Something weird happened, guys. If you’re reading this, you may be a proud owner of a JPO 2016 campaign t-shirt, pictured here.

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It all started with a flippant Facebook post to promote a real gig:

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Followed by like…a lot of people saying, “YEAH!” and “We want the t-shirt!”

Which led to me looking for a fast t-shirt designer site online to make a mock up of my campaign slogan on a shirt, which led me to TeeSpring.com, where I found out you can sell shirts without having to print them yourself OR ship them yourself. Glory!

I thought I’d sell a few, so I decided to gather celebrity endorsements.

Turns out I have a great group of supporters (and I knew it, but I didn’t know it applied to my political career as well as my artistic life).  The campaign ended, and we sold 61 shirts!  Holy!  And not all of those were to my mother (as far as I know, she accounts for 1 sale, hi mom).

What does this all mean?  I’m not sure, other than THANK YOU, YOU BRILLIANT PEOPLE.  Also it might mean no one really wants to vote for any of the 8739920 real Presidential candidates.  It might mean that a slacker COULD really be President if they tried (hehehheh).  It might mean communities are awesome things to have and keep around and share your humor with, because what else are we gonna do to survive this election cycle?

The best part for me was making terrible photoshops of the shirt design on my obvious cabinet choices.

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Also, if you are an entrepreneur in ANYTHING (music, art, widgets, existing) – you could gather your folks together and make a shirt.  And you can sell it.  And your tribe can all identify each other with their cool shirts.

Now, to plan the convention.  I’m thinking Duluth or Sacramento.

I am pleased to announce that my eBook “Money & Heart” is available exclusively on Kindle for a limited time promotion…and it’s heavily discounted! That’s how you roll on Amazon and I’m just happy to be in the massive behemoth of a store and available on your iPad or Fire or Galaxy or giant face phone or whatever you have.

Get it here.

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I am also offering a new service on Social Thinkery called “Pick My Brain.” You get my brain for a long chat AND you get some follow up notes from me after out meeting. This is exciting, and if you feel like you’re sitting on a big pile of potential (that’s you) but you’re not sure on your next step…I can help with that. If you just need some clarity on your web presence or social media strategy, I can help with that, too. Stuck on how to book better and more gigs? Guess what? Yeah! Click here to pick it.

I had a really great time in Los Angeles…learned a lot about the city, played some music, heard lots more music, and met some really awesome folks! Grandmaster tour leader and connector of all things LA, Toni Koch from The Talent Tree Presents, was my hostess and chauffeur. I played an open mic at Kulak’s Woodshed on Monday night and met Kerrie Garside, a lovely and talented Australian songwriter in L.A. for the month. Jimi Yamagishi from SongNet loaned me a guitar for my stay because flying with guitars is, still in this advanced age of 2015, not very advisable. Yay Jimi!

The next night we played the Talent Tree night at 55 Degree Wine, and Kerrie and I had a great time joined by Teresa Crespo Hartendorp. Great venue and nice folks!

Wednesday I got to EAT LUNCH IN BEVERLY HILLS, Y’ALL (and take a bathroom selfie) at an AIMP luncheon about music in video games. Networking…it’s how we do.

I also got to have a chat with Kyler England, a songwriter I have been a fan of for a while and who is just…really amazing. It’s great when people let you pick their brains. I promise to only always pick brains for good, not for evil. (That sounds like a zombie thing). Anyway, listen to Kyler here.

Overall, great connections were made and I can’t wait to go back!

Hey folks! I have been working on this project for…um…a while. It’s hard to press “launch” on a thing sometimes. I wrote this book because oftentimes on the road people will ask, “I like what you do for Susan Gibson…how do you do it?” It would take a LOT of explaining, like a whole lot. Like’s a book’s worth. So here we go!

BUY THE EBOOK HERE. (That’s called direct marketing).

“Money & Heart” – named after my folk-rap – covers a lot of topics. The importance of a great online presence for artists, booking, touring, social media, handling it all while STILL being an artist, publicity, and whatever else came out of my head. I intend for it to be a good guide for the beginner and a great check in for people who have been doing the musician thing a while.

Check it out
or send it to your musician friends and loved ones. It’s discounted right now, because I like discounts. Eventually I will like full-priced things, so um…get on it. (Direct marketing again!).

Thanks to Susan Gibson for listening to the drafts in the van for the last year and for helping me launch it, and to Carrie Ann and my mom for proofreading it with their smart eyes.

It was a good, chill day. There are a LOT of people here. They have started marking certain panels as “popular” so you at least know you have to get somewhere really early to get a seat.

I started off with “Simple Ways to Massively Increase Your Content” with a social media manager for Oracle and the social media manager for NBC Sports. While I do not work with anything on the scale of the Super Bowl or the Olympics, there are definitely things to learn from giant corporations. Something that stuck out is the egalitarianism of social media. Yes, NBC has a lot broader reach and the benefit of being a television network, but they use the SAME tools we do. They use Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook. They make “in the moment” videos. They take fan generated content and re-post it. They threw out the stat that in 2008 there were 1 trillion indexed web pages on Google and now, in 2015, there 67 trillion. Massive growth that is not stopping, and everyone from Susan Gibson to NBC Sports needs to figure out how leverage these tools to make a noise and find their community and interact with it.

Next panel was “The Emperor’s New Wearables,” simply because I was interested in it. One panelist was from Intel, which – did you know Intel was making smart watches now? Me neither. The panel was mostly discussing the need to make a watch that looked good first and was a smart watch second, as many people don’t want to wear a clunky looking sci fi watch on their wrist. Fashion over function, I guess? Also the potential for usefulness is growing…imagine wearing a Jawbone on your wrist and it knows when you are waking up so it adjusts the thermostat in your house before you are even awake. Stuff like that is the practical immediate future of wearables.

After that was Paola Antonelli, a Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) gave the keynote. Sometimes it’s good to just sit and have someone blow your mind about things you don’t know anything about, and that is what she did. She talked about Quantum Design…like quantum physics…but design. Multiple realities and experiences happening at the same time. Ambivalence and ambiguity in design that actually sharpen our interactions as humans. Biology making art. Check out this video she showed us about artists that spent time researching the algorithms of silkworms…how they build. Then the artist designed a framework for the silkworms and set them loose, and they built something. Amazing. Key point…some artists are great artists. Some artists are not great artists but they are great connectors…that lead us to the truly great artists. A place for everyone.

Next up was Storytelling Superheroes with Maria Hinojosa from NPR’s Latino USA and PBS’s America By the Numbers…joined by Alison Bechdel (artist, author) and Joshua Oppenheimer (filmmaker). Sometimes these discussion panels take a rather loose format and that’s what this was…some discussion about how stories come out in different formats and the merits of each. Alison is the creator of The Bechdel Test which is an interesting thing to think about when you consume media. More info here, but basically a film/show/book/etc. passes The Bechdel Test if there are two women characters who have a conversation and that conversation is not about a man. You would be surprised how few movies pass that test.

Last up was “The Art of Social Media” with Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. Guy is one of those social media phenoms and I hadn’t seen him speak before. He was very engaging and so was Peg, though I didn’t really learn anything new here. Don’t be fake, don’t have someone else do your social media, don’t buy followers, yadda yadda. Stuff I have been preaching for years and enact via Social Thinkery. Still cool to hear them talk, though.

A successful first day! More on the horizon.

Wheeeeeeeeeeew! Long time no see, beloved blog. It’s almost time for SXSW so the blogging is about to get real. Some of my favorite posts are the recaps of all the random stuff I get to see and do at this giant conference. So glad to be here for these events…it’s a unique opportunity when the world comes to your town once a year.

So yes – things that are happening. I thought I’d line out some exciting projects just to put them out into the world because I am trying to be better about that. Collaboration and opportunity does not happen if you do not announce your plans.


This time last year it was Mindy Kaling talking about everything at SXSW.

SXSW: That starts Friday with Interactive which is (ssshhhh don’t tell the Music) my favorite part. So many ideas and concepts and futuristic things are flying around it’s hard not to get excited and inspired. I’ve been picking out my schedule, but as my friend and fellow SXSW attendee Chad told me a couple of years ago, flexibility and spontaneity are key. Who knows what I’ll wander in on at the Convention Center. I think I’m focusing on a lot of film/TV stuff this year because face it: TV is KILLING IT in terms of fan acquisition and retention thanks to social media. Lessons to be learned.

Los Angeles: If you saw my Oprah Interview below, you know a little. I am heading to L.A. next month for my first time to meet, greet, network, play, and get a feel for the industry that exists there and dominates. Songwriting is fun. Getting those songs into the hands of people who can do great things with them…sounds super fun. I feel like a freshman on the first day of high school, but I’ll get the hang of it. My friend Toni Koch and her organization The Talent Tree are being a huge help in introducing me to all things Los Angeles. We’re gonna have us a time! (Anyone know anybody I should meet out there? I would like to meet them!)

SusanG: my hardcore love grows. Aside from gigging like a badass, Susan is doing a BUNCH of kids workshops this summer for the Real Life Real Music Camps, and she is also doing a songwriting workshop for adults in New Braunfels on April 17-18. This will be amazingly fun and a chance to stew in creativity for 2 days. Do it.

Social Thinkery: is humming along. I am thrilled to announce that the newest Thinkery client is Dana Cooper, who will be launching a crowd-funding campaign shortly for his new album (the awesomely titled Building a Human Being). There are a few new partnerships in the pipeline as well, and Howlin’ Dog Records is about to release 2-Bit Palmino’s stunning new CD and I am excited to work on that.

Cheers to a busy Spring…hope to see in one or more of these corners of the earth soon!

A couple of weekends ago I got to immerse in a gathering put on by the lovely folks at the Austin Songwriters Group. These folks have been bringing the industry side to Austin for a long time and it is much needed. We have a lot of live music but no publishers, song pluggers, or that sort of thing. ASG fills that void and also helps songwriters…write more. And better. Awesome stuff.

The keynote speaker/performer was James Slater, who has had a lot of hits including cuts by Martina McBride, Jamey Johnson, Chris Brown, and Enrique Iglesias (as an aspiring pop writer, this perked my interest). He gave a wonderful talk and has a great performance style. He spent years performing in piano bars in Europe and he’s clearly mastered the instrument. Biggest takeaway? Write what you want to write…don’t write to the hit. Sound advice, nice to hear it from someone successful.

The pitch sessions…so, when you register, you get to meet with a song publisher for 15 minutes. To…you know, pitch a song. All of these lovely folks are from Nashville and I am not actually country at all (though I have been told Nashville is pretty open-minded?), so I expected nothing. Sure enough, my first meeting was met with a resounding…”keep trying.” It was fine, though these things are apparently like Vegas because I walked out of that meeting and immediately signed up for another one with a different publisher.

I waited until the 3rd day of the conference for the next meeting, and this was with a publisher who works with Disney in Nashville and Los Angeles. I told her to put on her film/TV licensing and pop ears (no mouse pun intended), and played her a couple of EP tracks. Her response was very encouraging and helpful and I left motivated to pursue more film and TV stuff because she said…heck yes, do it.

Fast forward to the evening, after dinner break, when I am walking down the hall and Maggie, one of the ASG bosses, runs after me (thank you for running, Maggie) and tells me that “Throw You Forward” is the Publisher’s Pick and would I perform it that night? WHOA. Stunned. Usually I get a spidey sense about these things but I did not see this one coming. It was the good kind of blind-sided. I borrowed a guitar and played it live for ballroom of very kind folks.

So the lesson here is…well, a couple. First…join these organizations and go meet people. You’ll be inspired and who knows what creative or business collaborations will come from it.

But secondly and most importantly, if you knock on a door and it shuts on you…try the next door. Whatever possessed me to try again after having a lackluster first pitch session really paid off…the momentum is real, kids. Keep knocking.

Pomplamoose on tour. Taylor Swift and Spotify. Grammy nominations. If you’re a music industry news junkie, you’ve read about all of this in the past couple of weeks. If you’re not, just know that a lot of people have spent a lot of internet time debating music and money and art and commerce…like always.

I wrote this folk rap last year, and I am finding out the topics I wrote about are still looming and perhaps even more in the limelight.

The first part of this song is about playing open mics in college, playing my first real paid gig in front of the check out line of the natural foods store with my friend Ben. We had to play for 4 hours while people bought organic beets. It made us hearty.

The second part launches into those questions most musicians have…how to create a community and network of fans, how to grow that community, whether the very thing we think is the product nowadays is really the product at all. Is it the job of the artist to make the populace respect and pay for art? To cultivate a culture of money in exchange for music, art, prose, whatever?

Or is it the job of the artist to adapt to the overwhelming and all-consuming tide of technology and consumerism that dictates how entertainment is delivered as quickly and as easily as possible? That means accepting that music will never really be purchased as a “thing” again, simply accessed from the cloud. How does that affect value? Does it undermine the work behind it or open up the artist to millions more potential fans? What is the next income-producing mechanism for musicians if it is not music sales or, as Pomplamoose seems to point out, large scale live shows?

I don’t have the answers. I’d like to sit on a soap box and say music is inherently valuable and should be paid for, but I stream Orange Is the New Black without wondering how the producers and actors get paid off each stream from my $8 a month, and I get sucked into internet web series that are sponsored by large corporations with the understanding that I am being sold something as I am being entertained. Does it bug me much? No. Did it bug me that Lady Gaga’s show at SXSW was sponsored by Doritos? Mildly, but I got over it because I had a good time (thanks, chip people). More people will buy nacho flavored chips this year than pay to download a song. It’s real life.

The last part of the song is about how “artists gonna art”, basically. Some will always be after the dollar. Some earn it, some think they SHOULD be earning it. Some will make and create and not ever worry about it. Each of these groups will have people who are successes and non-starters. The world will keep spinning and there will always be new art and entertainment to consume.

Is there money where there’s heart? I can see it…my answer is yes. Maybe just not how we all think it should happen.

You will not be surprised to know that 1989, Taylor Swift‘s new album, is my jam this month. I am a little surprised at how invested I am in her career lately, though. Her music has definitely grown on me over the years and I got really interested when she announced a full on split with country music for this record. Studying The Swift is like a study in everything a musician can do right on a grassroots level. The weird part? She’s arguably the biggest pop star in the world at the moment, and she just sold 1.2 million albums this week…in a year when (for the first time in decades) NO ONE ELSE has gone platinum. In fact, her first week sales numbers have consistently gone UP when it’s trending downward for everyone else. It’s not a coincidence. Let’s examine this, shall we?

Swift Factor No. 1:
Be a social media phenom (and go where your fans are)

Taylor has openly admitted to stalking her fans online, and they know she’s lurking. Her Tumblr (the blogging service for people under 30, really) is hilarious and a peek into her sense of humor, which I love. She reblogs fan posts, artwork people have made, and posts the occasional embarrassing middle school photo (because we all have them). She’s just like us, trolling the internet late at night when we can’t sleep.

On Twitter, she’s been re-blogging photos of her fans with their 1989 albums in hand and selfies she’s taken with them. Most pop stars try to seem a little bit untouchable, which is a tactic that actually works sometimes (hey, Rihanna). Taylor’s approach of accessibility has made for a very loyal crowd in her demographic, though. The selfie is the new autograph and the re-tweet is the new high five.

Swift Factor No. 2
Connect with fans on a personal level

Her PR game started way before release week, obviously. One ingenious idea was to host “Secret Sessions” where fans got to listen to the album before it came out. This has been done before because fan clubs have existed for a long time. What made this interesting is that the fans were selected through social media (hence the lurking) by Taylor and her team, and they were invited to Taylor’s own house where they listened to 1989, took photos (Polaroids, which jive with the album artwork!), and ate cookies…baked by Taylor. Again, back to that point…the biggest pop star in the world right now is baking cookies for her fans. I’m sure it made the life highlight list for all the participants, but the ensuing news stories also made casual fans wish they had the opportunity to go, and non-fans admit that hey…that’s pretty cool.

Swift Factor No. 3
Make a physical product people want

People stream and people download. CDs are dinosaurs, especially to anyone under the age of 35…which is Taylor’s main demographic. How the heck did she sell 1.2 million albums to people who don’t buy albums? I saw a couple of factors at play. First, if you bought the physical CD, you got the added bonus of lyric Polaroids. There are 5 sets of of them, and each CD comes with 13 photos. Kind of a throwback to collecting trading cards, but it’s fun to get a bonus for buying the real CD. I’m not sure on what her numbers are from each store, but she partnered with Target to sell the Deluxe version which included (some really great) bonus tracks and voice memos of rough demos. Extra content only available on one format = more sales. There was also the Swiftstakes, where entering a code from the CD puts you in the running to meet Taylor on tour next year. It’s like a lottery ticket with a bonus CD, so you win anyway.


Swift Factor No. 4
Take chances and be vulnerable

Those voice memos on the Target edition struck me as brave (because yeah, I got the Deluxe release). They’re raw beginnings of songs that are super produced and polished on the album. They are hesitant and unsure and sometimes pitchy. That’s how songs get written, and if there was a thought that Taylor wasn’t writing her own stuff, this helps combat it. The other thing I admire about this record is that the last track is a co-write with Imogen Heap, who is a hero of mine as a songwriter and a producer. Apparently, Taylor admires her too, and fortunately when you are Taylor Swift, you get to write with cool people. Imogen blogs about the process here, and they turned out “Clean”, my favorite track on the album. While there are plenty of Max Martin produced songs here, having Imogen end-cap it is a really classy thing to do. It makes me excited for the artistic growth that’s bound to happen if Taylor continues to do her thing.

Swift Factor No. 5
Respect your own work

The other big hullabaloo this week aside from baking cookies with fans and selling a bunch of albums was that 1989 was not on Spotify and in fact, her entire back catalog was removed from the service. I thought it a given that a brand new release would not be on a streaming service immediately, especially since there was such a mad rush to sell physical product, but the removal of older albums was interesting. Granted, rumor has it that her label is up for sale and this was a bargaining chip (remember kids, follow the money), but all the indie artists I know have been aflutter with Swift commentary this week because it’s a big deal when the Big Folk stand up for the Littler Folk (even by proxy of actions with other intentions). Taylor and her label have bargaining power in this art-meets-tech world we live in, and she just pulled out of the game entirely. Whether it’s permanent or temporary (I suspect temporary…streaming is not going anywhere), it is at least causing us to discuss the value of music as a service. We pay $100 for cable TV access every month, and we lay down $8 for Netflix easily. What will make the majority of music listeners pay for access? And in the meantime, how is music even valued these days? Fans aren’t paying $13.99 for the Deluxe Target version of 1989 for the songs. They’re paying for the right to be a fan…to call themselves members of the Taylor Nation and to have a communal experience. And hopefully, whatever comes of this Spotify streaming conversation, artists will be able to stand up for the work they create. As Taylor said, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.” Boom.

Swift Factor No. 6
Make your loyal fans have your back

Another interesting point in this whole thing is that no tracks leaked early from those aforementioned “Secret Sessions”. The fans were asked not to record anything and no one did. When the album did leak online a few days early (who does that? Some intern from the label I suppose) and tracks were being posted around Tumblr, fans were refusing to listen to them or share them. They assumed it would hurt Taylor and her sales, and at this point the diehard fans were like a rabid guerrilla marketing team…they had a vested interest in their girl doing well on opening day. This is direct opposition to most album leaks…people generally scoop them up with little thought. Taylor had connected so much with her base that they weren’t about to mess up the album release or spoil the experience of Release Day excitement (which they knew Taylor would be tweeting and blogging about right along with them).

Phew. That’s a lot of dissection for a 24-year-old pop star. I just think that Taylor encapsulated everything I try to preach about over at Social Thinkery when I meet with clients…connect with your fan base far beyond that of a “I am an artist buy this music because I made it” mentality. It’s old and uninspiring. Create your army that will go to bat for you, spread the word for you, share in your victories with you…that is a fan base that will keep returning as long as you stay true to your art. Follow the Swift.

I am realizing “release dates” are a little bit weird in this digital music world. Back in the day, an album had a release date (always a Tuesday for some sales tracking reason) and as a music fiend, Tuesdays were big days. You’d hope the ghetto Hastings in your neighborhood got the memo and stocked the new Tori Amos that was shipping across the country that weekend to arrive by…TUESDAY. And you bought it and took it home when everyone else did on TUESDAY.

Doing a Kickstarter, however…means the really amazing folks who made my record possible get it first. They’re a big part of my online and in person community, too – so my backers have received their downloads and I spent all weekend signing CDs and addressing envelopes. I’m still not done, because someone’s great idea to have a Trilogy (oh, that’s me) means triple the CDs to sign. I think I’ve autographed about 500 albums this weekend. My hand hurts. I’ve enjoyed every minute, though. Nothing makes you more grateful for each and every supporter than hand-writing their address thinking about them as you do it.


Except, so these magic 161 people have it, but then when do you REALLY “put out the record”? Some would say to just get it over with and put it on sale, but I need to go to the post office first so the Kickstarts get it ahead of time.

In the meantime, YOU CAN NOW PRE-ORDER Throats Are Quarries from the online store (link at the top or right here) and you’ll get it June 17th (and a track to download right now!).

The official release date is July 15, 2014!!!

Why July? I need time to send this sucker out for reviews. I’ve gotten a few in already and I’ll share those in the next post. Let’s just say I’m thrilled one said, “By the time the chorus kicks in, the track has turned into a full on fist puncher, and you’ll be wondering why you haven’t heard of her before and how you got by without her music this far.” (From Crossradar.com). I think that same thing every day, people.

ANYWAY…this is how I have decided to do it. Kickstarters receive it SOON. Pre-order receive it pretty soon. The world gets it in July.