I'm workin' it with others a lot these days!

Forgot to put this in my update below. The other thing that’s been keeping me busy recently is collaborations, collaborations and more collaborations! Like these:

1. Last night I laid down vocals for two Hepnova songs, and they’re pretty awesome. Hepnova is my two friends Lee-Sean and Nick, and you can check out their stuff at hepnova.bandcamp.com. They’ll be replacing the lead vocals on their songs “Again Tonight” and “You’re For Me” with my vocals very soon. It’s always a ton of fun recording vocals with Lee-Sean in his lower Manhattan studio, which is where the Can’t Stop (Remix) video was filmed:

He also posted a bunch of silly self-portraits I took during the session on facebook, so if you’re not already my friend on facebook, friend me at facebook.com/jccassis so you can see them.

2. At a music networking event last week, I ran into producer Alex Morelli, for whom I sang on a demo last year, and whom I hadn’t seen in a year! He and I will be working on some songs of his very soon.

3. I got a request through a new YouTube friend to record some vocals and help write on an awesome dance song they’re working on, so I gotta lay those down and send them off asap.

4. Got a ton of remixes coming down the pike as soon as the people who are working on them finish…

5. I have found a DJ to add to my live shows, which I think will up the energy so much and allow me to keep the music going while I talk between songs. She is awesome and her name is DJ Ahomii. The way we met is the randomest story ever and I love it. I was performing at the Bandshell in Central Park in November. She walked by during my set with a very cute French bulldog. I petted the bulldog. She took a picture. Then she randomly found me on facebook two months later and showed me the picture. I talked to her and she said she was a DJ. I asked if she wanted to be my DJ, she said yes, and we’ll be rehearsing together soon to start doing shows together as early as April 25th! I think this is going to be such a huge help. With a DJ, my show will be way better which will make me more proactive about booking more shows, as well as make me more marketable to people booking shows, especially in clubs and at dance parties. It will also make it easier and more fun to tour since I can play small dance-centric bars and clubs anywhere if I come in with a DJ. She also loves the same music and songs I do and has a flair for crazy fashion on stage and is super nice. I think this collaboration is going to be a lot of fun for the two of us.

YAY!

My hundreds of receipts for tax-deductible things from 2009.

So after putting together all my receipts from this year I found out that I spent a quarter of my total income before taxes this year on music-related stuff, which is about what I expected, but still, when you consider that most New Yorkers spend around a third to a half of their income on rent, then pay all the taxes we have to pay, the fact that I spent a quarter of my income on music stuff and still managed to save a bunch of money is pretty awesome. The expenses, from largest to smallest, were as follows:

Rent on my studio/office

Mixing and mastering my songs

Tech-related expenses (this was so high because I had to pay a tearjerkingly large amount of money to do data recovery and computer repair after my hard drive died this summer. Am I backing stuff up now? You bet your sweet ass I am. Holy shit!)

Deductible meals (networking, business relationship building, treating dancers and other favor-doing friends to meals in exchange for their help with my projects)

Site maintenance/hosting, songwriting contests, SonicBids submissions, payment for airplay on Jango.com

Transportation around NYC

Stage costumes/makeup

Business phone bill

Rehearsal space for my band

Show-related expenses (equipment purchases etc)

Deductible tickets to professionally enriching music shows/movies

Membership dues for Women in Music and Art for Progress

Music conference registration fees

Mailing CDs to fans and registration forms to music companies

The good news is, I expect many of these expenses to go down, but if I do end up doing shows in places I have to fly to, the overall amount of money I spend on my career might still go up this year. But it’s nice to know that I don’t expect to have my computer melt down again this year, and if it does, I still won’t need to do data recovery if I keep backing everything up, which will knock about $1000 off the bill for having my computer repaired. I am also being more frugal in general with how much I spend at restaurants, I don’t expect to enter any songwriting contests this year as they’ve largely been a waste of time, I’ll be drastically reducing my submissions through SonicBids since I find it better to just advance my career in free and productive ways, I’m being more frugal with my MTA and cab spending since monthly unlimited cards have gotten expensive enough that they don’t make sense for me anymore and I love walking anyway, I’ve got enough costume pieces and makeup that I won’t need that much more this year, and I won’t be performing as much with my band this year since I think it makes more sense to do solo shows/shows with a DJ playing my tracks. This should eliminate a lot of expense and hassle while making more room for more shows and promo that are actually effective in building my fanbase and getting my career off the ground. I’m excited!

So the show at the Dance Parade After Party in Tompkins Square Park really kicked ass. It was my first one with just me, backing tracks, and backup dancers and was so much fun. Also it was the first show in a long time that I didn’t have to bring the damn crowd, which was so great. There were about 200 people crowded right around the stage watching and more standing around the park listening, so that was awesome. The sound system was great and the dancing went great and I really held it down. Through it, I met a few DJ’s who all said they’d like to work/perform with me and/or spin my stuff in clubs, so that is totally awesome. I’ll finally get the club play I’ve been dreaming of!!

Couple tips:
1. It definitely helps to have an identifiable genre/sound that you belong to. Though I’m specifically going for dance-pop since I want mainstream success, my music is similar to some House music, and people kept coming up to me after the Dance Parade show saying “So you’re a house artist, right? I love house music. I’m a house DJ, you should come play at this club…” etc etc. When I was doing other types of music and trying to figure out what direction to go, no one ever said, “So you’re a country/pop/comedy/dance artist? You should come play at my country/pop/comedy/dance show…” because no one has multi-genre shows and opportunities for the most part. Each genre has its own world and its own path to success. Singer-songwriters have the coffeehouses, college circuit, songwriter groups, rock clubs, etc, dance artists have djs, producers, club performances, etc, rap artists have battles, mixtapes, etc etc. So picking your genre will make it much easier to see the path you have to travel. Now that I know I’m doing dance-pop/house, I know I need to pursue DJs and producers who will play and improve upon my tracks and spread them around, and I need to perform in straight and gay dance clubs, not coffeehouses etc. Makes things a lot clearer and when you know what you have to do, it’s a lot easier to get it done.

2. At an AIMP song pitching event, one of the record label A&R guys explained that a hit song is really just a series of hooks. A great hook for the verse, a great hook for the prechorus, and then a series of a great hook, an even better hook, and the biggest and best hook comprising the chorus. Then, the bridge should be even better than the rest of the song. This is so true. Think of a hit song on top 40 radio right now, and it’s likely it will fit into that mold. Now that I know that, I think it will help me make sure my songs are hit material.

P.S. I’m getting a wee bit sick of doing all this self promotion, which is a hazard of this job that I never thought of before. It gets sort of boring and annoying to have your life be about you you you all the time. That makes me laugh though. And the simple fact is, if I don’t do it, no one else will, and it’s required for getting anywhere in music, and I am determined to be successful at this, so that’s life I guess. And now, back to twitter/myspace/facebook/thesixtyone/gmail. Barf.