Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Way I'm Going

Local Records has been checking in on me every now and again to keep me up to date on what's happening and generally see how I am.

Today, they offered me a record deal.

The move came from Label Partner, who told me this morning that the label's lawyers are busy drawing up three different contracts, each of which ties me to the record company for a certain period of time. That window ranges from six albums in one document (and I'm definitely not on board for that), to half a year in another. I'll probably go with the in-between option, which would keep us in a legal relationship for half a dozen singles. That gives me the flexibility to move on if I find a better opportunity elsewhere, but also the option of continuing work with a group of people who so far have been honest, accommodating, professional, and understanding.

"We're going to give those documents to you and your father on April 17th," she said. "Make sure you take them and have your lawyer look over them. I don't want you to get into the habit of signing things without reading them."

There is no signing bonus, but I don't have to pay anything out, I get recording time and promotion for free, and I'll begin making money on royalties as soon as we start selling CDs and downloads.

If they have their way, things will move pretty quickly starting this summer.

To begin with, Local Records would like to use three of the four songs I sang for them, and in pursuit of that they've sent the vocal track we did to a musician who after hearing the pieces has said he wants to work with me.

Label Partner also revealed a set of goals the label has and outlined when they'd like to reach them. As Label Owner stated, a full album with at least ten totally mixed and mastered original songs will probably not be completed until May of 2011. However, Local Records wishes to have a demo of four to six tracks done by December of 2010 and would like to release my first single, "So Long," by late summer.

"We're hoping to have it out in July or August," Label Partner said.

"That soon?" I asked, surprised but happy. I acknowledge that a lot of hard work and a lot of time will go into this effort, but I'm also a big proponent of doing as much as possible as soon as possible.

"I really believe in this song," she said. "I'm going to invest my own money. And while of course we want to have all of your songs done, I'd really like to focus on getting that one ready and having it out for summer. I see it as a summer anthem."

"I understand that," I said. "First thing's first."

"Exactly," she said. "And the next time you come in we'll want you to meet with our chief marketer. She likes music but she likes money a lot more, and she's the one who's going to make you and the label a lot of money. She's going to get a feel for you and see what kind of look we want to go for. We're thinking of doing something tough but soft, if that makes sense."

That dichotomy is essentially the essence of the pop rock sound I'm going for, but I still laughed.

"You should probably aim for soft," I said. "Because I couldn't intimidate a five-year-old."

"Oh, trust me, that will help," she said. "The target demographic we're going to market you to is 13-16-year-olds, mostly girls, some boys, so that will play very well. With regard to your image...we always want input from the artist and above all we want you to be comfortable, but there is a certain direction we want to take this. I'm not sure how far you want to go."

"As far as possible," I said without hesitation. "I know you guys are making a pretty huge investment and you have a right to get a return on it. I'm not averse to being very commercial."

"Well, that's good," she said. "Our chief marketer will love to hear that."

I've been promised that I'll be "poked and prodded a lot, probably more than you're comfortable with" but that "it will be worth it to get the end result."

Label Partner has said that a trip to Largest City may be necessary to get the right clothes, while the photoshoot planned for this summer could involve our heading to a beach in the southern part of this state so that I have a reasonable excuse to be photographed without a shirt on.

As far as the dreaded prospect of a haircut: Marketer is said to be for it, but Label Owner and Label Partner have been adamant that I don't have to go through with that if I don't want to. I'm going to keep an open mind, and we're set to try straightening it first and seeing what everyone thinks.

A music video for "So Long" is also be filmed and then posted to YouTube. I'm assuming that this will be a fairly low-quality affair (the label members have been clear about their limited budget), but it's still pretty cool and frankly very surreal that I could have a music video to my first single floating around the Internet by the end of this summer.

The concept for the video, which I've had since I wrote the song in 2008, goes back and forth between a house party and a high school.

"We'd need about thirty to fifty people to do that," Label Partner said. "So start asking your friends if they'd like to be in a music video, because it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to pay the extras."

The video may end up being filmed at Privileged High School, where I graduated, and I'm excited about that prospect.

In addition to the contracts, Label Partner said we would have to discuss "expectations and responsibilities."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Like being professional," she said. "Like being on time. This hasn't been a problem with you, but we just want to have it out there. You need to start watching your image now, so don't do anything crazy."

I guess that means no more wild partying.

"There are going to be times when you might be frustrated or confused," she continued. "For example, when we're recording you might have to sing something over and over again or you might start in the middle instead of the beginning. It will all get put together in the end."

"That's fine," I said.

"We're going to want to do a website where we have a biography of you and some pictures," she said. "We have a photographer who does a great job and we'll have her come out and figure out how she'd like to approach this. We've also thought about the idea of you writing a weekly piece on your journey, something we could submit to music magazines. We'd like to try and get something in Rolling Stone."

I literally laughed at that.

"Why would they care about me?" I asked.

"They have an interest in covering new artists," she replied. "Don't get it wrong: you're not going to have a full page or anything. But if we can get even a tiny inset with your name in it, people who read that magazine will have heard of you. We'd also like to film you a bit in the studio and maybe have a blog for you where you keep people updated on what you're doing."

Aside from trying not to laugh at how much more qualified I am to keep a blog than my label could know, I was mostly stunned. The label wants this entire marketing push to roll out about three weeks before the single is released, which would put it sometime in June or July and could mean that some of the preparations (photo shoots, websites, press releases being written) would happen even earlier. As intimidated and excited as I am, there's a weird duality to all of it.

On the one hand, I'm mentally preparing myself for this onslaught of recording and promotion with all the attendant insanity, and on the other hand I'm leading the life of an average 21-year-old college student on a campus where almost no one knows I can even sing, let alone that I'm being prepped by a record label.

The strangest part by far of this entire thing has been getting up, going to class, stressing over exams and tuition, and trying to find a summer job while the prospect of what I could be on the cusp of plays out in the back of my mind. Amid the mundane activities of daily life at university, I sometimes feel like the other stuff is a fantasy I dreamed up.

It's not, though.

It's coming, however much that might surprise and even scare me.

"Do you realize what's going on here?" Anne asked me after I'd told her how Label Partner had called me "wholesome" and, to my chagrin, compared me to Justin Bieber. "They were looking for someone to make. They were looking for someone to build from the ground up."

"Label Partner said she's investing her retirement money in it," I agreed.

"Well, do yourself a favor," Anne advised. "Listen to them. Listen to what they say."

The whole situation brings up a host of things to consider, including the fate of this blog. I could completely flop and not make it past my bathroom door, but on the off chance I don't bomb I have to acknowledge that many things in my life would change and I must be ready for it.

That's something I've weighed, reflecting on the positives and negatives, and decided on balance I'm okay with.

"This is going to take time," Label Partner said as our conversation closed. "Time and work. Too many people go in thinking they'll make it overnight, and that's not how it is."

I told her I understood completely.

Getting where I want to go may take a while. What matters is that I'm on my way.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Will Be Doubted

Whenever a person embarks on the type of path that I am trying to embark on, he has to brace himself for a lot of doubt and a lot of predictions that he will fail.

"If you can't handle criticism, you're in the wrong business," I told myself back in January when I made the decision to seriously pursue music. Based solely on the statistical unlikeliness of any one person finding success in the recording industry, the unknowns who do attempt to break in are likely to encounter more people telling them they're crazy than people who will cheer them on.

This can be viewed as a negative reflection of our nature, but I see it, in a strange way, as a blessing.

The fact is, I've been told to my face that I can't sing, that I am not good looking enough to attract fans, that there is no market for a solo male pop act, and, by my own brother no less, that the idea I could be profitable for a record label was "the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard."

An aspiring musician of any kind has to develop tremendous self confidence and to believe in himself even when no one else does.

Don't misinterpret this attitude for blindness: if every person I encountered told me they didn't like my music, I'd start to reevaluate.

But learning to take negativity and plunge ahead unhindered, with full faith in myself and my vision, has been an enormously rewarding aspect of this entire process.

The latest voice to preach doom has been that of my Aunt Smugly Superior, one of the only members of Anne's family to make something of her life. Smugly Superior left Decaying State after college and never looked back, moving instead to Country Music City, where she began a successful career as a fundraiser for a well-known university and raised her family.

The movement through high social circles that her job facilitates combined with her geographic location gives her certain contacts in the music industry, which several relatives have attempted in vain to exploit.

Anne, after she learned of my recent discussions with Local Records, asked me to solicit my aunt's advice, reasoning that Smugly Superior would be able to guide me through any pitfalls and help me spot any obvious problems.

I reluctantly agreed, but I wasn't looking forward to the conversation because I knew exactly what it would entail.

Smugly Superior, possibly because of the unstable and fantastic nature of her own childhood, has assumed an attitude of rationality, reserve, and caution so inhibited that it represses many possibilities. She is the kind of well-intentioned person who perhaps without meaning it has killed thousands of dreams.

The biggest problem with her is that she values respectability and steadiness, or at least the appearance of them, enough that when she isn't sure what's right she'll pick a position and stick with it, untouched by even the idea that her way is not best.

It took me several years to figure this out, but a big indicator came when I was seventeen. I was in the process of college-searching at the time and sought her insight, whereupon I received an evaluation so bleak that I literally had difficulty sleeping that night as thoughts of stiff admissions competition and exorbitant tuition plagued my dreams.

As it was, I got into my first choice on early admission and have not been crushed by the burden of paying for classes at my state university.

Bearing this and other experiences in mind, I knew before I even talked to her what her opinion would be, so when she called the other day I braced myself.

"Hey, Aunt Smugly Superior," I said, forcing cheerfulness into my voice.

She asked how I was, then broached the subject of the record company that, for some inexplicable reason, had taken an interest in me.

"Have they asked you for any money?" she wanted to know.

"They said they get ten percent of anything I make," I answered.

"Right, but have they asked for anything up front?"


"What songs did they hear that they liked so much? Sing some of those for me."

After I ran through a few of the tunes in the middle of campus on my cell phone while trying to be quiet, she gave a silent assessment and asked if they were interested in me as a singer or a songwriter.

When I told her it was as a singer, she asked if I'd heard the track we recorded, the clear implication being that no such track actually existed.

"They e-mailed it to me," I said. "They said I'm under copyright now and I should have it."

"Well, what kinds of things are they looking to do?" she asked.

When I relayed to her the proposals for press releases and a photo shoot, she asked if the photos would cost money.

"Yeah, but they pay for it," I said.

"Were they explicit about that?" she inquired.

"Yes," I answered, by this time irritated at going through the same questions again and again.

She came up with every scenario possible.

They could be trying to solicit pay for public relations services.

They could be looking to exploit someone naive.

They could have gone into someone's house and be posing as the owners of the recording studio.

If they really wanted a young new artist, why would they pick someone who's already twenty-one?

"Well, they offer to record demos for $25.00 an hour," I said. "Which is why I initially contacted them in the first place, with the intent of paying them. So if they were trying to get money out of me, wouldn't it make more sense to just let me give them the fee instead of embarking on some elaborate scheme?"

After it became abundantly clear that neither my father nor I had been hoodwinked, Aunt Smugly Superior, in a line of reasoning so implicit with doubt in my abilities that it should have been insulting, concluded that the people who are now considering offering me a recording deal are idiots.

"It sounds like they're trying to get into the music industry, but they don't really know what they're doing," she posited. "I mean, they don't even have a website up yet."

Another alleged sign of unfitness was their charging me ten percent instead of twenty-five, which according to Aunt Smugly Superior has been standard in "her experience."

I could be very upset by this comically-negative appraisal of my talent and marketability, but I'm not. Instead, I am left with a profound sense of personal growth in the knowledge I can say, not because a record label is interested in me, not because my friends tell me so, but because I know it to be objectively true, that she is wrong.

All the people who have ever doubted me have been wrong, and that reality is not dependent on the attention of a recording company. I will continue to pursue this dream and put stock in it regardless of what happens, and if Local Records decided tomorrow that I was crap I'd find the money to record a demo and then send it to as many people as I could.

I won't stop. I won't slow down. This is my time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hair Update

With my hectic schedule, the months are going by quickly. Here's what my hair looked like in February:

This is what my hair looks like this month:

If it's not longer than it's ever been, it's definitely close. By this summer, it will be well past my shoulders. That's kind of cool.

Having it this long is useful from a practical perspective as well: I can keep my identity a secret.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Heard Myself

The road was rutted and filled with potholes, shaking our car as we drove ever deeper into the woods.

"I'm pretty sure we're being lured to our deaths," my father joked grimly.

Thomas laughed, but I didn't crack a smile as I looked out the window to see the gray sky through the bare trees. My hopes were high and the idea that this promising chance could be a false lead weighed heavily on my mind. I was trying to be optimistic, but my natural suspicion grew as the landscape around us became more and more rural.

We finally pulled up to a house that was nicer than the others, a modern home with a red sports car in the driveway.

We walked up onto the porch and the front door swung open before we could knock.

Label Owner and Marketer invited us inside and bade us sit down on a leather couch in the living room. Thomas and I waited in awkward silence while my father and Label Owner discussed their shared love for Harley Davidson motorcycles (they both have one and both ride actively).

"Well, we seem to be getting off topic," Label Owner said after a few minutes, to which my father laughed. "Let's talk about BB."

The man turned to me and starting asking me about myself--my musical influences, my level of experience, why I liked singing, and things like that.

My father interjected with questions about the business aspect of the industry, which I was happy to let him do; I wouldn't have been sure what to ask, and with him present I felt secure that I wouldn't be taken advantage of.

Once this banter had gone on for a while, Label Owner suggested we take a tour of the facilities. The first thing we saw, which in my ignorance I initially took to be the studio, was the control room, a den of buttoned panels centered on a large computer monitor from which tracks were observed and manipulated.

Label Owner showed us how he managed the music he recorded and then suggested we see the studio.

"It's in the basement," he said, leading us towards the stairs.

"Great," I thought, mentally sighing. I had an image in my head of an old computer with a cheap microphone attached to it, a vision not helped when we started down the staircase into a lower level that was obviously unfinished.

I was just contemplating the acoustical horrors of attempting to record a decent track in that atmosphere when Label Owner took us around a corner and everything changed.

Nestled in the back of the basement, isolated from the rest of the home in a soundproof room, was by far the most sophisticated recording studio I had ever seen.

The wood-paneled surfaces were covered in strategically-placed foam pieces, which Label Owner said had been positioned by an analyst who determined the best sound configuration for the chamber.

"Now, I don't know if you've ever seen a microphone like this before, but you have to sing at a certain distance," he instructed, gesturing at a piece of equipment I'd only ever encountered through television. Rather than a single receiver there were three, each, Label Owner said, designed to pick up specific types of sounds. Fronting these was a circular black mask, the purpose of which I took was to filter the singer's voice and ensured it reached all three microphones appropriately.

"You want to stand really close," Label Owner demonstrated, positioning himself several inches from the mic. "And you'll be wearing these."

He handed me a pair of bulky headphones and asked me to put them on, at which point I heard my own voice with more clarity than I ever had in my life.

"Whoa," I said, breaking into a smile.

"It's something, huh?" he laughed.

"The quality is amazing," I replied.

"We're going to head up into the control room," Label Owner said. "We'll be able to hear you and talk to you from there."

"We'll go with you," my father wisely decided. "I know we'll make him nervous standing here."

About a minute later, Label Owner's voice was in my ear, asking me to say some things about myself for the record.

I laughed nervously, unable to think of anything interesting, and informed him that I was a twenty-one-year-old singer/songwriter who was going to school for journalism and lived at home with my parents and siblings.

"I like to sing," I added, as if that weren't already completely obvious by my very presence there.

By some miracle of forgetfulness I neglected to mention my own name, and because in the interview none of Label Owner's questions were recorded, only my responses to them, I could actually put the track here if there was the will for it. It's fifteen minutes of me answering queries from a mute inquisitor and singing a capella, but if there's enough interest I'd consider posting it.

I sang four of my songs, "So Long" (which my blog readers have already heard), "Don't Call Me Anymore," "You Made Me Like This," and "Out of My Mind."

The headphones made a huge difference, enabling me to sing with ease where I might normally strain for tone or resonance. It felt wonderful.

I got feedback while still in the studio (a favorite seemed to be "Don't Call Me Anymore," which Marketer said gave her chills) and then ran up to the control room to discuss things in more detail.

Being the perfectionist I am, I immediately picked up on what I saw as the session's flaws, which, in what perhaps was not the most intelligent strategy ever, I proceeded to point out to Label Owner and Marketer as we reviewed the track.

"See, I screwed up there," I noted evenly, picking out one of the four notes that I felt could have been significantly improved.

"Don't worry about that," Label Owner said. "It's very rare that a singer would go through a track only one time and not have to re-record anything."

I waited anxiously for his assessment as he stared at the monitor, watching the rising and falling lines that represented my voice, listening to the different melodies I belted out.

I had good reason to be apprehensive: I had been guaranteed nothing upon receiving the invitation to go there. Both Label Owner and Marketer were quite frank in stating that they liked my song and wanted to hear how I sounded in person, after which they would decide how to proceed.

Label Owner was quick about getting to the chase.

"Your voice records well," he said. "The microphone likes you. You have some really solid vocals, and I very much like your power and pitch control."

He hit a random button on his keyboard, and then twenty different versions of me were shouting out the rousing chorus to "So Long."

I beamed, because the tune sounded as cathartic and freeing as I'd always imagined it would.

He turned the effect off and continued.

"You have a really good tone, too," he said. "Your voice is good enough naturally that we don't have to do that much with it."

"And you're really good looking, too," Marketer, clearly relieved by this turn of events, gushed. "So that will translate well for the YouTube campaign."

"YouTube campaign?" I asked.

"Well, eventually," she noted, slowing herself down. I could see a promotion effort already unfolding behind her eyes. "The Internet is really where it's at now. We want to do YouTube, MySpace, a Facebook fan page, iTunes, and then eventually do photos and place a short biography on the Internet. We have some radio stations that we know will play us. One part of the campaign we're very excited about is working with Starbucks."

I must have looked confused, because she explained.

"Have you ever been in Starbucks and seen their pick of the week?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"Well, they basically have a card with an artist's profile on it, and it allows one free iTunes download. Then, if you like the person, you can buy their album."

I looked over at Thomas.

"This is so cool," I said.

Marketer went into more detail.

"This summer, a lot of the artists we're working with are doing local fairs and things like that," she said. "We're trying to be pretty aggressive about booking them."

"That would be so awesome," I effused.

"I don't think you'll have enough original material to perform on your own by this summer," Label Owner said. "But we'd like to feature you as a guest artist, maybe have you open for some other people."

"So," my father interjected, bringing up the question that was central to everything. "How much does a demo cost?"

This was the money-breaker. If we were being had, any request for money would probably come right about now.

"We do offer that service for $25.00 an hour," Label Owner answered. "But for artists we're working with we don't charge, so he won't have to pay anything. We'll bill the recording costs to the label and recoup that with the 10% fee on earnings."

Recording a demo can often be prohibitively expensive, but I just learned that I get to do it for free.

"It will be a while before all of this comes together," Label Owner cautioned. "Between getting four or five really solid tracks down and rolling out the promotional push, we're looking at a year to a year and a half before everything is ready."

"I'm fine with that," I answered.

"The one thing we need to work on," he said, eyeing me with reservation for the first time. "Is your confidence. You need to have the attitude that you're not famous yet, but you're going to be. You need to exude that. I'd be worried about your nervousness in front of audiences. I think that will fade, but it's something we need to address."

"It will go away," I assured him. I could already feel it retreating. "It's just that this was my first time dealing with a record label or actually being in a real recording studio."

Marketer nodded and smiled.

"And let me tell you something," I said, my voice firm. "I was a little nervous coming in here today, but there is no doubt in my mind that with the right marketing, the right image control combined with good songs, we can do this. I absolutely believe we can do this and make money."

Marketer flashed a glowing smile.

"Exactly," she said.

"Well, I'm going to send this off to one of our musicians," Label Owner said. "And I'll e-mail you a copy, too. Now that it's been recorded you're officially protected by copyright."

He surveyed me once more.

"We can definitely do something with you," he mused, and I wondered what he might be thinking of. My father's words from the previous night came back to me.

"BB, don't go into this thinking they care about you as a person," he'd warned. "They want to see if they can make money off of you."

That is apparently the conclusion they've arrived at.

The track, a copy of which came to me earlier this week, has apparently been sent to a bassist not much older than I am, and I've heard nothing yet as to what kind of instrumental parts have or have not been composed.

We haven't signed and nothing is definite, but it certainly looks good and I'm optimistic about the future. I'm going to do the best I'm able, and make of this opportunity what I can.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Keeping a Resolution

Many of you will remember that back on New Year's Eve, I made four resolutions concerning my life, one of which was "pursuing with full devotion my passion for music and love for singing," reasoning that it was foolish of me not to work towards this goal because "my vocal talent and ear-catching songs would enable me to do well."

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Far from it, in fact. During the two months since New Year's Day, I've done everything I know how to further my musical ambitions, including responding to a Craigslist ad on January 2nd that led to my being adopted as the lead singer of what I was told at the time would be a hip-hop/pop band.

I didn't write about this then because it was so fledgling, and I didn't care to mention it afterward because of the way the whole affair ended. I realized, though, that my duty as a blogger, if I take it seriously, is to give readers an honest and full view of my life, which I obviously wasn't doing.

The fact of the matter is, hip-hop is not my forte. However, my desire to perform overwhelmed my lack of comfort with the genre, and after assurances from the manager, a twenty-year-old girl who happened to attend Major University, that we would be able to incorporate strong pop elements, I signed on.

It proved to be a mistake, with disagreements cropping up fairly early on. In one case we auditioned a potential backup singer who had major vocal problems, yet our manager was seriously considering choosing him because she liked his "style."

"He has that whole soulful tone going on," she said.

"Right," I countered, attempting to be polite. "But he can't sing."

She finally answered these objections with, "Well, I'll be honest: I started this so it's going to be my decision."

The final straw came after the incorporation of a guitarist and drummer whose style was significantly harder-edged than my own.

Following the additions, and the new members' ostensible displeasure with my tastes, our manager called me up to insist in essence that I change my style to something more R&B flavored.

"I just feel like you're more of a pop/acoustic type singer," she told me. "And we want someone who is more soulful."

I was beyond irritated at this point, as we'd been practicing together for nearly two months, and my mood wasn't improved when to my question of why I'd been picked in the first place she answered that I was a good lead but focused too much on "hitting the right note" instead of adding flair.

"Wait," I interjected. "'Hitting the right note?' Isn't that my job?"

"Look, I'm going to send you a list of songs," she said. "I want you to practice them with a more R&B-type vibe and then come do them at our next practice."

The focus on style rather than substance, combined with the subtle command to be inauthentic, was enough.

"You know, I honestly think that if our styles are really that incompatible, we should probably just go our separate ways," I replied frankly. "I wish you guys the best, but I don't want to waste my time or yours."

So my presence in the band was done.

I was down about it for a few days, but I knew, even through my regret at no longer having a group, that I'd made the right decision. A person has to be comfortable in anything he does, and while especially for a musician compromise is sometimes necessary, the essence of a project jarring an individual's core means that the effort is likely destined for a bad end.

I wasn't comfortable being manhandled or dragged down a road that was unnatural to me, so I left.

After about a week of recovery time I began scouring Internet ads once again, responding to one fruitless possibility after another as I came into contact with individuals who wanted rap, or rock, or hip-hop, or metal, or anything other than the mainstream pop I love.

I aired my frustrations to a classmate who just happens to work as a scout for a major label, and he was confused as to why I was still searching for a band.

"You don't even really need musicians to play with you," he advised. "If you're serious about the pop thing, you need to make a demo."

After several days of looking through the websites of recording companies who demanded submission of quality recordings, I came to the conclusion that he was right and decided that if music really mattered to me, it was worth the investment a professional demo would constitute.

It was during an Internet search for recording studios in the Mountain Town region that I came across an ad for a very small independent record label that had been in operation only since January.

The page gave the company's name and said that, in addition to offering demo production for a fee, they were willing to give free recording time to artists who fit the bill of what they were looking for.

I sent my e-mail address, telephone number, and a link to my song "So Long" to the contact provided, and several days later found myself on the phone with the label's owner.

"I listened to your song," he said.

"Oh?" I asked, trying to pretend that my heart wasn't hammering through my shirt.

"It sounded very commercial," he said. "Very commercial. I don't usually like that kind of music, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize when it's good."

He promised to forward the track to his marketing department, and several days later there was a message on my phone.

"BB," a female voice said. "This is Marketer from Local Records. I listened to your track, and we'd really like you to come out and record a demo as soon as possible. Please give me a call so we can set something up."

I did, and from the get-go established several important points.

To begin with, the demo was to be free, something I insisted on clarifying. While optimistic at the obvious interest shown, I am by nature a suspicious person and wanted to verify that I wasn't being hoodwinked.

"If the demo is free, how will you guys make money?" I asked.

"Well, if it comes to the point that you sign with us, we would get ten percent of your earnings," she answered. "And that's pretty standard. We're not really at a stage to be thinking about that now, though. We're just going to do this demo for free and see how we want to move from there. That being said, the lyrics are very good and so is the song. I've listened to it about four or five times since this morning. You're a terrific writer."

The reservation that this label's officials seem to have toward me is reassuring; the owner went so far as to say that the vocals on the track I sent him sounded "good in some places and off in others."

"There's definitely the potential in there, though," he added.

I can't shake the idea that Local Records is waiting to make up its mind with regard to me, and that's fine.

"I like your voice," Marketer said. "You have a good voice. I want to meet you in person, though, and see how we would market you."

The addendum "see what you look like" didn't even need to be said. That's just how the game is played, and I feel no trepidation about working within that reality.

As I told Anne in a recent phone conversation, I truly feel I'm qualified to do what I'm trying to.

"I write good songs," I listed. "I can actually sing, which is rare these days; and I'm not great looking, but I'm good looking enough that it would be doable."

If Local Records likes me, things become pretty straightforward. I'd be shipped into Marble City to do gigs, the pay for which the label would get a cut of, while more songs would be recorded as soon as possible, put on iTunes, and, along with photos and a short artist biography, pushed to local radio.

My excitement is outweighing my nervousness, which hasn't been as great as you might think.

"Either way, I get a free demo out of it," I told Anne. "Whether they like me or not."

"I don't see why it wouldn't go well, though," she answered.

"Neither do I," I replied honestly.

I have a good combination of talent and commercial appeal that could make a lot of people a lot of money, and I'm trying to find a label that sees it.

My father and I are headed to the studio on Sunday.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's True

They will hate me forever
And that's okay
I can never be what I've wanted
But will spend the rest of my life
Chasing a dream
That shines only in my distorted mind

So twisted by inadequacy
And pain
And the knowledge that nothing will ever
make me Beautiful
Not these words
Not my tears
Not my abandon, which I embrace nonetheless
Not my body, which isn't good enough anyway
Not even the mournful melody that is mine

The one thing that should justify my place on this Stage
But what does talent matter?

Your apathy
Your casual disgust
Make you almost as pathetic as I am
Your edge doesn't even cut
Because it's so much easier to let go
When no one cares

Every useless effort I undertake
Every sliver of recognition I beat and tear out of this world
Is sweet as rusted knives
Like cherries to my tongue
Because you disdain me each blade

And anything I manage to accomplish
Is like laughing in your face
Even though that wouldn't bother you
If you noticed at all

So I'll surrender to oblivion
And the music
And the bottle's beautiful ignorance
And my depravity
And my blissful bitterness
And my insanity
And if you knew how crazy I really am, you would understand what solace that is

And mindless anything
And gorgeous nothing