Today, after about a YEAR of having my music in three music libraries/licensing companies, I finally received the letter I’ve always been waiting for: one that said a song of mine had been licensed in someone’s project and I got paid for it!!! I’ve finally popped my licensing cherry and hopefully this will be one of many licensing successes to come. Since I’ve been so busy finding my sound, writing a ton and putting together my CD, I haven’t had a chance to get into really pushing my songs for licensing opportunities (which bring in exposure and money!) just yet, but I’m so glad that something was finally used and paid for, and it is always great to receive unexpected checks in the mail.

The statement wasn’t that detailed and just said that the instrumental for “Chocolate Cake” was used in someone’s “video,” but I really want to track down the person who used it to see the song in action–that would be so cool! I also want to send them a thank you note, haha! I can’t wait to get my new music in the licensing world and see how it does, since it’s so different from the first stuff I put out.

In other news, I’ve got to put the pedal to the metal and get a new song done and ready to release because Reverb Nation is doing another sponsored song promotional campaign and if I get selected, I’ll be in the running to win 500 bucks through getting people to vote for me online, and luckily my friends, family and fans have always been wonderful about voting for me in online competitions, so I really hope I can get enough support to win. $500 would cover a significant portion of the costs to record more material, or it could go towards a PR campaign, which I so desperately need to help kickstart things to the next level.

The longer I do this, the more I realize there really is at least a small part time living to be made at it, through finding paid performances, doing sponsored song programs, singing on other people’s demos, and licensing music, in addition to selling music and merch, and if you’re willing to put a lot of time and effort into it, it can be a significant income. You do have to spend the time hustling, but that time spent will bring in money one way or another. That is a really nice thing to know.

So now I just need to finish recording vocals for my album, make the album art, compile the demo, get hard copies of the demo and the album, rehearse for the show in December, prep for my third show at Spence, and start hitting the blogs hard for publicity etc. The exciting part is about to begin!!

Follow me on Twitter for all the up-to-the-minute-updates: twitter.com/jccassis.

For the last many weeks, I’ve been working on writing and recording the rest of the tracks for my upcoming debut album, “Four on the Floor.” I want to have at least 12 tracks on the album, and of course I want them to be as good as they can possibly be since I’ll be starting to push this material to bloggers and other press and internet radio and potential and existing fans etc etc, so I’m taking my time and trying to make it perfect while also hurrying and trying to get it out so I can start promoting it and hopefully start seeing the fruits of that promotion.

Right now, as you know, I’ve got six tracks finished and posted on jccassis.com (click on “music”). I have one more track that’s ready to be finished in the studio but there was a technical snafu I have to go back and fix. Then there are three tracks that are ready for vocals, one track I’m not sure about, and two songs I’ve written but not started the recordings for. So I’ve got to decide what to do with the track I’m not sure about, record vocals for all 6 songs that don’t have them recorded yet, and make tracks for two more songs. That’s a fair amount of work, but if I’m diligent about it I should be able to get it done over the next couple of weeks. Then it will be time to take everything to the studio to be mixed and mastered, then FINALLY the album will be done, I’ll cull a demo from it, and start sending them both out into the world. Of course I’ve also got to make album art for it and get some hard copies printed up to give out and sell, but at least all the creative work will be done for a while.

Happily, I’m VERY inspired to write these days so I’m confident I will continue to come out with new material a fair amount even when this album is finished and released, but my goals for right now are 1) to have a demo to give to industry contacts, 2) to have an album to send to reviewers/bloggers/give to potential fans/sell at shows/be my presence on iTunes and all other digital retailers, and 3) be finished with this album so I can spend the vast majority of the next few months promoting the hell out of it and hopefully get somewhere with it. It will be a LOT of work. I’ve got to get it all over internet radio, try to get it licensed for use in film & TV, get as much press for it as possible, make music videos for some of the songs, try to make as many new fans as possible through social networks and shows, and on and on and on. But I can’t start any of this until the album is done, so that’s what I’m trying to make happen right now. Once it’s done though, I hope I can count on you to help me get the word out! 🙂

p.s. I also got accepted into a songwriting workshop at the Songwriters Hall of Fame starting next week, so I’m hoping that will give me even more insight into writing hit songs as well as get me connected to some great industry contacts. Lady Gaga met her producer through a Songwriters Hall of Fame showcase event the story goes, so I can’t help but be a little excited about what opportunities this might bring about for me… 🙂 The first assignment is to write a song for an artist of your choosing that a publisher or record label would want, so of course I picked Britney Spears, and the song I wrote is REALLY good and REALLY in her style so I REALLY hope they like it! 🙂

Music! After months of trying to juggle EVERYTHING about my music career at once–songwriting, organizing my band, setting up rehearsals and booking shows, making my website, recording, promotion, etc etc etc, it dawned on me that the key to all of this, the one thing I need above everything else, right now, is as many great recordings of great songs as possible. The single most important thing I should be doing, and should get done as soon as possible, is finish writing and making as many great songs as possible, and put them out for people to hear. No one will care how good my pictures or website or marketing efforts are if my music sucks or isn’t available to hear, but if I have great songs they can listen to and nothing else, those great songs will still make an impression.

So right now, I am doing everything I can to finish my album this month. So far I’ve got 6 recordings out, one more recording ready to go to the studio, two more tracks ready for vocals, and three or four more songs written and ready to be made. The goal is to have all the rest of the tracks for the remaining songs made by 9/10/09, when I go away for a few days, so that when I come back, I can just record the rest of the vocals over the course of about ten days, then take them into the studio to get finished so I can release them. Once allllll the work is done making the songs, I will pick the four best for my demo and get demo cd’s printed up to give out to industry contacts, as well as probably print up full albums to sell and give away at shows. Then I will focus my efforts sharply on publicity and shows, hitting up the music blogs hard, trying to get my songs licensed for use in film and TV, and making music videos. I hope that this will garner some positive press, which will bring more awareness of my music and more fans into the fold. Sitting here thinking about this is making me realize how much time it will all take, which is a little daunting to think about, but hey, every dream worth living takes a lotta lotta work, and I have no way of knowing what will come at the end of all this effort, but the point is that I’m making music I’m really proud of and excited about and I expect it to do really well once it gets out there. All the people I’ve showed it to have really enjoyed it, and I don’t see why bloggers and industry folk should be any different. I’m prepared for some harsh feedback from some people, but mostly I expect positive feedback.

Also, since I specifically started this blog with the intention of shedding light on how things actually happen for me, now might be a good time to mention how my networking is going. I don’t think it’s prudent to name names of people I’m talking about since they’re industry folk and I wouldn’t want to upset them in any way by attributing any comments to them that they didn’t want on a blog, so I’ll have to protect identities here in case things ever develop which would make that necessary. But in short, here are some networking things that have happened recently:

-At a music networking event, I met a lovely music lawyer as well as a fabulous DJ who helps select acts for SXSW, a very important music festival.

-I have a friend who’s signed to a major label and with whom I’m talking at length and in detail about this friend’s experiences in this friend’s position, which is fascinating and helpful.

-Through people being aware that I want to make music my full time career, I have been put in touch with a very successful and sweet music manager, and an awesome producer, and I’ve been hooked up with an awesome paying gig, and invited to do lots of cool shows.

The take home message about all this is:

1. Be as good as you can possibly be at what you do. Do whatever it takes to make your music amazing.

2. Talk about it constantly. Let people know you’re constantly working, producing and moving things forward. Then when they hear of things and people that can help you, they’ll hook you up.

3. People in the music industry are really, really nice and approachable and cool, so don’t be afraid of them or think they’re inaccessible. You just have to approach them the right way and you’ll be all set.

I haven’t entered into any working relationships with these people yet, but as I get ready to take things to the next level once I have my demo and album ready, these will be excellent people to know and talk to, and they could end up being extremely helpful, even pivotal, in my career. So in short, I’m feeling good about how building my contacts in the industry is going, and all it’s taken is some networking, chatting, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and having fun the whole time!

Ok. Some things that have happened since last entry:

1. Finished two new songs (though I’ll prolly tweak or re-record vocals before I say the album’s totally done), which are, as always, at jccassis.bandcamp.com. People are lovin’ them so far and I’m really proud.

2. Got one more song almost done, then time to keep going with more. I have some really awesome ideas for new songs to write that I’m really excited about. I think my voice as a performer/artist will be clearer and clearer the more music I put out. Yay.

3.Performed at Cat’s birthday party in SoHo at this fab loft with backing tracks and a kickass sound system. Everyone at the party loved it. Added mad people to the mailing list and possibly found a new male backup dancer!

4. Surpassed 10,000 friends on myspace! Yes! So nice to have people listening to the music and liking it and asking me to come play in their cities. I wish I could now but it’ll be a little while!

5. There are a lot of music marketing programs and services offered out there, and it’s easy to think everything being sold on the internet that’s not from some big name retailer is a scam, but there’s a money back guarantee, and either way it’s a tax deduction, so I’m probably going to do the Musicians Mastermind program and see if it gets me the kind of results it promises.

6. Really excited about performing in Union Square this summer. Gotta find out about permits and make that happen. A weekly gig in Union Square would really help me get out there to new audiences I think. And maybe creating my own street residency would lead to a club residency somewhere!

7. Really excited to see that some indie labels with big successful artists accept demos and listen to everything they get. Now, we’ll see if my demo is in good enough shape to get heard and get interest, but at least there are people who can help your career to whom you can have access.

Looking forward to hopefully making a good living off of music soon!!

p.s. Performance footage from the dance parade coming soon…