Thursday, September 28, 2006

Joey Carbone

My pal Joey Carbone was back in Japan for a visit this month. Let me tell you a little about him if you don't know who he is. Joey is originally from New York (like yours truly) and lives in LA. He was the Music Director for the show "Star Search" back in the days. The interesting thing about Joey is that he writes a ton of music for some of the biggest artists in Japan. One of his songs was recently number one on the Japanese version of the billboard charts. He is probably the premier composer for the Japanese music industry. He knows how to write for the Japanese masses but that is not the only key to his success. Some pointers from Joey for those of you who want to become successful composers:

Your demo - No matter how great your songs are, if your demo isn't happening it doesn't mean very much. You see, directors and producers are getting spoiled these days because the quality of demos are getting better and better. Writers are using software like Pro-Tools, Logic, Digital Performer and/or Q-Base to get almost perfect sounding recordings. They don't want to listen to poorly recorded music anymore and many of them don't have the imagination to visualize what a song would sound like recorded in the hands of professional arrangers and recording engineers. They don't want to listen to flat vocal tracks. That's why it is important to digitally fix any pitch problems before you shop your song around. If you are not a singer, see if you can get a qualified vocalist to do the track for you. Make the demo sound like a "real" recording.

Don't give up - Just because your song gets rejected by one director doesn't mean the next one won't bite. According to Joey, you would actually be surprised how often a song gets rejected before turning into a hit. Sometimes it may even get picked up by the same director who rejected it a year before.

Research - Check the charts and see which artists are writing their own music and which ones have songs written for them. It doesn't make much sense to write for someone who doesn't need a song. See who is moving up and who is moving down. Can you figure out who is the next rising star?

Become an expert salesman - Know who represents who. If you don't know anyone in the business, you may have a tough time meeting people. Use an agency that shops music for composers until you get a name for yourself. Joey makes his rounds with a two CD set of around forty songs that he brings around to various contacts. These contacts could be at record labels, agencies that represent artists, publishers or actual artists.

Be persistent - Nobody is going to come to you. Even someone like Joey Carbone who has a number one hit on the charts has to keep making the rounds. He says that you would figure everyone would want one of your tunes once you write a number one but it isn't the case, you have to keep asking.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Infinite Guitar

I started adding a new lesson every month to my site. I guess it was just my way of spreading my knowlege of the electric guitar around. After all, I've had the opportunity and good fortune to study and work with some of the best musicians in the world and there are plenty of young aspiring guitarists who haven't had the same chances, either because of financial reasons or other hardships. Let's face it, it takes a lot of money to relocate to Los Angeles or New York to study music if you where born in a far away place. My site is my way of helping out, I added a new lesson every month for free. The response was overwelming, thousands of guitarists subscribed to my newsletter and before long I was getting a thousand hits a day to my "lessons" page.

What ended up happening is that a Japanese publisher asked me to rewrite the lessons for a book that they wanted to publish in Japan in Japanese. I didn't imagine I would get rich or anything but what the hell, sounded like a chance to learn something about the "book" business. I rewrote most of the lessons and added a bunch of other sections too and turned the rewritten 266 page book into them and they had it translated into Japanese and released the book. What I ended up with was an unpublished English version with no place to go. I originally considered searching for an American publisher but desided against it because I knew they would want to shorten it and/or charge too much for it which would make me a hipocrite. After all, I started the whole thing because I wanted aspiring guitarists all over the world to be able to study and grow without having to get themselves into financial ruin. So I desided to publish it myself and offer it for a price that most anyone could afford, $25 for the book and $15 for the PDF. Pretty cheap for a book that I think someone could use for years and years.

Was it easy? Absolutely not, it was an enourmous underaking. It erased all my free time but I'm pretty sure it will be worth it. I wish I had this kind of book when I started out. For those of you who use my site as a resourse, continue to do so. The book will simply offer you the expanded lessons in the form of a book. A book is different than the internet, you can read it while you ride the train, lounge around on the beach or in bed. You can leave it on your coffee table and you can also teach from it. Some of the sections are lifted right from the site but there is plenty of new things too.

The book started off at about number 2,000 on the best sellers list but recently moved up to about 820. Still a long way to the top 100 but still pretty cool.