December News

I-heart-u guyA few nice things happened this month. First, we ran out of songbooks for the first time at our 12/7 Sundaysong Singalong. Time to make more!

Then I got to play UT Night at the Trail of Lights and walk it for the first time (with my wife and 5 yr old girl). What a wonderful evening.

But the big news for me was all the help y’all gave me by taking my survey and helping me get unstuck on some strategy questions that were hanging me up.

Read the Survey Says! post to see how everyone responded. Here are the conclusions I gathered:

  1. Play outdoor shows and house concerts. Post them to YouTube.
  2. Focus on original material with a mix of covers thrown in, folk/rock, singalong, reggae, kids, and ambient.
  3. Keep shows simple most of the time – solo acoustic or with guitar player – but make sure and put on bigger band shows occasionally.
  4. I’m Jason Molin and I go by J. I should emphasize J and be findable both ways.
  5. I should use jmolin.com as a musician.
  6. I should use a mix of old and new funding models.
  7. Keep the music coming.

Thanks for keeping me focussed!
;- j

Survey Says!

J's Music Strategy SurveyEarlier this month I put together a survey of seven music strategy questions that I keep getting hung up on (seen, linked on the right).

Here are the questions and results. I’ve bolded and ordered the top answers adding my basic conclusions below, saving further thoughts till the end.

1. What kind of material should I focus on playing?

  • 94% – My original songs
  • 36% – Folk/rock covers
  • 33% – Sunday morning singalong songs
  • 17% – Reggae and dub numbers
  • 19% – Kid’s songs
  • 14% – Meditative, ambient music
  • 6% – Love songs, wedding band covers

Conclusions: People like the other covers sprinkled in but the clear majority want me to sing my stuff.

2. Which venues suit me best?

  • 68% – Outdoor shows, parks
  • 62% – House concerts, backyard parties
  • 46% – Coffee shops
  • 32% – YouTube videos
  • 14% – Churches
  • 8% – Bars, clubs
  • 5% – Live streaming online

Conclusions: Keep doing outdoor shows! Do house concerts and parties more regularly. More YouTube videos.  (I don’t want to do coffee shops. I’ve done them and will depart from the crowd on this one.)  Consider a church collaboration.

3. What configurations suit me best?

  • 51% – Solo acoustic (no microphones, no amps)
  • 46% With one other player (like guitar, keys, or drums)
  • 37% – Solo electric (with mic, amp, loops and effects)
  • 37% – With a big band (add horn section)
  • 34% – With a band (guitar, bass, drums, etc.)

Conclusions: No standout configuration winners or losers. Solo acoustic and with another player seem to win, but people would like to see all of these. Reminds me that I can play with a stripped down setup most of the time but to make sure and put on a bigger show a few times a year.

4. As a musician, what should I go as?

  • 49% – Jason Molin
  • 31% – J Molin
  • 20% – Everyday J

Conclusions: Jason Molin is the winner but 1/3 of my audience thinks of me as J. Keep using Jason Molin as the official listing, but J as the usual nickname.

5. I’m redesigning and planning a relaunch of my site. What web address should I use? I own these.

  • 35% – jasonmolin.com
  • 35% – jmolin.com
  • 24% – jasonmolin.net (current)
  • 5% –  channelj.me
  • 0% – channelj.org

Conclusions: Hmmm… jasonmolin.com and jmolin.com are virtually tied. jmolin is shorter, so that could break the tie. But jasonmolin.net and .com got 60% to jmolin 34% (more in keeping with the question above). I’m really on the fence here.

I think there is a way to choose all the above here, since I can advertise jmolin.com and redirect it and jasonmolin.net to the jasonmolin.com.

6. Which model for recouping costs would you be most likely to support?

  • 69% – All the above, a blended balance of all
  • 11% – Kickstarter-like Crowd Funding: get pledges for albums or projects annually in exchange for stuff and access
  • 9% -Traditional Commercial: sell CDs, merch, charge for shows
  • 6% – Fan Club Patrons: fans/patrons get stuff (letters, CDs, posters, invites, swag) and special access for ongoing support
  • 6% – Public Radio: occasionally ask for member support in exchange for swag; find partners/sponsors

Conclusion: Use all the above. Work to give people all these options so that people can support in their various ways.

7. Any other comments?

  • No more shitty gigs! Hey!
  • Love the survey! (Several people said this.)
  • Your park get-togethers are awesome but should also function as a platform to publicize your other gigs. A dot com domain is always preferable.
  • Your music makes me happy!
  • Use your drawings as album covers and use it in merch as well.
  • Keep the music coming!
  • I think any band configuration would be great. I personally would like to see a big band! Maybe also a different guest vocalist to duet with you from time to time.
  • I really feel you should play whatever you like wherever you like.
  • Don’t let your music die, continue and follow your dreams dude.
  • So I think if you’re gonna be famous (and you should definitely be famous) it would be clearest to go with J. Plus it’s kinda bold to be one letter.
  • I really appreciated your music in outdoor intimate settings.
  • It is so wonderful to see you continuing to grow through your musical love.

Conclusions: I love all of you for taking the time to encourage me and help me out. Some great advice and inspiration here. Message received: I’m not stoppin!!!


 

HurdlerSo there are the results, and here are my thoughts, beyond the simple conclusions I listed above.

First of all, I learned a lot about myself before the first response because defining my struggles and coming to terms with viable options did much of the mental and emotional work to answer these questions for myself. It took a while to figure out what decisions were hanging me up, and also which options I wanted people to help me choose between. Once I did I’d reckoned with much of what was getting me stuck.

Second, as I got the first responses I realized I had to take the survey myself, answer the questions for myself, and reckon with how much power I was going to share with my fans on these decisions, especially if they chose differently than me. The act of asking and perhaps delegating my decisions to the group got me to realize which ways I didn’t want to go (even if people told me to).

Thirdly, the responses were both helpful and inspiring. A high percentage of people I emailed responded, many with thoughtful and encouraging comments. As with my Kickstarter campaign a few years ago, it was a thrill to see how many people will help me when asked, and a pleasant surprise to see who I heard from. Note to self: people want to help, BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK!

In the end the result is to move on, jump the hurdles, make more music, and don’t get hung up on these things anymore. This means:

  1. Play outdoor shows and house concerts. Post them to YouTube.
  2. Focus on original material with a mix of covers thrown in, folk/rock, singalong, reggae, kids, and ambient.
  3. Keep shows simple most of the time – solo acoustic or with guitar player – but put on a band show biannually and big band show annually.
  4. I’m Jason Molin and I go by J. I should emphasize J and be findable both ways.
  5. I should migrate everything to jmolin.com and redirect everything else there.
  6. I should use a mix of old and new funding models.
  7. Keep the music coming!

This was a tremendously helpful and encouraging exercise. Now I need to move past these questions. There’s a lot of work do to putting on shows in more spaces and varied setups, and migrating and relaunching my site. Thank you all for the help and support!!!

Waller Creek Peace Concert

Ralph and I work together at UT. I’m a web guy, he’s an IT guy. We both love music and play guitar. So we teamed up last week to put on a little peace concert in a sweet corner of campus as part of the Hearts of Texas Charitable Campaign. This was a fun gig for me because I had Ralph backing me up, and because it was the first time I used my new portable, battery powered pedalboard and vocal amp.

Now I can sing my softer, sweeter songs and still be heard outside. Now I can layer loops and delays. And I can do it in the most scenic, remote locations, because it can all be battery powered.

Here are three tunes from the beautiful concert on Waller Creek last Friday. Thanks to everyone who came out and for the perfect weather.

This first video is of Ralph playing over a loop I laid down before the concert while Earl took pictures and I finished setting up. This is one of the things I’ve been wanting to do, be able create this rich soupy ambient background music outside, for sweet spaces like this one. I love how the loop and Ralph’s improv get mixed with talk, trucks, beeps, birds and other background noises.

The first song we played was an old one of mine that I love but rarely play, The Train Into The City. Again, this fingerpicked song is too quiet to be easily heard outside without the amp.

Here is one of the covers we played, Van Dieman’s Land, the only U2 song I know of by The Edge.

Sundaysong Singalong Goes To The Park

This morning’s singalong was a great official public debut – at Little Stacy Park, 11am-12pm – and the weather was ideal. So was the crowd of 20 or so friends and a strangers who sat on the stage or laid and played on the grass.

My old-school transparency projector did the job and we almost made it through all 20 of the songs I had printed on film before the hour was up. Kids played and made chalk-art while we sang.

Here is the end of the last song we sang together, the trippy Beatles ending on Revolver, Tomorrow Never Knows, followed by our closing bell.

I began and ended the set with a ring of my new singing bowl and a moment of silence. A few people mentioned they liked the ring of the bowl. I think it added a nice cue for entering and exiting the musical meditation.

Our singalong set (with a few we didn’t to crossed out):

  • One Love
  • Three Little Birds
  • With A Little Help From My Friends
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads
  • This Land Is Your Land
  • If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (With intro and sing verse/chorus)
  • Mr. Tambourine Man
  • I Shall Be Released
  • Forever Young
  • Blowin In The Wind
  • Lean On Me
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • Across The Universe
  • Let It Be
  • Amazing Grace
  • Rainbow Connection
  • This Land Is Your Land
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking
  • Tomorrow Never Knows


  

September News

I love new years, and better than a new calendar year is a new birthday year. So after turning 42 earlier this month and feeling like it had brought many answers, I set out again to refine my sound and vision for Fall’s shows.

This meant getting some new (battery-powered) gear that will allow me to bring some of the sonic magic I make in the studio, outside, to remote settings. It meant playing with new loop and delay pedals, many nights in a row.

It also meant bringing new ideas to the music-council for feedback. Thanks to Earl and Airshp for all the help envisioning and refining it with me. Channel J is on the way!

Stay tuned,

FOK DUB Reviewed in The Music Initiative

I’m thrilled to find my first review of FOK DUB in April’s edition of The Music Initiative.

FOK DUB review in The Music Initiative, April 2012

And that the reviewer got the beach feel is great validation that it’s coming across the way I’d hoped. There are a few good quotes to pull out.

Jason Molin delivers a chill album perfect for a day at the beach.

The final instrumental song “Lub Dub” transports you to a live performance on the beach, with a drink in your hand and feeling the breeze through your hair.

Just like any woman’s favorite dress, FOK DUB is a perfect day to night album.

Thanks Becca Finley and thanks JT!