopation? They are not on the quarter note and have a lot of nice subtle syncopation. Vocals are horrible.  There's that again.  Am I really that bad?  A joke song though?  That's where it stings.

Review 9: Ouch. I cringed when the first lyrics hit. The singer is terrible. Simply put, there is no way he can be considered talent. It's flat all throughout, and the he can't hit a note even with a homing missile. The song is awkward and the lyrics are just embarrassing. I'm not sure if this done purposely as a joke, or that the singer has no sense of music and is tone deaf. Terrible in every way.
Again on the vocals.  Apparently I'm tone deaf and have no sense of music.  Another one that really stings.

Review 10:  the sound of this osng is very disitnctive. the music has a robotic sound to it, doesnt seem to evolve. stays the same. not fresh. the organ in this gets to overtake this song a bit.the singer in this has a voice that is not the strongest. it doesnt rise to a higher level. the mix of his voice seems lost in tone and contrast.
(Spelling errors are the reviewers, not mine) This reviewer seems to contradict themselves right away.  Apparently, this osng (sic) is very disitnctive (sic) and has a robotic sound.  Yes.  It's electronic music. Robotic makes sense to a point. But then it doesn't seem to evolve and it stays the same and isn't fresh.  Ok.  I can accept that as a constructive criticism, but it sorta contradicts the fact that they said it was very disitnctive (sic). Maybe disitnctive doesn't mean what I think it means.  Could be.  As a side note, there is no organ whatsoever in this song, though I could see where this review might think there is.  It's all synth and no organ patches at all.  I can also accept the constructive criticism that I am not the strongest singer.  I accept that and can agree.   I'm not at all sure what he means by the last line of the mix of my voice is lost in tone and contrast.  I think he doesn't know what he means.

Review 11: Nice song that demonstrates creative mood. The interlude of the song was fun and spiritually the song has a harmonic, inspired narrative. The rather genuine tune design used in this song is solid and it has a sweet bassline implementation. The tune had a creative mellowness and qualitatively it has deep, uncompromising soul. It can be touching and penetrating with its effortlessly good, astonishing elegance. I enjoy how the concept and timbre grow; the subtlety of the singing was delicious and rhythmic and the instrumentation of this piece was enjoyable. The attitude of the melody was cool though a shorter chorus would suit its imaginative rhythm. Transcendental track.
 Wow.  I actually forgot about this review until I just pasted it in here.  Thank you!  This actually made me feel a lot better.  Wish I could thank you personally. And thanks for the constructive comment about the chorus.  I do appreciate that.  I felt with the song being only 3 min long, that the chorus length was ok  I'll revisit that though and play with that.  Maybe shorten the 2nd chorus to be like the 1st and leave the 3rd chorus longer to end the song.

Review 12: Quite a thought provoking and inspirational track lyrically but the vocals are slightly challenging to listen to. The melody is slightly irritating and I would not choose to listen to this again. The melody seems thrown together without much consideration as to how it sounds.
Hrmmm.  Thanks for your comments, I suppose.  More on the vocals though. Sorry you didn't like my melody.

Review 13:  the background is funky. The lyics are square and bland. I would not want to hear a song like this on the radio. I think songs like this do not have a place in today's radio world. The background is way too loud, and the vocals much to fuzzy and quiet. The proper equipment was not used in the production of this song.
Not at all sure what this guy means by most of what he (or she) said.  Background is too loud and vocals are too quiet?  Did he listen to my song?  The vocals are right out front.  Proper equipment not used?  Really?  Whatever.

Review 14:  This song is hitting home with me because I have had it rough, but I WILL NEVER GIVE UP DAMMIT. LOL. Thanks for this song, it did well for me. Not sure about others though. I like the simplicity of everything. The melody,tempo, rhythm, all that was so simple, but the way they sang it combined with the lower tones in the beat, made it all more believable. The lyrics just hit home with me thats all and I would listen to this daily because of it. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you.  Another good review that honestly, I forgot about after processing the majority of the other reviews.  I wish I could send him the link to my page, but these Crowd Reviews are done 100% anonymously on both ends.  They don't know who they are listening too, and I don't know who listened. I am glad that the song hit home with you.  I pray that you are able to make it through whatever you are going through.

Review 15:  I hear a drum machine. I hear a voice that is rather ban and weak. He's singing "Never give up" That's convincing enough, however somehow I'm not impressed. I like the effect after the bridge. Then he whisper. I'm sure someone will love this production, however it another corny sound. The lyrics are clear English. The vocal is strong in certain areas. It's the little things that makes the difference between sounding pleasing. The lead vocal's delivery is just plain and needs an effect to compensate. Perhaps he should try doubling, echo or phasing. The masters realize this or at least have a producer cue them into it. Look at Elvis. In the beginning, before his voice developed they used slap echo. I'm not saying the vocalist can not sing. I'm only saying his sound can be enhanced for commercial value. It would appeal to even more people.
Technically, you don't hear a drum machine.  The vocals are ban and weak?  Not sure what ban means.  Maybe you meant bad?  Yeah.  I bet that's it.  Ugh. Obviously he can understand the vocals....he says they are clear English.  He should tell that guy a few reviews up that.  He even thinks they are strong in some areas.  Then he says I should try adding an echo to the vocals.  Hmmm...did he not hear the echo? I do appreciate that he said "I'm not saying the vocalist can not sing...but can be enhanced for commercial value."  Thank you.  That's constructive criticism.  Honesty is appreciated.  Thank you for that.

Review 16:  I really like the intro and how the instruments were played together. I also like that the vocalist was clear and also stylish with his lyrics. I also really like the hook because it made a lot of sense. The melody was perfect and shapely.
Thank you. It's funny how some people hear things completely different than others.

Review 17: The electronic synths seem interesting so far. Ah, the lyrics ring true but the vocals can be fixed up a bit. Since this is electronic music the artist can alter the voice to sound better. Oh, the added in instrumentals are horrible. I understand the message of the song, "never give up" and that's great. The lyrics are good but the vocals, arrangement, and instrumentals need to change big time. It will not be a hit and I do not feel someone will listen to this for the full duration. It really needs to be fixed but the artist is on the right track! Keep trying!
 Hmm...thanks...I think.

Review 18: I think the song's arrangement in the musical composition, needs some work in the vocals, and most definitely in the instrumentals, as well. I think he had heart and passion in his lyrics, and performance in the verse. But it was a total mess, especially with the hook and chorus section of the song. It does not have commercial appeal.
Ok.  Thanks.  You didn't like the song and thought it was a total mess and has no commercial appeal in your opinion.  :/

Review 19:  This song is pretty annoying especially the chorus, Probably will not make it on to the radio, but if these guys try a little harder i see potential. The never give up chorus pretty much killed the song in my opinion.
Ok.  Sorry I annoyed you.

Review 20:  The intro has too much punch on the bass drum sounding part. The overall mix could've been better, I think. I had to crank the low end eq for it to sound decent. Interesting song, lyrically. The mix sounded better at the bridge with less synth. I don't think the vocal sound sounded right for the song. I give it a halfway mark for the genre it represents.
I'm not sure what you mean.  First you say there was too much punch on the bass drum.  Then you say you said to crank the low end EQ for it to sound decent.  What is it?  Too much punch or not enough?

Anyway, I guess the point of this....see how the bad overshadows the good?  Maybe not to you the reader, but to me, the artist.  It kinda stings.  I was hoping was a score of 7 or better.  So obviously, with a score of 4.3, most people voted rather low.  :/

I would have liked to see more encouragement rather than just blatant rudeness and disregard by several of these people.  I've written many reviews, and have never once been critical to the point of being mean.  Yes, I have reviewed things I did not like, but I guess I like to keep the people's feelings in mind.

Oh well.  I guess you live and learn.