Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Old Hat

The actual corner, the actual night in August 2008
Nashville, its a magic town. The first time I went there, it was with two friends and all we had each, was a guitar in our hands.  I went down to the corner with my guitar and I stayed there all day with an open guitar case.


We went down there on a random road trip. One of us goofed off and chased girls (networking), one of us came and went but put in work (specialist), and one of us never left the corner the whole time (grinder). Did we think someone would "discover us" playing on the corner? No. Was that the Goal..?  No... plain and simple reason was because none of us had ever been to Nashville. However, we were all broke with empty pockets and needed to make money just to get home. So we played our music in the street. It feed us and gave us gas money.


People threw money in the case and gave me praise. I met all types who wanted to talk to me. Out of everything that i received that night, one thing became very important.  One man in the evening came up to me and listened to me play on the corner, He stood with his wife on a busy Nashville street.  He was a tall with a wide brimmed felt hat.  He was robust round and sturdy, his cheeks were red from Whiskey, with a perma-smile on his face. When I finished the song, he came up and started to talk to me. I complimented him on the hat and his taste in music. He said to me that he wanted to help me out. He said I needed a better hat then the one I was wearing. So he took the K-Mart Fedora off my head and put his wide brim hat on my mine. He said that was better, and with that put my hat on, and walked off to the next bar...and I never saw him again.
First picture in This old Hat
What I didn't realize is that man just gave me the best hat I have ever owned.  
Clingmans Dome, TN
The Hat was made by The Turner Hat company and was their American Sportsman. It's a felt wool hat, that is crush proof, and it stays warm when its cold or wet.  This hat became my travel companion, able to keep the sun out of my eyes, and the rain off my head. With this old hat as my crown I traveled as musician from coast to coast. It didn't matter if i was Looking down from the top of mountains or Looking Up from Dessert Canyons, I was wearing that old hat. It was a constant accessory, I put guitar picks in the leather when I'm playing a gig, and I put Fly lures in it when I am fishing in the middle of a river.
People would see me playing music in bars, winerys, resterants, and Street performing all over the place. I started to get recognized by some of these passing strangers. They always remembered me as that guy with the big voice. With my appearance though, what made me stand out was this old hat and my big beard. They Would always recognize me by those two things together. To this point, I would met some people I saw at several shows on the street. Since I wasn't singing they didn't recognize me. I stopped to say hello and they said they didn't recognize me without that old hat on. However, if I walk around with this Old hat on then people would come up to me because they recognized me.

A Drawing I made for T-Shirts, stickers, and other stuff
What I realized was that I had unintentional made a brand. It was a form of visual recognition that stood out to people. Plus, I look like a Mountain man walking around the city, which stands out.This old hat is essential for that look just like the big beard.  I decided to go with. Now  I wear this old hat every show I play.  Every piece of media with my face on it is under this old hat.
Benton Falls, South East Tennessee
Over the years I have put a lot of perspiration into the brim, and the sun has faded the color.  The Leather strap has an American flag pin in it from when My father Passed and a piece of jewelry clipped to it I found at a show. The front of it is stained from where my hand always clutches it to either adjust it or remove it. There is sand from Florida as fine as baby powder forever locked into the felt and after it gets warm or wet it has a smell, and not a pleasant one..  No matter were I go at night, I take off that Old hat, lay it down next to me and empty the contents of my pockets into it. I wake up in the morning put that stuff back in my pocket and the hat back on my head. This has been the routine for years.

Now after about a decade, this old hat is dirty, this old hat smells, and this old hat need to be cleaned. However if I'm playing a show or hiking in the woods I'm still wearing this old hat. My girl doesn't want it by the bed though, and I got to wash my head after wearing it before we get close. I can't blame her for that either.So far the only thing ever bad about this old hat has come from the stains of time. Its one of a handful of possessions that I have come to cherish. It was a kingly gift to get, and am forever grateful to that stranger in Nashville. Little did I know those ten years ago, how important a well made American  hat could be. How something seemingly so small could be such an important part of my life. It has helped define me to others as a visual brand. It is the most functional, sturdy and dependable hat I've ever had. It has been tried and tested in blizzards on a mountain side. If its to windy i can literally fold it up and put it in my pocket. I will probably own hats from Turner Hat Company for the rest of my life, because a man from Nashville's one small act of kindness.
Like I said Nashville can be a magic town.


Death Valley, CA
Joshua Tree, CA
Sequoia National Park, CA
Key West,  FL
 

St. Louis, MO

Everglades, FL

 
St. Louis, MO
SXSW Austin, TX

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Morphing Midnight musings

I set her tuning in useless a useless key and turn in sleepless hours.
Then you hear the not of love, and you can feel its powers
I do not dine full of wine when I recline in my domicile
I take alittle more in and grin at the sin in the moment of reconcile


Popular culture is giving us a an overflow of useless things
The TV is for adds owned by the corporations selling disposable dreams
OWners of the info, also own the  news and the politicians
Election season is domestic psychological  warfare, and superstitions
Corporate espionage is an international and democratic business
Mixing and mingling in the mezzanines over consumer data and page visits

How do i make a difference, when i can't find the way
So many things leave you speechless, with nothing to say
can music change the heart and renew the mind,
Find the button in you to restart and truly redefine
Can we help in harmony, instead of shudder, shrouded by useless noise
Maybe melody,  instead of the other, will fill us in pride and poise



What if i look at history and put it together,
what could I build?
The lessons are not as obvious any more
Patriotism sets its roots in rebellion against the very dirt from which it springs to life
And the winner erases the history of his enemy,
PAin on paper following the rules they decided from the fallen ashes of a failed idea

Fulled with the caffeine and cinnamon under my nose
A place to pull energy, and the screen that shows
A source of synthetic type of cerebellum
To absorb the ab-norm with artificial Flagellum
Click by Click Chemicals concted to the information
Making you an unqualified expert for a variety of situations
Who acts without hesitation in a proclamation of your digital regurgitation




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making Cheap and Easy CD Sleeves (Mobile Music Factory)

Hello, and a good day to you.

Overhead can be a killer for the working musician. You need to make a certain amount every month to sustain yourself while you are on the move. As a musician/ Band you need to have product to sell and distribute to every new person that you meet. This means spending money up front on T-shirts, stickers, ect not knowing how they are doing to sell when the opportunity arises. This is particularly important for your music and selling physical CD's is the most essential merchandise you can put into the hands of new fans. It will also be one of the most expensive investments you will have to regularly make. Making an album requires studio time, Mastering, graphic design, Music Copyright, Photography, Compact Disc's, packaging, digital distribution, ect. Each one of these things comes with a cost associated with it and depending on how you go about it, it can add up quickly.

To the do-it yourselfers a lot of the cost associated with making a album can be reduced. Home recordings and producing your own artwork are two essential ways to reduce you expenses.  The unfortunate circumstance is that to produce a physical CD, you have to buy the supplies needed to get to the final product. There are many different ways to make a CD. One option is to go professional and use a service that does it for you.  You can get about 100 cd's for about $200 to $100 a pop from many different on-line sources. This will include CD's sleeves, Jewel cases, and multi-panel digi packs and usually laser printed CD. If you want silk screen printed CD's you usually have to order at least 1000 pieces because of  time it requires to set up the screens and you are also limited to a certain number of colors used, as each one is individually applied. You still have to have the artwork and have it digitized to the proper pixel size for each company's required standards. This will work if you can make the investment to purchase in bulk. but what if you run out and need more, it will take time to have another set produced. Some of these options can be made by hand. This would make it so you can make what you need as you need it.  In particular the Jewel cases and CD's sleeves are the easiest to make. I prefer to make my CD's myself as I go.  The reason being is that I can customize any variations to what music is on them and update the art as well.

The easiest two to make are the Jewel cases and the CD sleeves. With The Jewel cases you will need a Jewel case, a CD-R, and some graphics printed out at the proper sizes on paper to insert in the front and sometimes the back of the case.

With the CD's sleeves you can go one of two ways.
The first way would be to buy generic CD sleeves with a clear window in the front and insert a piece of paper with whatever art into it that can be viewed through the window and then the CD. You can also just have the art on the CD itself.

The second way is what I prefer to do, and that is to produce the sleeve yourself. This gives you more control and creative ability than the modular system of just inserting graphics in the space allowed. I would like to show you how I make my CD's sleeves, and how much they cost.

The things you will need to produce 10 cd's.
10 prints on the thickest cardstock you can find
 (example Office Depot  .59cents for color print  .08 cents for 110 ib card stock)
$6.70

Two pack of Super Glue (Gel) Only one is needed to make about 10 sleeves( the gel is important because it makes the assembly easier. regular super glue can be runny and makes more or a mess)
$3.99 (Walmart 3M)

Digital Vinyl CD-R's (Walmart) I prefer these because they look like old Vinyl albums
$4.99

Total cost in supplies is about $16. This price will vary depending on were you get your supplies.

The price you sell your CD's at will really depend on how much you put on them. So your profits could be from $3 (selling at $5 a piece) or up per CD. I have found that even though it cost you the same, it pays to present options for people at different prices. I notice when I have both $5 and $10 cd's that people tend to by more of the $10 then the $5 because they see the value of getting more music.
Here is a picture of the basic set up  of what I use to produce these anywhere, usually some restaurant or library.

The tools in this photo are:
a cutting matt ( keeps me from damaging the table)
a ruler (in this case a architectural scale)
a bone folder ( this is used to make creases to fold the paper but anything with a hard rounded edge will work including closed scissors)
Scissors
Sharpie
Super glue (3M gel)


Here is a video of the entire process of making a CD sleeve from start to finish which is about 8 minutes. If you go on youtube there are many different ways to make CD sleeves including very unique pop up origami style sleeves, but time is money and the ones I make are cheap, easy, and quick to produce anywhere you may go. All that you really need is a table of a desk and the tools listed above.


Here are Templates I created to use in creating your own CD sleeves. I have made them available to you via Dropbox and they are both sized to  8.5 x 11 (standard piece of paper)
PDF  or  Photoshop


Here is a picture of each steps of cutting away the extra paper prior to folding for reference.


That's basically all you need to know how to make these things for yourself. The only other aspect that I didn't address is the CD's themselves. This also has many different options out there. I use the Digital Vinyl CD-Rs because I can make stickers with a rotary cutter and a full 8.5 x 11 label. I can also get it printed at the same location that I print the cardstock for the sleeves. You can also get a roll of vinyl stickers made in bulk but make sure they cut out the center hole as well. You can get the pre-made full disc labels that are available pretty much anywhere that you can print out and make with their template, however, I don't like these because as they age the stickers tend to peel up and they can ruin CD players.
The best option is to get CD-R's professionally printed in bulk so you can burn them as you go. Silk screen require at least 1000 ordered. Laser printed ones are cheaper and less are required but don't look as good. I like the UV cured ink printed CDs because they can print in any quantity and are not limited by a certain amount of colors you can use. 

I hope this post is useful for you and I hope you have a wonderful day.

See you next time 

J Gilton












Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to make your Album art take on a life of its own. (Mobile Music Factory)

Hello,
I hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are.

I recently have been putting together art for my lasted Album release Honey Dipped. This is my second album release that I've put on iTunes, but the first full band recording I've done. The art for the last Album Zeus's Woodshed  was done by me as well. With this album I'm touring a lot more and I'll be selling Honey Dipped were ever I go. So I had this Idea to give the album art itself a little more depth by adding concept.  Let me explain.

Here is the Honey Dipped album cover.

This is a working draft, I might change the honey spoon to resemble a musical note better.

As I go on tour, for the city's I play shows in I am going to place a post card from that city on the table. In this way as I sell these albums moving on down the highway adding postcards as I go, they reflect the journey I am on. This gives the art itself life. As if the table in the picture is home and I'm sending the postcards back there as I'm on my journey. I make each of these Cd's by hand the same as the Album art. So each time I make a set of them it will be it's own unique printing, and I sign and date each batch I produce, 

 these are being made at a Panera Bread co.
(I will post a blog about producing CD's in small affordable batches later as a chapter in the Mobile Music Factory including templates to use.)

People in each city will see there home town postcards or neighbors on the album and feel more of a connection to the art and hopefully the music. What I truly like about this concept is that it has life because the growing postcards will display a proof of history on the table. Showing that things have happened and are still happening. 


But wait there is more, I like art that has multiple layers to it. Outside the Window is my last albums art for Zues's Woodshed 

As the background in the new art it takes on several representations itself by holding visual information. Its represents the outside world as black and white were everything is yes and no, right or wrong with plenty of the grey areas between what defines were the edge is. The formidable mountain is displaying a sense of grandeur by looming in the distance . The road outside the window is leading away over the horizon. The lines of the road are actually made of a sentence in cursive. It say "May the western winds memory always be felt upon my skin...." You then see a road on the smaller mountain with a small building and stairs to the temple on the big mountain giving a sense of a destination. The tree is bare and shows the sign of the season giving the viewer an idea of what time in the year it is. Then you have the night sky in the back ground showing consolations in the sky. Orion the hunter is predominant in the sky giving a metaphor of hunting for what you desire in the outside world. This is subtle and won't be noticed by most people, maybe only those familiar with the stars. They might also then have the knowledge that Orion is to the West in the Fall and Winter when it comes over the horizon at night. This will give the picture and actual idea of direction.  All these visual cues are waiting to be discovered by the curious viewer. 

When I was submitting the Album art to Itunes/CD Baby I came across an "opportunity". The Art needed to be 1400 pixels and my art was only at 800 pixels. This is a pretty big difference in size so  what I did is added a frame to it. This opportunity gives me the ability to put the art in the background of later albums by just adding a framed picture somewhere.




But wait there's more, The tiny Dragon holding the honey spoon, or as I like to call it a DragonFly, is is another concept in itself.  I have a outside of the box advertising campaign that  will involve Geocaching. If you don't know what geocaching is its a global scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. When I'm on tour I like to go hiking on the off days. The concept for the campaign is to mark special places with my geocache marker which is a dragonfly made out of colorful wire (cat-5 data wire or telephone wire have lots of colors to pick from). This wire Dragonfly will mark the location for a log book container that I will leave free download cards inside of. Leaving things with the log books is a custom for those that participate, they leave something and take something. On the laminated Tongue of the dragonfly is JGilton.com. This will speak to the curiosity of people, especially a few miles deep in the woods at the end of a sweet trail, or a hidden away area in a popular city park. This concept is really Advertising for a tiny niche of people and will most likely be discovered by those who are not looking for it. However, I think its cool and defiantly unique. 
I also am planning to use this concept as a type of logo, and a recurring underlying theme or mascot through out my albums and promotion materials. The logo below is a base concept. I plan to make it resemble a dragon more but keep the shape of a dragonfly.

logo created by Jeremy Smith


So as you might be able to tell at this point, I like to put a lot of thought in the things I do. The reason for that is to reward those who like to look a little deeper into things. I'm guilty of taking a long look at creative efforts to see if anything is beneath the surface. If someone feels like looking into something I've created, then I want there to be something for them to see. There is a effect of showing a depth to your art that it gives enough space for people to add there own meanings to it.  In this way they can have a special connection to you and your music that you could of never imagined when producing it.

To some people this can seem to be more effort then what its worth. The question is what its worth to you. To me its worth creating the best that I can with what I have the ability to imagine. In the world me live in today the things that attract peoples attention are the things that are outside of the box. On average peoples attention span has been shaped by the instant gratification we are use to. We don't like waiting for anything, and patience is now a even more valuable virtue. What I find funny about creating art with depth is that it is not a new concept, much to the alternative. Art has always been layered full of depth. Before the invention of TV they had pictures, and paintings, and cartoons, all of which wouldn't be worth their weight in salt if they didn't have depth to hold someones attention. 

Are all these things in which I have done necessary?  No they are not, but why not make things better than they can be.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a good day.

Josh Gilton




Monday, October 20, 2014

Mobile Music Factory

Plato's once said that
 "A man should stand upright and not be held upright by others." This states the need for us to be able to support ourselves. However, he could be referring to how his friends might of drank to much an that he was tired of helping them back home. The statement is open to interpretation. The role of being a independent musician is open to interpretation as well. You have to be able to hold your liquor and your drive of ambition. The real kick in the pants is that you must always keep striving for progress even without much reward. I am guilty myself of not keeping the ambition needed to stay productive. So in an tempt to better myself and continue in the quest to share what I can with the receptive. This will be a place I will gather my thoughts and share them in the most intelligible way I can muster. When you are starting out you are going to be responsible for all sides and aspects of making things happen. You create the Songs, the Art, the CD's, the performance, and the money. You will have to act as your own booking agent, promoter, Public Relations, Webmaster, Blogger, and Street canvasing email getting smiling billboard for you and your music. Well it takes not only drive and ability but it also takes the right tools to accomplish your goals. I put together something that I have been using for a little while now,  I refer to it as a  "Mobile Music Factory" business platform.

Sometimes you need to be able to travel at absolute minimum and for this reason comes necessity of light travel and adaptability.
 My main components: *Instrument and case *Backpack *Laptop/Flashdrive *Smartphone/Camera
 Each one of these will play important roles for me when going on tour if I need to get around using public transportation, or air travel. I have put together a tool kit to allow me to adapt to needs on the road. The smartphone will play very important roles on the bushiness side of things. I will use apps on the smartphone to maintain contacts, emails, navigate and putt out quick content for fans. Having a camera, (especially and HD) is needed to get your YouTube videos out there. You tube itself has made many independent artist serious money by gathering fans on a international level. The flashdrive picks up were the smartphone leaves off. It will contain all the flyers, cd sleaves, or audio for printing and promo. The press kits would be kept here along with full library of original recordings and unreleased demos. Having a laptop that can burn CD's is a powerful advantage because the greater your ability to create product, from Video to Recording to Social Media anytime you want. The main use of the flashdrive beside transporting files to the printer, studio, or who ever  will be loading it with portable apps that can be used on other computers. You should always have a back up plan,(or maybe you don't have a laptop) with this you will be able to create new content while on the move but you are limited to finding a computer to use. With the flashdrive you will be  able to do everything from updating a website to making custom flyers, handouts and other graphics. Most library's and collage campuses have computers that are free to use, and since you run the programz off the flash drive there is no administrator restrictions. In more dire situations you can also use the display models at a Best Buy or Walmart type store. However, complications can arise so use cation and late hours. You got to work with what you got, so its important to remember keep your best promo saved to your phone to be able to send emails with the files in a place in between city's were cell phone reception is you only link to society. It also gives you the ability for direct bluetooth to any tech savvy fan.
 The backpack will have to contain all the things to maintain myself like hygiene, clothing,and important accessories. Minimalism is the key here. I plan on walking a fair amount during my travels. So light weight and multi-functional items will be necessary. Last but not least will be the guitar and hard case. This will be the simplest yet most essential piece of gear. Its the money maker and will hold the guitar and its accessories. The case will be what people throw tips into at a show or in the street. After busking for years now I've used hats, pitchers, vases, beer buckets, you name it. I have come to a belief that people have a physiological preference for the open guitar case. This is the reason I'm electing not to use a gig bag. The complication from this is carrying the guitar. After a mile or two it can become a pain to carry. But I say screw it, a little hardship can grow a lot of character, and a serious amount of strength in your grip.


I will explain more of these items in greater detail. I will add links from this blog to them as they are created and I will also put it in the title of any future post that about using the Mobile Music Factory,
Thanks for reading, I hope this will be as helpful for your as it is for me.

Today's blog brought to you from a library and my backpack (AKA the Mobile Music Factory), as well as this live track from the recorder in my backpack.



Have a good day!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Campfire song writing in Georgia.

Me and Mr Tim Perry just wrote a song.  American Fishbowl.

Here is a rough draft.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rhf5iwptj1wkfq4/American%20Fishbowl.MP3?dl=0

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guerrilla music videos

Hello,
Hope your day has been agreeing with you.
Today I'm going to talk about music video production. On the road you see alot of neat places that most people dont get to see. I see this as an opportunity to get some great footage.  The true point of this video is to share this travel experience with everyone we can. In my situation this means two birds one stone with video and our new tracks.
So we put ourselves to the test and shot some footage at New Harmony,  Indiana. We didn't ask for permission we just started shooting with the idea we came up with that morning. With this style of guerilla video production is easier to apologize when confronted then to ask permission. If they say no It can keep you from great content.  The goal was to get all the video we needed in one day, which we did. Then one day to edit it, which was also completed.  In this way we can turn out a homemade video, and do it quickly.


Here is the video on the new YouTube account.




The format was a few time lapse shots, a few performance shots, and filler footage from around the area. Keep It clean and simple. 
One thing to remember is that different cameras take video at different rates, file types and sizes. So mixing the cameras for video can cause some errors in the editing.Now when it comes to editing I prefer Adobe premiere.  But its expense isn't worth it for most people. All you really need is fade effects between clips and ability to put text on screen to make a decent you tube video.Having a Good camera helps to.
I layed down the audio track first
Then I sinked all the performance footage to the audio track. Then I cut In all the extra peices on the voids and weeker parts of the performances. The performance peices in particular,  we played the audio file outload on my cell phone in my pocket so we could play it at the right timing for the video.
All together it took about 4 hours to shoot the video and another four to edit it. So one days work could make a full video as long as a plan is already thought up. This keeps you from wasting time when your trying to be a ninja and recorde were there are restricted signs everywhere.
This was our first  atemp at a video. Its only going to get better from here.
See you soon,
J. Gilton