MANTRAS Album Release

After five years of production, I launched MANTRAS on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2018 because it is an album of resolutions. You can stream it below or at SpotifyYouTube, iTunes, and purchase at CDBaby or Bandcamp. For hand-decorated CDs and t-shirts, buy em right here, directly from me.

MANTRAS uses reggae and ska-infused tunes to chant my intentions, like…

  • No more shitty gigs
  • Get Outside
  • No more waiting to be discovered
    No more waiting to get signed
  • I use my system to capture information
    I use my system to structure inspiration
  • Show up for practice
  • Everything’s connected, everything’s changing
    Pay attention, this is what it’s like right now
  • Keep your word and do your best
    Don’t take it personally or make assumptions
  • I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself

My dreams of having a horn section came true working with Mark Gonzalez, the trombonist and arranger for Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and others.

horns1

Dan Bechdolt (sax), Kevin Flatt (trumpet), Mark “Speedy” Gonzales (trombone) tracking at Tonehaus

Robert helped me turn my sketch of my dreaming head with repeating thought bubbles into a great graphic that can be filled with the mantra of your choice. Maile, Anais and I decorated the first 50 CDs by hand with watercolors.

MANTRAS CD covers

Anais's MANTRAS art

Anais made this great version w paint and Sharpie on wood. (I added the LOVE sticker.)

Along with the album release I am proud to premiere the video for Not Gonna Try, the last and longest track on the album and certainly my most involved video production to date. Grey Gamboa, an RTF student at UT, did a perfectly trippy job editing and creating pulsing psychedelic colors (using oil and water dyes between curved glass).

MANTRAS art by Lil

Lil sprinkled her digital fairy dust on this screenshot from the video.

I made tees and stickers for patrons and fans, and this site now features a shop where you can purchase all the j stuff.

Tee CD

 

For the third time, I am grateful to have recorded my album with Thomas “Tbone” van der Brook at Tonehaus. In the video above are Gray Parsons on drums and Doug Snyder on bass (getting sounds at the original recording session in 2013) who supported me every step of the way personally and musically. And I would likely not have finished if not for months of great help from Danny P. finalizing and mixing. Thank you all, my brothers in music.

Big thanks to Mark “Speedy” Gonzales for arrangements and trombone parts, and to Dan Bechdolt (sax) and Kevin Flatt (trumpet), especially for their trippy solos on I’m Not Gonna Try. Thanks to Derek Morris for playing keys on few tunes, especially for such perfect accompaniment on Bright Eyes Shine. Thank you, Karla and Maile and Anais for singing backup on several tracks. Thanks to Brad Bell for mastering. And thank YOU for checking it all out, I hope you enjoy the tunes!

December News

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! (Fans Help Me Decide)

Survey Says! (Fans Help Me Decide)

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

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