Violectric “One” Review by Noted Music Analyst

It has been two years in and out of the studio, revising arrangements, editing, herding cats, plus mixing and mastering, but my band, Violectric, finally has finished its first CD:  “One.”  The title pays homage to both classical and classic rock composers by using the numerical system for musical works.  Led Zeppelin used Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV), while Beethoven used titles such as “Symphony No. 1/2/3/4/5….”  As this is our first album, I thought it fitting to follow the examples set by the great artists before me.

Recently, I was contacted by noted music analyst, Christopher Long.  Mr. Long wanted to do an exclusive preview and review of our CD before it was available to the public.  Here is the link to his review, and the very first public review of this album.  The album “One” will be available on iTunes, Amazon and other worldwide online stores February 14, with hard copies available February 23, 2014.

Disposable vs. Indispensable

We have become a disposable society.  Disposable razors, diapers, water bottles, coffee cups, etc.  Visit any landfill in the world and you can witness it firsthand.  Companies and their designers are actually designing things to last just long enough that you will replace it with the same or newer item when it does break.  Cars used to be designed to last over 10 years; now it is rare to find one with a warranty longer than 3-5 years.  Shoes are made so poorly now that they have to be replaced every few months if worn daily, especially when working.  Appliances last maybe a year or two, then end up in the landfill.  People don’t repair anything anymore, especially when it’s cheaper to buy a new one.

I can somewhat understand about electronics needing to be replaced as new technology is created and used, but how often do they really need to be replaced?  Some companies make the next “thing” completely incompatible with its predecessor so that you have to buy everything new, including chargers, cables and accessories.  Or you have to buy and download new software that even has an expiration date for use!

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Moonlighting:  having a second job in addition to one’s regular employment, oftentimes of a sketchy nature

Did you know that many employers ban moonlighting?  It is legal.  This can be a concern when you are a musician and having to “pay the bills” by doing other work.  If you are employed by someone (not as an independent contractor, but as an actual W-2 employee), the employer can ban you from doing other work on the side.  Their reason?  They are paying you to do a job to the best of your ability, and if they think you are not giving your best to them, then they may want to replace you.  They can even sue you!

This can be especially tricky when you are employed as a musician under a W-2, and then you also do work on the side as a freelance musician.  The employer is expecting you to come to work fresh and ready to do a show/performance, and does not want you tired and exhausted from where you just came in after driving all night from playing another gig in another state.  Nor do they want you to come in late because your other gig ran late that day before your scheduled shift.

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Do You Work for Minimum Wage?

As we prepare for another union membership meeting about changes to the price list for this specific geographical region, I feel it necessary to ask this question.  Minimum wage is just that – the MINIMUM.  It is established for the least experienced with the lowest skill set (i.e. usually students and people who never tried to learn a trade or expand their education.)  As you earn skills and improve your education, you can demand more money for your time.  I know very few people making minimum wage as lawyers, doctors and other professions who must attend school more than the regular 13 years and 4+ years of college.  The more experience you have, the more money you should make.  Now translate this to musicians.

Minimum SCALE is the minimum wage based for the lowest skill set of musicians at the professional level.  It is the starting salary for those right out of college, not the salary for musicians who have been doing it for 10+ years.  Minimum wage scales should be marketed as the STARTING scale, not the only scale.  The problem is that minimum scale has become the acceptable standard to pay all professional musicians, regardless of experience and investment in degrees, instruments and equipment.

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Where Do You Actually Do Business?

In today’s world of digital offices, we can virtually do business anywhere that has power, cell service and a wi-fi connection.  Most of my initial correspondence is through e-mail, from inquiries to questions to sending files and sharing website links.  That correspondence then leads to phone conversations, which then usually lead to a face-to-face meeting.  But where do we meet?

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Dress Code for Musicians and Their Audiences

What happened to style for ladies?  I realize this may be way off the topic of most of my posts about working musicians, but it does directly involve how female musicians dress for work.  As we start a new season of symphonic performances, I often wonder what fashion choices we will see onstage and off.  In recent years, orchestras have had to put dress codes in their contracts to make sure that the musicians show up for a concert dressed properly. Perhaps we need a dress code for the audience, too.  I can see it now in the fine print on the back of everyone’s ticket is a phrase that says:  “Dress accordingly for this event.  Those who are found in violation of proper attire may be denied entry.”

Okay, that may be going too far, but many fine restaurants and golf courses have dress codes about “no tank tops, no shorts, jacket required, etc.”  Maybe Performing Arts Centers should have a dress code for their patrons.  Until they do, I have a few suggestions for the ladies.

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Us vs. Them – Why Unions Are Failing Its Members

Having recently spent eight straight days in meetings related to the musicians’ union, I see why the AFM is failing its members.  Like most unions, it is creating an “Us vs. Them” mentality when it comes to contractors and management.  This may work well for other unions, but when it comes to musicians, we are all our own contractors and managers.  Most of my musician friends are self-employed, self-managed musicians who are trying to make a living doing what they love – making music!  Some get together with other self-managed musicians and give shows or create ensembles with the hopes of being hired as a group for shows.  Very few are fortunate enough to have a W-2 employer that guarantees hours and wages and working conditions on a regular basis, and these are usually under a collective bargaining agreement.  So why is the AFM treating its own members as the enemy?

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Unions – Why Be a Member?

For the past ten years, I have served as an International Delegate to the International Convention of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada on behalf of the Central Florida Musicians’ Association.  As we approach the upcoming convention, my mind has been tasked with understanding the significance and purpose of my responsibilities as a member and a delegate.  This has led to my questioning the need for unions in today’s America.

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Street Festivals/Charity Events

Pine Street Rock & StrollI went into the month of June with only 2 gigs on the books, but it quickly changed to 21 paying gigs just in June. Today is the 21st gig of the month – a wedding this afternoon. How can this change so quickly? By getting in front of the right people with a unique act that they can sell again and again.
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