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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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… ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

The difference between an ok life and a great life is hard work.

Whatever lofty goal or big dream you have in life, it’s going to take some hard-ass work to achieve it.

The best thing you can do for yourself when pursuing a goal is immediately throw out the idea that it will be easy or happen fast. Because it won’t and it won’t.

Accept the fact that anything worth getting only comes after a lot of hard work, and get to work.

Here’s some of the work I’m doing right now: making music, making videos, leading a band, booking shows, friending hundreds of people on Myspace each day, performing as much as possible, practicing and learning new skills and songs on the guitar, trying to get blog publicity, and on and on and on.

A little work every day adds up over time to a lot of goals reached. A lot of work every day accomplishes even bigger goals even faster. The work is never going to end, so get used to working constantly. Once you reach your goal, you’re going to have to work to stay there, and work even harder to get beyond that point. So get comfortable with the idea of hard work every day. Because there really is no alternative if you have any ambition at all.

When you want to accomplish anything, in any industry or pursuit, you should tell everyone you know/meet about it. You’ll never believe how many people can help you out that you already know or that you will meet in your life. Sometimes the person you’re talking to has the power to help you him/herself, sometimes they know someone who can help you, or sometimes they just know something that can help you get where you’re going faster. But nine times out of ten, they’ll have something worthwhile to share with you. When I tell people I’m pursuing a career as a music artist, I never, ever get a blank stare. I always get one of the following responses (or something close to it):

“That’s awesome! It’s so admirable that you’re pursuing your dreams and not just settling for some lame job.” (This makes me feel good about myself and my decisions about my life, which gives me confidence to keep going.)

“Oh wow, I want to hear your music/come to a show!” (This also makes me feel good, and as though people give a shit about what I’m doing and are actually willing to support it or at least give it some of their attention.)

“Cool, you know, I know a music blogger/singer-songwriter/record label employee/manager/agent/booker/guitarist you should talk to–here’s his info…” (This helps me make a connection that is helpful no matter what–whether I just get a bit of advice out of it or a record deal.)

“Oh great, you know, I’m putting on a show and I’d love you to come play…” (That person just booked a show for me. Great!)

That’s why, when someone gives you an opportunity to tell them about yourself, you should tell them what you most want them to know, what you want to be true. You talk about what’s important to you, so they make a response that’s relevant to that part of your life. You’re basically telling them, “This is who I am. This is how I want to be known/seen.” So if you’re an aspiring screenwriter, don’t say, “Well, I’ve been noodling around with this movie script in my spare time, but it’s nothing special.” Say, “I’m working on a movie script I’m really excited about, and trying to figure out how to get it to the right people so it gets read.” Showing that you’re serious and are doing the legwork is what impresses people and makes them want to help you. When people ask what I do, I say I’m a singer songwriter who’s hitting a lot of open mics, doing shows with my band, making my own music videos, learning to accompany myself on guitar, and basically working towards a high-flying pop career. Now, do I also have a day job? Yes. But is that my ultimate goal and dream in life, with which I want help moving forward? No. I want help making progress in music, so I talk about how much work I’m doing on my music, and people are impressed and interested and offer to help.

Also, it’s important to know that people want to help you. People love helping other people. Personally, one of my favorite things to do is connect my friends with other friends and contacts who can help them do what they want to do. It gets them excited, it gets me excited for them, and it makes everyone happy. But, they have to let me know what they want so I know who to put them in contact with. If they don’t say anything, I don’t know how to help them. So don’t be shy about talking about your passions and goals, and ask people for the help that they’re just dying to give. They’ll give it, you’ll get it, and it will be awesome!

I’ve had a couple weeks away from my dayjob this month and I can’t believe how busy things have been–and how much I have yet to do!

I’ve put together a backing band for live shows and booked our first show for January 30th at 8:40pm at Public Assembly in Brooklyn (www.publicassemblynyc.com). The goal is to have one full-band show per month to start off, as well as do as many solo open mic performances as possible to drum up a fan base, make connections, and refine my performance/guitar skills.

I’ve taped half my YouTube cover videos that I wanted to do with a solo guitar accompaniment so far, and am doing the other half tomorrow. I’ll post those on YouTube asap and hopefully start getting lots of views!

I’ve revamped my website according to some of the helpful hints on www.ArielPublicity.com, and made it much better-looking and more user-friendly, so hopefully that will help me retain fans when random people come across my stuff on the internet and want to support me. BTW, as you’ll see, there’s a notice on the site to email me if you want a free mp3 of mine, so if any of you reading this want a free mp3, email me at talktojccassis AT gmail DOT com and lemme know! Don’t get annoyed if you’ve already bought my album–you got 13 tracks for the price of 10 because of the way iTunes prices albums. ๐Ÿ™‚ But you can always get a free mp3 from me once I’ve made some new music!

With the remaining vacation time and beyond, my next set of goals is to finish/post those cover videos, book a February gig with the band, write and record new music for the next album, learn pro tools, make merchandise for my online store, and finish perfecting my guitar playing on the additional songs I’ve been learning for open mics, then get out there and play as much as possible. I also want to join Taxi, the independent A&R company, and see if I can get any cool opportunities through that. (www.taxi.com)

Wish me luck! I’m excited!
-JC

I have this annoying tic where as soon as I think of something I should do to try to get more exposure for my music, I think something self-defeatist like, “No, that wouldn’t help. It would never get the results I really want.” Then I have to remind myself, “Bullshit, JC, you haven’t even tried it! Why don’t you try it?” I remind myself that of course it hasn’t worked yet, because I haven’t tried it yet. But maybe if I gave it a real, honest, effort-filled shot, it would!

People are always talking about how hard it is to become a star in any field. “Sure that person succeeded,” they’ll say, “but for every person who succeeds, do you know how many people fail at that? A lot!” True, but what I want to know is: how many of those people who failed really, really tried, and gave it their all, and kept trying until they had absolutely exhausted their options? None, I think. Because I don’t think there really is a way to exhaust your options. If you run out of money, go make some more. If you run out of friends, go make some more. If you run out of jail, you better keep runnin’, baby!

My latest idea for what I’m going to try to get more exposure for my music is YouTube cover videos. There are a bunch of people on YouTube who’ve done them (Esmee Denters being the best-known) and some of them have gotten some great opportunities out of them. But all of the good ones who’ve made lots of videos have gotten hundreds of thousands if not millions of views, which is way more than I’ve gotten so far with my original music. And of course the idea is if you can get people to watch you sing covers, maybe they’ll watch your videos for your original music, too. Can’t hurt. And some of these people went from being total unknowns to being signed to major labels in a year to two years. Not bad at all!

For my cover videos, I’m going to do some of the all-time most watched songs, some of the most popular and searched-for songs of the moment, some classics, some of my personal favorites, and keep going as long as I can/need to to get where I want to go. The average person might fail at this because they might not do it at all or they might not do it long enough, but I’m going to do it and do it as long as I need to to get the results I want, and that’s what’ll make the difference. That, and picking the right songs and singing the hell out of them.