Hey all readers (who may be real or just imaginary at this point),
I understand I have been away from blogging for what seems forever. Part of the reason, is that I have been going through a major writer’s block, which not only affected my music article writing, but it also made me a little fearful about what to write here.
The thing is your words represent you when you are a writer. And when you can’t really find yourself as a writer, it’s nearly impossible to fake it as a writer. I know, I know…excuses, but another part can be attributed to “burn out”.
I burned out a bit as a “music writer” because I kept writing week after week without taking any break (which can be good). The thing is, it’s true, if you lose some passion for what you are doing & see it as a chore/work, then you’re already in a bit burnout, and the only thing is figuring out how long till you get out of it.
Part of my problem was that I wrote all these music articles as freelance and for fun, and maybe also to grow a reputation as a good music writer. The thing is, after awhile it’s hard to keep doing the same thing without growth or reward (pay).
A good article can take hours to do, so that a lot of leisure time to spend on a hobby. The thing is, I’ve taken almost a year off, to recuperate from this “burn out”, but I’ve decided to write in my blog more about stuff that’s happening to me (or I’m going through). So, at least you get some “real” content in between my music related stuff. So I guess you will probably get to know me, the writer, a little better through this process.
A quick but necessary rant.
In June 2006, I started a YouTube page under my now common moniker “Chodidee”. It was fun, and my friends and I put up goofy videos to amuse ourselves, etc.
When it got to 2008, I decided to focus my YouTube channel away from myself and random activities with friends, but to streamline it as a music video site.
Not only that I focussed only on “Live performance/concert” video clips. This was good and bad. It was good because it was a niche that needed filling, and bad because of YouTube’s growing concern with copyright infringement.
At the beginning, I admit I copied some live performance videos and re-posted them (wouldn’t happen now because of their high tech software to match identical videos).
I also admit, that did get 2 warnings for copyright infringement, which equals 2 strikes out of a 3 strike policy. I believe one of the strikes was on a David Letterman show – singer performance. I don’t have a problem with that, I live and I learn from my mistakes!
So, in a determined effort to change, I re-focused my YouTube channel again in 2009 to reflect my live performance videos of local & national indie music artists (who need the exposure). Actually, I was developing a faithful and growing fan base from my over 120+ videos that I shot and edited. (Ex: interviews, concerts, etc.)
Imagine my shock & dismay when YouTube suspended (same as terminated) my account after a 3rd copyright infringement charge. There is no questions asked, or any way to appeal the decision (I tried). Total totalitarian video website governance on something that can easily be fixed.
Seems, an old video from 2008 (during my video re-copying days) was the culprit that I was charged and sentenced with. My YouTube page is gone & obliterated over what?
It was an indie music artist I happen to like his music and respect his work and messages. He also someone I have had contact with online in the past couple years. The artist mr.j.medieros and his video “Constance” was counted as copyright infringement.
The only reason I wanted to put his video on my page was to give it more exposure, exposure that I feel the artist deserved.
I’m upset because my only recourse was in submitting a 200 character reply as to why there was a mistake/deserve your site back. Clearly not enough to say it in.
I’m disappointed because I put untold hours upon hours making that YouTube page better and more relevant to my demographic – indie music fans. Actually, many articles have used my videos in stories that were published, and now are empty shells.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to start a new YouTube page yet, because it seems so stupid that for someone who made the changes and tried to follow the rules after I made mistakes, is penalized for something that happened in this way before (I forgot the mr.j.medeiros video was still on my roster of 220+ videos).
YouTube doesn’t care whatever what I think, but it is a complete idiot policy that their is no recourse when you have a valid claim. I’ve lost untold hours of work, for this mix up.
Do you really think I would film, edit, upload over 100 HD videos of mine, and spent that much time, if I wanted to test YouTube’s patience and get kicked out with strike three? Obviously not, horrible lesson learned..
I’m sure there are thousands of other voices who have similar experiences to this simplistic YouTube page killing system. I’d love to hear your opinions because even though it’s been a few months now, it still sickens me…
I keep to saying to myself, what’s the point of putting up blogs that are rants? And basically, if I feel myself justified in making the claim/charge, and it will help me feel better & deal with what happened…then why not?
I will be doing some driving of artist/bands to & fro the airport/hotel. I will do my best! Although, I have practiced driving the routes & seen some of the G20 road closures…please pray for me!!
I am hoping to cover/film 3 days of NXNE (if I have enough energy):
Wednesday June 16th,
Thursday June 17th,
Day: Still Life Still, Hollerado, Dinosaur Bones, The Balconies, Sandman Viper Command, PS I Love You
Night: NXEW showcase: (Gladstone Hotel Ballroom) Volcanoless in Canada, The Mountain & The Trees, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, Rock Plaza Central.
Friday June 18th,
Night: (Velvet Underground) Fantasy Defender, (Gladstone Hotel Ballroom) Ghost Bees, Timber Timbre, DD/MM/YYYY, C’Mon, Styrofoam Ones.
Saturday June 19th,
Off, (home) publish The Mountain & The Trees spotlight for NXEW, etc.
Sunday June 20th,
Night: Outdoor Mainstage (Yonge-Dundas Square) De La Soul, Kid Sister, Phenomenal Handclap Band, Big Freedia, Chin Injeti, Spookey Rueben.
Rest up, than start writing…something like that 🙂
I know that I don’t blog very much nowadays (because I’m always trying to up the content on my other sites), however, occasionally I see thinks that “spike” me into writing a reply.
I woke up today Sun. May 23rd, 2010 & I saw 2 things in the Sunday Entertainment section of the Toronto Star (the biggest newspaper in Canada) that struck my attention.
1) The top 10 music sellers according to Nielsen Soundscan for May 10 – 16th. Out of the top 10, at least 4 of those artists/bands I would count as indie music artists.
Actually #1 was an artist named Charice (real name Charice Pempengco) who gained her fame with talent, severe heavy hitter music biz backing & Oprah show.
2) There is a feature article on a couple pages later on Toronto indie music artist, Darrelle London. She has apparently been gathering steam, as her music caught the eye of Perez Hilton (signed with his music label), and she’s getting a big push with her album’s upcoming release “Edible Word Parade”.
WHY AM I BLOGGING ABOUT THIS??
1) Basically, I’m trying to show my point, that indie artists in many cases…crack the top selling charts. Meaning, in many cases, major music selling stars, get their start as indie artists. Not tons of them, but there are lot’s of them. As well Lady Gaga (who is on the list but I didn’t count as Indie), well about 2-3 years ago, Gaga was a New York City indie artist nobody heard about…
Charice Pempengco – I’ve known about this teenage super pop vocalist for awhile on YouTube. She’s had the backing of mega producer David Foster, and her YouTube videos can give you chills with her singing ability. Now, of course getting Oprah’s seal of approval with an invite on her show, cannot hurt an artist’s chances…
2) Darrelle London – I knew about her too…why I wrote a feature on her over a month ago. The Star article says all this good fortune is coming her way, which it is, however, she was instrumental in that happening. She contacted Perez Hilton, she sends her music to anyone she thinks would be interested (like me), basically she makes her own chances, and I happy for her successes (like getting on 90210) soundtrack.
My closing statement is that if you have a good ear (or write about music all the time), know what quality/talented artists/music sounds like, you will generally have heard of the “Breaking New Music Artists” way before they have broken into the mainstream (you aren’t surprised!).
For example,Stefani Germanotta, now known as Lady Gaga, performing at Ultraviolet Live, NYU’s annual talent show. She ended up coming in 3rd place. 2nd place was Funky Butter. 1st place was Tom Costello & Stephan Magloire. I think this was 2006…
Lady GaGa before she was famous…
~Jason a.k.a. Chodidee
700 artists/groups, 45 clubs, 5 days, 1 wristband giving entry to all…starts Wed. March 10th, 2010.
2a) Figure out how long to stay at each show, know when to get in & get out. Use audio/voice recorder for audio notes as I go…Check mobile internet for latest updates (Be prepared to change plans on the dime, ie. cancellations, delays, travel/traffic, random violence, etc.)
2b) E-mail, tweet, contact indie record labels to try to secure more interviews (I missed the cutoff deadline with the music fest to get “official press accreditation” to interview…my bad) I’m always doing plan B instead of A.
2c) Always have a plan C.
3. Issue a Craigslist advertisement/job to find a photographer/videographer (tripod – I provide) to take live exclusive “performance footage”. More footage taken = more hits/views…from fans in Europe, China, Australia, etc. who like Canadian Indie, yet cannot afford the busfare to get here. In return said photo/videographer get’s their name on everything I use, on all my sites, & I WILL USE A LOT OF IT!
4. Finish 2010 Indie Award – nominees series for The Examiner (I think I’m 80% done).
5. Get all the local indie music papers pronto, since this is the week before (want no surprises…if possible).
6a) Keep ear to the ground when at the events, to spot other artists/groups milling around before & after their performances to get possible impromptu/spontaneous “mini-interviews”.
b) Stay away from the drunks, out of control dancers & be kind and courteous to all bouncers/waitstaff/bartenders. Not a good time to get hurt, so remove myself from situations that increase the possibility of getting hurt.
7. Know when the “key shows” the can’t misses, & don’t miss them.
8. If I sense someone is in the music industry, or if I recognize a famous person, make sure I find a way to say “hello” & give them my business card.
9. Make sure cell phone, voice recorder & any other tech shizz is fully charged, I brought the charger. Bring paper pad & pens (just in case techie stuff breaks).
10. Don’t forget to eat, drink, sleep, excrete…lol
*Remember: 5 days to create many lead stories & contacts. No fear, be in the zone… just do it on automatic…like a guerilla Chinese Strombo.
See ya at the fest,
~Jason aka. Chodidee
I’ll keep this short. Through communicating back and forth these musicians have agreed (in principal/theory) to do an interview with me. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s in person or by phone b/c. in this cases, the bands are a far distance away. The trick is trying to schedule it when their tours arrive in Toronto.
For example, in the summer I got in contact with Vancouver artist, Leah West & she agreed to do an interview when she came to Toronto, however, she wasn’t scheduled to come for a few months. When I realized it, she was gone in other cities on her tour. My bad mistake.
1. Eternia (Toronto/NYC)
2. Papermoon (Winnipeg/Manitoba)
3. The Mountain & the Trees (St. Johns/Newfoundland)
4. Fields of Green (Vancouver/B.C.)
We’ll see if I can organize this all & do it properly. We’ll find out, however, I’ll get trying to set these up in the next few weeks. Right now, I want to throw up as many articles & content on the Examiner page, and some on NxEW. Check you later…
I’m writing this to help me remember, but also as a guide for you to get some ideas on interviewing musicians.
1) Most indie musicians love writers b/c. it gives them more exposure, attention, contacts, etc. Knowing this will give you some confidence, be patient, positive, brief (don’t waste their time) – meaning, be direct and clear when you ask them for an interview.
2) You’re already at the show, you see the singer. Be proactive! You have to create your own breaks, stories…so go find them. Don’t waste a chance if your gut says go talk to THAT band.
3) At a show, you can approach in many ways, but always be respectful & handing over a nice looking business card, always looks good. State that you are writer, right off the bat, so they’ll probably get that you are there wanting to interview or get a quote for an article.
4) Nowadays, contacting a band through a website is actually a decent way to go. I have scored most of my interviews writing a direct e-mail to their official website, Myspace, Twitter, even Facebook. Social media does work for writers to connect with the artist….really!!
At first I would write comments & stuff on their site, and then the artists sometimes would comment back..huh? So, the more it happened, I thought, why not? E-mail directly and see if they want to talk, the worst they can do is say no or ignore your message. For example, if I get a response, I usually either try to meet when they next come to town, or I try to do a phone interview & set it up.
*The hardest thing about doing an interview is setting a suitable day & time. It can be frustrating if they have to re-schedule, etc., however, this comes back to the patience thing. If you want to interview an artist, it’s still awesome to have to interview, even if you have to wait a long time. But be persistent and patient. Remind yourself that musicians are busy, practicing, recording new stuff, so be prepared for example, if they say come to show I’ll talk with you after the show, and the show ends at 2am…you stay till 2am happily & do that interview to your best.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go through their indie record label reps, & that’s fine. You will probably have to go that route if they’re a big “indie artist”.
O.K. this blog is getting horrendously long, I could tell you a lot more things, so I might in a continuation blog.
For last few months I have been working hard at writing quality articles on Canadian indie music at ‘The Examiner’. The thing is, when I sign into the publishing part of the website, they show all the analytics/statistics of your articles (i.e. views, # articles, which examiners get the most views). So everyone has a good idea of how their own work is doing.
The last category bothered me because I thought I had done everything in my power for my views to be in the top 5 in Canada. I learned the tricks like: adding picture slideshows, linking articles back to previous ones, embedding videos, and to publish often (well I tried). Some people told me it’s the subject matter – Canadian indie music. They thought that there would be little interest in it compared to articles on mainstream popular items.
Although I could see that logic, I didn’t want to believe that, and I knew there was more I could try to improve my ratings/views. Today I think I have figured it out. First and foremost I need to post new content often, but also to post “events” for indie concert listings for the month…that would get me more views too! If someone clicks on an event I put up, that’s another view for my statistics. So, I’m gonna try this out, and put up lots of indie music events & see if that increases my daily views/rate.
It was tricky to figure out how to post events (lots of info to type in), but it was worth the perseverance. So, if I post local indie music events – I should get more views/viewers.
I’ll let you know if it works, when more stats come in (but I gotta input all those events first!). It’s a slow process improving at your craft, but I am learning and making adjustments to make my sites better.
This past week has been tough. First time I’ve touched touched my laptop in 5 days. Am I physically better? Maybe a little. To be in constant pain/discomfort wears you down. Pain aches in from knees, lower back, right shoulder, kink in my neck, etc… I tried to sleep it off, but it didn’t go away.
Some stuff helped. Talking with close friends, sleeping a lot, seeing my doctor today, and have some fun chilling with close friends. These all help boost morale when you can’t really do much. Basically, I avoided using my laptop b/c. of the discomfort in the wrists, elbows, & back mainly.
Funny thing, is that I found it healthy to take a break from the internet b/c. I think sometimes I get too sucked into online stuff. I missed writing b/c. although my body felt like crap, my mind was sound & had many drafts on the go.
The physical ailments are still mostly there, however, it became clear that I need to bring my fitness & strength to at least previous levels (haven’t exercised very much in the last while). So, I’m gonna try to do more for health & fitness, as well as not being so much of a hermit. Try to spend less time online.
Mind & body both strong…that’s what I’m aiming for.