Work vs Play. How do you deal?


I’ve learned almost every life lesson the hard way. The “hard way” usual means you don’t listen to what anyone tells you and therefore you experience life’s pains first hand. I do admit when I am wrong and today I’ll make a minor confession. Basically, I thought if I took a full time job I would make music just as easily and with the same fluency and frequency. So yeah I was pretty much wrong.

However, it’s not actually time management that’s the issue. It’s more that well, I love my new day job! It seems after almost 40 years on this planet the left (analytical) side of my brain grew as large as my right brain (creative side). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been freaking out waiting to get dirty with Ableton Live 8 but I’m finding organizing my audits also tantalizing. My official job title is “Field Energy Auditor”. I enter commercial buildings in a certain section of Manhattan that ConEd is having problems delivering power to. I help stores and buildings reduce their current demand by recommending various conservation (lighting retrofits, new HVAC systems, etc..) and generation (solar, geo-thermal, hydro, wind) methods. Often I meet with building managers and companies with more money than the entire music industry (just sitting in the top drawer of their desks!). You would be amazed how open they are to the green revolution. Then again, they save tons of money by implementing the plans we offer. Did you know an underwater turbine now sits in the east river and powers a Gristedes supermarket? Amazing.

I wanted to post this to put my feelings on the record. It should be interesting in a year or two to read this again (for me anyway). So to those of you who work full time how does your music making life fit in? Whenever you get the urge? Weekends only? What’s your stradgey? One thing I am sure of is I put 20+ years into the music business, learning the craft of song-writing and I am finally good at it… so expect many more albums to come. The best thing is I can afford more toys with keys and knobs on them! Here’s where I work: Energy Management Solutions

photo: They found my secret life as The Horrorist.

RouteNote is a no money up front way to iTunes.

RouteNote - content

There are now many ways to get your music on to the iTunes and Amazon MP3 shops. If you’re signed to a label they do the dirty work for you. As an independent artist you can sign your catalog to one of many aggregator services such The Orchard for example. They take a cut and put your tunes in many places for sale including ring-tone sites. Tunecore has been a popular DIY option and it’s the one I have been using for my own albums here in the USA (I have a separate record deal in Europe with Out of Line Music, Because I sell a decent amount on iTunes I easily make back the upfront fees Tunecore charges to get my tunes online.

Routenote - IO

However, I have a older few releases on my record label that I’m not sure would generate much income. So up until now I haven’t posted them using services that had upfront or maintenance fee’s attached to them in fear I wouldn’t make the cash back. I do sell the old releases on my own website using the Easybe store and I also have them online with my Beatport and Junodownload deals. I’ve been on the look out for a fair service to get the rest of the old catalog onto iTunes. I was pleased to recently discover Routenote. Routenote’s service is dead simple to understand. You upload your music to them and they take 10% of any music you sell after you sell it. They offer online stats and payments come via PayPal. Routenote is non-exclusive.

So is Routenote the best route for you to take? It’s not always a clear cut answer. For some further insight look at this chart and article on the Routenote blog: Digital Music Distributors Compared

Audiolife lets you sell tunes with no up-front costs.


Last September I discussed Amazon’s Createspace which allowed you to print on-demand CDs and sell them at There is another player in this space that recently caught my eye called Audiolife. It takes the Createspace model further by also giving you print on-demand merchandise and gives you a portable (embeddable) shop you can place anywhere around the net. You can also sell downloads and buy CDs and merch at a discounted price to sell at shows. The best part of Audiolife is that there are no up-front costs.

“The overarching goal of Audiolife’s trailblazing technology is to give artists an opportunity to generate streamlined revenue without incurring thousands of dollars in up-front costs. By designing and creating a front-end that is both user-friendly and relevant to the changing dynamics of consumer behavior, while providing resources to support a virtual storefront with back-end manufacturing and distribution capabilities, Audiolife has truly created a service that provides a 360º solution.” –

For more info:

A database and spreadsheet of your equipment.

I keep an up to date Database and Spreadsheet containing the details of all the hardware and software in my recording studio. I refer to these lists when I need tech support, if I need a serial number to upgrade software, when I get insurance, if there is a robbery, if I am moving and when I sell something. Since I am a Mac user my favorite apps for the task are Filemaker Pro and Numbers. However, there are many other options and my equipment lists are of quite simple.

I’ve been using Filemaker since version 3 sometime in the mid-nighties. It’s a rock solid program and it has never lost any of my data. As you type a key it makes a file save. For safety you can set up a script so Filemaker requires a password upon launch. You can keep databases on your .mac disc so you have your info “in the cloud”. I have the following fields in my Serial Number Database:

• Date Purchased
• Manufacturer
• Serial Number
• Price Paid – The actual price I paid.
• Method of Payment – Did I use Paypal? If so which account? Or did I use cash?
• Replacement Cost – If it were lost or stolen the amount it would cost to replace it.
• Purchased From
• Description
• Receipt – Filemaker allows fields that hold PDFs or .Doc files.
• Container – You can put a photo of the item here.

    I switched from Microsoft Excel to Apple Numbers to avoid MS bloat. Numbers is also capable of some pretty charts and graphs. The spreadsheet for my studio gear (which I usually use for my insurance company) is very simple. It’s only 4 columns of data with fields for: Item, Serial Number, Price and Replacement Cost. The Replacement Cost field has a total sum calculation at it’s bottom.

    Don’t forget to include your software in these lists. You are expected to have hardware keys and sometimes installer CDs covered by your insurance. For example, Steinberg will no longer replace your hardware key if you loose it. Don’t forget to add items like chairs or sound treatment. If a fire hits your studio you want your insurance to cover your Herman Miller Aeron or RealTraps. Lastly, check your list monthly and update it with any new purchases, delete sold or obsolete items and adjust some replacement costs.

    For those Wire to the Ear readers who own Filemaker you can download a clone (empty) version of the Serial Number database I created and use it as you like: click here to download

    Inside Digital Media interviews Pandora and more.

    Inside Digital Media is a series of interviews by Phil Leigh. I like his content because it’s a view of net media with a heavy business swing. This week he interviews Tim Westergren the founder of Pandora and Chris Wallace of The Super Group.

    Sales of recorded music in the United States are nowabout 30% lower than when Shawn Fanning introduced Napster in 1999. Sales in the physical form (e.g. CDs) are down by nearly half. There is little doubt that the Internet has been a “game changer” for the record label business.

    In this audio program we explore a couple of ways that the Internet can add revenues. One is already generating more money for the industry and promoting new artists. The second appears to be an idea whose time has come. –

    To listen to the interviews: click here

    photo credit: eszter