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Self-Promotion Can Be Exhilarating…And Exhausting.

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I grew up in a 10-member family singing group, The Whitney Family. Back then, singers had one job: the performance. From the time I was 11 years old, we had daily rehearsals mixed with 4 night a week gigs, and summers touring. Our job was to learn the songs, remember the harmonies, and practice the chorography. It was someone else’s job to promote us. Record labels had entire departments dedicated to that one aspect of a singer’s career. Oh, how I miss those days…

As an indie artist, I’m constantly jockeying for position on Reverb Nation (I’m currently the #1 Jazz/Smooth Jazz artist for New Mexico having beaten back my competition in a Rockem Sockem Robots slugfest last week), adding Facebook and Radio Airplay.com fans, and the ever-elusive radio adds. Days spent creating new music videos for my YouTube channel, and any number of other online promotional tools I need to use. My head just spins at the thought of how much time this takes. I just want to sing, dammit! I love being on stage. I love an audience. I long for the day I manage to land a promotion and distribution deal with a major. Yes, just a P&D. I don’t want a “record deal” where someone else decides how I’m going to sound. I already have a pretty good idea myself on that score. I want to hand over a finished product to Mr. Moneybags, and say “you do the rest.” Let me concentrate on the songs, the harmonies, and the choreography (remember that?)  Seriously, it’s 6:30am, and I’m up writing this blog… 

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that any one of us can go into a little studio (your bedroom, your bathroom) and produce our own music. When I was coming up, that wasn’t even on the radar – and CDBaby.com? Man, were they a game-changer or what?! It cost BIG, BIG money to record back then – full bands, strings, engineers, producers, songwriters, arrangers, hand-clappers, foot-stompers (those were real jobs), blah, blah, blah… Now, even I can do it – and 2 critically acclaimed CD’s later I have the proof!

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But with that “freedom” comes a lot of drudgework… and the reward? It would be nice to do more than just break even.  Oh well, maybe one glorious day! Till then, I’ll continue to build my little empire – while sitting in my bathrobe, drinking coffee – as my dog Ginger snores at my feet – from the office of my 2-bedroom apartment – not owing a label any of their advances back. Wow, now that I think about it, I’ve managed to accomplish a lot! I’m actually ahead of the game, and it’s only 7:30. Maybe I’ll go back to bed… 

Let me know how you’re making it in the music industry!

Until next time,

Much love… Tracey

And here are just some of the ways you can connect with me:

http://www.babydollentertainment.com

http://www.reverbnation.com/traceywhitney

https://www.facebook.com/Tracey.Whitney.Music

https://www.youtube.com/user/TraceyWhitneyMusic

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/TraceyWhitney

 

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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Music

 

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Before you pull your hair out…

There are three ways to approach the music/recording business:

(1) Do Nothing. Imagine that your music is so good, all you need to do is record an album (yes it’s still called an album – a “CD” is just the delivery system), sit back and wait. They’ll come to you. Probably not…

(2) Sign With A Major Label. Record labels today want you, the artist, to do all the legwork before they even take a look at you. And if they do sign you, according to this article, “RIAA Accounting: How To Sell 1 Million Albums And Still Owe $500,000” you may be worse off after signing: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110707/03264014993/riaa-accounting-how-to-sell-1-million-albums-still-owe-500000.shtml. Unfortunately, I know from experience how this happens. I’ll pose it as a fable: There was a woman who worked for a major entertainment company. The company signed a band that had a monster, and I mean MONSTER hit one summer. Unfortunately, the band (like most uninformed artists) did not have a clause in their contact that allowed for an independent audit of the company’s books, so they were never allowed to see the actual numbers (yes, you have that right). The band called the woman/company every year, wanting to know where their royalties were. The woman – with a broken heart, but on behalf of the company – had to tell the band every year “the record never made enough to cover advances.” It was the only hit the band ever had, and although the record made MILLIONS, the band didn’t see a dime. Enough to make you blow your brains out, huh?

(3) Go Indie. I admit; this approach can be costly. I can’t/won’t tell you how much I’ve spent on my new project, “I Am Singing… Songs I Love.” My mom would have a heart attack if she knew! I’ve not only paid for the entire recording/mastering/manufacturing, etc., I am now paying for various promotions. We’ll see what happens. However, at the end of the day, I’d rather go broke – or succeed on my own (it could happen!), and know that I gave it my all, then make a record label rich while they rip me off.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to sign with a major label. They are the only ones with the money to really get you out there! But it’s something you do with your eyes wide open, and a good attorney (not your cousin who chases ambulances), an ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY, at your side. And not an attorney the record label recommends. Believe me, they’re looking out for the interest of the label, not yours. Get your own lawyer!

I’ve been on both sides – the artist and the label, so I have a little more insight than most of you. Chose the best way for you. Just be aware.

How are you making it in the music industry? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Much love… Tracey I Can’t Help It

http://www.babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Music, Uncategorized

 

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It’s All In The Stars…

Almost 4 years ago, I decided to move to New Mexico. It took me 3 years and 9 months. Why so long, you ask? The economy. I had a good job, and didn’t want to risk moving here without something waiting for me. So, like I said in my last post, “Never Lose Sight Of The Dream,” I made my plans, and got all my ducks in a row so that WHEN (not if) the opportunity presented itself, I would be ready! Funny thing is, I was only able to move because I was laid off from my job of 10 years. Now, to most people that would be cause for great alarm – for me? No such thing! I felt like I was on a cloud when I left my boss’ office. I could barely contain myself. (Stop lying, Tracey. You DID NOT contain yourself at all.) I practically screamed loud enough for the entire office to hear!

Turns out, 2012 was a 1 Year for me in numerology. A 1 Year is the first year in a 10-year cycle. I knew that I was supposed to lay the groundwork for my next phase, and I knew that it involved living in Albuquerque, but how was I going to get here? Well, when my boss offered me the options of (1) a title demotion (due to budget cuts, they were “downgrading” my position – but adding more work for my replacement) with (2) an almost $20,000 cut in pay to go along with that demotion… OR… (3) a full 4 months severance plus cash payout package… I was like, “Umm, option 2, Bob.” Her name isn’t Bob, but I just couldn’t resist…

Now, I could say that it was a coincidence, but I think not. The Universe already had plans for me, and the timing – although it seemed to me to take forever – was, in fact, right on time. It coincided with the release of my CD, “I Am Singing… Songs I Love.” The 12-hour days I now had available in 2012 (thanks to my former employer) gave me the precious time to lay the groundwork for a smooth jazz radio promotion this coming March. “I Am Singing…” has gotten great reviews, indie radio play worldwide, on-air interviews, a couple thousand fans, and as of today, I moved up to #3 on the Reverb Nation Jazz Charts for Albuquerque (population right at 1 Million). An indie musician like me could NEVER have done that in L.A. A well played hand if I do say so myself.

It’s now 2013 and I’m in a numerology 2 Year. The forecast: “The 2 year cycle is an inspiring twnumerology-01elve month journey in which you will  find exciting connections between your past, your present, and your future. Eventually, you will be able to use this information to set an ambitious goal in motion.” Seriously? How much do I love that!

Forecast for Scorpio for 2013:“This year your professional life will be much more rewarding than the previous periods. More connections and better rewards shall come your way. Joint ventures shall work out well for you this year. This is a much motivational period for you. Some artistic pursuits of yours shall bring forth fruits.” Right?!!

Looks like I’m right on schedule.

The thing is, I’m a great believer in both (1) unseen forces having a hand in our life’s journey, but (2) that force expecting us to do our part as well. We all want things when we want them. But it won’t happen until the time is right!

Yep, it’s all in the stars…

Let me know how you’re making it in the music business! I’d love to hear your story.

Until next time, much love…

Tracey Whitney

 

http://babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Music

 

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Never Lose Sight of The Dream….

BabyDoll’s House of Jazz & Blues. I love the sound of it. Not a week goes by that I don’t look at new properties for sale. I don’t have the money. YET. But, as I told a friend yesterday, the reason I achieve my goals is that I am absolutely, positively relentless. I set my teeth into a dream like a pit bull.  I was actually bitten by a pit bull once. All I could do was look on in amazement as it locked onto my calf. People were beating on the dog, but it would not let me go until they found the owner. Well, that’s me. Only not nearly as painful — and when I bite you don’t need a tetanus shot… Just saying (smile).  

I think the thing about achieving a dream is that it must be something you are passionately passionate about (did I say that twice?) Your life just wouldn’t be complete without this “thing.” BabyDoll’s may be a few years away, but not a day goes by that I’m not jotting down an idea (mural for the stage?) or doing research (sound & lighting, etc.)

My life completely revolves around music. As an indie musician, I’ve spent the last 2 years – and every spare dime – recording and promoting my new CD, “I Am Singing… Songs I Love.” And, like a living, breathing child, she takes ALL of my time, and energy and love. But as a lifelong performer, one of my dreams has always been to open my own little club. Nothing major. Just an intimate little spot where I can sing every night, and have other talented musicians perform.

Yep, I can see it now…

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Bite it off, chew on it, think it out, talk it over with people you admire and trust. I never do anything big without exhaustive deliberation (boring, I know). Plan, plan and plan again. That, and a great deal of P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E. is how I manage to achieve my goals. So many people give up when the prize may have been right around the corner. What’s your Modus Operandi?

Let me know how you’re making it in the music business. I’d love to hear your story!

Until next time, much love…

Tracey

http://babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Music

 

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Do you have a signature sound? No? Better get one…

One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever gotten is when another singer asks me to produce them. It means a lot when people love what you do. The only problem is that when they say, “produce me,” it really means that they want what I consider to be my “signature sound.” A sound developed from my early childhood years spent listening to my mom Louise, Aunt Mary and Uncle Jimmy (at the time known as Whitney, Whitney & Whitney) harmonizing while rehearing for a gig or recording date, followed by 15 years singing in my 9 member family group, The Whitney Family. Topped off by a 1991 tour with Ray Charles as a Raelette (and singing the most difficult part, the 4th harmony). All of these influences converged in my little head, and now I sound like “Me,” an amalgamation of all that incredible harmonic foundation. It’s mine, and no, you can’t have it…

Remember back in the day when Babyface was THE go-to producer? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Babyface. The only problem to me was that when you heard an artist he produced, you immediately knew it was his production. Why? Because they all sounded like him. And he sang on all their tracks. Cool I guess if that’s what you want. But why sound like him, when you can sound like you?

In these cookie-cutter singer times, I look for the originals. I’m old school. I remember when the WHOLE IDEA was to have your own sound. Remember when there was just ONE Stevie Wonder? Now so many male singers try to emulate him – all sad seconds – who, if they’d just sound like themselves, may actually be “special,” and not just a Stevie wanna-be.

The Raelettes - Paula Moye and Tracey Whitney

Raelette’s Paula Moye and Tracey Whitney Ray Charles 1991 tour.

When I toured with Ray Charles, I roomed with another Raelette, Paula Moye. Paula had a very distinctive way of doing her eye makeup. So unique in fact, that her boyfriend at the time didn’t want her sharing her secrets. “Don’t let them see you do it,” he told her. To him, that made her special. And she was absolutely lovely! But Paula’s secrets were safe with me: I had no intention of looking like anybody but Tracey…

It’s GREAT to love other artists! Necessary even. Others influence us ALL. The trick is to not be lazy, and get sucked into sounding like them. It takes effort to develop your own signature style. But it’s worth it. Otherwise, people will always say things like, “wow, you ALMOST sound just like Stevie.” And who wants to “almost” sound like Stevie?

Let me know how you’re making it in the music business! I’d love to hear your story.

Until next time, much love…

Tracey

http://babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Music

 

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If I’m Going To Be Broke…

Here’s the problem I’ve been having: as an indie artist, how do you determine the best use of your very limited resources – time and money? And when you don’t see an instant return, how do you know if it was a good investment in the long run?

My newest CD, “I Am Singing… Songs I Love” is being played worldwide now, based primarily on hiring radio promotion company Creativity In Music (http://www.creativityinmusic.com). They promoted my last CD, “Love… A Fable In 9 Acts,” and I got great airplay. I hired The Jazz Network Worldwide (http://www.thejazznetworkworldwide.com) to do a Press release and a week-long front page feature on their website (I got just under 29,000 impressions and 590 full page reads in less than a week). My sidebar ad is still running. Money well spent.

Then there’s my own radio promotion, Reverb Nation, All About Jazz, Music Clout, Music X-Ray, Airplay Direct, Jango, Last FM, etc. and now MTV.com accounts. I spend at least 8 hours a day working on promotion. And that means money going, going…out. Now I have to decide on doing a 6-week smooth jazz promotion – at $400/wk – that may blow all my other efforts combined out of the water. Potential charting – and with charting comes record deals. And with a record deal, well… you know the rest. BUT. That’s a lot of money. That I don’t have. Granted, not a lot when you think of the possible rewards, but when every cent comes out of your pocket, you’re talking short-term poverty, friends. It’s a big decision, but what’s a girl to do? I’ve come this far, and I can’t stop now, so I’ll find a way to do it.

At the end of the day, I’ve found that there’s nothing more gratifying than spending all of my time and money on my dreams. If I’m going to be broke, what better reason than ME?

Let me know how you’re making it!

Tracey Whitney

http://www.babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Can you survive in the music business outside of Los Angeles?

There are three ways to approach the music/recording business:

(1) Do Nothing. Imagine that your music is so good, all you need to do is record an album (yes it’s still called an album – a “CD” is just the delivery system), sit back and wait. They’ll come to you. Probably not…

(2) Sign With A Major Label. Record labels today want you, the artist, to do all the legwork before they even take a look at you. And if they do sign you, according to this article, “RIAA Accounting: How To Sell 1 Million Albums And Still Owe $500,000” you may be worse off after signing: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110707/03264014993/riaa-accounting-how-to-sell-1-million-albums-still-owe-500000.shtml. Unfortunately, I know from experience how this happens. I’ll pose it as a fable: There was a woman who worked for a major entertainment company. The company signed a band that had a monster, and I mean MONSTER hit one summer. Unfortunately, the band (like most uninformed artists) did not have a clause in their contact that allowed for an independent audit of the company’s books, so they were never allowed to see the actual numbers (yes, you have that right). The band called the woman/company every year, wanting to know where their royalties were. The woman – with a broken heart, but on behalf of the company – had to tell the band every year “the record never made enough to cover advances.” It was the only hit the band ever had, and although the record made MILLIONS, the band didn’t see a dime. Enough to make you blow your brains out, huh?

(3) Go Indie. I admit; this approach can be costly. I can’t/won’t tell you how much I’ve spent on my new project, “I Am Singing… Songs I Love.” My mom would have a heart attack if she knew! I’ve not only paid for the entire recording/mastering/manufacturing, etc., I am now paying for various promotions. We’ll see what happens. However, at the end of the day, I’d rather go broke – or succeed on my own (it could happen!), and know that I gave it my all, then make a record label rich while they rip me off.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to sign with a major label. They are the only ones with the money to really get you out there! But it’s something you do with your eyes wide open, and a good attorney (not your cousin who chases ambulances), an ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY, at your side. And not an attorney the record label recommends. Believe me, they’re looking out for the interest of the label, not yours. Get your own lawyer!

I’ve been on both sides – the artist and the label, so I have a little more insight than most of you. Chose the best way for you. Just be aware.

How are you making it in the music industry? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Much love… Tracey I Can’t Help It

http://www.babydollentertainment.com

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Music

 

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