Pharrell Williams’ HAPPY Up for Grammy; But Streaming Royalties~Make You Cry

“Happy” by Pharrel Williams. It has all of the elements of a perfect pop song: infectious musical hook, mantra-like lyrics that resonate, and rhythm and tempo that takes you OVER- no matter WHAT you are doing, or WHERE you are… But here is a blue note about it all.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

As with so many millions of other listeners- I can’t get enough of this song!- “Happy” by Pharrel Williams. It has all of the elements of a perfect pop song: infectious musical hook, mantra-like lyrics that resonate, and rhythm and tempo that takes you OVER- no matter WHAT you are doing, or WHERE you are HA!

Sir Pharrell Williams is up for several Grammy categories, including best video- and I do hope that he bags it righteous clean.

But here is a blue note about it all: As the world moves more and more into streaming, we musicians and songwriters make less and less every year for our song and lyric writing, recording, and distributing. My music yields just a %of pennies each play. But it must be better for a hot musician like Pharrell, yes? Here is what it looks like for a musician who has ‘made it’:

Through the first three months of 2014, “Happy” was streamed 43 million times on Pandora, while “All Of Me” was played 55 million times on the service.
“Happy” brought in just $2,700 in publisher and songwriter royalties in the first quarter of this year, while “All Of Me” yielded just $3,400.

At current rates, Bandier said, one million plays of a song on Pandora typically translates to only approximately $60 in royalties, which then gets shared between the songwriters and publishers.


So, Spotify should, and Pandora will~ “revisit” royalty rates next year. Uh, Yah, you all do that. Meanwhile, some bigtime artists are removing their music from streamlining services. This is just one more reason to make music for ourselves and fans, and distance ourselves farther from the powers that be in the music industry.  Sing your Bliss as one friend says, and “don’t hold back.”

Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offense to you don’t waste your time
Here’s why
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy

Music: Pharrell Williams
Here is his 24-hr video for HAPPY. Skip around, it’s fun to see so much much bliss on the streets. 😉

A Lil’ Texas Tour- 1000 Miles of Road

Touring Texas: 1000 miles is just a lil’ Texas tour. Here are a few of the inspiring (and less than inspiring) things about being on the road.

Yes, in a state that is 268,820 sq miles (696,241 km²), driving 1000 miles is considered a ‘stone’s throw’ of a distance.  This is my 3rd time playing/touring with jazz band the Charles Hearn Quintet, and its awesome every time. Of course, like with any tour, it’s not all roses.

Great Things about Going on Tour to Play your Music out of Town:

The Regional Cuisine: TX-tiniTacos and a “Texas Margarita” with limes and olives.

txShrimpI fell in love with this place in San Antonio: Dry Dock. Oysters, shrimp, fried catfish, hushpuppies.

hou-bbqClassic Texas BBQ!

More inspiration: The Environment-

texas skies1929Aaah…those big Texas skies

Tough things about Touring Texas:

texasStateTexas is big.

6 cities of shows means we spend lots of time driving.  From the Rio Grande Valley- Harlingen, McAllen, Weslaco, Brownsville, up to the central part of the state- San Antonio, Austin…  This is why it’s only a “lil’ Texas tour”  Ha! You may cover 1000 miles, but you miss most of the state!  And so maybe next year we’ll take on new TX cities. Expand our horizons a bit.

Another tough thing about Texas- It’s just a lil’ on the hot side. 105-107f most days. Not much AC at soundcheck and load-in before each show.  It took awhile to adjust to the outdoor stages. You either melt or fry…

breakfast misunderstanding

Cool things about this Texas tour:

Tx tour-2013

The venues. The audiences! (We were happy to see full houses each night!) The musicians. It’s always hard work to roll into town, cram in a bunch o’ rehearsals and hit the road for lots of shows in a short span of time, but this group keeps it fun. I learn lots from this jazz band, the Charles Hearn Quintet, and love ’em all 😉 !!

A major awesome thing for me- visiting the DJ’s and radio stations who have been spinning Torch and Sass! (pics coming soon…)

Things that Inspire me After Tour:

My ukulele!


The baritone is a perfect instrument on the road, like a tenor guitar. As awesome as a band is, solo is sweet too. I find myself swinging 180d to the simplest renditions of my songs when coming off the road. Now learning new 1930’s tunes with it!  And the last big inspiration of this tour…

Saxman Charles Hearn in situ:

An awesome band leader, producer, songwriter, musician, and all around great friend: this is Charles chillin’ in his über productive musical habitat. He & this space have made me happy hungry to get back to recording in my own space again.  Which is exactly what I’ve been up to since coming home.

That, and playing tortilla western shows locally since back in Cali. Traveling and performing like this always awakens new Muses, from jazz stages to the deserts of the southwest, again. A creative wind is coming on…

Last inspiration since coming home:


My garden! It grew! Someone must have watered it!  I now have salad stuff, squash, tomatoes…   Good thing: I’ve gone vegetarian since all that TX BBQ 😉

Day 27: World Oyster

She said yes for one reason, One
to study disappointment in D- minor.

She said yes for one reason, One
to study disappointment in D- minor.

And to see the view from shore- the one
well painted, with the face of each fate
laying down another card, one for each life
transecting this point by location

temperament, desire, or demon,
manipulation and choice of poison
-with a pinch of folly passed off as

karma. High stakes, each calling the play, as
stoic bluff or confident intimidant as fates
do so violently well. And she said

yes to see them writhe. Those dated fates, gods
bygone, almost forgotten, because everyone knows
even gods relinquish, but more important, she knew
that now, nothing would disappoint, no matter the stupid words to

pour from your mouth; the hype, self-indulgent drivel, the same
stories you tell city after city, smile after smile,
ear after ear…

yes, she said, spitting out sand grains
blown in by an eastern wind, enabling
a lyric, ending a very old song-

“She may not have had an ocean view
But she could hear the beach when she kissed you-
And when the world is your Oyster-
Just a little will do.”

Prompt: I wrote this thinking of all of the fake people in the music business. How you have to “take it with a grain of salt” and decide not to be affected by any of it. It can take work- but no one else is in charge.  Falseness and egos are everywhere to some degree, and we can take the grain of sand for what it is, tuck it away, and make a pearl out of it. (Don’t burn any bridges!!)  I didn’t realize how much it all bothers me until I started writing: I intended for this poem to be very short. 😉
It all reminds me of the Zora Neale Hurston quote:
“I do not weep at the world; I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

Sand (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)


Finished Mixing~ 13 new songs!

Eeeeee! Just back from Texas mixing the new jazzy blues album!

SO excited to now have  13 new songs, all mixed and ready to be mastered next.  Almost an hour’s worth of music!  Woo. (Hope the producer lets me keep it all…)

It has taken awhile and much traveling between states & studios. I recorded the first 9 songs with mostly new musicians (Producer’s choice) at one of his favorite Texas studios- Gospa Records. I brought our guitar player- Az- in April/May. I thought I would record only 1 more song here in CA., but the Muses kept coming ;), so I wrote more song, picked out four, and recorded them with my CA band at two more studios here in Oaktown (Future Vintage & Wally Sound)-over the last 3 months.  I’ll post on those Muses soon.

But now- I feel both scream-out-loud exhilaration & RELIEF!! There are 2 things in the budding life of a new song that bring on this joy. The first one, the very first excitement, is to hear your song played by a full band of amazing musicians for the first time. Before that, it’s just me just singing along to just bass or uke. But when the energy of 4-5 other musicians brings a song to life- it’s pure magic. Aah! I’ve been known to bounce off walls out-of-control, squealing with glee.

The second moment of pure unadulterated joy in the life of a new song is getting to that final mix that goes on the CD/album.

All songs start out with the first energy the Muse brought, (and for me, I try to never stray far from that first spark- even going through all the next steps. )  Those next steps being:  find the producer you hope will feel your vision, find the right studio for the sound you want (with the right room, best engineer), the best musicians available.  Then you ask for certain instruments (i.e. stand-up bass or electric bass), equipment (special mics, certain amps).  Then everyone comes together, plays their hearts out for maybe 1-3 takes live (no overdubs). Then we add a few overdubs.  Pick the best takes together- and everyone goes home.  Lastly, me with either the engineer, producer, or both- fiddle with knobs & levels to dial in just right the sound we had when we played it live in the studio.

So one major milestone down- Eeeeeeeeeeee! Pure joy. ;)))))

Now off to play a show…

Trading Muses~ Fighting the Funk w/ more Creativity

I’m trading the Musical Muses for the Poetry and Crafty Muses this month! Stay tuned for jewelry and other gems that will float by like the leaves!

I’m not sure how people do it- blogging from the road.  I’ve just kick started this blog, & haven’t done so well these past few months of getting to computers while traveling.  But I really want to get better at it- and I welcome advice from others!

Now that I’m home for awhile, it feels like I can counter this patch of blue burnout that’s been slowly brewing over the last few weeks.  Since releasing a new CD in May, and working hard to get the word out, traveling short tours (Texas, China, US- Northwest coast, Southwest,…), doing distribution & radio campaigns-  I need some creative down time.  I’m just happy to be able to do this from home for the next few weeks.

Funny, It’s not enough to write the music, record it, find great musicians to perform it.  Being “independent”- unsigned & with no record label support- musicians have to do everything themselves now;  record your own music, find distributors for it, book shows & tours yourself, do all your own promotion, find the funds, travel with little down time, run your own radio campaigns, constantly live on a shoestring, pay bills with crazy low shifting incomes (haah!), and of course wake up happy & energized to keep inspired day after day.  I’m really not complaining- I’m just amazed how much work it takes to try to be an independent, full-time musician.  You definitely have to have a thick skin, and like the journey more than anything else.

Ok so some Good news now!:  It’s not all for naught; I put my heart & soul into my latest CD (Tortilla Western Serenade ) culling what I think have been my best songs over the last coupla years, writing lots of new ones, working w/ cool musicians I never thought i’d meet much less work with.  I’m really excited about how it all came out- it is my opus so far. 😉   I named it Tortilla Western(spaghetti western meets Tex-Mex & rock), to fill a void, a confluence of influences I just didn’t hear & wanted more of.  The reviewers have been kind. Right now, over 50 US radio stations are playing  it (eeek!), its been 7 weeks in the top 25 roots rock/Americana charts; European stations are spinning it; old & new fans are listening & responding so sweetly (which inspires like nothing else!)

I make music not only to serve the hungry Muses that channel through me, but to hopefully put something into the world that is refreshing, unique, hopeful, uplifting, loving, inspiring, provocative, fun, & vivid. It really is an offering- from the Muses & me.  As reward, I just want to eek out a small, modest mode of survival. (ha!- but don’t all artists!!?)

So yes, suddenly I need a break.  I actually kinda shut down 2 weeks ago.  & last weekend (Labor Day) was my first such break of sorts; so I laid low, read Neil Gaiman, wrote a poem, listened to Peggy Lee, & started getting my jewelry space organized to start making things again.  I need this as therapy- am desperate for it~ Someplace to run into & not come out of until soothed.

So Musical Muses! Thank you for so much presence this past year; I treasure you…

But now, I need to nest up for Fall & make some new treasures.  I haven’t made anything in (omg… 2 years!?) But I’m thankful for friends who are asking about my next trunk show, or asking for pieces.  The challenge is on;  its Fall!  Between shows & travel, I’m getting busy 😉  yay!