Now here’s a topic for an argument... I mean everybody "needs" money. But in my honest opinion if you’re all about the Benjamin’s, this is not the career path for you. Any musician will tell you this is a difficult career to be in let alone to live off of. There's no retirement plan or huge sums of money that come in from making music (well at least not in todays market). Now don’t get me wrong there are many musicians making a living from music here in Hawaii and they have been doing so for many years. But ask almost any one of these musicians and they will tell you it all started with the passion of making music. Not the money.
Personally I learned a long time ago that if I focus on the money and not the art itself, it does not work out for me. I need to focus on the enjoyment of making music and the quality of what I’m doing to feel fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong I understand the value of my time its just not why I do what I do.
In the dictionary passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. Can we as musicians control our passion to make music? Yet another statement for an argument! I’ve tried over the years to bow out gracefully from making music but it has always returned. Because of the money? Absolutely not! Because making music is a part of who I am, it’s in my blood, it’s in my children’s blood. Music has been there for me during the best and worst times of my life. Good, bad, happy or sad music has always been my release.
You’ve heard it before “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. Well it’s true. Make music because you are passionate about it. Not because you want to sign autographs or roll around in money (which I have yet to witness first hand). If you’re doing what you love to do and you are truly pouring your heart and soul into it, it will work itself out. If you’re chasing the money it’s bound to be an endless sea of frustration because you are not doing it for the right reasons. Chase your passion and you will feel nothing but happiness. Because passion IS better than money.
Whether you're the weekend warrior or the full time musician Uncle Sam probably knows you exist! There’s a quote that says only two things in life are certain, death and taxes!!😩😁 So today I’d like to give you a brief outline on taking care of your business so you can continue to make music for years to come.
First off, if you're earning money from your music business there's no getting around having to pay taxes. If you're a “legit” business you need a GE license. Not the most glamorous part of being in the music business however it is absolutely necessary. Head down to your local state tax office today and get your GE license now if you plan to take your music playing to the next level (Or earn any money). All reputable clients will require you to have a GE License and/or Federal Tax ID in order to hire you.
Second, pay your taxes! That's right. In 2005 Ronald Isley founder and leader of the Isley Bothers was convicted on 5 counts of tax evasion serving 3 years and 1 month (maximum sentence could have been 26 years) in a Federal Correctional Institution and instructed to pay $3.1 million to the IRS. Lauryn Hill spent 3 months in jail and 3 months on house arrest for tax evasion on monies earned between 2005-2007. And she was still required to pay back her unpaid taxes (plus tax). There’s no evading Uncle Sam. It will catch up with you eventually. The best advice is to learn to put money on the side to pay your taxes. Taxes can be a side blinder if you're earning a nice amount of money from playing music. There are also more than just your GE taxes so learn what taxes you have to pay and set money aside to pay Uncle Sam!
Third, learn how to save all your receipts. If there's any word you want to have in your vocabulary more than taxes, its deductions! It's costing you money to get to your gigs, to buy equipment for your gigs and even to prepare for your gigs. So save your receipts! Even if you have to throw them in an extra empty shoe box in your house, or a file folder in a drawer, just save your receipts! You'll thank yourself (and me) for that simple tip when its tax time.
Now obviously there is much more to running a music business but this is a good first step in the right direction. I'm surprised at how many musicians don't know the basics. If you’re not sure about the music business or are in need of guidance, call someone to ask questions. You probably already know a musician who's business savvy and is willing to help you out!
For most musicians who decide to make music a career, we know the struggle of building a consistent income for ourselves and our family is a very tough task. Some weeks you have money to burn and the next month you’re struggling. It’s hard to know where to start, as most artists experience difficulty going from “Joe” to “Pro”. Maybe some don’t expect the work load or the hectic schedule that comes with being in a successful performing band. Not all musicians can make the Billboard charts or tour sold out shows all over the world playing their own original music. Although that is the dream, it is a harsh reality out there for some of us musicians who see that path as the only one in the music business.
First, let’s start with the idea of NOT keeping all your eggs in one basket. As much as we all love performing, there isn’t room for all of us to gig all the time. Hoping that a posh lounge gig is gonna be your bread and butter is the for sure way to stay in the “weekend warrior” category. What happens when that gig falls out or the establishment goes out of business? YOU go out of business. Diversification of your capabilities is my answer to you all wanting to make it in this industry. Think outside the Stage and ask yourself: What jobs are there behind the scenes of any event/gig? Event planner, sound/lighting technicians, or just a general laborer carrying speakers. Another perspective we could look at is what jobs are there behind creating and assisting other musicians, professional or aspiring? Private teachers, instrument repair or even sales. Even if some of the jobs described doesn’t keep your instrument in your hand at least you are still tied into the industry you LOVE. There is a lot to learn that can help you become a better performing musician by exploring these other areas of the business. The proper mentality is to stay as busy as you can within the industry even if the gigs you land aren’t on a stage. It can be feast or famine in this industry and I choose to eat!
When I first got into music, after a year of playing I was bugging my local stores to hire me as an employee. About two years into playing the guitar I had improved my chops and became quite the gearhead, I finally got hired as help at a local music shop. I did that during the week and gigged on the weekends. I also got into some repair and setup work while working at the music shop. It’s how I saved up money to go to music school in California. While in Los Angeles, one of my friends had a similarly brilliant idea. He attended music school, worked at Guitar Center, while also sharpening his skills as a Luthier (guitar builder/repair technician). He knew it was important to be diverse, but he had the right mind to keep it within the music industry. This way you are able to explore your passion and develop enthusiasm for other areas related to being a musician. He ended up going on world tours with famous Rock Stars, setting up guitars. From there he got into stage work and setting up the sound equipment. He eventually opened for the main act a bunch of times while out on tour! Say, “YES!” to those opportunities that are presented and you never know what can develop.
Being successful in this industry aligns with the mindset of successful people across all fields. Number one your work ethic will get you far. Your willingness to dive right in and learn on the job if necessary. Number two, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. We wanna drink from many wells, so when one is dry we have other wells to choose from which will ultimately keep us going in this free-lance based industry. Finally, we want to cultivate our skills and refine them so when we are presented with opportunities we can go after them with confidence knowing that the work has been put in. As the saying goes, “Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.” And never forget why you are in the music industry, because you LOVE it! Keep the passion alive!
How many times have you heard that line at a gig?
Now drummers please sit down as I make this statement (no pun intended). Not all gigs require angry, full force, finger bleeding, stress relieving pounding of your drums haha! Of course the general public seems to think that’s why you’re a drummer in the first place :)
Being a drummer is never easy especially in a controlled environment. As soon as there are any issues with the volume of a band, it's typically the drummer who gets the “can you play softer?” request. Or even the dirty looks from the crowd..
Now you have the option to take off your shirt and place it over your drums to bring down the volume and perhaps for some gigs this may be the perfect choice. However, I’d like to give you a few other options to tame the volume of your drums in case you haven’t hit the gym in the past 24 hours. Or 24 years..
The first product I’d recommend and I personally keep on hand is the Remo RemO’s Tone Control Rings. I find these to be quick, simple and easy as I can place them on the drum head and begin playing immediately. These seem to work best “indoors” as I have had them fly away on the beach during our outdoor events (this may have been due to positioning of the stage). The idea behind this product is to reduce the “ring” or overtones in your toms.
The second product I’d recommend is the Pro Mark Hot Rods. These are basically a drum stick made up of mini rods (or dowels) wrapped together which will allow you to perform as usual with less volume than your traditional drumstick. These have worked well for indoor events and up close intimate settings.
Now if either of these products do not fit into your budget (although they should), there is always the traditional duck tape. Which I do NOT recommend unless you’re in an emergency or without the above recommended products. For the record, I have been in numerous emergency situations having to use duct tape more times than I can remember.🙈
I hope this helps you drummers in your future performances and to avoid being stared down when you’re banging on those drums too loud!
You can find these recommended products and so much more at Big Island Guitars and Music Supply in Hilo or visit www.bigislandguitars.com.
Hey gang! I'd like to share a little insight with you. When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers told us that life was about solving problems. It took many years, full of trials and tribulations for me to realize how true her statement was.
So how does this relate to music? As a musician we are faced with many issues. One of the disfavor-able issues with playing live is either not being able to hear yourself well or not being able to hear yourself the way you’re used to. I have yet to be in a situation where I could not hear my bass at all, but there's always a first for everything lol! I've learned that being proactive with your stage amp can go a long ways.
First off, if you’re using the DI built into the amp, it will usually have a way to select whether you want the DI to be pre or post eq. Since my signal is always going to the house (PA system mains) and monitors, my amp serves as my own personal monitor. You want to have the DI set to "pre" as this will allow your signal to be taken before the eq section, allowing you to make adjustments to your amp without affecting the FOH (front of house) and/or monitors. If the soundman plugs your bass into a DI box then runs a cable out and into your amp input, you will be in "pre" mode, as your signal is taken before the input of your amp.
Second, if your amp is not positioned properly you won’t be able to hear an accurate reproduction of your bass, which could cause potential problems. A gig saver for me has been a sturdy, foldable, and lightweight stand I purchased from Home Depot. This allows me to prop the 2x10 or 4x10 cab around 30" off the floor. At that height I can totally hear everything much better as opposed to on the floor where the sound is just blowing past your legs. It's incredibly useful when having to stand very close to your amp. It also isolates the cabinet from the floor which is a good thing if playing on a wooden stage which can sometimes act like a giant subwoofer and send vibrations up through the mic stands potentially causing feedback. If I’m in a really cramped situation with a combo amp, I'll try to "monitor style" the amp. As long as you have something sturdy to support the amp from falling back, you can tilt the amp back to your desired angle.
It's also a good idea to run these ideas over with your soundman first to make sure everything's cool. He or she will eventually be thankful for this as it makes their job easier.
It's all about being proactive!
My name is Shirnel Enos Soong and I am the female lead vocalist of Beyond Paradise. If I had to describe my vocal abilities I'd say my range and sound is between Rihanna and Gwen Stefani (more of Rihanna tripping over Gwen Stefani). I mean, I can hold a note or two, but I lack the vocal range to powerhouse three octaves like Christina Aguilera or sing consistently on pitch like Beyoncé. Growing up I always wished one day I could sing just like Celine Dion. For such a tiny framed woman she sure had a strong voice.
As a singer I’ve had my ups and downs. Growing up I entered local competitions, and saw every win as a self esteem booster. But there have been times where I haven’t excelled musically. I remember spending two nights of recording an original single (it's up on iTunes should you want to purchase it lol) to only find that the producer wasted hours trying to find ANYTHING worth keeping! And this was a song that I wrote and created! Talk about a downer. But despite my past of wanting to be a great singer, I’ve learned to embrace the voice that I was given.
I've learned to love my non-trained style of singing because making something “my own” comes naturally to me….I can't hit the note? No problem! Why struggle to perfect something I'll never perfect? I'll just do an original run and make it “my own” lol. And I have a band that encourages me to be me! After all, Beyond Paradise found my tone to suit their male singer/keyboard player and later offered me a spot to sing lead.
And what's not to like about what I have? I get to perform for large companies and events with a group of talented musicians who make me feel like I'm the world’s most talented singer...even if it's for a few hours at a time. I get to have a reason for buying ridiculous amounts of makeup and accessories and play dress up a few weekends a month. And who doesn’t enjoy the paycheck that comes along with doing something I love to do. I’ve also had the opportunity to release original music for everyone around the world to hear.
I was thinking about Rihanna and Gwen Stefani and often wondered why their voices became so famous. I mean, they can hold a note or two, but their range isn’t anything special. And then it hit me...they embraced what they had and made it their own! They became comfortable in the way that they sing, which makes them confident as well. Their originality in any cover song they sing shows their individual uniqueness. You’d know it was Rihanna or Gwen if their song came out on the radio. This is what makes their voices interesting, intriguing, and admired. And so what if my voice will never sing a C in three octaves? If one day my voice came on the radio and you recognized that it was me, well then I would be just fine with that! So embrace the voice you’ve been given. You never know where it will take you!
I am a musician. I am a lover of music. The simple fact that I’m blessed to do this professionally still blows my mind. The art of stringing notes together to create a perfectly balanced melody is amazing to me. I have invested countless hours of my time into the art that we call music. It’s more than a hobby. It’s more than a past time. It’s more than just a way to make money. It’s a passion. It’s my first love. I am a musician.
I am also a performer. I love to engage. I express my soul through the way I perform. The energy that I exude on stage is to be enjoyed by the audience. You can quote me on this (if you’d like), but I believe that anybody can stand on stage and sing. It’s easy to stand and play your instrument like a robot. But an audience won’t connect with that. They might sit there and listen and maybe occasionally clap for you, but as a performer you have to want more for your performance.
Let’s try this. Close your eyes and envision your favorite musician. What draws you to them? What makes you keep watching videos of them? What makes them attractive to you in the sense that they are your favorite artist? I doubt that your vision has them standing still. I can assure you that they aren’t shy, or unconfident.
I wouldn’t consider myself the Michael Jackson of stage performers and I’m not trying to teach a master class on performing on stage. But I do have a few tips that I’ve learned throughout the years that will hopefully help you improve your stage presence.
The best way to start your stage presence journey is to emulate your favorite artist. My favorite artist is Bruno mars. Not just because he has Hawaii ties, but because of his musicality and stage presence. He exudes a confidence while he’s on stage that you can’t help but admire. From his dance moves to his attitude, he’s the total package when it comes to stage presence. I like to watch him and try to use his dance moves. My advice to you would be to watch your favorite performers and take a few things that you like from their show. Incorporate it into your performance. You will be an unstoppable force on stage.
2. Be confident
Just as Bruno Mars exudes confidence, so should you on stage. Be exciting. Let your personality come out. Find someone in the audience and look at them. Get them to engage. Talk to them. Be personable. If you seem nervous or shy it will show. The audience will pick that out easily. So own the stage.
There was one particular time where an audience member came up to me after our gig. She talked about how great we sounded and how she loved our stage presence. But she said that we lacked one thing. Connection. She talked about how I didn’t make eye contact with her and how she didn’t feel connected to us personally. Now as awkward as it was, she was correct. Connect with your audience. Smile. Give eye contact. Be as personable as you can while you’re onstage.
Most importantly, be yourself. Don’t be afraid to go out there and own it.
So you’ve planned, rehearsed, prepared and are now ready for the gig! Here a few tips that will ensure a successful performance.
1. Check Your Gear.
Every musician should have a checklist or some sort of gear checking ritual to ensure you have all necessary pieces of equipment before a gig. Check to make sure you have your guitar, power cables, drum sticks, keyboard stand, iPad, Mics, etc. And check your band member’s gear too!
2. Talk To Your Sound Man.
We’ve all seen those “don’t piss off the sound man” t-shirts. So communicate with the company who will be providing the sound for your gig ahead of time. Never assume they will provide specific gear for you or the equipment you need will somehow magically appear at the gig. Make contact and discuss your band or individual needs ahead of time. Trust me this will cut down a lot of stress before and during your gig allowing your sound man to do what he does best, Make you sound great!
3. Know Your Crowd.
This is VERY important. You do not want to show up at the Mother's Day “Dinner” event playing Metallica. Seems self explanatory
4. Be On Time!
This should probably be number one on this list! Being hired as a musician is like being hired as an employee for a company. If you’re scheduled to perform at 6pm don’t arrive at 6pm. Give yourself ample time anticipating delays (like unexpected car trouble) so you arrive on time. Arriving early at a gig is always better than arriving late. Plus this will give you time to set up your gear and to get comfortable in your environment!
5. Be Flexible.
Gigs never go as planned so you need to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you’ll be asked to play longer or you won’t have enough time to play the one song you’ve been rehearsing for weeks. Understand the importance of being flexible. This will go further than you think the next time someone is considering hiring your band.
Now get out there and have a great gig!
Now that you’ve identified your goals and are actively pursuing them, it is now time to get out there and make some music! Well, almost time. Now you need to rehearse! Here are 3 quick tips for a successful rehearsal.
1. Plan Ahead
Before scheduling a rehearsal you need to plan ahead. All band members need to know what they will be doing at rehearsal and what is expected of each member. If you plan to learn 2-3 songs, send these songs to all of your band members ahead of time so they can know their individual parts and begin preparing. (We will be providing information on how to learn a lot of songs at once in an upcoming blog).
2. Do Your Homework!
Now obviously Tip #2 is highly dependent on Tip #1. Once you have been provided with the necessary materials for your next rehearsal, start doing your homework! Learn your parts and practice them on your own time before arriving at rehearsal. This will ease rehearsal for all band members allowing you to have a successful rehearsal.
Once you have planned and prepared, it is now time to execute! Rehearsal should be exactly that. Rehearsal. You don’t want to sit around waiting for the other band members to learn their parts nor do they wish to sit around waiting for you. So learn your parts and execute them during your time together!
What you practice in private you will be rewarded for in public – Tony Robbins
Here’s to a successful rehearsal!
July 4th 2014, my family and I went to the sunnier side of the big island for a weekend getaway in Waikoloa. (As we had done so many times before over the years) However, this time was a little different. I brought along what you see in the picture above, a press release and some newly printed business cards (and a little bit of motivation). As the sun scorched my bald head wearing my Hurley surf shorts and Quiksilver slippers, I said to my wife, “we’re going to play at the Waikoloa Bowl for Fourth of July”. She looked at me like I was crazy as she’s done many times before only to remind me that we were not here “to promote” rather to enjoy the family time. (Thank you to my wife for putting up with this music thing for the past 20 years). Fast forward to one year later and here we are performing on stage at the Waikoloa Bowl for their Annual Fourth of July Event.
The moral of the story? It’s consistency. As a band we never knew we’d actually get hired to play at the Waikoloa Bowl’s Fourth of July event. But that never stopped us. We kept on grinding week after week as if we were.
Over the years, I have met many extremely talented musicians and artists who have just not been consistent in their musical career. And in my opinion, this is what has destroyed the careers of many local artists (amongst other things).
Now I’ve heard the complaint about how local radio plays the same songs and the same artists over and over (I know there’s a Hawaii meme out there for that). But let’s be realistic for a moment. Are those artists consistently releasing music year after year? So why are you shocked that radio keeps playing the same artists and their music?
In our first blog we helped you identify your musical goal. That’s only the first step. Now that you have identified your goal, you need to consistently pursue it! Will there be times you want to give up? Yes. Will it seem like you are ready to break through and then everything falls apart? Yes. Will people take advantage of you? YES! Those are the times you have to keep going!
Excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again - Sean Carter (Also known as Jay Z)
As a band, Beyond Paradise has experienced some of the most devastating moments since we began. When we first started the band we had no lead singer and no bass player! We kept moving forward. Then we found a singer and he turned us down to be in another band. And? We kept moving forward.
Don’t give up because you’ve had a setback. Defeat is not failure. Keep pushing forward. Keep rehearsing. Keep searching. Just be consistent. This is how you will achieve the musical goals and career you are after.
Write down your goals and look at them every day. Check back in a year and ask yourself, am I still pursuing what I said I would pursue last year? Did I write that song? Did I record that album? Am I where I want to be? If the answer is no, then it’s time to reevaluate your goals. Try again. But whatever you do, DON’T give up.
So you decided to enter the glamorous world of playing music. Well before we get into the how to's and what to do's, in my honest opinions and what has worked for us as individuals, we need to start at the beginning. And that is, "What Is Your Musical Goal?"
When I started playing the ukulele at age 12 I was fascinated by the quick string plucking fingers of Kelly Boy Delima on his ukulele which led to me begging my parents for a similar 6-string Kamaka ukulele (which till this day I still have). I sat in front of the television pressing record (and stop during commercials) on my Betamax VCR for every episode of KHNL's “Hot Hawaiian Nights” closely watching and mimicking every drumroll from Salaam Tillman of the Manao Company as he effortlessly played that beautifully sounding red drum set.
While these individuals and artists inspired and created my desire to play music, I had no clue what my musical goal was at that time. I had to ask myself, what do I want from my musical career?
So ask yourself, what do YOU want?
Do you want to perform at family parties every weekend? Do you want to be a solo performer at a restaurant? Do you want to be in a band? Write and perform your own music? Record an album from the comfort of your own home? Or do you want to perform at the Waikiki Shell wiping the sweat off your brow and signing autographs alongside those artists you have been looking up to? Sounds overwhelming? Well it can be. And trust me that feeling amongst many other feelings will be magnified along your journey if you do not know what it is YOU want.
I get a lot of questions from up and coming artists about what to do and how to do it but I don’t think they really have a musical direction. Most young artists just want to be and sound like their favorite artists because they love those artists. And that’s great. So did I!
There are many inspiring local artists throughout Hawaii. But what makes those artists great? What are their strengths? Fiji is a great singer and solo performer who commands the stage with his powerhouse voice. Jake Shimabukuro is an exceptional ukulele player that can tell a story through his instrumental melodies. Ekolu is best known for their original music and energetic crowd pleasing live performances. Are any of those your strengths? Are they doing exactly what it is YOU wish to be doing? Knowing what your personal strengths are can help you in better understanding and clarifying your ultimate musical goals.
Of course your journey in music will take you in various directions (as did mine) and it is a good idea to know a little bit of everything. Jack-of-all-trades masters of none sort of approach I suppose. Well hopefully master of at least one. Most people “know” I am a drummer. But that is not all that I “know” how to do. And honestly it is NOT my strength (I’ll get to that in a different blog). It really helps to know what your personal strengths are and what your musical goal is if you want to make music more than just a hobby and a long-term career.
So where do you start? Write down 5 specific things you want out of your musical career. What are your musical goals based on this list? What do you see as YOUR strengths? What are you really the best at?
This will help you take the first step in your musical journey. And it'll surely simplify the rest of the steps to follow!
Now get out there and pursue your musical goals!
So let me first start off by introducing myself. My name is Ace Loughmiller and I am currently the bandleader and drummer of Hawaii's Premier Top 40 Band "Beyond Paradise". I'm also the owner of a recording studio and record label here on the Big Island that I've operated for over 15 years recording and producing numerous artists in Hawaii.
I have been professionally playing music (which means I have been getting paid to do it) for the past 20 years here. While I have performed in every situation imaginable including bar gigs, restaurants, and family luaus, all the way up to concerts, corporate and exclusive private events, I am sure I have not done it all yet. However, I can tell you I have experienced every human emotion possible throughout this 20-year musical journey and feel ready to pass what knowledge I have gained through these musical experiences down to the next generation.
And by the way, the end of my journey is nowhere in sight :)
I'd been tossing the idea of sharing my own experiences and knowledge around for sometime but was not really sure how to do so (Partly in due to the limited time in my life already). I originally thought of developing a podcast in which I could share my information through spoken word but quickly realized that would take too much of my time and the time of those who will be involved in this ongoing music blog (there will be some very special guests).
So after some discussion with the band members of Beyond Paradise and very limited to no World Wide Web research (haha!), we decided to birth the Hawaii Music Blog! Hawaii is a very specialized market in comparison to the world out there and I feel this information will be helpful for those musicians growing up and living here in Hawaii. However, I'm sure it will apply to much more than just music in general, and the average local musician.
Our intention is to be consistent in sharing valuable, practical and educational information from our own real life experiences within this blog utilizing the advanced technologies available to us. We invite you to be a part of it and hope you enjoy it and share it with those you feel may benefit from the information provided.
It's been a 20-year adventure so far and I look forward to bringing you along as we embark on a new journey together. It’s going to be both exciting and entertaining I’m sure. If you have any questions or topics you would like to be covered, subscribe using your email or comment on our blog posts and we will try our best to cover all your requested topics.
Stay tuned for our first blog tomorrow at 11am!
Aloha everyone! We are excited to announce our brand new bi-weekly HAWAII MUSIC BLOG! We invite you to subscribe and follow us as we share practical, educational and valuable musical information from our own experiences and expertise. We will be releasing blogs through our website every other Monday at 11am beginning next week! Subscribe at www.beyondparadisetheband.com