Author Archives: jason

What Is Your Passion?

Hello,
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  I’ve been stressed and having a whole roller coaster ride of feelings.  I’ve been very busy, which is good, but with that comes more of everything else.  I’ve gone through creative droughts, times that seemed hopeless, and feeling like I’m on top of the world.  Feelings can come and go, and I’ve had to pull through many of those feelings.  I must always remember to come back to why I am doing what I’m doing…and what exactly am I doing?

Am I just playing music and following a “dream”?  Am I just playing shows to make money?  No…I believe that people with a passion for something can change their lives and change the world.  That is the core of what I’m doing.  I just happen to be using music to do that.  I saw my life as a dead end road with me sitting at the end of that road for many years.  I didn’t want to sit there and wait out my time.  I have a passion for people, for being creative, to see other people being creative.  When I start getting bummed or down and out, I must go back to the beginning and remember why I’m doing this.

I truly believe that anybody with a passion for something can change their life and ultimately change the world.  Passion alone won’t make it happen, but it gives you the drive to make it happen.  When you have a passion for something, you learn, you grow, and you do what it takes to make it work.

I must admit, my biggest struggle is waiting for things to happen.  Then I remember that about six years ago, I was just sitting there at the end of a dead end road.  It took me a couple years just to get back to the main highway and figure out what direction to go.

From my own experience, I think it’s important to constantly remember the reason for your path.  Remember the passion that you started with and don’t lose it.  Maybe it’s your family, or drawing, or building, or your own business that you have worked so hard to grow.  If you are like me, life can get you bogged down and distract you from your goals.  Don’t forget the passion and the reason you started.

I don’t play music and write songs to be rich and famous.  I play music and write songs because I have a passion to see people come together, to be creative.  I have a passion for music, for sharing ideas and thoughts, and I believe I can change the world.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it takes a little crazy to keep going.
What is your passion?

Thanks for reading,
Jason Wells

My Own Coffee Brand…?

coffee bag copy

    OK, so I’m just about ready to have my own brand of coffee, and it’s kinda funny if I think about too much.  You can trust me on this, it’s definitely not the craziest idea I’ve ever had, that is for sure!   I started out looking for a coffee endorsement..lol.  Yeah, getting your own brand is a little easier than that.  Honestly, I’m a bit nervous…there is a big risk that this could be a big flop and I’ll look back on this and go, man what was I thinking.  But I guess I’ll never know if I don’t try.

I’m gonna start out small and just see how it goes real close to home and people in my close circle.  One good reason for that…If it’s a flop, not many will know..lol!  But, if it goes over well, things will grow.   I have many ideas to  bring music into the picture with the “Rock n Roll” coffee.  I’ll share some of those a little later on.

So where and how do I get the coffee?  I’m going through a family owned roaster that gets beans direct from the farmers.  They roast my coffee when I order and ship me the coffee bags.  It took me a while to find the right roaster with the right coffee.  If I was going to do this, I wanted to make sure the roaster was good and the coffee was good.  When I received the samples from this roaster I drank it right up..lol.  It was also a pleasure dealing with the roaster which is going to be very important.

I know this is only about getting some bags of coffee and try to sell them, but really the important point here is so many ideas don’t happen because people are scared.  I get scared, everyone gets scared and afraid of what people might think, if they fail, and afraid to believe in what they themselves are capable of.  I am all those things, about everything I do.  I keep pushing on and choose not to believe that thinking, but constantly battle those thoughts.  There is a difference between a bad idea and talking yourself out of a good idea.

This might be the smartest, the dumbest, or just an ok idea.  But I’m going to enjoy drinking some “Rock n Roll” coffee along the way!  Thanks for reading!

Jason

Growing Up With a Rock N’ Roll Dad

Some of my fondest memories as a kid was my dad and I listening to records together.  When my mom would leave he would walk to the bottom of the stairs and yell “Hey JASooon!” in this one certain tone, and I knew that tone of voice meant mom was gone and we were going to listen to music.  I knew it was going to be good and he was going to share some great rock n roll facts with me.  I would go downstairs and he would be putting the needle down on one of his favorite  albums.  He would hand me the sleeve and tell me to read, read it all…the only problem was he would then proceed to talk about what all it said and I couldn’t concentrate to read…I must admit, I rarely ever did read it then, I enjoyed listening to him tell me about more.  My dad would almost memorize all the liner notes in the album covers.  He would tell me to follow along with the lyrics, but again, he would be singing or pointing out his favorite part in the song and I wouldn’t be reading anymore.

Yes, the smell of record sleeves and incense, and moderately loud, but crystal clear rock n roll coming from Bose speaker he bought in Germany while he was in the army.  That makes for a great time with Dad while mom was gone.  To this day I can still hear that “Come down hear and listen to this” tone in his voice, and remember that smell.  I can still invasion the proud look on his face like “I couldn’t wait until you were old enough that I could share my rock n roll knowledge with you”.  I would most definitely soak it in and eat it up.

A few facts that I remember him sharing with me were things like, Paul McCartney was rumored to record on this album under a fake name because the record company wouldn’t let him do it.  Alice Cooper was one of the first to wear make up like this..The first cover to the Street Survivors album from Lynyrd Skynyrd had flames around Ronnie Van Zant’s head and shortly after was the infamous plane crash so they redid the cover and they removed the flames from his head.  I could go one but you get the point.

My dad had thousands of records and a killer stereo.  I think he had listened to everyone multiple times at one point or another.  He loved to share music with others and found great joy in doing so.  I know that it has shaped me and influenced me greatly.  Not only the musical influences from those times but many other things in life.  His joy, laughter, smile and kind personality was very contagious and as a young kid, He was my hero and I wanted to be that kind of person.

Thank you for being a Rock N’ Roll Dad!

 

 

 

Summer Show Highlights

This summer we had a lot of shows and put a lot of miles on the van!  We went to Chicago and took a selfie with a Chicago cop.  Then in IA, we found ourselves driving right through LeClaire so we stopped by the American Pickers shop at 2am and got some pics of the car and the shop.  I was yelling at Larry (the drummer) to hurry up before the cops were called, but we made it out before there was trouble!

Rocked on to another great gig in Hannibal, MO at Finn’s Food and Spirit, right on the Mississippi river.  We crashed at some new friends’ house and stayed up almost until daylight hanging out.  We had a little argument about who was going to sleep on the floor…Larry lost, he is the new guy.

Fourth of July found us up in Brook, IN, playing a private party.  We played for 5 + hours.  They wouldn’t let us quit…lol.  They kept throwing money at us to keep us playing.

Our trip to St Louis, Kansas City, and beyond was a great time.  Some folks from Hannibal came down to St Louis, and it was great to see them. A former co worker stopped in at Kansas City.  Then we went to Odell, NE for a show.  Along the way we had some time to kill so we set up at a rest stop and did a little jamming.  Odell was fantastic as well!  It’s never a bad time in NE.  We then went to Lake Of The Ozarks for a show.  When we were done we got to catch a little bit of another band and got to talk music with them for a little bit.  This whole trip was great, although  we didn’t make much money the first few days.  The first couple of days were week night gigs, and we made enough money for gas to get to the next city.  We were leaving the first gig and feeling a bit down..Larry says, “I just want to say that this is always something I wanted to do, travel around and play music and I’m grateful we get to do it…What about you Steve (as he looks in the rear view mirror).” Steve says, ” OOhhh &$!! Yeeaah.” Then we busted out laughing..lol!  Maybe you had to have been there..

This past summer we had some great festivals that we played.  Blues Fest in Crawfordsville was an absolute blast, and we had the headlining spot!  Goodstock in Goodland, IN, my son Gibson joined us and stole the show!   Check out video here!  We played at the Fall Outta Summer Festival and I have to say, that was probably one of the funnest gigs we’ve done.  We camped Friday night and hung out with friends all night and played music by the campfire.

We had a lot of great times this summer and a lot of good times driving down the road at 70 mph.

Thanks for all you support!

Jason

Is the Indie Music Business Model Working?

The indie business model that keeps getting pushed…create a buzz about your music by getting bloggers and college radio to write about you and play your music.  Gain “likes” and followers on FB and twitter.  Keep up with a blue million social media sites and music pages where you have your music….and so on.  If you are an indie artist, you know what I mean.  Is it working for you?

I feel like I could spend three lifetimes doing this and I wouldn’t gain a whole lot from it.  What’s the alternative?  Well, get the big break.  How do you do that?  Get in the right realm of people.

I don’t really have all the answers, but just recently came out of this illusion that the current business model that has been pushed to Indie artists isn’t going to work.  I found myself spending hours emailing blogs to write about my music and either got no response or the “thanks, but no thanks.”  I’ve spent money on college radio campaigns, some legit and some that ripped me off.  I don’t want to boast, but I do have some radio airplay on Commercial FM stations, so it’s not that my music isn’t quality or marketable.  It’s just the bloggers have their own picks and they get hammered with new music everyday.

There are so many music sites that claim to have the resources and the contacts and the fans and so on…and basically every where I go and new account I sign up for, I’m another needle in a haystack.  I’m not whining or complaining, again I just came out of the disillusion that this would work…eventually.

So what’s the point?  I don’t know what all I’m going to do different, but it’s time to think differently if I want different results.

Live Shows:

I’m going to focus more on my shows and make them the best they can be.  I believe that word of mouth is and will always be the best promotion.  That should be number one anyway, and it has been, but I’m looking at ways to make it even better.

Email Lists:

This should always be top priority, but again, I have a renewed drive to count on this over anything else in the social media world.

Stop Waisting Time:

I didn’t know what to call this point, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but first, I’m going to stop wasting my time on the failing business model and see what I can come up with.  Freeing my brain power to find new ways to get heard.

At the end of the day, playing live shows and getting people to latch on to what you have to say is the whole point.  If you can do that, it will grow no matter how many blog write ups you have and no matter how many music site accounts you have.  Play hard and mean it!

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Jason Wells

 

New, but Same Direction

It’s easy to get in a spot where things are comfortable and everything is going smoothly.  Then your situation changes and our first reaction is to freak out and worry.  I’m learning that, first, freaking out and worrying doesn’t fix anything and doing so only limits our abilities.  Second, maybe things need to change.  Maybe it’s time to look at new possibilities.

Being a full time musician is not easy.  When you’re a musician and you have regular gigs with steady income it’s very easy to enjoy that.  At the same time, I have other goals of touring and reaching a wider audience.

Things have been shifting here lately.  The steady gigs are fading out.  My first thought is to scramble and try to get more steady (weekly, bi-weekly) gigs.  At the same time though, my band is traveling more and getting better, and more frequent gigs in new areas.  This is really what my all time goal is.  Travel and promote my music, make new fans in a wider area.  So while some doors are closing other are opening up.

Its time to regroup (quickly) and focus on the doors that ARE opening and not worry about the ones that are closing.

Jason

Musician’s Guide Excerpt “Vision”

So you play music, and you want to do something with it. The first thing you need to do is know what your vision is. What kind of musician do you want to be, and what are your goals? Without doing this first you are only rambling in the vast sea of the music scene and will find it very hard to make your mark. There are many different avenues to go down. I speak with many artists all the time, and they are all on a little different path, in a different time period in their lives, have different views on just about everything. Find your vision, know it, and stick to it. Sometimes we know what we want to do but we never really write it down or even verbalize it. It’s important that you acknowledge this in some way so there is no question to yourself what you want to do with music.
Now, a vision to be a full time musician, but not setting goals and pursuing those goals isn’t a vision, that’s called day dreaming. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to make a living playing music. You will be surprised what simply knowing your vision and setting goals will help you accomplish.

Here are some questions to think about:

-Do you want to be a songwriter, play your original music, and try to get your songs published to make royalties?
-Do you want to play solo acoustic shows and play covers songs?
-Do you want to form a band and play cover songs?
-Do you want to form a band and write and perform original music?
-Do you want to perform locally for fun or tour?
-Do you want to be a full time musician, or is it a hobby?

I have friends in all of these fields. What you want to do with your music and your abilities needs to be thought out and figured out first and foremost. Once you know the direction you want to go, you can start to make goals and then set out to achieve these goals. Your vision comes first, then you set goals according to that vision.
I have a friend that plays 4-6 nights a week. He has regular venues that he plays, some once a week, others once a month, and then there is always other gigs that come up outside of his regulars. He plays cover songs, and he knows about any song that anybody would want to hear. He knows at least one song from a wide range of artists. He gets good money for each gig, and he does this full time.
I have friends that play mostly original music and tour all the time. They also make a living at music, but their life style is a lot harder. They live on the road for long periods of time.
Some others I know focus on song writing and publishing, but they don’t necessarily do this for a living. They still work other jobs and do what they can with music when they can. This is a lot harder to make enough money unless you do get someone to pick up your song, and you make some good royalties. Which will lead to other song writing jobs, more than likely.
Myself and others do a mixture of all of these. Play the cover gigs to pay the bills, write songs and try to get people to buy into my original music, and perform shows that consists of mostly original music.

Most of this ebook is from the point of view that you want to be a full time musician, but if you aren’t or don’t want to, you can still glean many useful tips from this.

If you want to be a full time musician, you have to work hard and stay focused on your goals. It’s important you listen to wise counsel. Know the difference between that and other people’s opinions of what you should be doing. You might have to do things that you don’t like, or don’t know how to do. You will have to get over it, learn, and do it anyway. You will have to make sacrifices in some way or another. If you aren’t good at talking with people on a business level, then you need to get over that and do it anyway or you won’t get too far. Maybe you aren’t good at promoting yourself, but you have to learn to over come these things if you want to get off the ground. Part of being a musician in today’s world is you have to wear a lot of different hats. You have to be the musician, agent, manager, roadie, publicist, and so on. Find a way to manage your fears and short comings in these areas and move forward! You can’t just be a musician.

Don’t get discouraged about all the hard work either! I started at this in ‘08 and I’ve made small steps in the right direction ever since. Now a lot of hard work is paying off. It’s still hard, but I can see the fruit of the hard work. There is no easy button. If there was, everyone would be famous, and that just doesn’t happen. Not that you or I have “famous” as a goal, but for context sake, you have to work hard to be successful. It might take 5-10 years to get to a point where you are very successful.

Purchase My Ebook Here

Lessons From The Road

Ok, so I’ve been on the road for a week and a half.  I’m sitting in another McDonalds sipping on a cup of coffee, using the very unreliable wifi…I’m fairly new to the touring.  I do this big trip twice a year and other smaller trips other times.  I’m working on doing more tours.  Next year I will be focusing on doing more 3-5 day trips.  I’ve done a few things on this trip that cost me a little more money than what I’ve wanted or thought…I’ll try to make some points.

Plan the route smart.

Yeah, duh…well I could have done this better…I went to Wichita KS on a Monday.  It was three hours south, then three hours back northeast to my next stop.  I played for tips and made $27, sold no Merch, and I don’t know when I will ever get back to Wichita.

In my head…I will go down to this big city of Wichita and gain fans, people will love my music, buy a few CDs and I’ll make enough in tips and merch sales to pay for gas and room…

Now, it would have been smarter if I was driving through the town on my way to the next, not drive 3 hours out of my way.  If I had a guarantee that would warrant the drive, that would be different and I could add that stop as a regular stop on the tour.

Play Where You Plan On Going Back

Ok, tonight I’m playing in a little town south of Kansas City in a coffeehouse.  The route isn’t bad, it is better then the Wichita trip…but in a way I feel I might be wasting valuable time playing at a place that I might not ever be coming back…tonight, it will help me with some gas money and the slim chance that this town will fall in love with my music, but I could have planned the location better.

If I never come back to this area and play for these people again, then it isn’t building my long term career.  When planning tours in the future I’m going to plan specifically where I want to build fans, where I can go back and grow the fans.  But again, there might be other nights like tonight where I’m doing a legitimate drive through stop for some gas money, and it is what it is.  Just made me realize and ask, why am I playing here, and can I be smarter about it.

Also, I might add, I could plan on an area, but find out it’s not working in that area and it’s the town like tonight that becomes the better area for building fans..

What To Do During The Day

So I’ve had a lot of time to kill waiting on the show each night.  I tried to get stop that were no more than 5 hours of driving each day.  During the day, I would find a coffee house or today a McDonalds, buy a coffee or water and spend part of the day trying to work like I would at home, at least get caught up on things.  I would find the local music stores and stop in and talk to them and get the low down on the music scene for that town.  I would try to talk to as many people as I can in each town.  Also, will I sit here, I’m always watching people (in a non weirdo way) and listening.  You can learn a lot about an area.

It would be easy to go sit in the hotel room, or sit in the van at a truck stop and nap or do nothing, but I think it is important to stay productive the best you can.

 

Ok, this is my worn out, tired, road weary ramblings of a guy who is trying to grow his music career.  I learn things the hard way, and thought I would to write about it….

Jason

 

 

 

Being Prepared To Record

So I’m going back to the studio to work on my 3rd CD which is not yet named…Here are a few things to get ready to record and save some time and money.

Yes, I Must Say, Be Prepared

In my situation, I have a friend that works with me and I’m able to go to his studio and record.  Let’s assume I’m paying money, because our time is money.  You must go to the studio with all the parts exactly how you want them, Intros,  outros, bridges..etc.  The studio is not the time to learn songs or write songs when you are an independent musician.  It’s the time to go in and record the parts that you know.  That sounds very simple, but if you don’t have everything down from beginning to end, you will waste precious time doing, in the studio, what you should have already done…write the song.  I got my band together once a week for a month to work on four songs, so we know them forward and backwards.

Make Home Demos

I recorded the songs at home on my computer to the layout we have been practicing.  We made a few changes along the way, and that’s why we did it.  Record demos so you already know what the song will feel like and sound like as a whole and you have heard it from the outside (instead of just playing it).  You may find that parts are too long or too short or this would sound better if you had that..I personally just used a drum loop in Logic, grabbed my guitar, laid down the guitar track, laid down the bass, and then sang some rough vocals.  Also you can send that to your band and they can be practicing and be preparing at home for the studio time.

Sent Track Info Ahead of Time

Now like I said before, I have a friend that works with me to record in his studio so I had the benefit of sending all the track info ahead of time and all that we need to get set up.  If you go to a studio where you pay, you may or may not have this option.  I sent him, Tempo, Song Key, list of Tracks we will need for each song, Song Title.  Now, if you make a home demo, you will have a good idea of the tempo for the click track before you go, if you can’t send it before hand.  Also it will help knowing all that anyway to help with the whole set up process.  Set up, and discussing the set up is a time killer.

Don’t Waste Time, But Don’t Rush

Hurry up, but don’t rush..yeah…it’s more like be confident.  If you know the songs, you are prepared and you know the parts, then do that.   Don’t go in and try to get more done than what is physically possible.  Recording, no matter how much you are prepared always takes more time than you think it should.  I’m going into my first session with 4 songs.  We will be there about three and a half to four hours.  Side note: I will only be recording drums and bass during this session, playing guitar and singing as scratch tracks, I do the guitar and vocals at my studio.  If you try to get more done that what is comfortable, you will no doubt rush the songs you have been prepared to do and say these words “that’s good enough” then regret it later.

That’s the don’t rush part. Now don’t waste time…I love to joke around and have a good time, but stay focused on the task.  Have a person in the band be the leader and the director if need be.  In my case, I’m the leader, it’s my band.  Don’t get side tracked talking about your brothers cat or past bands or who knows what.  This is a huge time killer!  Joke, enjoy yourself but let the talk stay on recording and what is going on.

 

These are a few thoughts I had about going in to a recording session.  I hope it helps and thank you for reading!