42 Is The Answer

Anais and I on our bday bike/walk. Taken by Maile.

What’s the question? Well, it could be:

  • How old are you now? or
  • When will your life come together? or
  • When will you be happy?

I could answer all of these with, “42.”

(I haven’t read it, but I’m aware of 42’s significance from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which the supercomputer Deep Thought spends 7.5 million years to compute the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. The answer is… 42. See for yourself on Google, or YouTube.)

This is a great bday because it is a wonderful time in my life. Maile, Anais and I have such fun. I love my job. And my music vision is stronger and clearer than ever.

The thrashing around that started at 40 seems to have subsided. The result of the tally is that I have everything I need,  so much love and joy, I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people and meaningful projects. What else could I ask for?

Well, ambition is as wide-eyed as ever as I turn my attention to a refined approach to music that relies less on the distinctiveness of  my talent and more on my art as a healing service for the fracturing world.

Between gorgeous gigs and Sundaysong singalongs I offer connection and reconnection to nature, beauty, people, and peace. (Gorgeous gigs are in beautiful spaces, outside when the whether is right. Sundaysong singalongs are like a folksong church, without the church.)

Thanks, peace, and love to my family, friends and fans for giving me so much. I hope for 42 years more for the chance to repay you.

750 Words – An Explanation

KeyboardAfter posting yesterday’s “750 Words – Just Type” I got an email from my mom asking, “You’re not having a nervous breakdown, are you?” So I thought it deserves a bit of explanation. No, I’m not going crazy. Here’s what it’s all about.

There’s a book called The Artist’s Way, that prescribes writing 750 words every day, just to clear your head and write. I like this challenge and take it from time to time when I go to make a journal entry and don’t know where to begin. I just write, freeform, often stream of consciousness, often in a dialogue with myself, using any method that motivates me to keep writing.

Yesterday, as I was trying unsuccessfully to stay focussed, I posted to Twitter and Facebook: “typing 750 words just to write… about all the reasons my fingers pause on the keys.” An friend from church in high school responded on Facebook: “That’s flippin hilarious, man. As usual, you stun me.” So instead of keeping my post private, as I usually do, I made it a public post, figuring I’m entertaining someone.

And just for the record, that bit about hating Buster Benson was tongue-in-cheek. I am jealous of the cool projects he starts, but he’s a inspiration. Buster started a site, 750words.com, to help facilitate and track this writing exercise. He’s managed to accomplish some really cool stuff building online communities. Check out his projects at Enjoymentland.

So I’m not crazy, and I don’t hate anyone, I just think it really valuable to write freeform once in a while, even if it scares your mom.

750 Words – Just Type

5:30 PM Sitting in the studio with the door and window open, zoning out to the birds twirlee deeing and chweep chweeping. Do we really need language to have thought? Maile and Anais went to run and swim and I stayed behind hoping to do some of this, thinking and writing.

I’m getting better at shutting off work and being unproductive when I need to just be with my girls or take some time off, like right now. It’s hard to know how much time to give yourself and when to prevent yourself from working on a weekend when you want to.

The goal of 750 words hangs over me now, now that I know that artists following the Artist’s Way do, and that Buster Benson does. He even gets a bunch of other people to do it. And now health month, the game. I hate that guy, he’s like me, but better.

Don’t stop, Jase. And quite hitting the backspace button. OK. The goal is not care if you make any typing mistakes for the next 600 words. I can do it. In fact lemme practice right now… adslij aave[appaj alj and aif out oaf all os dair ioj is i caisn ooo s-mopop qhut maoesyin oust os t fathwwn i caon do what nfo maon ha don beforrrrr.

Thaates kinda fcf ubn and hard. my instinct is to correct mysefl and i makkea lost os stupid mistakes especialy lwhne my finders arent’ on th theyboard. ok new experiement, expect im not stopping th old onw where i don’;t correct myself. but this one is just about how fast you can tyep coherent or at least barely coherent stuff. ok. go.

this is not toind so well from the beggining im; running out of things to think and skay nin stead of lacking the speed to ype it all. ok. so let me tyoe something that i already know, like onme of my songs. ok. go.

i wsa on my way to church one sunday morn
the sunwas bright and the weeather wats warm, th
the wintrer was over and i nedded my coat
the streetw were clear and the cars ran slow

there a clown breathed flame and ate the fire
dugled a knife a book and a tie
he called all the childrena d tave them all toys
sent them back to their paretns for coins

then i cam to the poet who spoke like a song
with words that were perfect and buigufilly long
he called all the children and gave them all toys
sent them back to their prtents for coins

then i came the one man band
who’d rigged up stifngs to every finder on his hang
and from a little dance and from a little song
came a chorus of strings and drums and gongns

then a little knelt and played on a pipe
a reel quick tune the Irish type
and two young brothers played violin
as their mother and father passed round the tin

This is preety hard and in don’t know if it helps to look at the screen at all, i must say. but what’s holding me up? finger speed and accuracy of course. but there are lots of pauses in my fingers that seem completely related to my mental pauses pawses. liek the one that just took me about ten seconds of zonign out.

HJmmm. So where does this leave us>? in thedark? no, practiced, at least. Closer tot he mythcial 750. But lest talk about the mythical 100 people that I can keep up with. And the posited 9 months after which serious relationship decay occurs if neglected. Let’s look at the numbers.

There are 365 day, divided between 100 people, is an average of thats contact with each 3.65 days a year, right? orami craxy/stupid?./ COnfession: I used a calculator to that simple simple division by 100. oh hwell.

That makes sense, though… contact each of your top 100 at least 3-4 times a year, or every 3-4 months. Now given that there’s a bell curve invlolved, that’s means they’res a bunch of people you see frequently and spend a lot of time with, and another bunch that you do’t contact but every 6-9 months too.

So is this supposed to be a conscious decision, or first just an observation of who you spend time with. Perhaps an audit is in order. Why don’t I revive my daily checklist and start with the question: who did you contact today? who did you have a real conversation with, no matter how brief? ok.

The Recipe

guitars-and-arrowsI’m hungry for my music to connect me to my people and lead me on an artistic adventure of song and service. So, to drive this metaphor into the ground, I need a recipe for a big wonderful meal so I can concentrate on following the directions and stop just snacking on junk food.

What am I talking about? The Plan. The discipline. I summed this up in Sat Morn,

I was sitting on the stump by the stream
Across from where I’ve been
I could see the rut I was in and how well worn
How I sit day after day
Dreamin bout the places I’ll play
Instead of finding ways to get it done…

I know that I need that plan
That details who I am
Defines the discipline to win the war,
To forget about my worst
Put out my best and bust onto the scene
Like the first one to be born.

So instead of optimistically shifting my focus to every shiny strategy that flies in front of me, I need to set my strategy down, get the help, input and feedback I need to correct it and stick to it so I can realize some modest goals.

Maile has started some helpful conversations with me this week employing all the methods that were used on her by her strategic growth consultant for ENGLISH @ WORK. Tomorrow evening we’ll begin to use this method to do for me what was done so well for her org to focus them on a plan. I can’t wait.

The Hunger

I’m hungry. I’m hungry for connection. I’m hungry for my music to get out of my head, around my circle, out into the world where it can make new friends and I can follow its path on an adventure to find my people and share with them what I have. This cartoon came today and it reminded me of that old grumble in my belly. It started as a teenager, wanting to find my place, my people, make my art, my mark.

Now I’ve lived with it so long that I don’t notice when days of suppressing it go by because I’m busy, distracted. But it’s not hard to bring back the old desperation these days, the feeling that I’m going to go crazy if I don’t hurry up and become what I want to be and think I am, if I can just prove it to myself and the world.

I’ve lived with it so long that I know, from thousands of spent cycles, that the hunger is a feeling that aches itself away and is dissipated without being translated into anything more often than not. And as I get older and more disciplined, I see that whatever progress I’ve managed to make, it is often in many different directions.

Instead of having a journey of a thousand miles to show for my hunger, I’ve got a map of a small area, wandered and traversed thousands of  times. Now I know that the hunger is only a drive that must be directed or it will spin me around and around like I’m blindfolded, playing pin the tale on the donkey with my own ass.

Sun Jan 16


I love these continuous line drawing angle people. Did you see people? Does the second one look like they’re on a cell phone?


Jamaican Gold  on KOOP is part of the Sunday morning tradition at my house. It sounds especially nice on this old Zenith tube radio I found at a yard sale last year.


I made a nice simple innovation on the journal format: from the top left prescribe what could/should happen, your todos; in the top right record what does happen.


These diamond doodles look so sculptural. I wonder how I could bring them to life? What metal, paper, or wire could reproduce these? A mobile might be nice, but I’m imagining a big upright, painted metal thing.

Been A Long Time

It’s been over a month since I posted anything, but I’m home sick with a soar throat today, so I’ve got the first free hour in a while. My buddy Mark made my day several times recently by sending me reminders to blog. That’s the beauty of a blog, it’s for yourself, and the ones that care about you. So nice to know someone misses you. Godin says, what people really want is to be missed when they’re not there.

At work, we finally launched two new sites that we’ve been working on for over a year. It’s a relief, but it brings a whole new set of problems now that they’re live and being handed off to me. At home, Maile’s working more, Anais is more of a handful (of the best kind) every day, and all of my little side projects add up to a lot of work sometimes.

My rule of three has been breaking down because I’ve been so busy, at work and at home. Not sure how to re-apply my rule except to remind myself not to care too much about 4, 5, 6, and beyond.

Here are a few things I’ve been up to.

1) My kid’s band Family Time Rocks! released our first album as a free download.

Checkout Bananas, a song I sing that Sara and I wrote together.

2) We dressed Anais up as a ladybug for her first Holloween.


3) My mom was in town for my Grandma KK’s 90th bday. She picked out some old photos, I scanned them and made a slideshow we projected at the party.

With my remaining 3 hours (while the nanny has Anais) it’s back to #3, music. I’ll get ready for my gig this Sat night at Flipnotics and work on my album, FOK DUB. (It’s mired in file management issues at the moment, so I’ve got to consolidate two hard drives worth of sessions. Not the fun part.).


It’s now Feb. ’09, and I’m getting this year’s plan together for the jcouncil, so first thing to do is to take all of last year’s stuff and file it away, take a quick look back, and update the goal, strategy, and survey pages. I have posted last year’s pages below.

from the 2008 site:


With this site I will attempt to define my plan, gather feedback, and adapt. I spent the Fall researching and creating this plan. I owe a large part to the business strategies of three books: 1. The 4Hr Work Week by Tim Ferris 2. The Future of Music by David Kusek and 3. Making Money Making Music by Eric Beall. From these I took the following lessons.

  1. Focus on short-term goals and work ever smarter, not harder.
  2. The future of music is digital, where marketing and distribution are one.
  3. The best steady income, though slow to establish, is from licensing.
  4. Find your niche. The sharper the targeting, the more effective.

To keep the spirit of this site right, I refer to a quote from Making Music Make Money:

…the music business is such a constantly shifting landscape, with trends emerging and receding faster than any company can respond, that it may be best to keep your business plan fluid, with general strategies and flexible goals. If you want to put it down on paper, that’s great. But the important thing is to internalize your plan–so that you carry it in your head, constantly referring to is, reassessing and revising it as needed. – Eric Beall, Making Music Make Money p. 40

Thank you for looking through the site, and please take the survey when you’re done (tab-link at top).


My Dream Is To Be

Working backward from these broad goals, here is my idea of what they mean and what would indicate I was achieving them.

Inspired: Prolific Poet

Production Schedule

  • weekly song – write, produce, post song, story, versions, podcast
  • bi-annual show – great local gig with full band, production, and marketing
  • yearly album – best songs of the year, polished, packaged, promoted

by Jan 1

  • begin podcast

1 mos

  • weekly post – developing songs for next album, porch song
  • practice/record band to inform production
  • determine studio/recording needs

2 mos

  • post – share raw track with parts, get feedback
  • determine studio/recording options, make choice
  • get studio/players scheduled to record

3 mos

  • post – use solicited feedback to shape album choices?
  • finish recording all parts
  • work with designer on artwork

4 mos

  • mix, master
  • research and send to manufacturer

Recognized: Austin’s Best

Key Metrics

  • site analytics: hits, time spent on site, songs downloaded, new/returning visitors, subscribers to newsletter, podcast, rss
  • my contact list: number and quality of contacts; grow fans, but more importantly, grow industry contacts
  • press: print and online record review, articles, mentions, etc.; mp3 blogs
  • airlplay: local and national radio, internet stations; get played from light to heavy rotation; distribution/inclusion on any site or station like Rhapsody
  • screenplay: get on the soundtrack to anything on screen inlcuding films, TV, ads, online video, etc.

1 mos

  • tighten up and add to my contact list daily, get in the ‘keep-in-contact’ habit
  • find a good list manager system for keeping lists, sending/tracking emails
  • reposition my site for maximum conversion/interaction and tracking
  • begin sending my weekly email 1st Mon., Jan. 7th

3 mos

  • grow my list of 250 to 300
  • compile my list of Austin and online press
  • court local ASCAP, BMI, SESAC

6 – 9 mos

  • release my 2nd album to a packed Cactus CD release, best gig ever, record and post online
  • get reviewed in Austin Chronicle and 11 other publications (print or online)
  • get coverage on 12 mp3 blogs
  • get airplay and in-studio on KGSR, KUT, KOOP, KVRX
  • grow my list to 500 people

Professional: Music Income

In addition establishing an income stream, this first year is really about beginning to benchmark income and return on my investments, time and mony. The result will be an ongoing barometer for which of my efforts are paying off. I have begun to populate a hypothetical spreadsheet mostly to demonstrate the diversity of earning potential with revenue streams I want to develop.

Potential income broken down by revenue stream

income projections

As I have indicated, the two growth areas with the most potential seem to be, first, digital sales (of mp3s through my site, iTunes, or others) and, in the long-run, various licensing deals that produce a growing number of periodic royalty checks. I see a large part of what I am doing now as simply establishing a track record to make me attractive to industry folks. In the first few years income may not point anywhere near retirement, but this will be the equivalent of getting past the breakers, out to the ocean of opportunity.

Whether it is a deal with a record label or publishing house I seek, I must first make myself desirable and legitimate. I hear this played out and stated time and time again: If an artist can demonstrate a solid and growing list of fans, songs, albums, publicity, sales, venues, distribution, and licensing, they can impress the people who are looking for artists who are ready for the next level and worthy of their investment. These people appear much more attractive to the music biz. Not only does my success, however modest, as a business make me more attractive, but it means I am in better bargaining position when the deals get made.

6 mos

  • make $50 a month through digital distribution
  • set up my publishing office, business, materials
  • make one good industry contact a month

1 yr

  • make $100 a month through digital distribution
  • get one song published (album, film, etc.)

Please leave comments below.


produce songs > web presence > digital distribution & marketing > sales & licensing

Music/Marketing Mix

Roughly speaking I’m figuring I ought to split my time 50/50, music and marketing. Success hinges on a steady output of good new material. The first discipline I must learn is rigorous creativity, the fountain of my joy. If I can keep to the habit of creating, while working on the habit of recording and quickly producing a/v content on a weekly basis, that becomes the essence of what I can provide my audience. This will be the primary way I provide not just a product but an experience for an audience to be involved with. Freinds, fans, industry can watch and take part in the evolution of my songwriting.

Posting songs (videos, pictures, podcasts, favorites, stories, poetry) and updating fans replaces playing gigs as a more efficient way of gaining recognition and interest in this first stage of getting exposure and get discovered. Beyond becoming an Internet music-production and direct online-marketing machine, I need help from the music biz with digital distribution and publishing (getting my songs pushed and covered). The goal of the Internet-based marketing plan will be to get interest from the media/marketing industry and attract fans. A pinch of attention from the right review is worth a pound of fan interest. The goal of this phase will be to gather the type of attention that Doug did with NPR where awareness, hits, sales, shot up a thousand-fold.

Here’s the breakdown for how I spend my time and structure my approach.

  • Music Creation & Documentation – ‘In Studio’ & ‘Live’ a/v for online 10 hrs
  • Marketing 10 hrs/wk
    • Marketing/Distribution 5 hrs
      • Directly through my site – post a/v, rss, podcast, weekly newsletter
      • Through partner sites/services – iTunes, Rhapsody, Paste, Pitchfork, MP3 blogs, reviews
    • Publishing 5 hrs
      • Musicians – get covered by big artists
      • Music directors – movies, tv, games, ads

I want a rich, active connection directly to my Internet fan base as well as to my chief industry contacts.

Perhaps, as in the past, we can once again become part of the experience of music, rather than the static purchasers of it. We can be involved, we can cheer our favorite artist on, we can participate in events and react to them, and we can actually make a difference–as the audience or the creator, or both. This fits in nicely with a general trend in our society, of moving, step-by-step, from the “Information Society” via the “Knowledge Economy” to the “Experience Society,” as we will explore in this book–that is, from a place where we are mere recipients of a flow of data and information, as in the traditional media models, to a place in which a lot more value is being placed on experiencing things first-hand and unfiltered. p. 13

Digital Distribution

The real promise of the Web is to develop an online audience large enough to be my own marketer and distributer, cutting out all middle-men. I need to define and my brand presence enough to get attention that breeds more and more attention. To do this I need to balance the updating and promotion of my site with participation in other networks/communities, being an active member, getting feedback, fans.

This starts with direct marketing and distribution through my site. The first thing I’d like to do is re-work my site. I want it to quickly showcase what I do, to get people to sign-up for my list, the podcast, or rss feed. I want to grow my site traffic. If I can get people coming to me for music,

Next comes every fruitful partnership possible. This starts with the revenue from CDBaby’s direct digital sales and extends outward from iTunes to any site that can sell copies and give me a good cut. The circle quickly expands to mp3 blogs and other community networks.


Of course, the real steady money in the music business is in publishing, where songwriters, due to the compulsory mechanical royalty on all records sold and the revenues that flow from public performance, can often make a decent living over a reasonable period of time–nickels and dimes from a multitude of sources…Publishing and all kinds of licensing will likely be digital cash-cows for artists and writers, in the future even more so than today. p.108+110

Ultimately, this is probably my best bet for actually retiring comfortably. Though initially I will focus on making and releasing a new album, press and getting digital distribution growing, I want to set some simple goals for getting this up and running, the number of contacts I make per month, and one good song placement by the end of the year. Following the release of a new CD, I will have a new product to offer as soundtrack material. I need to set up my publishing business in time to promote the next CD onto the screen, discovering which type of screen that may be.