the Direct Buzz - December 2009

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CHARLIE DANIELS America’s Fiddler Brings Christmas Cheer Plus: Music Connection Celebrates 33rd Anniversary Songwriter Profile with Jeff Black How to Create Promo Kits and Press Releases Global Radio Charts Featured Artists & Reviews December 2009

6 Cover Charlie Daniels gave the Direct Buzz a special gift for the holidays: an exclusive interview. In it, this country legend and member of the Grand Ole Opry is surprisingly candid as he talks about his life, his music and his right to speak out.

10 Behind the Desk Take an inside look into one of the most popular music magazines on the market. Music Connection has not only survived, it has thrived. In this exclusive interview, we talk with the publishers to find out how they built their brand and what they see for the future.

27 The Indie Way Every artist knows what a Promo Kit is, but only a few know how to make it effective. With this month’s tips, you’ll find out what really counts and how you can get results. As an extra bonus, we even included tips for interviews.

5 Now Media We’ve all heard this tune before: the music industry is on its last legs. Well, our “Now Media” column begs to differ. We end the year with a look into the future; and the predictions given may very well surprise you.

4 The Broken Poem

FROM THE PUBLISHER AirPlay Direct is pleased and excited to announce the launch of our new digital / interactive publication, the Direct Buzz. Our mission is to entertain, enlighten and inform. We see the Direct Buzz as a “Destination” for anyone interested in general entertainment. And, although it will be music oriented, we will be bold in our exploration of pop culture, life issues and commonly shared interests. Most of all, we want to help and encourage those creative individuals who are striving to succeed in a changing world. We already have plans to introduce columns that will provide advice for those who may need help with their writing, recording or producing. Other sections will address the various needs of artists, reps and industry professionals, with videos supplying a large part of our message. We will always be a “work in progress,” because that’s life and, most certainly, it’s life in the field of entertainment. It’s a tough gig, but not an impossible one. And we think you’ll enjoy watching us grow. As the Direct Buzz evolves, it will become more interactive with every issue. In fact, we’ll be encouraging our readers to contribute content.

14 Global Radio Charts

For members of AirPlay Direct, the Direct Buzz will not only add value to their membership services, it will also give them the opportunity to let the world know about their art.

22 Featured Artists

We look forward to your comments, suggestions and thoughts. So, feel free to contact us at any time.

---------------------------------------------------------------PUBLISHER & FOUNDER: Robert Weingartz CONTENT DIRECTOR: Bernard Baur CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Clif Doyal, Dr. T. Roberts, Hans Fink, Tom Laurie, Jeanie Cunningham, Mike Hagler, Paula Munoz ART DIRECTION: Aleven Creatives ( VIDEOS: The Composers Corner


Robert Weingartz Publisher and Founder, Direct Buzz CEO, AirPlay Direct

The Broken Poem oem

a songwriter profile by Dr. T. Roberts

Jeff Black “One Last Day to Live”


hen I first heard this track I was pleasantly surprised by the emotional journey it took me on. I was all at once sad, but inspired and hopeful. There is an epic quality to this song that is rare in so much of contemporary music today. It forced me to reflect upon my life, past, present and future. This song is so powerful that it has now become part of the soundtrack of my life. I will always remember the day I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeff Black… songwriter and artist extraordinaire. The Broken Poem - When you sing this song, these lyrics, where does it take you emotionally? Jeff Black - It can be kind of complicated because of the way people perceive it. This song to me is not about fear of death or lack of faith. It is not about any end or even the question. If you stick with music long enough it is always about the total experience. Why are we here? What does our life and the pursuit of our dreams really mean? I always sing from the perspective of the song being pointed at “the self”, whether it’s me or the listener. There is nothing worse than a songwriter up on a soapbox. Every song has a character. It can be as complex as anybody’s personality. I

have never been able to sing a song without it taking me to the same place emotionally as when I wrote it. The Broken Poem - Some writers start with a riff, others with a melody and even others with lyrics. How did this song start for you? Jeff Black - I write songs with a candle, a pencil and a piece of paper. I want to be connected to the planet. I never write on a computer. There is something to be said for erasing a line, but still being able to read it. For me nearly every song starts with an idea, a feeling, a position or a disposition. A lot of times I just start by talking out loud. It has everything to do with having something to say. Although that is putting it in simple terms, it is not a simpleton approach or idea. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature about songs that have nothing to say. It is not necessarily about making a stand, as much as it is about finding a place to stand. I am just trying to exude my thoughts and feelings to the people in my circle. As my universe gets bigger, sometimes you have more to say. Environment plays a lot in a writer’s development; so does your background and even your DNA. Every single thing you experience in life has an impact on who you are… in a very real-time way. When you are young

everything is truly moment to moment. When you finally get a little of older, that little bucket of what “could have been” gets smaller and smaller. Instead of regrets you have a basket full of wonderful experiences. The Direct Buzz - How do you feel about folks analyzing your songs and then somehow starting to feel as if they know you? Jeff Black - Sometimes I feel that people just assume too much and become comfortable too fast. For example, I have Guy Clark’s phone number in my pocket. He gave me his number at the local guitar shop recently. I have performed with him a couple of times over the years, and we have chatted several times. But for me it is about a respectable comfort level where I never wanted to assume that I knew him, or was his friend. There are not a lot of artists I admire in the way that I admire Guy Clark. Someday if I can work up the gumption, when the air is just right, I am going to call him up and ask him to write. The Broken Poem - If this song was placed in a film, what would the film setting be in your mind? Jeff Black - This song is more like a “to be continued” perspective versus the end. It would fall between acts 3 and 4 in a play, as you’re opening the door to exit… but find that it is a new beginning and not the end. This song is totally a contradiction. It changes over time and means something different on an evolving basis. You are moving from scene to scene constantly in a good song. I cannot recall what I was really thinking about at the very moment and time I sat down to write this song. It is not about a single scenario in my life, but the story of my life experience in song.


“One Last Day to Live” if you had one last day to live / and your soul was free from doubt / would you tell them how you feel / would you rise before the sun / would you write a letter home / would you try to make amends does the light look different now / does it break without a sound / does it make you laugh out loud / like when you were a child if you had one last day to live / and your soul was free from fear / would you kill that monster now, dead / would you race the summer wind / write a song that does not rhyme / get stoned and sail the sea would you pray to god or not / get real drunk and cuss alot / bitch about what you ain’t got / or get you something new / would you kiss the one you love / down below and up above / could you bear the burden of / nothing left to prove do the colors call you out / do they fade or scream and shout / does the thunder scare you now if you had one last day to live / and your soul was free from shame / would you let your real light shine does the light look different now / does it break without a sound / does it make you laugh out loud/ like when you were a child / as you go kicking through the dew / think of all that you’ve been through / hey don’t you realize it too / that we’ve wasted so much time

By: Mike Hagler, Jr.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Future of the Music Industry


t is the end of another year in music… one that saw many great releases and more than a few great shows. This year I was able to catch Death Cab for Cutie, Phish, Coldplay, Motley Crue, Kings of Leon, The Black Crowes and KISS, to name a few. My latest album purchase was Owl City, and it took me back to the good old days in college when I listened to Postal Service. Additionally, this year has produced a lot of varied views regarding the future of the music industry. In fact, I have an ongoing disagreement with a close industry friend concerning how our business will evolve. He thinks that we will be giving away music in three to five years. Basically, he says, “No one will buy music anymore.” He sees the downward trend in CD sales as support for his theory. I, however, choose to be more optimistic. We saw many bands in the 90’s that have faded into obscurity. Some of them had one hit and then were gone forever. Nonetheless, they still had a career, at least for a short period of time. That makes me wonder about the different options music lovers had back then as compared to today. Just a decade or so ago, if an act was pushed by a label and had a hit on the radio, you only had one choice as to how you could get that song. You had to buy the entire album. Sometimes you

could buy the single on tape, CD or vinyl, but that was not the norm at that time. In those days, a radio hit actually translated to album sales instead of downloads. In fact, there was a time when radio was the only way to really discover new music, aside from the clerk at your favorite record store. Today, however, there are many more choices and ways to discover new talent and music. Because of that, consumers have an even larger voice as to what they will and won’t support. That development has changed the marketplace, significantly. Dominant musical trends are difficult to establish now, because music lovers have more power and, some say, are more discriminating. As a result, niche markets have grown considerably, as consumers refuse to buy the hype and inferior products forced on them by many major labels. It’s that consequence that leads some insiders to believe the industry will not recover. So, where are we headed? I believe we will see a new music era with better and more significant acts in the music scene. Those that are truly the best at their genres will rise. And, just maybe, labels will look harder for artists that will last longer than their first single. And, if those acts can really rock out live, then that’s the cherry on top! By no means is the music industry over. A new era has only just begun… and the strong will survive.

Charlie Daniels America’s Fiddler Brings Christmas Cheer By: Bernard Baur


hat can you say about Charlie Daniels that hasn’t already been said? One of the most beloved and controversial country artists today, he is a true icon. His music - rock, country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel – is quintessentially Southern. His band, known for their instrumental dexterity, are also notorious for their down-home, good-old-boy attitude. In fact, according to, they became a virtual symbol of conservative country values. In the beginning, Daniels’ career ebbed and flowed. His songs were covered by many artists, including Elvis Presley; but it wasn’t until the release of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” that he got on the fast track. His fame rose when that song went platinum, topped both country and pop charts, won a Grammy Award, earned three Country Music Association trophies, was the cornerstone of the Ur-

ban Cowboy soundtrack and propelled his Million Mile Reflections album to triple platinum sales. Although he continued to sell respectably after that, he didn’t have another a big hit until 1989’s Simple Man, which went gold. Nonetheless, his popularity continued to expand, mostly due to his live performances. He has a huge concert draw and travels over 100,000 miles a year. Indeed, his band has been called one of the hardest working acts in country music. He’s also outspoken, to say the least, which has put him in the news more than most country artists. His Open Letter to the Hollywood Bunch, and his book Ain’t No Rag: Freedom, Family, and the Flag, have created more than a little controversy. His website even contains a “soapbox” page with a current article titled The United States of Insanity. However, underneath the larger than life persona he projects, Daniels is a simple and caring man. President Ger-

ald Ford once said, “Charlie’s love of music is only surpassed by his love of people, especially the American people.” Daniels proves that sentiment by hosting “Volunteer Jam Concerts.” He has produced that mega-musical extravaganza for the past 16 years so that audiences could be introduced to all styles of music and a lineup that reads like a “who’s who” list of greats. Now, in his golden years, Daniels hasn’t slowed down much at all. He finally became a member of the Grand Ole Opry (two years ago) and recently released a holiday album, Joy to The World: A Bluegrass Christmas. Taking time out of his busy schedule to

“I want to give people a chance to hear all kinds of music. I don’t think musical taste should be restricted in any way.”

talk exclusively with the Direct Buzz from his ranch in Lebanon, TN, we think you’ll find his “pull no punches” straight talk as remarkable as it is insightful. the Direct Buzz (tDB): Are you an outlaw? Charlie Daniels (CD): I used to say, “I’m not an outlaw; I’m an outcast.” I just try to be who I am. I’ve never followed trends or fads. I couldn’t do that even if I tried. tDB: You do have a maverick approach to music, playing several different styles. That wouldn’t work for most artists – it would be confusing. How come it works for you? CD: I’ve always done that. It’s fun and my taste in music is very broad. I see no reason why my creative life should be limited. And, I think there’s more room to experiment in country music. Besides, country fans are a little more tolerant than others might be. tDB: There are some who believe you used the Allman Brothers Band as a blueprint for your music. Is that true? CD: I don’t know, I can’t say for sure. But, I was absolutely influenced by a lot of what they did. I mean everybody’s influenced by somebody. Obviously, I put my own spin on the music – mostly with my fiddle. But, I do like those boys. tDB: You’re also very generous with other artists, giving them more than a fair share of the spotlight. In fact, you’ve played with some amazing players, from Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to Al Kooper and Ted Nugent. CD: I love playing with great musicians. That’s part of what my “Volunteer Jam Concerts” are about. I want to give people a chance to hear all kinds of music. I don’t think musical taste should be restricted in any way. If it’s good music, you should hear it. tDB: Some have said that it’s your homespun values that make your music so popular. Do you agree with that?

“I don’t worry about what other people say. I am who I am, and that’s not gonna change.” CD: I really don’t know. I just try to live my life a certain way, and maybe that does influence my songs. But, if that’s part of the equation, and people continue listening, I’m not gonna fight it. tDB: At times, you have made some pretty controversial statements about social and political issues. Do you think artists should do that? CD: I don’t see any reason not to. I think my beliefs are as valid as anyone’s; and, it’s a free country, man. It’s not part of my stage persona, but I’ll discuss issues if I’m asked, and I do write about a variety of them. As for artists in general, I think there’s a forum for expressing your opinions, but the stage isn’t the place for it. tDB: It took the Grand Ole Opry years and years before they invited you to join. Why do you think they took so long? CD: I don’t know… The only thing that could have been a problem is that

my band tours so much, maybe they thought we couldn’t fulfill our obligations to the Opry. You know, you have to play a certain number of shows there every year. But, I probably appreciate it more, at this time in my life, than I would have when I was younger. tDB: It’s been quite awhile since you did a Christmas album – almost 6 years. What motivated you to do Joy to The World: A Bluegrass Christmas? CD: Actually the record company (Koch Records) brought up the idea. And, it’s sort of a Southern thing to do. What I like most about it is that those types of songs lend themselves to lots of different styles. tDB: You also feature quite a few other artists on the record, like the Grascals, Aaron Trippin, and even Jewel. CD: Why not? That’s what you do in country music. It’s like a musical brotherhood. We play on each other’s records all the time.

tDB: You’ve written some amazing songs over the years. Do you consider yourself a prolific writer? CD: I don’t write as much as I used to. I don’t really need to anymore. I’ve got a pretty big catalog that I can tap at any time. You have to remember, a lot of my albums were done back in the days before CDs, and the songs were much longer then. I mean I still write, but there’s not as much pressure for new material as there used to be. tDB: You’ve had a long career - 50 years in the music business. Have the changes in the industry affected you in any way? CD: My career might be music oriented, but I’m in the entertainment business. I’m not braggin’ or anything, but my band puts on a good show. Because of that, I’m not forced to produce hit songs or get as much radio play as other artists are. My focus has always been to entertain an audience. So, the changes in the music business haven’t really affected me much at all. tDB: Your shows are legendary. What is the key to a great live show? CD: Everything has to fit. You have to pay attention to the flow and pacing. The audience should be your main concern. You have to think about how they are receiving the music, and how you want to affect them. I usually start strong, then I bring it down a bit, and end the show kickin’ as hard as I can. They may not realize it, but you are imposing your feelings on them. And, you want to leave them with a pleasing memory. tDB: You write your own blog. And, in it, you said you were “old fashioned.” Do you think you’re out of touch with the times? CD: It’s kinda general. I live in a place surrounded by people and things I like. I created a world I want to live in, even though I’m also part of a larger one. So, maybe I am shut off a bit from modern society. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to it. It just means I prefer a different pace when

“If you don’t take it seriously, the music business can break your heart.” I’m not on the road. I guess that is sort of old fashioned. tDB: Do you enjoy any modern technology? CD: I love my iPod. I have over 1000 songs on it. I can listen to any type of music any time I want. I also like using the Internet and email. I even have my album on AirPlay Direct for radio distribution. I’m amazed by all these things. I never would have imagined them 50 years ago. But now that they’re here, I enjoy them a lot. tDB: A lot has been written about you, and some of it is controversial. Are there any misconceptions you’d like to clear up? CD: I’m an open book. If people get the wrong impression by reading something misleading, and they ask me about it, I’ll explain myself. But, I don’t worry about what other people say. I am who I am, and that’s not gonna change. The people who matter to me know that. I get along with everybody – even if they see things differently than I do. tDB: How would you like people to remember Charlie Daniels? CD: I’ve been asked that question quite a few times. I don’t think a per-

son deserves to be remembered for any more or less than what they were. Although people may see me in a different light than I see myself, I would like to be remembered as a Christian and an honest man that made people happy. It would also be nice if they mentioned a few of my songs. tDB: What advice would you give up and coming musicians? CD: This is only the tip of the iceberg. First of all, make doggone sure music is what you want to do… that in your heart of hearts you want to be a professional musician. It’s not a smooth road. There are a lot of bumps in it. Then, you have to go where the business is, whether it’s Nashville, Los Angeles or New York. You just have to cut the apron strings and go for it 100%. You also need to learn how to entertain people, and that takes time. But, by doing that you’ll find your place in the music business. Lastly, and this is important, you have to realize that there are trade-offs. There will be many things you’ll put up with and sacrifice. It’s not easy, so don’t lie to yourself. If you do, and don’t take it seriously, the music business can break your heart.

Music Connection Magazine The Musician’s Bible By: Bernard Baur


t a time when publications are struggling to survive, Music Connection is celebrating its 33rd anniversary. Called “The Musician’s Bible,” by its devoted readers, it has L-R: J. Michael Dolan, E. Eric Bettelli been the connection between the streets and the suites for many artists. Started on a shoestring in 1977, it has grown in both popularity and size. To find out how it accomplished such a feat, in an industry not known for its consistency, the Direct Buzz sat down with the publishers, J. Michael Dolan (Executive Editor) and E. Eric Bettelli (General Manger/Advertising Director). We think you’ll find their story and insights not only interesting, but also inspiring.

the Direct Buzz (tDB): Music Connection has survived for over three decades, while other publications have fallen by the wayside. How do you account for such longevity? Michael Dolan (MD): We built a very strong brand. People don’t just like Music Connection – they love it. We also established a web presence very early on, and I think that helped us a lot. People don’t just think of the magazine, they also know us from our website. Most importantly, though, we’ve always remained consistent in our focus. Eric Bettelli (EB): That’s true. Even though the industry has gone through lots of changes, we focus on those aspects that don’t change.

tDB: How do you choose the features you run? MD: From the very beginning, we chose subjects and areas that we wanted to learn about. And that’s continued to the present. Music Connection is meant to be informative. We like our features to have something in them that our readers can use. tDB: Is that Music Connection’s primary mission? MD: We want to make a difference. We want to help our readers achieve their goals by giving them the information they need. tDB: That’s a tall order when you consider all the changes the industry has gone through. Do you think the music business has gotten better or

worse? MD: The methods for promoting and selling music have obviously changed drastically. But, I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse. There’s an inherent conflict between art and commerce. When someone wants to share their art, or make a living with their music, they’re going to be told they have to conduct business or sign a contract. That part hasn’t changed much. The things artists need to do to become good at their craft have also remained the same. What’s changed is the way the industry works and what it takes to be successful nowadays. tDB: One thing that hasn’t changed is your partnership. How did you manage to maintain it for 30 years?

EB: First of all, we trust each other. And, we give the other person room to do what they do best. MD: In the beginning, we just fell into what we do naturally. For me it was creating content, while Eric focused on distribution and sales. There was no real plan. We just gave the other person his freedom. tDB: Eric, you developed your own distribution pipeline. In fact, you were DIY before there was DIY. How did that come about? EB: Initially, I brought fliers to every music and record store in town, and asked if they would take the magazine. Then, I thought of 7/11 and got them on board. Soon we had distribution routes all over the city. We even hired artists to deliver the magazines. That network became Backstage Distribution. tDB: You’ve said that when you started Music Connection, you probably broke every rule in publishing. Would you advise others to do the same? MD: I don’t think it’s advisable to go into it thinking, “Well, now I’m going to break this rule.” The truth is, we didn’t know what the rules were. We just instinctively did things and followed our hearts. By the way, knowing the rules isn’t a bad thing. When you do, you can decide whether or not to follow or avoid them. You just have to do what’s best for your situation. tDB: As a startup, you traded services and actually set up “brand partnerships” before that process was even invented. What gave you that idea? EB: We didn’t have a lot of money. So, we traded ad space for services and goods. First we went to KROQ (a Los Angeles radio station) and traded ads with them. Rodney Bingenheimer, who was a very popular DJ, read our ad on the air. But, it took him three minutes to read a one-minute ad. We fell down laughing when we heard it; and, from then on, we always wanted Rodney to read our ads. MD: We also hooked up with large organizations, like singer-songwriter associations, the musicians’ union,

and Women in Music. We gave them ad space and asked their directors to write a column for us so that we could get access to their membership base. There was no precedent for doing that. It was just a light bulb idea. tDB: That’s very creative. Did you know you were visionaries? MD: (laughs) I’m always thinking ahead. I don’t like dwelling on the past. I like thinking about the future and where things are going. tDB: Well, recently, Music Connection went some place different. It started out as a regional publication, but now it’s national. What motivated that change? MD: We felt our brand was strong enough. We discovered that our competition stopped being other magazines. No one else was doing what we do. Our competition was actually the internet. And the growth of the net, along with new technology, allowed us to go for it. So, we upgraded our website and went national. tDB: Your website is pretty amazing. What’s the idea behind it? MD: To be relevant. We’re constantly expanding our coverage. We have daily, weekly and monthly content, and it’s always free. It’s getting so popular, our weekly bulletin will go out to over 90,000 people in January. tDB: What’s in the future for Music Connection? MD: We’re very excited about our AMP Network (Artists, Players, Musicians). We’re building a community of creative individuals. It’s like a social network but it’s not a fan site like MySpace. Only artists are allowed to join. And, I foresee a day when they will communicate with their smart phones, and build a band using AMP. They’ll be able to see each other play, write songs and record together without ever getting together. It’ll be a global experience; and, I believe that’s the future of music. Website: Disclosure: This writer has worked with Music Connection for 14 years.






VIEW MORE CHARTS AT: The AirPlay Direct Global Radio Charts display the top tracks downloaded for airplay by radio programmers internationally. The charts are accurate as of the date published. You can view “real-time” charts at We take pride in having built a transparent charting system that accurately reports the hot artists and tracks available within the AirPlay Direct community.





VIEW MORE CHARTS AT: The AirPlay Direct Global Radio Charts display the top tracks downloaded for airplay by radio programmers internationally. The charts are accurate as of the date published. You can view “real-time” charts at We take pride in having built a transparent charting system that accurately reports the hot artists and tracks available within the AirPlay Direct community.


Sammy Kershaw Sammy Kershaw’s plan for country music is re-claiming its roots and recapturing the spirit that made it great: The recording studio. “Man, for someone like me who had George Jones music imprinted in my DNA before birth, the last few years have been rough as a fan of country music,” noted Kershaw candidly in a recent national interview. “Country music is not a formula it’s a music with its own soul and I’m all about saving that soul!” Kershaw’s current album Better Than I Used To Be promises to be a much-anticipated first step in that plan of salvation. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Listen here: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ray Stephenson

Kylie Morgan

Ray Stephenson is emerging as a key singer/songwriter of our time. He has already crafted numerous songs for Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, John Anderson, Guy Clark (GRAMMY’S Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album) He is also an established Classically trained Folk painter. (described as Rembrant gone rock n roll) And he builds guitars. His latest album Gunned Down in Mexico is just about to be officially released in mid May but is already available free to preview and check out here. -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

Kylie Morgan is a 14-year-old singer/songwriter from Oklahoma. In her short time of singing professionally, Kylie has assembled a band; signed a record deal; recorded a Christmas CD which will hit the market for the holidays in 2009 – with all proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society; written songs for her official debut CD planned for release in early 2010; secured several high-profile sponsorship deals - AND climbed on a bus where she works hard on her studies to maintain a 4.25 grade average. -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

The Sleighboys Everyone hearing these songs says the same thing: “I can’t get them out of my head!” (in a good way) Get some hot chocolate, sit by the fire, and sing along with America’s favorite Christmas band. Each of the songs in this holiday collection captures the magic of Christmas in a unique style. From pop to country, dance to swing, these songs have become new Christmas classics!

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Your Unique Voice Awesome Vocal Range Captivating Performance “The Deva Method is the closest thing to getting cosmetic surgery for your voice.” – Performer Magazine

Study with Jeannie Deva in-person or Online by web cam. Find Free tips and a Deva Method® teacher at: 818-446-0932


John Cowan

Del Castillo

Kirsten DeHaan

H i s t o r i c a l l y, Christmas albums give great singers an open invitation to fully flaunt their vocal chops. For that reason, fans of John Cowan may wonder why he’s just now applying his famously big, expressive voice to traditional holiday tunes. Indeed, once fans and newcomers hear the glorious gift that is Comfort and Joy, Cowan’s collection of Christmas chestnuts, they will ask what took him so long.

Kirsten DeHaan is a true jack of all musical trades. Not only is she a talented singer/ songwriter and guitarist, she promotes her music via her label SirLady Records, does various philanthropic work for American soldiers in the Middle East, and is a big proponent of the New York indie music scene. Her latest offering, a five song EP dubbed Thorns On A Crown is by far her most mature work to date and is set to hit the streets later this summer.

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Great art from all periods reflects the collective mood of that time period. Times are changing and America is changing. We are inarguably living in a New America; a place where the mood and the spirit of the people is guiding us through crisis and revival. Del Castillo’s sound is a result of each member being possessed by a boundless, creative spirit and allowing it to guide them on an amazing musical journey. It is a spirit that beckons the audience to step outside of the old formula and join the new journey. -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

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Lyra Project

Anne McCue

Kacey Jones

LYRA PROJECT is singer-songwriter duo Debra Lee and Rick Denzien, whose well-crafted songs often deal with themes of finding hope through dark times, as well as love, passion, and devotion.

Lucinda Williams says, “Initially, her stunning voice hooked me in. Then I got inside the songs. The first chance I got, I went to see her perform ... I was floored! The combination of her tom-boyish beauty mixed with the precision and assertiveness with which she approached the guitar, her surrounding languid and earthy vocals created an intoxicating blend.” Anne’s new single, ‘Don’t Go To Texas (Without Me)’ is now available on iTunes and she recently shot a video for the song in Nashville. (See Video). -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

Audiences have been laughing with Kacey Jones for decades, and laughing right along with them are People Magazine, USA Today, Country Weekly, GAC and CMT television, Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, The Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Show. Her new album, Donald Trump’s Hair, (IGO Records) is the hilarious follow-up to her previous comedy album, “Every Man I Love is Either Married, Gay or Dead…LIVE!” -------------------------------------------Listen here: --------------------------------------------

Trading off on lead & harmonies, Deb and Rick’s blend of vocals, piano and acoustic guitar keep the audience guessing as to who is performing what at any given moment.

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Quick Tips M

any artists and labels have asked for a “Step by Step Guide” to success. Unfortunately, there is no map that suits everyone. What works for one artist or label may not work for another. But, there are some things that generally translate to positive results --- for everyone. THE INDIE WAY - QUICK TIPS will explore those tricks of the trade and give our readers “easy to follow” tips regarding a variety of areas in the music business.

PROMO KITS Most artists know what to include in a Promo Kit. But, not many know how to make it effective. It’s a basic tool used to introduce you and your music. And, of course, you would like it to make the best impression possible. To help you do so, we’ve collected tips from the experts, i.e. PR personnel, A&R, managers and journalists. Follow them and you’ll have an approach that may actually get results. NOTE: Before you even start to assemble a Promo Kit, you need to know “WHO” you are as an Artist and “WHAT” your Music represents. PRESENTATION 1. Your Promo Kit represents “YOU” – Be CREATIVE 2. What’s your Objective – Who are you sending it to 3. What do you want people to think and get out of it 4. What do you want them TO DO IMAGE 1. Your Image should be consistent

throughout every item. Image is more than a “Visual” – It encompasses EVERYTHING. It should project your Attitude, Identity and Message. 2. Who are you – What’s interesting about your music – What’s different – Why should people listen to you – Are your songs about anything in particular – Who are your fans – Who are you appealing to: Labels/Bookers/Radio/ Fans, etc… 3. Describe yourself and music in ten to twenty words. Do NOT be general. Answer: If you like (Name a Known Artist) you’ll love my music. UNIQUENESS 1. You need to set yourself apart from all the other artists doing the same thing 2. How are you different – Don’t just say, “I’m better…” 3. What is your Cause – Belief – Philosophy – Point of View MUSIC 1. What are your songs about – Is there a common theme or subject

– Is there a common perspective or POV – What are you saying with your music 2. Write a brief (2 to 4 sentence) description of each song YOUR PLAN 1. What is your Ultimate Goal 2. How do you plan to achieve it 3. Have Long-Term Vision – But… 4. Set Short-Term Goals (2 weeks – 30 days – 6 months – 1 year) 5. Design a Marketing and Promo-

tions Plan 6. When you meet each Goal - Repeat and Build on it SUBMITTING PROMO KITS 1. Call first – or – Follow specific Instructions 2. Know what the “Turn-Around Time” is (e.g. 2 weeks – 30 days – months) 3. How is it being Delivered - How is it Packaged 4. How / When will you Follow-Up

WRITING YOUR BIO 1. Identify the Style of Music (Genre – Retail Category – Radio Format) 2. What’s your Story – What have you Done? – What makes you Unique? 3. Define Image & Music’s Message – Who are you - What are you saying? 4. Pull Quotes from Industry – Fans – Other Artists 5. Note Current Activities – Future Plans – Special Interests 6. List Past Accomplishments (Great Successes – Cool Failures) and Accolades

WRITING PRESS RELEASES Press releases are often misunderstood and misused. There should be a good reason for sending a press release; and, that reason should be newsworthy. Our experts advise that the worst thing you can do is hype yourself excessively. Keep it simple

and persuasive, or don’t send it at all. PRESENTATION PURPOSE 1. WHY are you writing a Press Release? 2. WHAT do you want to ACCOMPLISH? 3. WHO’S going to receive it? 4. What do you want them TO DO? STYLE The Goal is to get people to read it You must Hook them in 1. Headline Hook – The Headline must GRAB their ATTENTION 2. First Sentence Hook - Draw them into the narrative 3. Make it Clear - Don’t Confuse LESS IS MORE 1. Be Brief, Thorough and Concise 2. Do NOT overwrite - Use 200 – 400 words maximum 3. Put the Most Important Facts First 4. Avoid Long and Boring narratives 5. Avoid Hype 6. Lead Readers to their own conclusion – Don’t tell them what to think DISTRIBUTION 1. How are you distributing your Press Release? 2. Use FREE Services [PrWeb. com – – Mi2n. com] 3. Check out Web Blasting Services like 4. If the Press Release is going to a Specific Person – Spell their Name correctly

TIMING 1. Most Press Releases are tied to a specific event 2. As such, Think Ahead - TurnAround Time for action varies… 3. If sending to publications –give them 30 to 60 Days Notice – then Follow-Up 4. If sending to Industry – a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks Notice – with Follow-Up 5. If sending to fans to promote a show – Hit them 2 to 3 times (30 days – 2 weeks – 1 week prior to the gig) SUBMISSIONS BIG TIP: Not everyone gets the same package. Save Time & Money by giving them only what they need.

INTERVIEW TIPS When you score an interview you must prepare for it, or you could waste a golden opportunity. 1. PREPARATION Media professionals will Google you before the interview. You should do the same to them. Find out something about them. You may find something you can relate to on a common level. Give some thought to what you want to cover and what you want to say. 2. PRESENTING YOUR BAND You should present your band as a whole --- what brought you together and what keeps you together. If you’re opposites or there are creative conflicts, talk about it. 3. HANDLING Q&A Go over questions you expect to be asked. Outline “talking points,” i.e. the subjects you want to cover. 4. LISTENING & SPEAKING Listening is important. When answering, include the question in your answer. 5. PACKAGING YOUR MESSAGE You must make yourself memorable. What’s unique about your project? How do you stand apart? Try to connect what you do with a current news story or cultural issue. That association will help people remember you. 6. DEVELOPING SOUNDBITES Prepare ahead of time. Think of short

quotes that have impact – something people will recall. 7. THE IMPORTANCE OF BODY LANGUAGE Dress the way you want to be perceived. Do not wear sunglasses -people want to see your eyes. Keep your hands away from your face, don’t chew gum and practice keeping your body calm (avoid shaky feet). 8. DODGING MEDIA BULLETS These are the “surprise” questions – which really should not be surprising. What’s your stance on free downloads? What do you think of the music business? If there are sensitive issues involving your career, be prepared to talk about them. 9. CUTTING TO THE CHASE Don’t be long-winded. Be concise and get to the point. But, do not give one-word answers. 10. WORKING WITH INTERVIEWER Know the angle or hook the interviewer is looking for. Accommodate it and relate it to your story.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REQUESTS OF WHAT TO DISCUSS IN THE NEXT INDIE WAY? Let us know and we’ll send our team out to scour the depths of the music industry to get you answers!


he Direct Buzz offers reviews by a team of professional music critics. Any AirPlay Direct artist or label interested in being considered for a review, should contact us. Choose three songs from your DPK, and we’ll give you our opinion of them. We can’t guarantee a rave review, but we can assure you that it will be honest and constructive. We will try to honor all requests, but it might take a while. As such, your patience is appreciated.

Jerry Lawson

Tore Andersen

Leon Redbone

Talk of the Town

Right Around The Corner

The Olympia Theater, Live

A former member of a cappella troupe The Persuasions, Jerry Lawson has a new group and is back in a big way. With a collection of 20 new recordings, covering everything from the Dixie Chicks to Billy Joel, Lawson and his Talk of The Town singers take you to New York street corners where buskers pour their soul onto the pavement. Forget about annoying guitars, basses and drums. Tinker toys. Lawson and gang deliver only vocals in layers and textures so varied they match any instrument (in some instances imitating strings and horns). If you mix Isaac Hayes with Ray Charles and add a little Al Green for extra soul, you’ll get a good idea of Lawson’s sound. His cover of “Island’s in the Stream” would likely leave Dolly and Kenny dumbfounded, or at least impressed. The recordings are done in analog, lending the album a warm sound. No autotune here. Because of that, young listeners may find the songs imperfect; and, they are. But, the sound is genuine and heartfelt with every bend of the voice and turn of the tune. Give Lawson a listen. This soulful collection will be the album you never knew you always wanted. Paula Munoz

Tore Andersen comes alive with his latest country collection, Right Around the Corner. His musical influences range from Gram Parsons to the Beatles; with some critics likening his material to the Everly Brothers and Guy Clark. But, Andersen takes a slightly different direction in “Goodbye Blues.” That tune has beautiful melodies, with colorful lyrics, that create exquisite sounds reminiscent of Tom Petty. In fact, it’s the crème brûlée of the album. The title track, “Right Around The Corner” and “Little Red Car” are filled with descriptive phrases such as “...when the gypsy moon’s got a crooked grin” and “… don’t matter where she’s going, how fast or how far…” Raw talent shines in “Whenever I Fell In Love,” and is complimented by a sparse and straight arrangement. Indeed, this song is the one you want to hear over and over again, while cruising down a long country road. Hearing this music for the first time, it’s nearly impossible to tell that Anderson hails from Norway. And, it’s no surprise that his music is cut by artists from all over the world… it’s simply that good. Tom Laurie

It’s interesting to review an album that’s over 17 years old, and recorded in a famous Paris venue, only to realize that the date and place are inconsequential. We’re talking about songs that take you back to a time when your great-grandparents rocked out, performed by a unique vocalist/guitarist/ whistler and his band. The production is as good as it gets for a live recording, and the arrangements bring new life to antique melodies. Those familiar with Redbone’s voice will be impressed. His delivery is precise, notwithstanding his highly stylized “lazy mumble” approach. He’s the only singer known to have great enunciation while slurring virtually every syllable. His vocals are particularly appropriate in “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Love Letters in the Sand” and “Up a Lazy River” -- songs you probably heard back in the womb. Even the allegedly “stuffy” Parisians loved his show, enthusiastically rooting Redbone’s whistling in “The Whistling Colonel” and joyously receiving “Polly Wolly Doodle” with claps and toe-taps. If you’re looking for a collection of Americana songs (circa WW1 through the Depression era), then you’ll enjoy this album. Heck, if I’d been my great-grandmother, I’d hug him for making me feel young again. Jeanie Cunningham

GET A BAD REVIEW & GET YOUR FANS INVOLVED A “Tragic Tracks” review is unlike any other review. It’s a bad one --- always, all the time. It’s guaranteed. Why? Because we want to help acts motivate their fan base. We noticed that fans respond nicely to good reviews, but don’t react strongly. However, when a “bad review” is published, they become proactive and rage against the injustice. They send emails, tweet until their thumbs bleed and inundate blogs with mad ravings. All that communication creates a virtual tsunami of publicity. There’s really nothing like it. With “Tragic Tracks,” you can mobilize complacent fans and inject some life into them. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO We’re challenging all artists… and that means YOU. Send us your best song and let us deconstruct it; or, suggest a “hit song” that you’d like to see destroyed. In our first issue we took on “Yesterday” (by Lennon/McCartney), a song that has been covered more times than any tune ever written (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). And, true to form, fans took up arms and wanted to burn us at the stake. Some even got a little nasty. We like that. It means we’ve done our job. GET TRAGIC If you’d like to rile up your fan base, just let us know. “Tragic Tracks” will review one of your songs and use the harshest judgment possible. Imagine how upset your fans will get. We’ll do everything we can to make them outraged. It’s open season… for those brave enough to accept our challenge.

A video-window into gadgets, gear and the world of music creation.

Vaughan Penn: Top 40 Breakthrough Artist The Composers Corner covered the New Music Awards a couple years ago, and couldn’t get Vaughan Penn out of its mind. She is one of the strangest and most successful artists you’ll ever encounter. Trippy and spacey, but utterly compelling, Penn reveals how she writes her hits, and shows what makes her unique.

Click here to view the video.

Eric Martsolf: Musician and Star of Passions This hunk from the hit TV soap, Passions, is also an accomplished singer and drummer. He took the time to talk with The Composers Corner before an awards show; and this interview will give fans, and newcomers alike, a look into his heart and soul. In fact, you may be surprised by some of his answers.

Click here to view the video.

ASTRAL ALIENS EXSCAPE Aussie rockers, Astral Aliens scored an appearance on Gary Garver’s Exscape TV. Graver, who is the West Coast entertainment reporter for shock-jock Howard Stern, produces his own show in Los Angeles, CA, which is then broadcast over the internet to a worldwide fan base. The Aliens performed two hard-hitting songs and handled Garver’s mind-blowing interview in typical Alien style. To find out where their next invasion will take place, visit To get a shot of your own on Garver’s wild and crazy show, email

An Inspirational Journey

By: Bernard Baur


n The Road is taking a special excursion during this holiday season. We thought it would be nice to end the year on an uplifting note. As such, we are profiling three acts that have given back to their community in unique ways, or have overcome overwhelming challenges. We believe that their stories are not only inspirational, but that they also give all of us hope for the future.

LES JULY: Music for Healing


well-known artist, producer and songwriter, Les July is a busy guy. He has worked with scores of artists and written hundreds of tunes. But, his days aren’t spent simply creating music. He’s also a volunteer in the Music for Healing program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. That program invites artists to play live for patients and staff. July started volunteering about three years ago. He got turned on to the gig by Yogi, the tour guitarist for the Wallflowers and Jakob Dylan. “Yogi was so into the program, I thought I should try it,” he recalls. But, July soon found out the gig wasn’t so easy. “It can be tough to deal with,” he says. “They ask you not to get emotionally involved with the patients, but that’s easier said than done.” Even so, July hung in there, and became such a remarkable influence they made him a mentor for other artists. Some of his stories would break your heart, while others would cause it to soar. One in particular involved a young girl fighting brain cancer. “She was special,” he sighs,

“and we became close friends.” His music and constant encouragement kept her spirits up and, eventually, she won her battle and even wrote a book about her experience. Others were not as fortunate. But, according to July, most of the time it’s very rewarding. “You don’t have to be virtuoso,” he explains, “or have a great repertoire. However, you do have to read people and be empathetic.” He also likes

to spring surprises now and then, like when he brings his trumpet along with his acoustic guitar to the hospital. “At first the staff freaked out,” he laughs, “but I played a little Miles Davis with a mute on my horn and they melted.” July is so emphatic about Music for Healing, he produced a video for the program. Click here to view it at the Les July YouTube Channel: Music for Healing.

THE TOWELS: A Little Help from Your Friends


alled an eccentric composer, Noral Squizz is the leader of a band called The Towels. Quirky, trippy and totally cheeky, their music has been compared to The Traveling Wilburys on acid. One would think that such an odd fellow would have little grasp of reality. But Squizz is a complex and unique individual, who spends time working with developmentally disabled adults. In fact, he’s been doing it for 22 years. “I’ve learned more from them than I have from so-called ‘normal’ people,” he claims. “They taught me to live in the moment, and not take life so seriously.” Squizz’s job requires him to teach these folks work skills. “It takes a lot of patience,” he says, “and sometimes it can get downright silly. But,” he laughs with a wink and

a nod, “it’s also taught me how to deal with artists and musicians.” Indeed, Squizz maintains that his work often inspires his art. “It allows me to be madcap and freewheeling with my expressions. I like creating music that makes people smile, as they swoon and sway. “ He even produced a notable holiday single called “Godzilla Christmas.” In it, Godzilla terrorizes holiday revelers in hilarious ways. In fact, the song garnered such praise it became a holiday staple on several radio stations. But most of all, Squizz via The Towels, presents an irreverent yet poignant perspective on the human condition. “Sometimes life just doesn’t make any sense,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it.” Live for the day and laugh every day

is his motto. “You know, my patients face challenges most of us can’t even imagine,” he notes. “But, that doesn’t stop them from enjoying life. They find joy in the little things and are proud of small victories. I think we can all learn something from that approach.” To find out more about The Towels and Mr. Squizz, you can go to their websites at or

FEISTY PIRANHAS: The Ultimate Challenge


unk bands have often been called tone deaf. It’s almost a badge of honor. But how about a band led by a hearing impaired singer? The Feisty Piranhas are that band. Born with a condition called hemifacial microsomia, Peter Alex Lust has 100% hearing loss on his right side and 50% on his left. Yet, he writes beautiful songs, plays guitar like a virtuoso and is the lead singer of the band. In fact, according to Pete (as his friends call him), “I don’t feel there is a disadvantage. Music just comes naturally to me.” His father, Peter Sr., noticed his son was special early on. “He always moved to music, and I tried to introduce him to as much of it as possible.” However, as a drummer he suspected that his son was probably re-

acting to the vibrations of the music. But, it soon became clear that it was much more than that. “I got him a guitar to see what he would do,” Peter Sr. recalls. Shockingly, little Pete learned to play it… and not just the simple stuff. He was really good. In fact, by the time he was 9 years old, he was writing songs and jamming with dad. Now, both father and son are in the same band. (How punk is that?) “That part is a little strange,” Peter Sr. reports. “In a normal relationship, the father directs his child. But in this band, it’s a humbling experience, because my son comes up with all the ideas and runs the show.” And quite a show it is. The Feisty Piranhas do things their way – even if it means breaking all the rules. They refuse record deals, preferring to do everything themselves. And,

that singular DIY approach has served them well. They’ve played the Warp Tour, opened for numerous national acts, including the Misfits, received critical acclaim and independently released several CDs and DVDs, including their latest Live in SoCal. To learn more about this amazing act, visit thefeistypiranhas. com and/or



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