Friday, February 04, 2011

Steve Gets Signed to a Record Label: Watchfire.

Something has been brewing for the past week that I don't want to announce because the papers weren't signed. But, if you look around this site, you will see that the "free music download" page has disappeared.

That's because my music has now been licensed for download by Watchfire Music, an "inspirational" record label. We signed the contract today.

It all happened so quickly and so easily, that I'm almost caught off-guard and am not exactly sure how to plot this new career twist, not that I've ever plotted my so-called career.

Paul Zollo and I were emailing/remembering. Back during my tenure at National Academy of Songwriters, I put my "songwriting career" on hold. Or, at least, that's what everyone told me I was doing. And even I thought that's I was doing, but really, I was learning how to have a career. I just wasn't writing that many songs, or singing out in the clubs.

Because my job was to help other songwriters get at least a foothold in the music scene in Los Angeles, I felt if they thought I was competing with them, it would make it more difficult to help them. So, instead, I focused on the business, leaning how it all works.

There was something invigorating about throwing myself into a job that I had absolutely no qualifications for: managing director. I had no law degree. I knew nothing about the music business. And I had never held a corporate job. My entire adult life had consisted of me being on the road.

It's how Jim and I met. I was singing and playing on a cruise ship -- another job I had absolutely no experience with, but somehow landed the gig even though I did not know any Broadway songs or jazz standards. But I learned on the job and made it my own. In L.A., at NAS, I did the same.

When we arrived in Los Angeles, way back then, the first thing I did was volunteer, for free, on the front desk answering phones. I was, what, in my 30s? A year later, I was managing director. Learned on the job and made it my own, even changing the music business a little bit by producing the Acoustic Underground shows.

So, I used the cruise ship gig as my college education in the American Songbook, a elegant little tome I had previously been mostly unaware of. Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Sondheim -- I was great at Sondheim because I hadn't heard the songs before singing them. I just treated them like love songs, reading from cheat sheets. All R&B.

During my time at NAS -- which, I realize now, was a college education in business -- I watched the industry consolidate and artistically die because the music guys were all fired, or had their hands tied, and the accountants took over. The Big Five become Four. Or was it the Big Six became Five? Not that talented people couldn't be found and nurtured, but music guys don't merely look for "talent." They look for artists.

Talent comes and goes. Artistry sits angrily, like a rock in the stream, making you go around.

I'm not saying accountants are bad people. I realize that a good accountant can keep you from losing everything you own. But, I learned a long time ago that the bigger something is, the stupider it is. Record labels, all in their death throes now, died because they got too big, too comfortable and too stupid. The electronic age happened, and they got passed by.

From my observatory desk at NAS -- I had no actual power -- I watched the music business. I was the bartender at the party. I saw people take a year or more to negotiate a contract to have a contract. Modern contracts are so long and so complicated, and filled with so much detail, you go broke before you start. And you end up being owned -- and easily dropped.

A record goes up. It goes down. It's over.

It's one of the reasons I like Watchfire's business model. We're not exchanging money up front. Instead, the contract is, literally, two pages long and what they provide is infrastructure, marketing, and someone who believes in my music. And we'll just split the profits from the sales.

I am under contract as composer/artist. Meaning, our main product will be sheet music, available for download, with a license to make two copies. One for the singer and one for the pianist. The "genre" is "Inspirational," which may or may not contain spiritual elements, but they will be appropriate for church and synagogue, mosque or civic meeting.

Available, once I've finished all the arrangements, will be selections from New World Waking, The Big Voice and The Last Session -- as well as the new songs I've been writing. The sheet music will be in various versions -- for singers in high, medium and low keys, along with music tracks where people can hear what the songs are to sound like.

So, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm so excited to be working with Watchfire. And excited that my songs will now be available to a much wider audience.

And that's my big news of the day!


Bev Sykes said...

All of us "little people" who have supported you for soooo long are thrilled. This is one of the "better prizes," I think!

Gabi Clayton said...

I'm thrilled for you, OnBiHe. You are an inspiration! Time to update your FUAH bio? ((((HUGS)))) and kisses from the drippy NorthWest.

Chris said...


Devin Richards said...

So great! Congratulations!
Watchfire link didn't work on your blog Stevie!
Here it is
Watchfire Mucic

ttv said...

Perhaps, you are very lucky..

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you! This is big news! I am so happy for you, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Whitney. Hahaha! I'm an idiot with these things.

Walk With Me - Tour Guides Protest - 08 07 21

I walked into a protest! But who? I didn't know, so I followed them around until I found out. It's the "live" tour guides ...