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Getting Your Big Break; Fundamental Challenges Facing Artists Today

Posted on November 3, 2015 by Bernard Porter

Over the last three decades, I’ve enjoyed an immensely fulfilling career in the music industry. The greatest reward my team and I have received has been through mentoring some of the world’s most recognized stars as well as people who are just passionate about being the best artist they can possibly be.Getting Your Big Break; Fundamental Challenges Facing Artists Today

But now there’s a big problem in our industry that most artists don’t even recognize. No doubt, there are unprecedented opportunities to get exposure through various online channels and the popularity of TV talent shows have stoked the public’s interest in emerging artists. The problem is, even if an artist gets some initial exposure, there are few good resources to help them continue to develop their craft and create sustained, fulfilling careers.  The way I see it, there are at least two fundamental issues that need to be addressed. One is practical. The other is financial.

At our brick-and-mortar institute, PCG Nashville, we often meet artists who have completed an associate or bachelor in music or are considering a degree program. I’m always dismayed at the lack of practical, real-world training that they received (or would be receiving) from these programs. The problem stems from faculty who have been removed from the day-to-day music scene for years if not decades. Additionally, because of the time it takes publish textbooks, the curricula that rely on these texts often reflect what was happening in the industry years ago. In essence, these students are learning music history…not helpful if you’re trying to make it in today’s music industry.

The second problem is financial and compounds the issues found at traditional music programs at the associate and bachelor degree levels. Like most higher education programs these days, the annual tuitions plus fees associated with room and board are tremendous and only growing. So much so, that even if these programs are within financial reach of the artist, it certainly calls into question the return on their investment. With that in mind, we created PCG Online, an online destination where artists can get anytime, anywhere access to the same lessons that are taught to professional artists. These lessons are created and delivered by a team of instructors that I hand-picked from the network of trusted and talented individuals I’ve worked with for many years. We’ve come together to create the most effective tools that any artist can put to use immediately and continue to use throughout their career. And, we’ve put them on a cutting-edge online platform that makes it easy to learn whenever and from wherever they’re connected.

I say this all the time, but I think it’s worth repeating…Our vision is to ensure that every artist who is willing to work hard and invest in their craft will be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve their goals as an artist. That is, in essence, why we developed PCG Online. Check us out at www.PCG24-7.com.

Time Sensitive Discount- If you are interested in plugging into this program, you can receive a 30% discount when you enroll by 11/18/2015 (midnight eastern time).  To receive the discounted rate, input the code TALENT30 when you enroll at www.PCG24-7.com.

About the Author

Bernard Porter is President and founder of PCG Companies.

Music Artist Spotlight- Maddy Wanke

Posted on October 12, 2015 by admin

What does winning the 2015 Ohio Dream Night Talent Search competition mean to you?Music Artist Spotlight- Maddy Wanke

It is truly an honor to win this competition. This was such an amazing experience, and I am so proud to be able to call myself the winner of this competition. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Ever since I was a young child I have been singing. I remember still being in a booster seat when I was belting out ‘Picture’ by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. I have always been attracted to music and the way it can touch other people.

What surprises have you encountered in pursuing your music career?

Each time I compete in singing competitions, I am always amazed by the wonderful people I meet. As for surprises, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the incredibly talented performers that I encounter at each and every competition. 

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

As a fourteen year old girl, it is difficult when searching for songs that are appropriate for my age and that I can relate to. I need to put extra time into song choice, but it’s always worth it when I find a song I have a connection with.

Tell us about your most memorable performances.

I think the most memorable performance was my first performance. I was five years old, and I sang in the school talent show. I sang a song called ‘Maybe’ from my favorite movie at the time, Annie. I was still learning how to read, so my mom had to make picture cue cards for me to learn the lyrics. I brought my stuffed animal on stage with me, Carmel. Thankfully, I remembered all of the words despite my nervousness.

Anything else you want to share?

I truly appreciate the opportunity this competition has given me. I met a lot of fantastic people. I hope to see them all again in the future!

You can check out Maddy at http://www.talentwatch.com/artist/profile/maddy-wanke

The Producer’s Chair- Invengo Productions

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Joshua Rumer

Before we talk about what we look for in an artist, we wanted to let you know how excited we are to launch the ‘Zero to Hero’ Music CompetitionThe Producer's Chair- Invengo Productions on TalentWatch. There’s one thing we can guarantee to the winning artist… This will be a career changing experience. It’s more than receiving a Demo Package worth $12,000. It’s about the emotional support and intangibles we provide. For every other artist who enrolls in this competition, we will provide you with feedback to help you as you move forward developing as an artist.

As far as what we look for in an artist, the first thing that sticks out in our selection process is whether the one claiming to be an artist is actually an artist. We define that as someone that has a definitive message, the honest delivery of that message and the skills to back it up. So many musicians are out there just singing or just playing, but their heart and soul do not seem to be ‘in it’. There is an honesty factor missing in a great deal of performers and this is something that is the most difficult to teach.  We can teach someone to be a better performer or player but you cannot teach them to feel.

Secondly, we look for the drive in an artist. We want to be certain that there is a heart in that chest of theirs that is just aching to burst out in a blaze of fire. Drive can be directed into a great deal of aspects of one’s career, but the most important is the understanding that they need this. It is impossible for them to live without being a career artist every day of their life. We do not select artists that want it for the fame or the money. The ‘idol types’ (we call them) do not really understand the concept of hard work because they have never really associated that with their craft. Often times the ‘idol’ mindset prevents them from putting forth the effort to become a career artist. It was Thomas Edison who once said “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I have a medical degree and I have lived in a van down by the river and ate from a pizza shop dumpster to stay in the game. That was a choice and it was probably one of the best moves I have ever made.

Lastly, we look for the following attributes in an artist- loyalty, honesty and dedication.

With loyalty we know we can invest a great deal of time into an artist and have a family style relationship with them.  Assisting someone closer to their goals makes us really happy and when they reciprocate that with a loyalty to our brand we will work for them indefinitely.

Honesty is crucial in working with someone because lines of communication need to be wide open and very uninhibited. This makes for smooth operations, game planning and just an overall sense of common ground. Without honesty someone is just pulling the brake line on the train.

Dedication is necessary for us to agree to be in someone’s corner for the long haul. If we are dedicating hundreds of hours developing and producing their product then it is only fair that they back up that time and creative investment in the form of a ‘can do’ and ‘will do’ attitude. Sometimes artists go through some sticky times and we understand and appreciate that. However, as a professional your dedication will enable you to break through those difficult times in order to persevere.

Joshua Rumer, affectionately called ‘The Captain,’ is the CEO and Producer of Invengo Productions.

Music Artist Spotlight- Kaitlyn Renae

Posted on September 21, 2015 by admin

What does winning the 2015 Oklahoma Dream Night Talent Search competition mean to you?Music Artist Spotlight- Kaitlyn Renae

Winning the Oklahoma Dream Night Talent Search means so much to me. It was a true honour to work with Wendy Kay and Debbie Lewin. I learned so much, and it was a dream come true to win. I am very passionate about going into the music industry, so this is one step closer to making that a reality.

What inspired you to become a musician?

When I was about 3 years old, I would sit on my mom’s lap while my two sisters and brother would be taking their piano lesson. My piano teacher told me that I would start singing and so they would stop to listen to me. She told me right before she passed away when I was in 7th grade that God has given me a gift and that I cannot give up until I reach the top. I promised her I wouldn’t give up. She has inspired me since I was 4, when I started piano lessons, to pursue a music career.

What surprises have you encountered in pursuing your music career?

I think a great surprise I have encountered in my music career is the many opportunities that have been arising for over a year now. It is truly a blessing.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

One challenge that I am still facing today is getting noticed in my small town in Oklahoma. Although I love my town, it is very hard to get publicity. Possibly in the next year or so, I hope to move to a city like Nashville and also finish my college there.

What’s your process for writing lyrics and where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

When I write a song, I always start with what message I am trying to portray. I then come up with the music and the lyrics little by little. My songs are inspired by something I have gone through or am going through. I like to express how I am feeling through my music and lyrics.

Tell us about your most memorable performances.

I have quite a few memorable performances. I will never forget the time that I sang at a big rodeo. Also, I had the opportunity to sing at a Christmas festival. That was an experience I will never forget. Also, I will never forget performing in the Oklahoma Dream Night for two years.

Have you shared the stage with anyone we would know?

I had the opportunity to open for Gary Morris and Ty Herndon.

Anything else you want to share?

I just want to thank everyone who supports me in my music career. TalentWatch is a great way for you to get out and perform. I learned so much and grew as an artist by participating in Oklahoma Dream Night Talent Search. I am so blessed and honoured to have won this year. I am humbled to have been a part of this great competition. I think everyone who wants to make a career in singing should definitely give it a try. You will learn so much!

You can check out Kaitlyn at https://www.talentwatch.com/artist/profile/kaitlynrenaeofficial

Music Artist Spotlight- Cameron Molloy

Posted on September 14, 2015 by admin

Music Artist Spotlight- Cameron Molloy

What does winning the 2015 New Brunswick Dream Night Talent Search competition mean to you?

I entered the competition because it’s a great opportunity for an artist to get exposure. It’s a well-run competition and you get to perform on a big stage when the judges think you’re ready. There was a lot of amazing talent at this competition from the USA and Canada. I found that being selected as the overall winner was surreal; I didn’t expect it at all. I just do my thing, listen to the advice of the judges and enjoy the performances. I think the best part of competition isn’t just the winning; it’s also the contacts, exposure and the friends that you make during the process.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Singing and playing guitar was just something I always wanted to do. I’ve been singing my whole life, started learning guitar at 7 years old and I wrote my first song at 8. Music has always been a part of my family. They took me to many folk festivals and we were always listening to many different styles of music on trips and at home. I think seeing other artists, who are amazing at what they do, inspires me in many ways.

What surprises have you encountered in pursuing your music career?

I was surprised to make it on to the hit TV show YTV the Next Star as a top 9 finalist out of 7000 auditions. To have Disney producers checking me out online was cool. I was surprised and honoured to be asked to be part of an album for the International Christmas Child Charity. I’m constantly surprised at the amount of support my first EP gets all over the world. I was surprised when I heard some of my songs on the Radio and when I started getting messages from friends that they heard me on the radio. Of course, winning the Dream Night Competition was also a surprise because there were so many amazing artists competing.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

I think my biggest challenge at this moment is writing songs for a full album. I’m halfway there, so stay tuned to my social media for upcoming announcements.

What’s your process for writing lyrics and where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

I get lyric ideas everywhere. I hear something catchy or cool and I type it into my iPhone. I’m always thinking about melodies and riffs. Sometimes I start with a melody and the words come later and sometimes I start with the words and then create the melody.  There’s also a place in Sherbrooke Village Nova Scotia that I find to be really inspiring. It’s an old broken dock overlooking the water. It’s very peaceful and a great place to write. I actually wrote my song “Sacred Ground” that I sang in the Finals of the Dream Night Competition on that dock.

Tell us about your most memorable performances.

My most memorable performance has to be playing this summer on the Main Stage at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival for a crowd of 10,000+ people. My parents have been going to this festival for years. It was a dream and a goal of mine to play on the Main Stage and it happened this summer. Another memorable performance was being on YTV The Next Star. I got to see how television shows work, made some great friends and a lot of people started following me. Other memorable shows include; singing a tribute to Stomping Tom at a Charity Hockey Heroes weekend at the Casino NB, being a part of Jeff’s Musical Car (youtube) and Jeff’s Musical Couch (Rogers TV).

Have you shared the stage with anyone we would know?

I performed a Christmas show in Cape Breton Nova Scotia a couple of years ago with Nicholas David from ‘The Voice.’ I’ve also performed on the same stage and have been mentored by Chuck Brodsky, Michael Johnson, Bruce Guthro, Catherine MacLellan, Stan Roger’s son Nathan Rogers and many other great musicians and people. I just recently opened for Joan Kennedy who was second only to Garth Brooks in Radio plays back in the 1990’s in Canada. I’m also opening for Twin Kennedy soon. They were recently nominated for a Canadian Country Music Award.

Anything else you want to share?

Just that I’m so thankful for all the people in my life that have spent time with me and helped me do what I love to do. I’m proud to say that Wendy Kay of Utopia Artists is one of those people in my life that has helped me and so many others develop as young artists. It’s events like the Dream Night Talent Search that provide opportunities for young artists like me to hone their performance skills, meet like-minded people and to continue to do what they love to do.  Everyone truly wins at events like this.

You can check out Cameron at http://www.talentwatch.com/artist/profile/cameronmolloy

Music Artist Spotlight- Tristan Bushman

Posted on September 7, 2015 by admin

What does winning* the 2015 Illinois Dream Night Talent Search competition mean to you? Tristan Bushman- Music Artist Spotlight

It is a really cool milestone for me. It was such a great experience spending the weekend with so many talented musicians and getting to hear feedback from the mentors. It was a very humbling experience.

What inspired you to become a musician?

My dad, who has been playing in bands for as long as I can remember. I started getting up and singing with his band when I was 5 years old and haven’t slowed down since then.

What surprises have you encountered in pursuing your music career?

Having my song played on the radio was a really surprising thing. It was shortly after I released my first single and I started getting messages from friends saying they heard “Girl You Done Me Wrong” on the radio. It was one of those things that I will always remember.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

I just put out my first record “Heartwood” at the end of March. That was a really challenging task, aside from the obvious struggles of writing, recording and choosing which songs to put on the release. There is so much more that goes into the process like picking album artwork, photos, liner notes and so many other things that go into it. Releasing an album is such a rewarding thing though. Being able to hold it in your hands at the end of the process is an amazing feeling that makes it worth every second.

What’s your process for writing lyrics and where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

My writing process is a thing that is really hard to explain. It varies with different songs but most of the time it all starts with just me and an acoustic guitar. My songs usually have to do with a specific time or event in my life, a time that inspires me. I write down lyric ideas every day in my phone notes, whether it’s one line or a full verse, it is a great resource for me. I will go back and build off of those ideas when I have downtime to write.

Tell us about your most memorable performances.

I got up to perform at age 14 at the Evanston SPACE with a Nashville Singer Songwriter Andy Davis. He was and still is one of my favourite artists, and to get to share the stage with him for a song was incredible. More recently, within the past year I have performed on the stages of the Chicago House of Blues and the Arcada Theatre. These are performances I will tell stories about for the rest of my life.

Anything else you want to share?

My latest release “Heartwood” is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and CDBaby. Check it out!

*Tristan Bushman & DownFall NSB tied as the overall winners of the Illinois Dream Night Talent Search competition.

You can check out Tristan at https://www.talentwatch.com/artist/profile/tristanbushman

Music Artist Spotlight- Dilana

Posted on August 23, 2015 by admin

What does winning the Rock Against Trafficking Sting-Cover Contest mean to you? Music Artist Spotlight- Dilana

The fact that I can be part of raising awareness about something extremely important like child trafficking across the world, is priceless to me. Being a mother myself, makes this cause very near and dear to my heart. Music is such a powerful tool and I am honored to raise my voice about child trafficking.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Music started off as an escape for me. It was never my real dream or intention to be a professional artist. But as the years went by, I realized that it was my calling in life and that I could touch and inspire thousands around the world through my songs and performances.

What surprises have you encountered in pursuing your music career?

It is no secret that the music business is a very tough and competitive industry. As a woman, there are countless surprises around each corner. The biggest surprises are always when I’m in foreign countries and witness strangers connecting to my songs and mouthing my lyrics.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

With the industry changing so much over the last decade, the challenge I’ve always had has intensified more. And the challenge is to stay in the game, to be seen and to be heard.

What’s your process for writing lyrics and where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

I have no set process. Each song comes to me in a different way. Whether it be a melody first and then a theme for lyrics. On many occasions I have written songs in my sleep. I always get my inspiration from personal life experiences. I grew up in South Africa and have an ocean of stories to tell, pain, suffering and sadness. But along these dark journeys, I’ve always managed to survive and come out on top. For me, these are the stories I like to share. Stories of perseverance, victory and belief that there is hope at the end of every storm.

Tell us about your most memorable performances.

Without a doubt, my two tours to Afghanistan are at the top of my list. I’ve also done a bunch of charity events, fundraisers and benefits for causes I truly believe in. Doing this always makes me feel like I’m contributing, even if it’s in a small way, to make changes in our world.

Have you shared the stage with anyone we would know?

I have opened for many big names- Aerosmith, Joe Cocker, Beth Hart, Motorhead, Velvet Revolver, Puddle of Mudd, London Choirboys, The Bangles, Golden Earring, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, Sebastien Bach and many others. I’ve also performed live with Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted, Gilby Clarke, Dave Navarro, Adrian Young, Terri Nunn and more. I was the first and only female lead vocalist for LA Guns for two tours.

Anything else you want to share?

I have a new project based in Europe. It is an all girls band from Portugal and it is called SHÍ is Dilana. I’m extremely excited about this project. We recently did two tours through Europe and almost every show was sold out. I am going back in October for 2, 5 months of touring with my girls. We will be performing in Iceland amongst other European countries.  I am planning on a tour for us in the USA for 2016.

You can check out Dilana at http://www.talentwatch.com/artist/profile/dilana

The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Copyrighting

Posted on March 13, 2015 by admin

The Bluured Lines of Copyrighting

Songwriting is a craft that must be perfected with time, and like any other talent that you must build, it can be frustratingly slow going. Not everyone can pull a classic like “Yesterday” out of a dream (Paul McCartney might be the only one, in fact). One thing is certain, when you listen to good music, you’re inspired – but for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams that inspiration has now cost them more than $7 million! But they aren’t the first artists to get knocked around over copyright.

George Harrison – The quiet Beatle had the first #1 hit of the defunct group with 1971’s “My Sweet Lord.” The only problem was that he got promptly sued for ripping off “He’s So Fine” – and lost. The songs do have a similar sound, but the feelings are pretty disparate (one’s an anthem to spiritualism and one is an anthem to a hottie.) The ruling was that Harrison didn’t deliberately plagiarize the earlier song, but that it was plagiarism nonetheless. Either way, George took a hit. On the bright side, the song is credited to saving a lot of lives.

Vanilla Ice – It’s not hard to discern that Vanilla Ice ripped off the Queen and David Bowie hit, “Under Pressure.” It appears he did it on purpose, and did not pay the original artists in order to use sample. Even though the song has long been relegated to nostalgia (and not really great nostalgia, either), “Ice Ice Baby” did bring up an important plagiarism issue. Did Ice’s attempt to change up the iconic bass sample (he altered the timing of it slightly) negate the fact that it was copyright infringement? Not likely. The case was settled out of court, but he probably paid big bucks for his #1 hit’s purposeful indiscretion.

Sam Smith – Tom Petty’s no angel (in fact he’s been accused of blatantly ripping off younger artists, The Jayhawks), but he’s still an artist! And he should be paid for his songwriting. That’s what another recent copyright scuffle determined. Current pop star Sam Smith (who claims to have never even heard “I Won’t Back Down”) may have unknowingly plagiarized the elder statesmen of rock, but before things could get to a Robin Thicke level of messed up, the two stars’ teams made it a non-issue: Sam Smith gave Tom Petty co-writing credit which comes with 12.5% royalties. Problem solved.

“Blurred Lines” sounds pretty similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” and Robin Thicke admitted to enjoying the Marvin Gaye classic. But copyright infringement just became a lot easier to pursue due to the precedent set but this case. No lyrics, melodies, or direct sounds were taken from the song. Not even a sampled “woo!” In fact, if you had to describe the reason the two songs were compared in the first place, it would be the feeling that they both evoke. A 70s vibe. Because one song is from that era, and one wishes to be.

This just means that new artists will have to be even more original with their material. And that copyright lawsuits are probably going to become more frequent. Good luck out there! The lesson here is to listen to your work with a very careful ear before releasing anything (and then run it by someone older than you, just in case it’s really close to something you’ve never heard).

Is a Music Career Right for You?

Posted on February 18, 2015 by admin

Is a Music Career Right for You?It takes years for most people to figure out their path in life – “What do you want to do?” is a question that we hear starting from a very young age. Working in the music industry often crosses the minds of creative people who love listening to and playing music. But careers aren’t just something you fall into, even if your career is a fun, creative outlet that allows you to express yourself, travel, and do what you love. So, is a music career right for you? Only you can be sure one way or another – but here are a few things to ask yourself before you dive right in.

Do you love to write, play an instrument, or sing?

While not everyone is lucky enough to do something they absolutely love for a living, if you are going to have a career in music you might as well love it. Robots don’t make music, people do (even electronic-tinged techno music still has plenty of creativity and soul). And listeners of all stripes will gravitate to songs that are filled with passion for the craft. Putting your heart and soul into music can only make it better, because it comes from an authentic place – and that’s something that no amount of music lessons can teach. No matter what kind of music you love to create, fans will be able to tell if you’ve infused it with your natural passion.

Can you think creatively?

Creativity is important, especially if you are coming up with original material. As an artist, you can only rely on covers for so long before you yearn to do something bigger – something more “you.” While a good mind for business is also important, your creative mind is what will allow your talents to flow in a way that will get you noticed. Even cover songs can be tweaked and manipulated to come up with something insanely creative and attention grabbing.

Are you ready to work hard?

Just because the music business looks fun does not mean it isn’t a whole lot of work. There are a lot of duties that must be performed, and you are the one in charge of it all: writing, recording, networking, booking gigs, playing live shows, hiring an accountant or manager, interacting with potential fans…the list goes on. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, but yes, it’s a lot of hard work. You can’t sit around and wait for something to happen – you need to be proactive in order to get your name out there and share your talents with the world. Working hard stems from having the ambition to succeed.

If you want a career in the music business, you’ll need a combination of talent, ambition, creativity, and passion. And even if you do have all of the above, it still can take a while for success to come knocking. Be patient, and be ready to work hard and share your best self with the world!

The Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Music Artists

Posted on December 27, 2014 by admin

The New Year is a time for reflection, no matter who you are. Resolutions are a great way to set your intentions for the coming year – and set yourself up for success. Whether you’re playing lots of club gigs, or just singing in your basement, here are a few New Year’s Resolutions to consider.The top 5 New Year's Resolutions for Music Artists

1) I Will Put Myself Out There

Big breaks don’t just come on their own. So if you want to start your climb to the top, now is the time to begin making connections. It can be scary to approach new faces, but being a music artist is dependent on networking – talent will only get you so far. There are plenty of ways to spread the word about your music; from the old fashioned knock on doors and schmoozing at shows, to the digital art of social networking. Making connections at an early stage in your career can help you build your reputation, share your music, and book shows.

2) I Will Practice My Art

Talent may be innate, but practice will help sharpen those skills to the point where you will get noticed. Our lives are busy, especially around the beginning of a new year, so you have to carve out a chunk of time each day in order to refine your instrument. Whether that means dedicating an hour in the morning to vocal exercises, or some time each night to songwriting, depends on your craft. The saying “practice makes perfect” is well-known for a reason – because it’s true!

3) I Will Make a Video

Once you have invested plenty of time into practice, why not make a video? Let’s face it. There’s no reason why you couldn’t make a video sometime this upcoming year. There are plenty of video making options, depending on how far you are along in your music career – you can have friends help in a low-budget, high-fun video shoot, or you can hire a professional, record a practice session, or have a friend capture your live show.

4) I Will Write Down My Goals

Goals are a great way to keep yourself working toward music industry success. And because it’s the beginning of the year, now is the perfect time to lay out goals for the next twelve months. Think about steps you want to take – they can be simple things like “talk to other musicians” or big career goals such as “book a spring tour.” Goals are great motivational tools, and when you have a handful to accomplish throughout the year, you’ll always keep moving towards the next level.

5) I Will Take Care of Myself

This may sound simple, but it’s an important one! Keeping yourself healthy and happy is vital to making 2015 your best year ever. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Have a great 2015!!