TO ANYONE PURSUING MUSIC (college kids specifically.) by Mark Eckert

taken from my facebook:

TO ANYONE PURSUING MUSIC
Specifically to those who feel like they are indebted a job after graduating college with a music degree:

It still amazes me how many musicians graduate from universities and think there are jobs lying around waiting for them.

As a very now-obvious fact: You're most likely going to be self employed before ANYONE makes an offer.. if that's even a thing. This industry is a helluva thing. You absolutely need to prove yourself with more than just a degree. You need to prove yourself before anyone gives a shit about you from the get-go. It's just how the world works. You should be getting started, or have already started, exactly where you are today. Whether you still live with your parents, you still have a shitty spouse that doesn't support your art, or you 'just don't feel good enough' - start now.

A majority of people in this field work their asses off. You are not that unique. The difference between the people I know who complain, and the people I know who are killing it is the fact that they know that music is only half of this craft. To better explain:

Do not bother complaining about losing your royalties if you don't understand how publishing works. Don't sign a deal if you don't understand the terms of a contract. Don't feel like you're getting 'fucked over' by producing a record when you never agreed on payment in the first place. Understand how to handle a bad relation between you and another person you're working with so your reputation doesn't go up in flames after the creative and personal tension doesn't work out.

Making art, and being able to support yourself financially (as a freelancer.. because that is what we all are) are 2 completely separate fields of study. They start working together once you have a lot of experience studying and implementing both crafts.

Your art is obviously incredibly important to focus on. But don't be afraid to learn basic things regarding how small businesses run themselves.

The fact of the matter is (and correct me if you think I'm wrong) if you want your art to reach it's highest potential, you need to spend a lot of hours doing it. an insane amount of hours doing it.

If you have patrons (rich parents who invest ungodly amounts of money into you, or something like an artist residency to stay at, etc), then you can spend all day doing it and not worry about money (however, I know artists in very good situations that are told what to create, because they are given this money. Hell, look at Michelangelo. Even he was told what to do half the time because he had patronage.) More than likely, you'll be doing projects and gigs you are not incredibly passionate about occasionally, and A LOT of them will happen at the very start. THAT IS TOTALLY OK, just think of it as a life test. How bad do you want to do this?

Do not get disgruntled because you haven't gotten offered a deal with $1mil up-front with nothing but glorified fame and partying. That is not based in anyone's reality. To the few who do get weird-deals, they typically are yesterdays news pretty fast (howbowdah!) You will have to eat shit and do a lot of work for a while before anything happens. THIS is what most schools are not telling their music students, and it really upsets me.

EVERY person who is pursuing their highest potential in art ate dog shit at the beginning. It is simply the reality of this industry.

I've put some books below that REALLY have helped me. I didn't know how to code it so they were next to eachother but they go directly for the link on Amazon. You may be able to find them cheaper at a used bookstore near by. Some of them are much more common, some are more rare. See what you can find! But definitely pick at least some of them up:

GIVEAWAY! Novation Launchkey Mini! by Mark Eckert

What's happenin' everyone!

So long story short, I've used this keyboard as my main midi controller for nearly 4 years. It's travelled the world with me in multiple countries, states & studios, and I rely on it heavily. I've thrown this thing off stage by accident, dropped it out of my car, and it still works and looks like brand new. I've teamed up with my friends at Novation to offer you all a free one! 

Here is the giveaway thing. There are multiple ways to enter once your email is in. The more you do, the better chance you have at winning!

You'll be hearing from me, Novation, and my good friends at Make Pop Music!

- Mark

PRACTICAL SHIT 5 - KEEPING EVERYBODY IN YOUR BAND ORGANIZED by Mark Eckert

TODAY WE GON' TALK ABOUT REAL SEXY STUFF.

GOOGLE CALENDAR & DOCS.

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So, making music at a certain point becomes the easy part. Especially when you're dealing with everyone in your band / duo, quartet, whatever.

Keeping everyone organized can be a real son of a bitch. You have to deal with your guitarists crazy needy girlfriend, your synth players conflicting schedule with his 9-5 dickhead boss that keeps him there until 10:30PM. And of course, your drummer - who never seems to have his drum kit. I mean realistically speaking - if you're the 'band leader', you're trying to run a small business... without any pay. (Assuming you are not rolling in the dough just yet.)

It can be a pain in the ass. Stressful. Overwhelming. And miserable at times.

How do you make things better? There are MANY tools, some more advanced than others that I will mention later on (as they require more advanced setups, and occasional pay.) But to start - I want to put something out there that everyone NEEDS to be familiar with, and is 100% free.

Google Calendar & Docs.

What is "Google Calendar & Docs"? Google has many apps that you have access too providing you have a gmail account. These are just 2 apps. Google Calendar is a simple calendar program, which in my opinion - completely kicks Apple iCal's ass. And Google Docs - this is where you can put up word documents, contracts, pdf's, etc. In other words - you can upload lyric sheets, stage layouts, notes that you can email to venues prior to setting up, contracts, flyers, upcoming shows with notes attached (and you can share all of these things to each of your band members emails.) etc.

THE SEXY ADMINISTRATIVE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS AF.

So - here are the links to getting started with Google Calendar & Google Docs. Get it set up. Need any more specific info about setting up? Comment below and I will edit/update.

PRACTICAL SHIT 4 - HOW TO RESPECTFULLY DECLINE A SHOW by Mark Eckert

There will be (and most likely have been) plenty of shows you were not trying to play, either because you weren't too excited about the venue, or about the band/artist that asked you. 

THAT'S COMPLETELY NORMAL. *Not every opportunity is the right one.* You DO NOT by ANY MEANS have to play every show you're asked to. Value your time - because if it's not the right show to play, you can invest that time and energy elsewhere that could very well help you down the road.

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Some things that didn't quite make the vid because Instagram only gives me a minute of time:

#1 - When you decline a show, MAKE SURE to give them some options around your area. Other bands, artists, or events that may perhaps be a good fit for them. You should absolutely respond (within reason - some people are just creepy as hell. So I mean, always exceptions.) Reputation goes a long way in this industry, and if you don't respond - it gives one excuse for someone to gossip about you. 

#2 - Why should you respond? Even if they aren't the right fit. Well, let's say this band is touring in from Detroit. Next time you want to tour through Detroit, you'll have a contact. Even if they aren't the right fit, they may know someone. And since you respectfully declined them, they should have no beef with you at all. Hell, you may even have a place to crash!

- Mark

PRACTICAL SHIT 3 - HOW TO TREAT THE SOUND GUY. PART 2 by Mark Eckert

Quick tips! A few key things you should know before talking to the unsung hero who will be mixing you at your show. Remember, if you do him (or her) wrong, you'll sound like ass on stage.

This practical shit is brought to you by Will (@spiffypal), and his band Cuzco (@cuzcomusic)!

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Alright! Practical Shit - Episode 3. We're doing a little embellishment of the week before. If you haven't checked out Episode 2 you can check it out here. This little mini-series this month is about how to not be a dick to your sound guy/girl, so YOU can sound your BEST.

There are two very basic principles we will cover in this video.

Hand Gestures & Tipping.

So here we go.

HAND GESTURES.

If your sound person/lady/man/alien is asking you what you want in your monitors - you should be directly able to tell them with very distinct gestures. This is something most musicians learn over time, and it is often hard-earned. Why? Well, because typically it involves pissing off your sound guy. So let's not do that. Read below, and nobody will be mad at you.

  • Point up for more
  • Point down for less.
  • 'OK' sign or a 'Cut-off' sign if you are all good.

TIPPING.

Tip your sound person. Every show I play, we typically do. (Except this one show where the dude literally just bailed 5 minutes before we started. WHAT A PILE OF SHIT.) Either give them a tip, or buy them a drink. Something to show them you appreciated what they did for you. *At many small clubs,* sound guys may often do it because they just love running sound. Sometimes they get paid if it's a good show with a high turnout, but often, it's a tough job - and for not a lot of money. If any. 

Tip them. They'll remember you, you'll gain street cred' for being "one of the good ones" in the scene. And I mean, like, you would've sounded like shit if they weren't running your sound. If you didn't have a sound system, and a competent person running it, nobody would stick around to watch your set. The sound guy should be one of the last people you talk to before you go on, and one of the first people you thank after you finish your set.

That about sums up Practical Shit 3! Have an awesome weekend. If you are playing this weekend, GESTURE & TIP, DAMNIT.

- Mark

PRACTICAL SHIT - How To Treat The Sound Guy by Mark Eckert

Quick tips! A few key things you should know before talking to the unsung hero who will be mixing you at your show. Remember, if you do him (or her) wrong, you'll sound like ass on stage.

This practical shit is brought to you by Will (@spiffypal), and his band Cuzco (@cuzcomusic)!

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Summary

Learn the sound guys name. Super crucial. Don't just scream "YO." or "Hey man, hey? hey!? HEY. YEAH YOU!" Can you imagine how annoying that would be? This dude is working til 3AM to make sure you sound dope, he's got a pissed off girlfriend back at his apartment who needs to complain about her waitressing position - and even though he's working all night long, and just getting paid tips at this local dive bar - he's STILL gotta pay for his poorly mixed Gin & Tonic... plus tip! UGH.

TREAT HIM WELL DAMNIT.

An incredibly important thing you need to remember: When he (or she) is sound checking you. Stop talking & playing. They are doing their best job to make you sound as great as they possibly can. There's a drunk crowd, a noisey air conditioner, some random middle-age man in the back making mixing suggestions with various directional finger-points of "up" & "down". And he's still trying to down this gin & tonic that just tastes like gin... with like, three sad lonely bubbles.

The less you talk and fuck around, the more he can focus on fixing your screeching amp from potentially deafening the audience, he can maybe find that duck-taped *but working* guitar cable that a previous band left behind because your guitarist forgot his (again) - Or (like one show I played) the sound guy can point out a potentially dying battery in your bassist's bass during sound check. Thanks to this mensch of a man giving all the shits about my band that night, we had low end and subsequently could efficiently melt faces.

YOUR SOUND GUY IS A FUCKING HERO. TREAT HIM AS IF HE'S GENE WILDER. BECAUSE HE'S GOT YOUR GOLDEN TICKET TO SOUNDING GREAT.

Follow these 2 simple tips - and you'll have a wonderful 'bffl' relation with your sound guy in no time at all. Or more likely - he will give you 1 SOLID half-smile before you drunkenly stumble out of the venue at 3AM with your new fans & homies.

Chur boi'

- Mark

Don't Forget Why You're Pursuing Music. by Mark Eckert

In an industry like this, it’s been hard to balance the passion + growth of my craft, personal developmental bullshiiiit, with modern day living (making da money.) BIG SURPRISE, RIGHT?

So, of course, the past few weeks I’ve questioned the direction of my career in music (detailed oriented things that are irrelevant - but somehow hold back my thought process), just like we all secretly do. I have huge goals, both musically & personally, but there are always different ways to go about pursuing them.

Anyone who says they don’t question their direction in life / career is 100% bullshitting. (even the people you stalk on IG.)

I know millionaires who are miserable. I also know near-homeless visual artists who couldn't be more thrilled about what they're doing. Be ecstatic of where you’re at right now and show yourself compassion. Most of all, remind yourself of why you're pursuing music. Keep reminding yourself, whether you’ve played 1 show, wrote 1 song, or have learned how to play 1 chord - you’re lucky to be doing this at all. At one point, you weren't doing it. You’ll look back on yourself a year from today and think you were awesome. Even though you will most likely be more advanced at what you're doing. 

This morning, I opened up a back-up of my old iPhone. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. Pictures of playing shows, working in a bunch of different studios, traveling around America with my beautiful girlfriend Shirah, hanging out with my best friends both here in Charlotte & visiting them far away, spending time with my incredible parents. All the while - I was doing music ALL the time. A dream that I once had. I truly forgot how far I've come. 

The reason you need to remind yourself of 'WHY' in Music is because 'WHAT' doesn't matter without it. Music is all emotion. There is very little logic in what we do.

"So Mark, why are you pursuing music? Are you bullshitting me for an uplifting post and then you can get another subscriber? NICE TRY YOU WANNA-BE TONY ROBBINS."

JOKES ON YOU BECAUSE I ALWAYS FORGET TO SEND OUT TO MY EMAIL LIST. LOL. 

Why am I pursing music?? Because Music makes me feel like I belong. I was one of 3 Jews in a High School 'out in the sticks' of Charlotte NC. Charlotte does not have a big Jewish community. In fact there are only 3 Temples in a population nearing 3 million. If you do the math, that's about 1 temple per 1 million people. (Despite going to conservatory, I totally still got my Math Skillz, ayeeee.) We lived around a 40-minute drive from the nearest Temple. Before living in Charlotte, I had always lived in a city with a thriving Jewish Population. It was strange as hell moving to Charlotte. My parents knew it & I knew it. But we didn't talk too much about it. We tried our very best to make the best of it, as any parents should do when talking to their child.

I was absolutely the minority of minorities in my school.

Long story short, I got harassed both verbally & physically a fuck ton. From peers, occasionally side-swipes from teachers, etc. Swastikas drawn into my locker & desks. Hate mail. Called a Kike. Pictures of the holocaust thrown on my desk. Notes left on my car windshield telling me to "go back where you came from." I'd rather not even talk about the bus in 9th grade.

I experienced more anti-semitism than a majority of the Jews I've met in my life. The worst part? All of my Jewish Family & Friends lived in NYC, Chicago & Israel. They truly were baffled by the stories I told them. They had no idea what to say. I was more alone than ever. 

I had been playing drums & piano for a while, but until then - it was just for fun. My mom has always been in the industry, but she never *pressured* me to pursue it full time. However, things shifted. At this point - Music absolutely became my safety net. When I played, I was in the zone. It was therapy for me. It was somewhere where I didn't have to think about the bullshit 'jew-jokes' that were made that day. It was the one thing that I could do to re-create my own identity to peers. Instead of being called 'the jew' which quickly became my identity. I became 'the drummer,' 'the producer.' etc. Instead of some parents not wanting their daughters to date me because I was a jew, I became the cool guy in bands & studios - YOU COULD SAY CHUR BOI WAS DOWNRIGHT IRRESISTIBLE NOW.

CUE: HEARTBREAKER BY PAT BENATAR.

 

 

This re-creation of my identity is still with me today. I honor music because it helped me create myself into who I wanted to be, and instead of being known as "what I was," I was now known for "what I do." I was in control. Nobody else. Music made me proud of who I am. It made me embrace things I was nearly convinced to hate.. It changed who I was for the better. A few years later, I even got homecoming king.

In fact, this relentlessness to 'be in control' is most likely the very reason I've never had an actual job. I've only done music professionally. I really went from no friends, insecure, depressed, etc. To having confidence, a bunch of friends, and gaining an insatiable hunger for life. 

I think Social Media is honestly poison. However, my income is made through it - so I'm sort of in a catch 22. I owe a majority of my career / good friends / network to Facebook & Instagram (as well as my rent & food.) However, I hate that we are all attached to it. Looking at what other people are doing can EASILY make you question what you're doing and WHY you're doing it - for me? It's (at times) made me forget why I fell into this.

Chances are, what you're doing when you're in the zone is exactly where you should be. And if you're in the arts in some way shape or form, you're doing it out of therapy. Re-realize why you're doing it, and HONOR that reason. Honor the very thing that saved you. I Guaran-fucking-tee you you'll be right back to tip-top shape in your creativity and hustle. 

OKAY PLAYAZ. ACTIVITY TIME.

  1. Put your phone on Airplane mode for an hour.
  2. Deep Breathe / Pray / Meditate (I meditate using the app Headspace.)
  3. Get a piece of paper and a pencil.
  4. Make 2 columns. 
  5. Column 1 should say "Why I'm pursuing music." Be honest. In fact, be vain. I encourage it. If you want to make a million dollars - then say it. Don't disguise it as 'starting a movement.' Just be honest, dude. 
  6. Column 2 should say "Why I started making music." For me, it was very clear. I was an outcast - and it was therapy for me. My only goal at the time was being able to do music as much as I could - so I could avoid bullying etc. 

Chances are if the answers you wrote in both columns have little to do with one another, you have some reconsidering to do. It will for sure put things back into perspective.

- Mark