My Desktop

I had a lot of fun this evening making a custom header for this site. It’s as close a representation I can make at the moment of my actual desktop and the man in front of it. I tried to keep everything to scale by comparing it to the sketch pad, on my desk, then in the digital image.

  • headphones (nicer than mine)
  • Boss TU-12H tuner
  • Strathmore sketch pad (spiral on top for this leftie)
  • Pilot G-2 ball-point pen
  • Android phone
  • a pile of guitar picks
  • M-Audio Fast-track Pro USB audio interface
  • iMac (nicer than mine, but with actual wallpaper)
  • Olympus LS-10 audio recorder, on and recording
  • Canon G11 camera
  • Boss DD-5 digital delay pedal
  • Tazo Chai tea
  • chocolate chip cookies

Simplify Life With My Rule Of Three

Having a baby was the best thing that ever happened to this overcommiter. It meant I had to let go of all the illusions I had that I was going to get to those 117 projects, commitments, opportunities, dreams, and distractions.

Anais Pics
Maile, Anais, and I in front of my parent's house in DC

When you have a baby, it quickly becomes obvious that you can really only do two things if you’re the 9-5 breadwinner: 1. Do your job and 2. Be with your family. If we sort that list by priority, instead of time, it’s 1. Be with your family and 2. Do your job. Either way you slice it, that’s about all you have time to care about effectively.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to do a third thing. What’s your #3? It took me some time to let go of the illusion that I was going to be able to do more. I barely have time to 1 and 2.

So there’s only one choice left for me in life: What’s my #3 going to be?

My #3 is music. It was my #1 for a long time, but I’m much happier with it as my #3. Because I love it so much, and am so attached to the dream of making it, I let go of everything after it.

My #4, was a dream I nursed of making a name and business for myself doing Web work. And I do keep a very small bit of freelance Web work going, but knowing that it’s not my #3 means I don’t torture myself about not doing more speaking, writing the book, and starting the business.

Family Time Rocks! In The StudioI still have my 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… and I get to them when I can. But I don’t fret over not getting to them anymore. And having a baby is the best excuse in the world to turn things down, guilt-free. It’s so easy now to say, “I would love to, but I can’t”. As Bob says,

Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must
You do what you must do and ya do it well

If I want to stay up a little later, I don’t wonder what I should do. I do my music. And I love it. It’s what I want to be doing and my time is scarce, so I’m more strategic about it now that I ever was when it was my #1 and I didn’t have any deadlines or need to be efficient and resourceful.

So even if you don’t have a baby, I bet you have a job and a family. And if you’re wondering how many other things you can be truly effective at, it’s 1, not 3, not 7, not 34 or 117. So stop expecting that of yourself and enjoy saying no because it means you get to do what you must do, to be who you want to be.

Cut the agonizing and the chaos from your life by answering this: If ou can only do one thing with your hour of free time a day (when you’re lucky) what is it? Because everything else is distraction.

Search For Infinity

30 Questions: Define My Niche

  1. What is your primary market?
    Adult album alternative (also triple-A, AAA, or adult alternative) is a radio format album-oriented rock format, its roots may have been established sometime during the 1960s from what was called underground music and later progressive. The radio format has a broader, more diverse playlist than most other formats and tends to appeal more to adults than to teenagers. Less-played tracks are also common. Musical selection tends to be on the fringe of mainstream popular music and rock music music genres such as alternative rock, alternative country, jazz, folk music, world music and blues. The musical selections tend to shy away from hard rock and rap music. Some Triple-A stations bill themselves under the slogan “World Class Rock”, “Quality Rock”, or “Finest Rock”. Music selection also includes tracks from albums that are not singles, which leads to the enhanced and larger playlist. -Wikipedia broadcast mostly on FM. A spin off from the
  2. Who is your competition?
    Damien Rice, David Gray, Jack Johnson, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Mathews, Iron & Wine, John Fogerty, Spoon, Tom Petty, Toots & the Maytals, Jimmy LaFave, Lyle Lovett, Micheal Fracasso, Ryan Adams, Kelly Willis, Patty Griffin, Donovan, Suzanna Choffell, John Dee Graham, Beck. – KGSR and my sense of competition
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the leading companies in your particular market?
    Similar to county, in that airplay is the big money earner. Right now, adults are buying more records in ever-increasing numbers, so this is a growing market for the first time in many years. The goal is to write a classic song. If you do, you can get it cut a dozen times. – Eric Beall, Making Music Make Money
  4. How can you imitate those strengths?
    With a real solid alt band and presentation.
  5. How can you exploit the weaknesses?
  6. What strategies have been used successfully in this market previously?
  7. What does your target audience look like?
    Baby boomers
  8. Is you market growing or shrinking?
  9. In what city or cities are most of the companies in your market based?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current location?
    Many local artists.
  11. What segment of the market is the most crowded with with competition?
  12. What is the most under-served part of the market?
  13. What reactions are you getting to our songs?
  14. What part of the market is reacting most positively?
  15. Which is reacting with the least enthusiasm?
  16. What are the musical strengths and weaknesses of your catalog?
    Many styles.
  17. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a business?
    Not defined.
  18. How can you best utilize your strengths?
    Write classic songs.
  19. How can you best compensate for your weaknesses?
  20. What information do you need to compete in you market?
    How to break in, get championed, get exposure, find good partnerships.
  21. How can you get that information?
    Learn the industry.
  22. More importantly, what relationships do you need to have in order to compete?
    Jay Trachtenberg, Jodi Denburg, Jeff McCord
  23. How can you meet those key people, or people that know the key people?
  24. What relationships to you already have?
  25. What are you doing now to establish you songs in the marketplace?
    Post songs and things to my blog. Sometimes advertising.
  26. Is it working?
  27. If so, why?
    It’s quick, cheap, easy, creates a connection.
  28. If not, why not?
    Not regular, post or marketing.
  29. What equipment or supplies do you need in order to operate effectively?
    Email manager.
  30. How much money do you have to depend on you business?
  31. What’s the biggest obstacle to your success?
    Informational–Lack of knowledge regarding the industry or business in general?

Marketing Questionaire

1. What is the primary message you wish to convey to your audience with this site? You’ve found a mature songwriter who knows how to dress poetry up in pop. Big, active catalog from Austin’s best young alternative songwriter.
2. What are your secondary objectives and overall goals you hope to achieve? To symbiotically build a large catalog > web presence > digital distribution > sales & licensing income.
3. What goals does your organization intend to reach with a new Web site?
4. Who is your target audience? Is it different from your current customer profile? Describe in detail. I don’t know. I guess my current customer profile starts with my friends and fans. They are 25-55. They are professionals and artists. When I think in terms of the AAA niche, my audience is tomorrow’s adult alternative consumers. It is discerning listeners, who want to hear the lyrics. It is aging hippies, KUT and KGSR listeners, but also KOOP and KVRX too. I wonder if my current customer is younger and more Web-centric than where I should be fishing.
5. How does your music differentiate itself from competitors? Sophistication, meaning: interesting lines over alt-rock jazz. Ultimately it is because my songs have meaning that I stand out. My stories enjoy clever progressions. My audience enjoys my competition but winces when they throw in a vague, cheesy, or a cliche pose for a lyric.
6. What are the key reasons why customers choose your music? Engaging, fresh songwriting, wordplay, sweet melodies, sophisticated hooks.

1. Use three adjectives to describe how the site should be perceived by the user. (examples: conservative, progressive, friendly, formal, casual, serious, experts, humorous, service-oriented, professional, etc.) Smart, fresh, original.
2. Is this different than current image perception? Maybe, slightly, but I reach so few people now compared with who I am shooting for. I am largely unknown. Whatever may proceed me should not be a problem, but I need to define more specifically/helpfully my market positioning.
3. What do you feel is the biggest challenge in getting your image across to customers? Getting feedback from users that would help me narrow my AAA niche down. Is it sensitive stoners, web progressives, jazz swingers, innocent creatives, smart sophisticates, all the above? Is this AAA? If it’s not, do I look outside that niche, or do I burrow within it?
4. Describe any visual elements or styles that should be utilized from your current Web site or existing marketing materials or collateral (logo: j-hook?, color palette: lightblue and brown, navigation, typography). Please provide existing samples. I need to come up with some design preferences to hire a designer.
5. How is your music currently perceived? I don’t know. I need to test. Do you wish to carry through the same kind of message through your Web site?
6. How does your music site fit into various Web groups/networks? my site, mp3 bloggers, recommender sites, reviews,
7. Is your relationship to the fans/biz clearly defined? If not, would you be interested in strengthening that relationship? If not, please explain.
8. List any URLs of sites you find compelling. What do you find the most interesting about these sites?
9. List URLs of competitor sites and briefly state what you like and dislike about their overall site.

1. What is the primary action you wish your target user to take from the main page of your site? (examples: download, browse, move along specified path, email, order, explore, click button, call, etc.) listen to a song, comment, browse songs, download a song, sign up for updates about new material, buy direct, buy iTunes/whatever.
2. What is the primary action you wish your target user to take before leaving your site? Listen to my music. Is it the same action? It is. If not, describe why.
3. What elements are key items you wish to have available to the user on every page? Subscribe to my mailing list. Buy my albums.

SWOT Analysis


  • a pro CD and a strong catalog of 50 songs with 5 to 10 potential hits
  • 12 years of connections in the Austin music scene and beyond
  • a home studio and an album waiting to be made
  • a great band and a city full of great players
  • an active blog site with a bit of steady traffic
  • some digital distribution income starting to come in
  • a day job that overlaps nicely with these communications goals


  • I don’t know the right people to partner effectively with
  • I’m unsure as to how to find them
  • I’m unsure how to distinguish between them
  • they don’t know me
  • I’m an unknown, with little business experience
  • I have a catalog, a personality, but not a branded communications plan
  • I don’t have much time: 20hrs/wk
  • My output is slow, I don’t present fresh material often enough
  • I have a music mind, not a business mind


  • shifting landscape: the record biz dies, but the music biz is growing like crazy: go digital
  • direct digital publishing, podcast, virtual concerts, global audiences
  • thousands of partner sites/services/communities for gaining exposure
  • growing market: Austin is known as a great town for AAA singer/songwriters like myself
  • a new year, a new CD to produce and release
  • current email list and site traffic


  • crowded market: Austin is known as a great town for AAA singer/songwriters
  • niche not defined specifically enough
  • too many online opportunities, too few lucrative ones
  • I have a music habit, not a business habit