Is Pandora Killing the Independent Artist?

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This post is going to be a short and choppy one, but I couldn’t help but write a new post. Right now I am on Christmas vacation at my lovely mothers home. The best part about this is the mashed potatoes and noodles. I digress… This post is about the new music service Pandora. I suppose it is also about the service called Spotify, as it’s basically does the same thing. basically, this is about all businesses that offer streaming for a flat rate.
If you’ve never heard of this sort of thing, Pandora (or Spotify) offers an unlimited number of streamed songs for one flat rate. I think you can get a month for $9.99. They also offer a lower level as a free trial. It’s a pretty cool app for people that like to listen to a lot of music. You can listen to any song that you want from their database, and they have managed to acquire almost every song that a person could possibly want. There is also an option to show you songs that sounds like your favorite songs, so that you can discover new music that sounds similar to things you already like. It sounds like a great thing.
But is it a great thing for musicians?
Did manage for musicians is that people may find your music based upon other music that they like, and new fans can be acquired. It’s also nice to get paid just for being streamed once by a listener. YouTube doesn’t pay me her place of my video, but Pandora and Spotify do.
The flipside of that is the low payment per play. I often get paid one penny, half a penny, or two pennies for a play. This may sound like a good thing, but someone has to play my song 100 times before I get a dollar. It seems incredibly democratic to pay each person based upon how many times they are played, but I have heard stories of songs being played hundreds of millions of times, and the payoff being less than $100. This may seem fair, but this is hardly enough money to record a single in a professional studio. Taylor Swift chose not to put her new album on Spotify, and has the stirred up a lots of controversy about whether Spotify is a good or bad company.
There are pros and cons involved with this payment scenario for musicians. As of right now, I’m really not sure how I feel about it. I’m also not sure if I will opt in for page streaming sites when I release my next album.

Categories: Music Blogs

Playground Etiquette

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In the past, I’ve used this blog for rants, reviews, and other things that are not pertinent to my music whatsoever. Today, I will continue with that trend and post another blog entry that has nothing to do with music.

I went to the playground today with Zoey. We have been at this playground many times before. Sometimes there are a lot of toddlers there. Sometimes there are bigger kids 7-10 year olds) there. The playground is set up in such a way that everything is connected by “bridges” and the East side of this structure is clearly for smaller kids and the West half of the (huge) structure is taller and more suitable to bigger kids.

I’m a hover parent. Some say this is a bad thing, but Zoey is only 2, and sometimes I do have to catch her to keep her from falling off of things or banging her head into stuff. I feel that it also helps to have me there to teach her about proper playground etiquette, like “Wait until the other kid gets off the slide before going down”, “We don’t walk up the slide backwards because others could come down and hurt you,” and “Sit on your bottom to go down the slide so you don’t hurt your hands/face/head.” Apparently not every parent took the time to teach their kids the correct way to play on the equipment…

So Zoey and I are at the playground today and she is sliding down the small kid’s slide when a boy of about 6-7 years old decides to try to climb up the slide while she’s getting off of it. If the kid was 2 or 3, I would be more sympathetic. But a 7 year old boy? (eye roll) The mom laughed uncomfortably while looking at me, and saying in a rather babyish voice, “Now Charlie (I don’t remember his actual name), that’s not the right way….” more laughing. She continued this uncomfortable laughing and it was clear that she wanted me to say something to her – – like we were going to be friends or something. I. don’t. think. so. lady. I encouraged Zoey to try out the tunnel slide again to nudge her away from this boy and his mom.

I wasn’t even paying attention to the small family of young monsters that were playing around the tunnel slide until the blonde boy (about 6 years old) let out a scream and threw a cry-fit while tugging all over his dad’s clothes. One of the boys said, “Did I kick him?” The dad said, “No, his sister shoved him because it wasn’t his turn.” Evidently, in that family it is ok to shove if someone tries to take something that is rightfully yours. Then I looked over to take in the whole scene…..and…it…was……stupid.

The dad was holding back the whining, crying blonde kid while the daughter was climbing up the top of the tunnel slide. Not inside the slide, mind you…which would still be incorrect but slightly less dangerous….but on TOP of the tunnel itself. It looked like he had 3 kids, all somewhere between 5 and 8 years old, and was having them take turns to climb up the slide that was obviously designed for toddlers on the small side of the playground. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I was not in the mood to deal with stupid parenting today. I said to one of the other moms (loudly), “Gee, I wish there was a sign that tells people how to go down the tunnel slide….but it seems pretty self-explanatory to me….” The dad heard me, and said, “Gabby…maybe we shouldn’t climb up the slide…ummm,…” He sounded like he was afraid to tell his kids not to climb up the slide, because they probably wouldn’t listen to him anyway. And to credit, he’s probably right. He probably let them climb up the slide like that for years…how can they understand a sudden change in rules?

I said, (loudly again so that he could hear, even though he was avoiding eye contact with me), “I can’t have my toddler walking around near the slide where other kids may fall on her….looks like we have to go.” The dad started to mutter something about, “Kids, maybe we shouldn’t climb on the slide….” MAYBE? Why does he even bother standing there? I picked up Zoey, “I’m sorry sweety, we’re going to have to go now because the other kids are not well-behaved.”

I carried her out to the car…she cried a little on the way. We were at the playground for more than 30 minutes, so I think it was fair even though I hated making her leave when she was doing everything right. I reassured her that she was very polite, but the other kids were dangerous. As I looked back from the car, I saw the little monster children still climbing up the tunnel slide on the toddler side of the playground. I held all of my anger and frustration in as I slowly drove away from the park.

Maybe I was mean. Maybe I wasn’t seen as the “cool mom” at the playground today. But the way *I* see it, my #1 priority is making sure my kid doesn’t get hurt. Period. My #2 priority is making sure my kid doesn’t hurt other kids, especially those that are younger than her. Being ‘cool’ with the other parents on the playground falls in pretty low on the list of things that are expected of me at the playground.

As I was driving home, I was thinking, “What would I have done if one of those kids HAD fallen on her???” I guess it depends on the severity of her injuries…but considering how high that tunnel slide is (when you are standing on the TOP of it), and how big those kids were in comparison to Zoey, if one had fallen on her I would probably have to take her in to the pediatrician just to make sure she was ok, at the least.

The more I thought about it, the more I considered what the “procedure” was for this kind of thing. I guess if my child were seriously injured by another kid on the playground, I would first call the pediatrician or paramedics, then call the police to file a report against the other parent. Notice I said PARENT, because it is the parent’s responsibility to control the kids until they are 18. Then I guess I would call a lawyer to file a lawsuit. I hear you thinking, “Really? She would sue someone for hurting her kid?” You bet your sweet little baby’s bottom I would. I’m not talking about little accidents….those things happen. But if I’m standing there telling you quite openly that I think your kid is going to fall off the tunnel slide onto smaller kids and you fail to get your undisciplined heathens to use the equipment properly and someone does get hurt…’ll be seeing me again at the court house.  I think they call it “negligence”, or something like that. I hope you did’t have a job working with children or handicapped people….because you’ll likely have to find another job too.  You’re welcome.

Luckily, that scenario will probably never play itself out – because my job is to keep my kid safe, even if it means offending other parents in the process.  And I’m not one of those parents that stands by idly and ‘begs’ my kid to do the right thing. If anything, THAT is the most pathetic and un-cool thing I’ve seen all day.


Toddler Discipline

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Oh how I hate the title of this post. Obviously it’s not about music, as this website was SUPPOSED to be about. Today I (tried) to take Zoey with me to the thrift store. We ended up only being there for about 10 minutes before a major toddler meltdown, leading me to google “toddler discipline” when we returned home and to stew quietly about not getting to peruse the isles of junk stuff. My disciplinary action was, “If you don’t sit down in the cart, we are going to leave right now.” And because I am a mom of my word, we did. I called MY mom afterward, and she pointed out that I rewarded Zoey and punished myself. She’s right.

After reading about several different discipline ‘programs’ and ‘plans’, I really think that each child is different. And for each child there will be a “best” approach. Now the secret is finding the best approach for MY little heathen angel.

To spank? Not to spank? Time outs? 1-2-3 magic? Too many choices.

At Linvilla Orchards last week, I ended up picking up a whole organic pecan pie off of the floor with my fingers to pay for it and throw it away. “Please stop running” and “Here, please help mommy with the okra” and “NOOOOO! Don’t touch that PIE!” are lost on toddler ears. Even after the pie and the Me: “Please tell me you are sorry.”  Her: “Sorry!!” (big smile) …there was a huge tantrum because she had to return to sitting in the cart. We fed animals, played on the playground, and threw away a pie. It was a great day, sort of.

I’m coming to the conclusion that there are some things that just can’t be enjoyed with a toddler. When I was invited to have dinner and cocktails at Winnie’s Lebus earlier this week with the moms, I knew not to bring my 2 year old. The girls brought their babies, who were pleasantly confined in car seats and occasionally held, but a 2 year old would simply not be able to resist running around and touching everything, exploring the building and ignoring her mother,…at least mine wouldn’t. So, I didn’t bring her. Wise choice.

But today, all of my wisdom was for naught, and I brought my 2 year old into a thrift store, of all places, hoping that she could contain herself and be content to play with things I gave her from her seat in the cart. I was wrong.

I’m just babbling on endlessly…..rambling on and on and on…  My point is that I’m not bringing my kid with me to the thrift store again until she is old enough to not break things, which may be never, we’ll see.  I’m 3exhausted at trying to find discipline ideas for out-of-the-house use, so the easiest solution would be to remove the opportunity.



Recording with Pier Giacalone at Hopetown Sound

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Last month I made a one-day appointment to record a single at Hopetown Sound with the engineer and producer Pier Giacalone. He has a nice studio in New Hope, PA and has some really great sounds coming out, so after a few phone calls, the date was set.

The studio is in this quaint location out in the boonies and the house numbers skip a few, which had me turning around a couple of times, but luckily my GPS saved my butt and helped me find the place. Others would probably not have any problems. I’m special.

Sprint service is sketchy in that area, so people coming to play (like Scott Grande, who played drums on my track) need to have the studio phone number or be willing to communicate in text messages only. Scott had no trouble finding the studio….

Pier has a very warm and casual demeanor, and made me feel comfortable from the moment we met. He reassured me that he liked the music we were recording, and that he was ready to work – – which is important to me. **note: If a producer shows no interest at all in your music/voice/songs, you may want to keep looking.  I sent Pier some sound samples to make sure that he was interested in working with me beforehand. I also get a little nervous if producers want to spend too much time chatting before getting to the recording process. Why? Because at the end of the day when they are tallying your bill, nobody ever says, “You arrived at 1pm, but I talked for 3 hours, so I’ll just charge you from 4pm….” Occasionally some chatting time is shaved off, but unless you have a stopwatch going, it gets added to your bill. So, Pier’s focus on getting equipment set up while we discuss the music and the process was a relief. Plus, the more I chit chat with new people, the more nervous I get and the greater the opportunity for me to say something that will embarrass myself. Ridiculous, but true.

The studio has an AWESOME Voice/Acoustic booth! It’s a room with a window so that you can see the engineer.  (Shouldn’t they all be set up this way? Some aren’t.) There are also mixer controls so that you can control the volume of the backup and yourself while recording. This is the FIRST time I’ve encountered this. Even if other studios had it rigged up, they never told me how to use it, so I would avoid touching any knobs out of fear that I’d ruin something. Recording at Hopetown Sound, I didn’ t have to say, “I can’t hear myself”, “can you turn up the mix?”, “I’m too loud”, etc etc etc. The in-house drum kit had the same controls so that Scott could adjust the headphone volumes to his liking as well. It’s like peach pie. Good.

The bathroom….had toilet paper! And AND AND AND…this is exciting….soap! It wasn’t fancy-shmancy or anything like that, but I’ve come across so many *disgusting* bathrooms in studios that it was a pleasant surprise. Of the 5 studios I’ve recorded in, only 2 of them have had toilet paper. Seriously. As someone who likes to not smell like pee, I’m glad Pier stocked toilet paper. And to the rest of you who apparently like to pee all over the walls and then shamelessly tell me where the bathroom is with a mocking, “I’m not quite SURE if there’s any toilet paper in there..”…you know who you are. And your mother would not be proud. Anyway….Pier’s bathroom had toilet paper! It’s headline-making news.

Pier was nice to my drummer friend, which was seriously helpful in recording a great song. 3 People usually = 3 Opinions, and a greater chance of conflict…..but nobody argued, nobody had fights about the sound, nobody cried at all! There was no grimacing or calls to friends afterwards to gossip about so-and-so’s bad musicianship. (As far as I know!) lol  It’s almost like we were on some other planet…where people are nice and birds clean the house and all talking is actually sung instead of spoken. Then, I have a reprise section while peeing in the bathroom that has TOILET PAPER!! It was surreal. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. or maybe not.

**For the ladies: The studio is located at the bottom of a steep paved hill. It’s best not to wear your tall high-heeled boots. From, one who parked at the top of the hill and very slowly took tiny steps all the way down like a Geisha with a toe splinter.

I digress…

The song got recorded in the one day. It took longer than I planned because I scribbled down a string part before I left home while my kid was whining and banging on the other end of my keyboard. Shame on me for not preparing better! I also lost my mind and forgot how to play the violin in the studio for a while. But it all came together, and there was even one pizza place still open by the time we were finished. (Usually I don’t eat or drink anything….since there is no toilet paper in case I have to use the loo at these studios.)

There was also a long table chocked full with every kind of drink a singer could want. Tea packets, clean mugs, a microwave, raw sugar, honey, coffee, (Scott had some coffee, which I’m sure made the beats cleaner! Maybe?) and…..chocolate. OK, so that’s not really conductive to singing…but I did enjoy a piece on the drive home.

Pier had the song back to me in a very short amount of time, and I LOVED the edits and production. What I noticed about the mix? He actually produces. He adds to and shapes the song and PRODUCES it. I’m totally happy, and will definitely be back to record at Hopetown Sound again. So glad I found this great studio and producer!!!

You can find the studio’s demos, links, pictures and other info here:


Categories: Music Blogs

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

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Tonight a hurricane is supposed to blow through the Philadelphia area.  While I’ve read several stupid helpful lists on how to prepare for this, I’ve noticed some things are missing. I won’t re-write all of the tips about emergency kits and such in this list. Also, this is written for those of us that aren’t near the shore, don’t live in a valley, and don’t expect to need to evacuate our homes. I expect to possibly lose electricity, our basement will take on some water (as it does during heavy rains), and our huge old trees might fall down crushing our home and killing us all.

Without further ado…

1. Take a shower. You want to look fabulous when the CNN helicopter rescues you from the rooftop. Seriously though, (as proven by Mythbusters) you shouldn’t shower during a storm…so might as well shower before.

2. Turn off your computer. If you’re like me, you leave your computer on 24/7. I know this is bad for my computer, but I’m in a perpetual state of “I’ll get back to that”.  Sudden power supply loss can really mess up some computers…so might as well shut down, just this once.

3. Park your car where nothing can fall on it. Under an old dying tree is probably not the best place.

4. Pay your cellphone bill if you haven’t. Verizon will not care if it’s a national disaster. They will turn off your phone.

5. Charge up your laptop. You’ll need this when the power goes out so that you can continue surfing YouTube, Google, and my website, of course.

6. Charge up your cellphone. If you have a smartphone addiction, you may actually die if you’re without it for any length of time. In the case of a power outage, your smartphone will replace about 10 of the other items in most emergency kits. (list of emergency numbers, flashlight, camera, weather radio, survival recipes, and food. Ok, not food.)

7. Move the cat’s litter box. If your cat won’t walk through a few inches of water to get to the litter box (like mine) it could be a bad situation upstairs. Also, if you take on enough water to spill out the litter box contents downstairs….it’s going to be a horrible.

8. Wash your favorite clothes. If you have to go through an extended time without power or those rescue helicopters really do show up, you’ll be happy to at least be wearing your favorite pair of underwear. Make sure no clothes are left in the washer by the time the power goes out. Otherwise they will forever smell like mildew.

9. Find out if your place of employment will be expecting you. Prepare your stories of why you couldn’t make it to work during the hurricane. Remember to call in if you really aren’t able to make it.

10. Go shopping. It’s possible that your local stores will close – even if there isn’t flooding and mayhem. So get your Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s fix taken care of now. But seriously, go get plenty of diapers, wipes, milk, and those little Elmo juice boxes if you have a little one.

11. When you bring potted plants and things in from the front porch, shake them off a much as possible. (bugs)

Hunker down and enjoy your day off from work! Yay!


Categories: Music Blogs