This is the Unstarving Musician. I am your host Robonzo. This podcast features conversations with indie music artists and industry professionals, and me. All intended to help independent music artists better understand the marketing, business and creative processes that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.
Welcome to another episode, it is a pleasure to be in your ears today. Thank you, I humbly thank you. The Unstarving Musician is made possible by the way through the generosity of listeners just like you. And there are many ways that you can support us including joining the starving musician community, which is free, and you get a bunch of tips and insights by joining. In your inbox, unsubscribe at any time. You can also visit our Resources page for deals with Unstarving Musician affiliate partners, including Amazon, Bandzoogle, and many more. Or you can pick up a copy of my book the Unstarving Musicians guide to getting paid gigs. You can even become a producer / sponsor of the show. Sounds pretty cool. It is. It’s super cool. It’s the ultimate way to support us, but all these ways are great. So to learn more about the many ways of offering your support, please visit our sponsor page at Unstarving Musician.com/CrowdSponsor. My guest for this episode is multi instrumentalist and studio engineer Chris Raspante. He has been and continues to be prolific and in demand as a performer and sound engineer. He’s also my friend. In this conversation, we discuss his return to performing live, the logistics of recording remotely, our work together on my song On Top Of The World, which will be released January 8 of this coming year 2021, and why he thinks his phone is always ringing, so to speak. Chris is regularly solicited for hire on various music projects. We recorded this conversation in October of 2020, which was during one of the COVID pandemic peaks. This is actually our third conversation for the podcast including another yet to be released episode. Chris was first featured in Episode Two of the Unstarving Musician. This was a happy hour conversation of sorts, as we recorded during the evening hours over a few beers. That was fun. As I told Chris, we definitely need to chat more often, because I enjoyed this chat so much. We, my wife and I, can’t wait to see him play live again, when we can all travel safely. And maybe… maybe I’ll even have an opportunity to sit in on drums or something. We’ll see. Okay, here’s me and Chris Raspante.
I see you have some upcoming gigs with our friend JCD, John Christopher Davis coming soon.
Chris Raspante 2:47
Yeah. Here in Texas, I guess they started opening up some stuff as far as gigging a little more. And so I I’ve definitely noticed, you know I do a solo acoustic thing and duo and trio stuff, and then play with john and some other stuff. And as soon as they did that, I definitely, my phone started ringing off the hook as far as, Hey, can you do this? Can you do that? You play so [Nice.] the month of October. Yeah, but it’s good and bad. It’s still scary because you know, this stuff hasn’t gone away. But um, I think people for better for worse are just kind of tired of it. So they’re trying to figure out ways to navigate it so it’s good for work, but I just you know, you just still have to be very careful what you choose to do you know and where and how you do it. But yeah, I mean, my my month of October is almost all completely booked with studio stuff and live gigs.
Nice. I saw there at least the ones I saw were outdoors. So that’s encouraging given the, the current climate for gigging.
Chris Raspante 4:02
Oh, yeah, yeah, I mean, they’re all outdoors. It’s just that you know, some are a little closd quarters, a little more close quarters and others, even though they are all outdoors. So, uh, well, yeah. So we’re all just, you know, doing what we can.
Nice. And I want to ask you about the recording stuff that you’ve been doing, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I was also kind of curious, just because I’m from the area but not familiar with the venue. It’s probably I’ve been, you know, not living in the area for quite a while because we were in San Jose, California for 17 years before we ended up here in Panama, having rolled past four years. So it’s been a while, but the the Town Square Gazebo of Grapevine, that looks kind of cool.
Chris Raspante 4:50
Yeah, um, that was another one that was truly I got the call to do it. Like just a few days ago. It was just like, hey, do you want to do this? Yeah, I think I’m open. Okay, great. It’s this time to this time and here’s this and yeah, we’ll see you there. Yeah, it’s a Grapevine is a cool little town and they have a, you know, that cool Main Street that that strip, you know, with the cool restaurants and stuff. And then there’s a downtown area that has like a gazebo and kind of grassy area and hangout area. And I guess they have bands and acts play on the gazebo like playing, you know, out to the, to the kind of common public area where people can hang. And that’s what this is going to be. It’s going to be, yeah, like an acoustic duo from six to eight, just to our thing. [Nice.] So that’ll be fun. Yeah, those are always fun.
That’s cool. And so you said your phone kind of started ringing off the hook when the gigs came available? Well, you know, when they started happening again, which I know was, sounds like it was very recent. Just kind of curious, was that just many months or years of word of mouth? Or have you done some things to kind of promote yourself? Or have you been seen enough times in various configurations and people know who you are? And you always make it known that you’re available to do solo gigs? Or you’ve got this trio? Or how do you how did you get so in demand?
Chris Raspante 6:26
Good question. Well, sometimes it feels like I’m not in demand. And then others, it’s like, I yeah, I don’t seek stuff out and people just call. I think it’s a combination of everything, you know, I mean, since and now it’s, this is four years, since I moved, since we moved back from Nashville to here. This August was four years. And so you know, just all this time of just trying to do your thing and do it well, and, you know, get your name back out in the, in the scene, you know, I think helps, you know, and it has been helping this whole time. And I was doing you know, before COVID hit, I was doing quite a bit, you know, of the acoustic stuff. And I hooked up with, there’s a booking agency here in Dallas Fort Worth called 13th Floor, and they have, they have like a lot of booking people under the umbrella of the name and company searching for I think everybody is kind of, like independent, but they all you know, can, you know, work under the under the name and they, you know, each one of them kind of has the places that they book and, and the people that they book a lot. And in the last several weeks, about probably the last couple of weeks of September, and then this month of October. One of the guys that that books, there, well I guess more than one, a couple of them just started calling me and was like, I think actually, the first time they called or texted me it was, hey, they’re opening Texas back up. So I’ve got, you know, all these gigs where people are needing, you know, solo, solo acoustic is a really big thing, because it’s easy, and it’s the money is obviously lower than trying to get a band and you know, it’s a little easier to put on, you know. And so that’s real popular around here. And since I do a lot of that, so I was just, I started getting calls and texts, like hey, can you do this? Can you do that? I mean, it was truly just, once it happened, I was getting calls like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to play gigs, Friday and Saturday, which is, you know, usually, you know, is not you know that soon, but that just kind of shows you how much of a demand there was for just, you know, entertainment in general. So, I guess it was good that I was, you know, I’ve got to prove myself to these guys and some other places, you know, that like, Hey, you know, you can call him and he’ll show up and you know.
Yeah, got a good reputation.
Chris Raspante 9:23
Yeah, I guess, you know, we just, you know, show up and do your thing. Yeah. So, yeah, so I mean, it’s crazy. So I mean, you know, again, I guess it’s, you know, like my friend Jace says, you know, lucky beats smart, you know, sometimes.
Who says that, JCD?
Chris Raspante 9:40
No, Jace Everett.
Oh Jace [laughs].
Chris Raspante 9:45
Well, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s luck and it’s skill and it’s, you know, hustling and it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s always a combination of everything. [Yeah.] You know, it’s like you try to do everything to make stuff happen. And then there’s always a big, you know, hefty, you know, dose of luck in there, that kind of, you know, usually is the final factor in all of it, you know? So, yeah, I just, I’ve been glad. You know, I’ve been lucky and glad that it’s, you know, so that it’s been happening.
Yeah, that’s great. I heard. I don’t know if it’s been a couple years now, but I heard this um, he’s a researcher mostly I think, but he’s kind of in the startup world and academia world. But he had this expression called who-luck. And it refers to the people that we know and some of the luck that collides with the people we know, us in life, I guess. But I do like Jace’s. Luck beats smart sometimes. [Laughs]
Chris Raspante 10:49
Yeah, lucky beats smart. Like most of the time.
I was thinking it reminds me of another one of that JCD said, which it was mostly the sincerity with which he said it or maybe sincerity is not the right word. It could be more of the just the inflection, you know, the tone of his voice when he said he’s like, Man that the thing is, is the music business is not a talent competition, and some people just don’t understand that. This coming from the guy who’s, you know, clearly pretty darn talented. But that was funny. So
Chris Raspante 11:26
Well, yeah. Oh no go ahead. Sorry. I want to expand on that. I’ll just agree to say yes.
I was going to comment, I maybe you know, went in reverse order here because we started talking about your gigs right away. But you were episode number two, for anyone who’s listening, and we did that back on the fourth of May 2017 is when we did the interview. I don’t have the actual like, publish date of the episode in front of me, but it was a long time ago. And I
Chris Raspante 12:00
Wow, it wasn’t that long ago?
Yeah, we’re long enough, right? And we I was, you know, poking fun at the myself with you. The other day, we were talking about doing this part two, a hundred and, I guess we’re a hundred and, dang, what am I almost 180 episodes in. That’s pretty cool. But we talked for about 20 minutes. And I was like, Chris, Chris, Chris. I’m not recording. I’m so sorry. But you were super nice about it. And for some reason, I want to say that you were actually the first interview I conducted. And for whatever reason, I might be able to, not that anybody cares. But it’s something that’s kind of funny to me, because you ended up being Episode Two. And I actually went back and listened to episode one. Just this last week, I kind of reposted it. It’s with a guy named Mike Dawson, who’s a phenomenal musician, drummer, and he’s the managing editor, editor at Modern Drummer magazine. And I was I need to go back out, we’ll go back and listen to ours pretty soon, probably. You actually, by the way, have had a very popular episode. You’re, you know, among the most listened to. I don’t know if I ever told you that, but, which may worry you for me about the podcast. I don’t know. I’m just kidding. But
Chris Raspante 13:23
Wow, now I’m nervous.
Well, what I was gonna say, what was I gonna say? Oh, yeah, I was, oh, I was gonna comment on listening back to episode one, because I’ve listened to some of my interviewing, you know, from back then and you do 150 or whatever plus and start getting a little better at it, right? But I went back and listened and I was like, wow, that wasn’t bad. But I had, you know, he was both of you guys. were great, you know, great guests to have on. I arguably knew you a little better than than Mike Dawson. I’ve never had never met him in person. And I think that was kind of a cold. You know, a cold outreach, but he’s a nice guy as well. So yeah, episode two, and I’m glad that we’re doing it again. I am dying to talk to you about, not the entire rest of our conversation here, but I’m dying to talk to you about, for my own selfish reasons, about doing the recording that you helped me with for my song that’s yet to be released completely into the wild, On Top Of The World. And well, first of all, thanks for for being part of it, because it was awesome to have you playing on it. And well, I if I back up a little bit. It was really awesome to have you interested in doing anything on it. But it was it’s great to have you playing on it. And I just sort of rolled the dice hoping that you might be interested in you know, helping with the mixing and all that stuff. And I think it came out really nice.
Chris Raspante 14:49
Well, you’re welcome and my pleasure. Yeah. I thought it came out really well. I mean, not to toot my own horn. But I mean just from a from from, talking about your song, you know, point of view. Yeah, I thought was cool. It’s always fun, it is kind of a, it’s a roll of the dice for me to do those. And I guess we should explain a little more to the people that don’t know, you know, it’s like you, you did what a lot of people have done with me, you know, especially during these times where I think you sent me just an acoustic guitar and a vocal, and gave me like a, I guess, maybe a tempo, and said, you know, here, it’s at this tempo, and here’s a vocal and guitar now, you know, put a song around it. And I think I built a track around that. And then, then we just kind of went from there kept, you know, building and replacing tracks and just kind of built it up, you know. And, you know, it’s always fun and challenging, and, you know, an adventure and all that. And, and, but, yeah, I think we, it, it progressed nicely, and went through all these different stages with getting different people to play on it, you know, from because, you know, when, in the early stages, I think it was mainly all me, and I think we, you know, then you put drums on it, then we had somebody put bass on it, and then, you know, kind of went from there. But yeah, that was a fun one. [Yeah.] Probably the longest longest one I’ve done. Since you’re down there, and I’m here.
Yeah, yeah. You know, and it was my, my first foray into recording at home. And it’s, it’s not technically the first time I’ve ever tried to write anything, but honestly, it’s like, the first legitimate try. And and I wanted to do it for real and, you know, create something that was publishable, which is one of the reasons that I’m, I contacted you, but also, I mean, the main reason that I contacted you was I really like your playing. And I love your voice, even though we didn’t get your voice on there. I know, we could have had I, you know, bugged you enough, you know, to do some more stuff on it. But you did a lot. Like you said, you did a lot of instrumentation on it. I was actually blown away when I got the first you know, demo from your side, you know, I send you a demo, and you send me back a, you know, an enhanced demo. I’m like, wow, you know, listen to all the stuff that’s on there. And it was really great. So but yeah, it was, there were a couple things that were interesting about it for me on top of all the like, Okay, I got to figure out how to record drums. I’ve never even done this before. I know, just kind of a little bit about it, probably the bigger challenge was the technicalities of, you know, working with an audio interface and, and working with Pro Logic and, and understanding some of the little nuances of giving you you know, things that I needed to make sure I was doing so that you had a track that you know, you can work with easily. But the other interesting thing was that, yes, you were getting busy. And then this guy who ended up doing bass for us, Steve Strom; he’s a kind of a longtime bandmate from the San Francisco Bay Area. I didn’t even know he was set up to record at home, I knew he’s a phenomenal musician. And he was literally at the top of my list, along with our mutual friend, Neil, to put bass on it. I didn’t, I didn’t even think to ask him. But one day, he sends me this track and goes, Hey, man, you know, would you be interested in putting some drums on this? This is after you and I started on mine. But the interesting thing, even for Steve because he’s, you know, the musician that he is, and he’s so getting into recording, which I think might be kind of new for him too. But he’s having so much fun with it that I was fascinated by how quickly you can get into people’s in this thing where you’re in people’s queue. So part of our progression, like when working with you, which for me, you were linchpin to the whole thing, right, you’re, you’ve done this wonderful guitar and other instrumentation. And you’re, you’re basically bringing the song to life because you’re doing all the stuff on in your studio with it. And you’re busy. So I’m in your queue. And then Steve’s got got some stuff he’s given me, and suddenly he’s in my queue. And then I’m in his cue to get to get, you know, to get some bass and that was it, I don’t know might sound kind of mundane, but it was kind of it was, it was nice that everyone’s busy. And it was also like, Oh, these are the the logistics of putting together a single track and I start imagining what it’s like, and understanding even better than what I did about what it takes to put together a full album. Because I always think with albums when they take a lot of time, or they take much longer than expected. I know that one of the things that interferes with that is just life, because stuff happens right in it. It might delay or have conflicts but, does that is that anything that you ever think about anymore? You’ve been doing this as far as recording a long time. Do you think about that stuff anymore at all? Or do you ever find it at times frustrating or just like you’ve learned to manage it, and it’s just how it is.
Chris Raspante 20:03
Um, yeah, I mean that there’s, well there’s, there’s two sides of it, um, you can look at it as, if you’re just an engineer or musician getting paid by the hour or whatever, you know, which actually, I don’t do a whole lot of things by the hour, I tend to do them by the song or by the project, because it just seems to work out easier, and helps the people out that I’m working for.
I love that. I love that, by the way, by the way in. And we’re we’re friends, I know, you sort of like went easy with me. And you were actually interested in what I was doing. But I love that you for anyone who’s listening, who does recording, and I think that anybody that does freelance anything, oh, my God, I love by the project pricing I hate, hate, hate by the hour process?
Chris Raspante 20:52
Well, I mean, it’s, it can go both ways. You know? I mean, there’s been times where I mean, people can, if they abuse it, then it’s kind of hard. Because if I, you know, did something based on like, okay, you know, for this much of money, I can give you, you know, a finished product or track or whatever our gets you to this point, and then we’ll do you know, do the mix letter, whatever. And, you know, a lot of times, that’s great. I mean, because, you know, a lot of my expertise can be how quickly I can lay tracks. And so, you know, if I can get something done quickly, on my end, well, then that kind of works well, for me, if I just said, Hey, you know, I can do it for this much, you know, because all you care about as a client is that you’re getting a good product and you you don’t really care doesn’t matter to you, if I spent several days or if I did it in the evening. If it sounds great, you know, as far as how long it took me to do my parts, you know, if I can, I can one take guitar parts and you know, versus, you know, doing 100 takes to get something right. You know, I mean? But I have had some people were, you know, they can kind of wear you out with revisions and tweaks and want you to try different stuff or do this and all that. And, you know, sometimes with that, I’m just like, Hey, you know, we got to remember, um, you know, you’re getting this for x amount of dollars. So, you know, like, we’re not making Sergeant Pepper’s, you know, where, you know, I’m gonna spend weeks a month on this track, you know, for that amount of money, you know? So as long as I didn’t have it, and that doesn’t happen that often, you know, then yeah, then it’s great. And yeah, I hate watching the clock, you know, and again, you’re, when you’re working on your own time, it’s just kind of scattered and, and you aren’t watching the clock, and you might do some, you know, I might work during the day and then stop, you know, do dinner and come back later in the evening and finish up something and, you know, it’s, I’m not sitting there counting the hours and trying to figure out, you know, I just know that I need to get this done by Monday morning, I need to get this done by Friday, you know, and that that’s a lot easier a lot of times for me to deal with, then than to do something and then, you know, present somebody with Well, let’s see, on Monday, I worked from 11am until 1:30. I took a 30 minute break, and then I went you know, it’s it’s really hard to do so I tend to not do that. Um, yeah. So, it, I have getting with the frustrating part. I do, like, I don’t like to slave. I mean, I, I like to work hard on things. And I, there’s definitely people I work with, that we work hard on tracks and and mixes and tweaking stuff and getting stuff right. And, you know, and that’s cool, because, you know, especially when the track keeps getting better, you know, and you refine it. And that’s awesome. You know, in general, I don’t like to work on something for too long, just because I think sometimes things that the the, maybe the excitement, just the overall just vibe of something can not always but it can diminish when stuff gets drawn out. Especially when you have to work in spurts. Like you’re saying, I mean some people just they have day gigs or whatever and they can only you know, I’ve been working with with with one particular group where one song has taken multiple, multiple sessions, you know, because it’s like, Hey, we can only work at night you know, from like six o’clock until nine or 10 o’clock at night. You know, and so you’re and you’re, and you’re trying to find little spots and times, you know, around everybody’s schedule. So, you know, one tune, you might have to get together five or six times, you know, in sessions like that to finish it up. And that can, you know, that can kind of be a little wearing, sometimes our hope it doesn’t, you know, out that everybody involved is still excited, and you still have that magic, and just that kind of, you know, that thing and the track that you can hear when people are still fresh and all that, you know, so yeah, it’s definitely, it’s something that you have to kind of think about when you’re making the records and recording tunes and all that. And yeah, but when I have my, you know, when it’s up to me, I would rather, that’s like, let’s get as many people as we can playin’, you know, at once and let’s, you know, let’s get it down fairly quickly. So we can kind of hear quickly how the track is sounding and if it’s working or not, because then you can kind of make decisions based on, okay, is this working? Is it not? Okay, what’s not working about it, you know, and you can quickly kind of change how you’re doing things to make it better versus, you know, track by track, brick by brick, and where it takes a long time before you finally go, you know, I don’t think this is the right way to do this song. After, you know, days of doing things one thing at a time before you reach that, you know, that decision. So, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s it’s a, it’s how the sausage is made, so to speak. But you after, you know, after years of doing it, you kind of you know, you kind of learn, like how things work better than other ways and all that and you just, you know, but I mean, yeah, I mean, life tends to get in the way and dictate how you do a lot of stuff. So you just have to kind of roll with it. And if that’s the way the only way that you can get something done, then that’s what you do.
Yeah, I think a lot of pieces of what you just said is a really smart approach for you, when you’re in being the the guy in the studio that’s making, bringing the recording to life like you do, and I even on this, you know, being the first time I have really done something at this level, I was conscious of the fact, well, I had a sentiment that you’ll probably appreciate, even though at times it might not have seemed like this, but but uh you know, I didn’t want to beat things to death. You know, sometimes good, good enough, was was enough, you know what I mean? And, I mean, I had to do that with myself. And then there were things like, you know, I might might do that a little different, but I was trying to, I was trying not to drag it out more. And I’m like, this actually sounds really good. Just let it Let it be like it is. And, and also, like my friend Steve, who played bass for us. And I’m not sure I might be one of the first people that he’s collaborated with, because he’s a multi instrumentalist, like yourself, and, and he’s actually pretty good at programming drums I learned. I mean, he sent me a track that had some pretty nice program drums on it yet, he was asking me to put some drums on it. And I’m like, Alright, yeah, sure. But, uh, he has taken on this attitude of, you know, I, I think I’m learning that it’s better to invite people in and let them bring their own their own thing to it. So I was, I think I was without having heard that from him. I was thinking to myself is like, yeah, I think is really good to let you in particular, to bring your thing and you were really nice about like, what is it that you’re, you know, what do you kind of looking for what style are you thinking? And so it was great. I enjoyed it a lot. Working with you. Um, do you want to hear what people have thought about people that have had a preview of the song have said about it?
Chris Raspante 29:04
I, well two things I gotta tell you…
Chris Raspante 29:09
Haha! I hope sure.
Yeah. Well, I will say, there’s, I was gonna say, two things I’ll tell you that don’t comment enough on is the awesome mixing on it and the drumming, but that’s actually to be honest. I probably had a few more. Well, you know, when any, anytime anybody says it sounds great, which I’ve had a lot of those of course and, you know, it’s mostly biased versus people, you know, in my circle extended or close, so they’ll say that anyway, because it’s mine, but but they are commenting on on the mix and, and think thank God, the vocals were passable, you know, because that’s one of the first things people really notice, right? When in a song I think, whether they’re, they’re horrible or not, and if they’re if they’re decent, it’s like the it’s pretty good man. But, um, the the thing that I wanted to share with you that I thought you might get a kick out of, are when people said, wow reminds me of, you know, fill in the blank. So here’s some of the ones. So first, let me tell you, I’ll share with people that maybe haven’t heard this before, who will listen to this recording that when I gave you the song I thought, you know, was thinking of this kind of Who’s Next vibe, referring to The Who album, you know, and I was thinking, that sort of Townsend guitar and I actually thought at the time, I was going to try and do this aggressive drumming on it, only to find out later is like, God, I’ve not been practicing enough, I better just sort of like, do what I can and try and nail and track, but so nobody has said anything about The Who when they listen to it. But I’ve had, I think one of the first things I heard, which was my first sentiment was, well, that’s a little bit and it’s mostly your solo, for me. I thought that sounds kind of like a Tom Petty song. Nothing to do with my voice. But I, I got that comment from probably a couple people. I got, this one really should
Chris Raspante 30:55
I’ll take that compliment.
Yeah, right, is what I’ve said. I’ve said, You know what, I’ll take it. That was probably one of the first ones I got. And this the most, actually, I got this from two different people. One of them is our now mutual friend, Rex Brown. He said, It reminds me of something Bowie’s. And I’m like, Okay, I’ll take that too.
Chris Raspante 31:16
Wow. Good company.
Yeah, right? And then our other mutual friend, although I’m not exactly sure what part but he said there was a vocal line in there that reminded him of Robert Plant, which is, uh, you know, super nice, you know, for anyone to say that about me. And then I also had, what was the other one? Oh, I got probably more than anything. And this one made me tickled me the most, and it made you too, Rush. [Laughs.]
Chris Raspante 31:46
Yeah, and you know, what, I finally figured out what it was, I finally figured out what it was about it. It’s the it’s the bass line that the very first maybe couple bars, few bars of the bass, I think, and something about the way that the drums and the bass are playing together. Not that, you know, there’s anything remotely resembling Neil Peart, but I think that’s why people said that.
Chris Raspante 32:09
No, you know, I, I can hear that because actually, when I did get that, that bass track, and and mixed it in there was obviously listening to it. And I was, you know, and the tone and some of the lines and stuff. I was like, that’s fairly Geddy-ish, you know? But, you know, and, in a good way, in a cool way, obviously. So yeah, I can see that. Well cool. Well, and I’ll, I’ll take the Petty thing all day long. Because Mike Campbell is, is is one of my favorite guitar players. And even the older I get, I find I just, like him more and more, and I probably, you know, borrow for lack of a better word, you know, more and more things from him, you know, as far as like, what I think he would, you know, do because it’s, it’s usually a pretty safe bet. When you approach a song to think, you know, what would my Campbell do, because he is such a great, you know, playing for the song, and and just, you know, his economy, I guess, is the right word maybe, of notes and just getting the job done with just the right amount of notes. And I’ll tell you what, and you know, as you know, I’ve been doing this project with Stan Lynch, you know, one of his ex bandmates from the Heartbreakers
Another amazing musician.
Chris Raspante 33:44
Yeah. And yeah, it’s been great. And I can tell you more about that project, too. But Stan, definitely, you know, Stan is, you know, was there for all those records and has definitely, you know, been in front of, you know, and worked with all these producers and stuff. And, and obviously, with Mike, and that just gets drilled into you more than anything, it’s like, you know, it’s the song. It’s the arrangement. Don’t step on the vocals. Don’t step on other parts, you know, the solo needs to be something that’s memorable. And it doesn’t need to be this, you know, you don’t need to be just noodling, shredding wherever I mean, and there’s, there’s obviously times when there’s music, where, that’s what it’s all about, and that’s fine, but you know, for most three minute, four minute pop songs that you’re going to hear and listen to and play on. You know, it’s definitely about that, and he’s all about that. But it just definitely taught me a lot. And the funny thing is, the more I’m around him and do tracks for him and work on, you know, collaborative tracks and all that. It’s like, wow, yeah, I I start catching myself doing stuff that’s like that. That’s a little Campbell sounding, you know? But it’s like, hey you know, if I start defaulting to somebody who’s playing, you know, fine. Again, I’ll take that I’ll take, you know, sounding, well hopefully sounding like him, you know, yeah, over a lot of people, you know. So that’s, that’s been cool. But I, I definitely think it’s a positive because it’s, it’s helped my playing as far as, and just with everything, and just how you approach and you record and even other instruments, and when I record other people, and working on other people’s songs, even when I’m recording somebodys vocal, and I mean, I, you just, you automatically start thinking that way, as far as like trying to look at the big picture, and just trying to guide people as far as like, yeah, this, you know, let’s, let’s get this thing, let’s get the arrangement, right. Because that is the, you know, there’s an old saying somewhere, get more first heard it, but, you know, the, the best way to have an awesome sounding mix is to have a great song. And it’s true. I mean, it’s, you know, if you have a great song, and a great singer, and a great arrangement, it’s just, you know, it’s like, it’s funny how the mix just tends to come together and sound awesome. Oh, and I’m saying that, you know, kind of sarcastically but I mean, it’s true, because just things just tend to happen, and just kind of fall into place. You don’t have to fight stuff, when, when all of those things are in place first, you know, when it’s a well written song, and the singer is good. And, and, and all the parts, all the guitar parts, everything is you know, arranged really well and just really fit with each other. It’s, it’s almost like, you can just push the faders up, and the mix is almost there, you know, versus when it’s not. And you’re just before you even tried to massage the track, from a sonic standpoint. You’re just automatically, you know, going into repair mode, and what I call, you know, hammer and screwdriver mode, or I’m like, okay, but, you know, put the hard hat on, and I’ve got to go in there and I got to stick stuff and move stuff around and edit stuff and, you know, to get it to be right. You know, before I even get creative and artistic with the sonic things I’m going to do.
Speaking of that, moving things around. So I was thinking about this, I don’t know, few weeks ago, as time slips by and I’m trying to figure out how to release something and I’m actually, by the way I / you might be interested to know I’ve scripted a video for the song and I’m fortunate to have a nice videographer here locally, and probably access to some nice locations, which is a luck lucky given the pandemic situation but Mike, I’m hoping we’re gonna and I had to get I’m not doing like a music performance video. And in fact, I’m trying to I’m gonna kind of be a cameo in the video, but I have an actual young young heroine, not heroin, heroine is an actress, hero, actress who will be the primary character in the video, but… Damn, where was I going?
Chris Raspante 38:36
Now I gotta go back and really check the mix. [Laughter] You’re gonna get all serious about this thing. I mean, wow.
Well yeah, you know, you know, one of the things I was told by a good friend who actually is in the, you know, DFW area with you, his name is Ezra Vancil, and I really respect him as a songwriter. And I’ve seen when I first met him, I saw some videos he did, and we just got to talking about how he pulls them together. Cuz I’m like, how do you, you know, pay for these people, you know, when anyway, we talked about all that stuff. And so one of the things he said to me was, you know, I’ve never had, because I’ve been asking for a little, you know, advice on on releasing it and doing it the best way I can. And one of the things he said was, You know I’ve never had much luck when I didn’t have a video with it. And for some reason, though, I had in my mind that I would do a video with it. So I’m not even sure I went with that whole thread where I intended to, but there it is.
Chris Raspante 39:31
No it’s, Believe me, I I really hope you can edit this because I feel like I’m just rambling about just, you know, going off on tangents about stuff so not at all.
Oh, I know what I wanted to ask you!
Chris Raspante 39:45
It has nothing to do with that with the fact that well, I decided that we should make it a happy hour episode and I’m actually imbibing as we talk and you said you beat me to the punch because you didn’t see my message until you already had a virtual happy hour.
Chris Raspante 40:01
Yeah. Well, that’s that’s how crazy it’s been. I just schedule a virtual happy hour with some Austin friends. Yeah, from from five o’clock until seven, and then then we’re doing our thing. I’m a couple in front of you. But that’s alright, I’ll let you go wait to catch up and then we’ll, then we’ll go together.
I’m probably I’m probably good with with two tonight, and so I can get through this. But what I was gonna ask you, I remembered a few weeks ago, I was thinking, I was thinking about the, the recording process or whatever. But I remember when I did the drum track, I remember intentionally doing this. Trying to play, you know, behind the beat that we’d established, on purpose. And then a good, I sent it out to a couple people that I, you know, outs outside of you just have, I wanted to get some outsider perspective. So I sent it to a couple of other guys who have some recording experience and you know, musicians, like yourself established musicians, and one of them has a good body of work as an engineer and producer. And I think both of them might have said this, I’m not sure. But they’re like, you know, it’s kind of weird. I don’t know if he did it. Well, it wasn’t weird. It was like, I don’t know if he did it on purpose. But it’s like you’re slightly behind the beat. And it’s like, oh, yeah, I did do it on purpose. And I guess in the back of my head, I was a little worried about it. So anyway, I mentioned it to you, when we were doing this all by email, and you know, Dropbox, and when we transfer and whatever. But I was curious. I remember saying to you, I would love for it to stay that way. And then afterwards, I’m thinking Oh, so I just asked him to basically move everything, or we do as part or whatever. So do you remember, if you ended up moving either my drums a bit or moving your parts a bit?
Chris Raspante 41:52
Um, I probably, at some point went to the track and like, what I will normally do, I’m, I’m trying to think how I can describe this? Well, there, there’s different situations, if, if I know it’s going to be something where people are putting on their parts from various remote places. And so everybody’s kind of needs to be on the click, you know, versus like a band whereby he’s playing at once and, and, you know, they’re all interacting with each other, and you have kind of a basis for being either, you know, on top of the beat or behind the beat, you know? Because that’s, that’s kind of one thing. There’s a little bit of a myth, I think involved with that. Because I you know, you have to establish the beat first. Right? to, to have something where you can, where it sounds like it’s either, you know, ahead or behind the beat,
You kind of did tell me if we did… We kind of did that with the tempo of the song, you actually put a, you actually put a drum track and basic drum track on there that you’d programmed or whatever, right? Or maybe you played a drum kit? I don’t know. But But we established that at the beginning, right?
Chris Raspante 43:17
Yeah, I mean, it’s, I think, originally the track started off. I mean, yeah, you sent me the good guitar and the vocal. And then I programmed some drums, which obviously are going to be brought on, you know, the grid, and then just did the kind of a mock up, and then we started replacing stuff, you know. But yeah, I think it’s, it’s hard with drummers, I think because, you know, in the end, nobody’s listening to the, like the the listener in the end is not going to hear the click, so they’re just going to hear you. So if they’re just listening to you, other than individual elements, like if, if you’re hi hat. And I mean, I’m gonna get really nerdy if that’s okay.
Chris Raspante 43:58
Is that gonna? Okay. Um, I mean, as a drummer, if your kick drum and your hi hat, are pretty much you’re staying to the to the click right? But you’re maybe laying your snare down a little bit behind the beat, then I think as a listener, you could that’s something you can comprehend and go, Oh, yeah, he’s really, you know, plays behind the beat. Like his his snare drum is always a little bit on the back side. But,
And that was my intention, by the way.
Chris Raspante 44:28
Hopefully that’s what happened.
Chris Raspante 44:29
And no, and that’s cool. But I think when people try to do that with their whole track, then either if you keep doing that, obviously, it just translates into dragging. Yeah, like you’re slowing down, obviously. Right. But if you’re, but the thing is, you know, if you don’t have a point of reference of time, you know, because you’re listening to the click, you can see the grid and if you’re playing slightly behind it the whole time. Well, what happens is as soon as you take the grid and the click away. I can’t tell you know, there’s no point of reference. So then, if you’re just consistently behind the beat, well, then now it just sounds when you take away the reference now just sounds like you’re on the beat. Because you know what I mean? I don’t know, none of us know. We don’t have a reference anymore. You don’t? I mean, am I losing you, or does that make sense?
No, no. And I think it was a couple of nerds that caught it. I mean, like, sound, you know, musician nerds that.
Chris Raspante 45:31
Yeah, because what’s gonna happen? Well, what’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna play your drum track. And let’s say you’re listening to the click, and you’re always playing consistently, right behind the click. So if you hear the click and hear your drum track, you can say, Yeah, he plays behind the beat. But the thing is, as soon as you get rid of the click track, and you start putting other instruments on there, and let’s say me, as a bass player, as a guitar player, well, now I’m going to play to your drum track. So I’m going to try to be as on with you as I can. So now, when you hear the finished product of just your drums, with everybody else playing to you, well, now there is no behind the beat, as far as from a drummer standpoint, because it was just always slightly behind, but consistently behind. So you take that away, and now, everybody playing right on your beat. So now there is no reference to tell that you’re playing behind the beat, unless something specific within your kit you’re putting behind, so that we can hear it, you know, took a pair, you know, and you know, hence the snare behind your kick and the hi hat.
Yeah, you know, and yeah, and I’m realizing now that the people that heard that and made the comment, they were listening to the original bass that you had put on there. But after we took that, took that, that away and gave it to a bass player who could, as you’re saying, basically listen to the song in a new context and say, okay, maybe he notices, or he doesn’t, or it’s subconscious, like his snares slightly behind the beat, but um, you know, I’m following him and sort of, you know, thinking about the guitar and all that, and suddenly, the reference has changed. So yeah it makes sense.
Chris Raspante 47:15
Yeah, like, that’s a great example of that being a, you know, a real thing where it’s, yeah, if we kept my bass part that was played to the original drum machine, that obviously is gonna be like a clock, right on, you know? And then you put yours on there, and then yeah, then then it works when you have that reference of that contrast, when you when you hear the original bass really being on the beat, but then your drums are behind it. Yeah, that’s when you can actually sense that something is behind. And I guess that’s, that’s probably, you know, a long winded way of trying to explain the myth to hopefully some, some musicians out there, you know, that that will help somebody because, I mean, I have run across that before. And, and I’ve had to kind of explain that to people like, Well, you know, really, you know, and, and, you know, explain what we just, you know, I probably spent way too long explaining, but
No, it’s good.
Chris Raspante 48:23
But yeah, I mean, it’s, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a thing that you have to consider, you know, but yeah, that’s, that’s the hard part. And I’ve seen people like, do stuff first, you know, the, the drag of it probably is like when you have to do things in a certain order, let’s say when if drums are put on last. Sometimes it can be kind of a shame because like when people especially like bass guitars and acoustics and that, you know, they’re very, obviously percussive things and there’s a lot of time involved. And if somebody has to play to a click, or to a drum machine, you know, which is just working as a placeholder, and then you know, someone’s gonna put drums on later. You know, as a player, as a bass player, as a guitar player, I would really, I would rather have the drums put on as soon as possible, so that I can play to the drummer to the real drummer that’s going to be on there for good. You know, because that way I can, I can groove and punch with him. And not, you know, have because the last thing you want is you don’t want the track to sound like the drummer. Put his on at the end, and that he’s following everybody else. You know I…
Well, lucky. I was gonna say lucky for me, I am a drummer who tends to I mean, obviously I have to play on, I mean, with an off of the bass, you know, bass player, live or whatever, but I’ve always paid a lot of attention to the guitar. So it’s very natural for me to think about, because we did sort of do it backwards for my track. And the drums almost did go on last Besides, you know, the bass track coming in, but I, it was very natural for me to listen to what you had done and think about it. Now that now that we’re talking about this, I realized that this came out a little bit differently on guitar than a little bit, not a lot, but a little bit differently than what I thought I mean, you essentially, you know, at the core, you were playing much more eloquently and skillfully. The groove that I gave you on guitar, with with your wonderful embellishments, but it was still a little different than than I expected. But fortunately, for me, anyway, I think was that I really enjoy playing with and off of guitar player. So it was very, very natural for me. So I think it worked pretty well.
Chris Raspante 50:51
Yeah, and probably I now that I think back on it, I probably did go through the tracks and probably give them little helps and nudges here and there. To make them sound a little more cohesive, like, we all did play at the same time. You know, and but that, that that is completely normal. I mean, that’s something that happens all the time, you know, because I, you know, I don’t want it to sound like, you know, you’re, you know, having to follow what was already there, you know, I want you to be the star timekeeper, you know, you know, with with anything. And, you know, but a lot of times records are made that way. I mean, there’s a there’s been several pretty famous records, you know, uh, well, the was it rocks, is it Roxy Music, Avalon? That’s, that’s the famous, yeah. That, which is I mean, it’s a, you know, masterpiece, you know, classic album. And actually, I didn’t know, I mean, if you listened to you, it does not sound like it. But actually, that was a record that was done, where everything was done, you know, firsthand, as far as all the instruments and stuff, and I think it was done to a drum machine and actually had, I believe it was Andy Newmark that play drums on that. And he was the last thing to to be put on there. Of course, this is back when there is no, I mean, this is all analog, there’s no editing, you know, in those times, but it says a lot. And Bob Clearmountain mix that record, it’s a famous, famously sonic, great record. And he said, You know, that’s really, you got to hand it to a drummer who can come in, at the end, and play, you know, too existing tracks and make it sound like he, he was there from the beginning. Because, you know, a not so great drummer could do that. And you listen to it, and you’re like, Okay, well, now we need to redo the bass to, you know, to match with the drummer, and we got to redo the acoustics to, you know, to match with the drummer, because, you know, his his time is definitely, you know, moving up and down, you know, with with the click of the drum machine, whatever. But apparently, they didn’t have to do that. And same thing with you, you know, there wasn’t like major surgery, you know, so that’s always a good sign.
Yeah, yeah, thanks. Um, I’ve experienced the difficulty that you described, that can happen. Frank Salazar, another mutual friend of ours did this track for me, that’s the intro outro music for this business podcast that I’ve done. And, and, and he programs, some nice drums for it. And so I’ve tried to put something new on it. And the style that he put on there is a lot different than than what I would naturally play. So I just started playing around. And it’s been really tough. I finally was like, I’m gonna give him the suti things will consequently haven’t heard back from that’s not to say that he’s not just busy. But I think, you know, I’m like, I’m probably gonna do it again, until I send him something where he goes, Hey I like that. But it was hard. It was it was really hard. And maybe because it’s with with my song, because it is my song, maybe it was a little easier. And I sort of anticipate a lot of stuff. So I want to wrap up, but we’ve been at it for about an hour and I want to let you get to the rest of your evening. But I wanted to make sure to ask you kind of about the business of your recording and mixing, engineering, mastering stuff that you do. And if you appear to be as busy with that as as you know, almost as you want to be and with gigs, the same but on the recording side. And I know that I think that you implied to me that the the pandemic that is our world these days sort of drove up the demand a little bit, but there’s another side of me that knows that you’ve been also in demand on that side. Has that been a lot like what you described when I asked you about getting all the gigs? Is it the same or is there anything different about what you’ve done to build that business?
Chris Raspante 55:01
Uh, as far as building the studio business?
Chris Raspante 55:04
Um, well, it’s, I think it could kind of be the same in the sense that, you know, really doing a great job, you know, being good at what you do, or trying to be good at what you do. And, and, and being easy to work with and, and just being out there on people’s radars, you know, that is always going to be the best advertisement for yourself, you know, and that’s really just what I’ve tried to do. I mean, I’ve tried to let people know that I’m here that, you know, especially with thoughts of mastering, that was something that I have done in the past, but this year, I’ve done a lot more of it, because I kind of look, you know, I let people know, maybe a little more, that I can do it, that it’s a, you know, a service I can provide, because, you know, it really does lend itself to the, you know, client not being in the room with you, which obviously, you know, in these times, a lot of that has to be the case where, you know, you know, I’m definitely burning up my Dropbox folder, you know, with people, you know, just, you know, uploading and downloading stuff. I mean, that’s, I mean, I live by that thing, you know, as far as just getting stuff sent me sending stuff to people. And so, and obviously, people were still making records, whether they’re, you know, making it in, you know, commercial places, or if they’re just making it home, you know, the mastering was, is something that people need, and especially if you’re going to do vinyl, or if you’re going to, you know, release it on a CD or whatever I mean, there’s, there’s things that have to be done that, you know, that you need that need to be done by someone that knows how to do it. And so the mastering was something that I was able to help people out with. And so that got really busy, a lot busier. And then doing stuff like we did together, where as you know, doing tracks remotely, where people are sending you stuff, and I have someone else I work with it, I’ve done Oh, God, probably half a dozen tunes or more. And it’s the same thing. It’s, it’s, you know, I’ll get like a guitar and a scratch vocal or something like that, and then I’ll just, I’ll build the track. And then and then, you know, put a final vocal on it, you know, later. So it Luckily, I mean, I, I can’t believe it. And it’s again, it’s, you know, I keep going back to the lucky beats smart thing, but yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve stayed, I’ve been really busy. I mean, almost this whole time. I mean, when COVID hit in March, I’d just got through, just finished a pretty big album or two. And then it hit and something like, oh, man, everything’s going to shut down, I’m going to not be working forever. And there was, I mean, maybe a week or so, where I wasn’t doing anything, and people were kind of, you know, figuring out what they were going to do. And then all of a sudden, it was just a lot of clients just came out of the woodwork. And I think it was like, once everybody figured out what was going to be happening in their lives, it was like, Okay, well, I’m not doing anything else. So I might as well get these tracks recorded that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, you know, or now’s the perfect time to, to finish this record that I’ve been working on, you know. So I think there was a lot of that stuff once people kind of got their lives in order. And man, yeah, I just between the different people I work with, and then you know, got some new clients. It’s just, it’s, it’s been pretty busy this whole time. I mean, I haven’t had a whole lot of downtime from March until now. And and and then like, and, I mean, I’m not trying to brag or anything, I’m, I’m saying this as, as humble and thankful. And, you know, as as dumbfounded as anything, you know, just are and that it has been that busy. But but it really has, but I’m really I’m glad that that I was able to switch to studio stuff because I mean, the live gigs definitely went away. And they’ve, they’ve gone and come back multiple times where they went away, there was nothing and then they kind of they kind of crept back and then they went away again, because number started rising and it was like okay, shut it all down again. Yeah. So, you know, we’ve all had to endure that where we just went, you know, it went back to completely like no, you’re not playing a gig until further notice, you know, which could be months. So I was just very lucky and thankful that I was able to switch gears You know, work out of out of my studio all these months, but, but yeah, so it’s just, I just, you know, try to keep doing good work and try to keep letting people know that I’m here, and this is what I’m doing and you know, I can, I can do these things for you. And luckily, people have been, you know, they continue to call. And so I’m, you know, happy to do that. And the older I get, the more I enjoy it, the more I, you know, really enjoy sitting here. And, you know, I enjoy the craft, and I enjoy, you know, doing it. So I guess I, I try not to take it for granted. You know, the older I get,
I have a lot of admiration for the diversity of skill sets that you have developed, and that you’re, you know, it enabled you to make the shift, as you said, it’s, it’s really cool. And, and I guess, to two notes to leave our conversation on to, to, I guess, reinforce the quality of what you do, which I think speaks to why you’re so busy, but the mastering aspect, you know, I was listening to just my song that we, you know, worked with me on and did all that great stuff with the mixing and mastering. And I’ve been listening to a lot on on headphones, and you know, from my computer, and then earbuds and the phone eventually then one day went out listen to my car, which I was dying to do. And I don’t have a I by no means have an awesome sound system in my car. But when I listened to it, I just wanted to know, like, how does this sound compared to anything else I listened to, to, you know, the sonically. And I can tell you it sounds like a pro, you know, a pro mastered it, [Oh thanks!] so that’s amazing. And the other thing, yeah, you’re welcome. And the other thing is that I played it for my friend, Rex Brown, who, you know, played in was the bass player for Pantera. And he’s had, you know, now he has this burgeoning solo career, he’s been in the business forever. And he took one listen to it. And I think this is as much a testament to your work as it is the song. He said, Do you know he says to me do an album and you know, we can help you get it, get it released. But he also enjoyed your guitar playing. And he was like, Can you put me in touch with that guy? I wanna do some stuff with him in the future.
Chris Raspante 1:02:22
Oh, that’s cool. Wow.
Yeah, and I think…
Chris Raspante 1:02:24
You’re making me blush.
And I think that he knew well, I’m not even sure he knew. But I told him at that moment. Oh, yeah. And he did you know, this is what he did for the song. So. But yeah, that was the first thing and I think he was, I’m not sure, but I think he knew you’re in the area that you’re in. And he has some roots there. And that makes me actually, you know, what I was listening back to I have a an interview that’s publishing soon. This week, actually, of an interview I did with Rex. And we were talking, I was asking him about going back out on the road. And, and he, you know, he was talking about the difficulties in New Mexico, and he was talking about the difficulties of, you know, putting a band together some of the challenges anyway. So he’s taking one or two of the guys hopes to take one or two of the guys back out on the road that he did last time for his first solo record, you know, do the same on his on his current, his new one that’s coming out, and maybe out by now, as we’re talking, but he said, there, you know, I’m gonna have to, you know, get a drummer from outside the area. There’s just nobody, not there. No good players here. But I haven’t found the guy that I would want to take on tour with me. And the whole time I was listening to that I remembered Rex being in Arlington. And I’m like, I didn’t say any. I was like, about to get on my phone and like, dude, you should call this guy or this guy. But now that we’re I’m like, no, not gonna do that. But now that we’re talking like, he’s not even in the area anymore, so it wasn’t even talking about you guys.
Chris Raspante 1:03:52
Ah, okay. Yeah, I thought he would Oh, so he doesn’t live in Arlington anymore?
No, but you obviously like, what’s he talking about? Dude, there’s a lot of great drummers around here. But anyway…
Chris Raspante 1:04:02
But hey, thank you for it’s really great talking to you. I know we, it was kind of one thing that was a little weird about working with you on the song is that we’re communicating and it’s fun. And sometimes it’s just challenging trying to, you know, understand each other, not very often, but because we’re doing it all by messenger and email and stuff is really nice to just actually talk to you for a bit.
Chris Raspante 1:04:27
I know, I know, we should do this more. More, we’re actually Well, it’s, it’s, it’s not to go on another tangent. But it’s, it’s amazing. I mean, I’ve done when I look back. I’ve done so many tracks recently. And when I say I’d be like in this past year, or whatever, or more where it’s the same thing where I haven’t actually physically spoken with the artist. Maybe during the whole process. It’s like texts and messenger and all that and we’ll do a whole, you know, I’ll master a whole album or I’ll do a whole you know, one track, probably a whole album that way by me, but I’ve definitely done complete tracks for people where I’m like, Wow, I didn’t talk to them one time until they got the finished product. And they just called me to tell me whatever, but like it was all this, you know, communicating like this. It’s just It’s a whole new world. You know, it’s a whole different world for us old guys to adapt to know but you know, but but I mean, you get into it and it’s been great I mean, thank God, thank God we can we have the technology that we can do this, you know.
Yeah, for me, I get to be a kid again, because this is all kind of new for me because I haven’t been recording all my playing life, and I’ve been playing forever but I wasn’t really, virtually not doing any recording. So it was really it was a really fun experience for me. And I do hope we get to work together some more. My wife Sami and I both hope to get to play again soon. And Sami in fact jokingly said before I came in the in the room to do the conversation and recording with you she says tell Chris I hope to see him play again some day before I die. You know jokingly because of everything that’s going on and travel restrictions and whatnot. So we hope to see you guys soon. I don’t think we’ve met your wife Camille hope to meet her next time we’re in town and thanks again for for spending time with me.
Chris Raspante 1:06:23
For sure, well, no problem. Yeah. And we will we will definitely have to get together when all this stuff finally dies down or goes away and we can you know, actually hang in person. And and and do it do it, do a in-person happy hour.
Absolutely cool. I look forward to it.
Chris Raspante 1:06:41
Yeah, same here.
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