You Don’t Know Me But You’ve Heard Me (More on Music & The Weather Channel)
It's a funny thing we call the music business, but let's face it…to be known and to be heard one has to know the business of music…
A recent article in JAMBANDS prompted me to write, as it featured an interview with Steve Hurst of The Weather Channel and his programming of JAMBANDS' favorites such as Phish, and other types of music. Steve mentioned the use of Independent Artists and that's where your's truly has made his little mark in the world. That's right, The Local Forecast segment on The Weather Channel… 80,000,000 homes daily !!
To make a long story short, I've been playing an instrument since the age of 6 or 7, when my parents thought it would be a great idea for me to learn the accordion. Now, I don't recall having the same enthusiasm as they did, but I went along, played the requisite polkas and waltzes at family functions that befit our heritage, and moved onto brass as I entered elementary school….but there was always a piano around and since I knew the basics from the accordion, the piano and keyboards were a logical step for me. Not to get into an in-depth autobiography, but the musicians and influences in my life set a sort of framework for my personal tastes, and as composition and recording have become such a part of my life in recent years, affording this art and finding a way to maintain the lifestyle my family and I enjoy ( trust me, it isn't what one would consider opulent….we're pretty much middle class here in the USA although probably in the top ten percent if you look at the entire planet !! ), I knew couple things had to happen….
I mentioned influences….I've always enjoyed such a variety of music…been in rock bands, show bands, dance club bands, and a band that did a great amount of original music, some covers and jazz-fusion music by the likes of Weather Report, The Pat Metheny Group, Jeff Lorber, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea…. 99% of us are products of our environment and this is the type of environment I really enjoy playing and composing in. I'm not a straight ahead jazz guy by any stretch of the imagination…The Beatles and Chicago were early influences in my life of music, and then seeing the way different genres could meld, and hearing things in my head that I composed and attempted to record that would never be considered mainstream… but like most artists, would write and record because that's what we're driven to do, would do it without recognition, however… we like an audience and let's face it, some measure of approval…that's our egos guys & gals !!
So in a nutshell, I write and record instrumental music, play with a bit of aggression and temperament, try to have a small voice in this great world of music….but where does someone like myself, who plays a fusion of jazz, pop, world music, classical, rock & roll, and whatever else find a place to be heard ?
So my daughter ( Danielle ) says to me…" Dad, your music sounds like The Weather Channel !! " The proverbial light bulb goes off in my head…so now I had the problem, but needed the solution… First of all, is this a great time we live in or what ? Earlier I mentioned affordability… I've recorded my first two albums on a Fostex DMT 8vl Hard Drive 8 Track Recorder, which I purchased for under a thousand dollars. I mix to DAT or CD direct ( Phillips stand alone CD recorder ), which was five hundred or so when I bought it… now I do have some really good keyboards that are well suited for me, and use in my small studio some small Alesis effects modules, but in a nutshell, that's it…however, it's given the capability of CD quality recording in my home at really quite an affordable cost. On my website www.radpiano.com there's a section called MUSINGS, and if you go into the archives, you can read an in depth discourse on recording my latest project entitled IT'S ONLY TIME.
So how did I get on The Weather Channel ? Not to digress, but it's important to note that along with the artists mentioned above, they play music from what I consider some of the greats such as Miles Davis, Vince Guaraldi ( Charlie Brown's Christmas), Stanley Turrentine, along with pop artists like Moby, Eric Clapton, The Temptations and as mentioned, Indie Artists such as myself. After Danielle's revelation I surfed the net ( like I said earlier, is this a great time we live in or what ?? ), found out how to contact The Weather Channel and picked up the phone. That simple…..now I've picked up the phone and have talked to TV programmers, movie studios, public radio etc…but unless you have management with connections or a label promoting you…hey, let's face it…there's a ton of competition and it's tough !! But you have to be persistent… So the operator at The Weather Channel simply says…oh, you need to speak with Steve Hurst…it was really quite that simple… I didn't know what to expect from Steve, but he said "send me some stuff and I'll give it a listen"... He outlined what had to be completed on my part…Copyright ( obvious ), Licensed through BMI for airplay ( not so obvious ), and had to be the type of music meeting their standards… he told me quite frankly that he gets tons of CDs per month, but he listens to them and would listen to mine, and would tell me if it wasn't up to their standards. I licensed my music, copyright was a given ( listen, copyright your stuff right away…it's so important ) and sent my first CD to Steve. I made the playlist in December of 2000 and my music has been used probably 70-75% of the time since then. It's a rush the first time one hears themselves in this type of format, and still is a rush a year and nine months later !! Now, when I make marketing calls and mention my little success, people take my calls and listen… When you're an Indie, you wear many hats, and agent and marketing guru are just a few of them….
So what now ? A big step was starting up a website. It really is crucial to be as pro as possible in business and this is a great platform to work from. Check out www.radpiano.com , there are AUDIO clips, PERFORMANCE dates, MUSINGS, which explains what's up with the music, the business and life in general. Have just started a label… RADPIANO MUSIC...since we ( there are people who have been invaluable to me…it's never just a "solo" album, acknowledgements are made in the INFO/CREDITS section of the website) were doing the writing, recording, production and distribution, decided to create a label for these endeavors. And forming and rehearsing a trio for playing of album material…the music is quite involved at times, but leaves a lot of room for improv and just plain jamming, so quite excited about the group. Looking to play festivals, open shows in small venues…anywhere music can be played and listened to with an open mind…The CDs are currently available on the website and through www.CDstreet.com and expect it to be available on Amazon.com and other retailers within a month…. and promoting, promoting, promoting….It's people like Steve Hurst at The Weather Channel and Dean Budnick at JAMBANDS that give us space and a format to be heard and really taken seriously in our art and really, that's what it's all about isn't it ?