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Grammy-winning Producer Leo Sacks

“I keep my heart open by listening” – Click here to read full article

You clasp a Grammy Award in your hands, for a few fleeting seconds imagining your name etched on the gold-plated gramophone trophy. For Cold Spring’s Leo Sacks, that’s no flight of fantasy. His name can be found on the Grammy he brought along to Haldane last Friday, when he taught a class called “Musical Trees.” A group of awe-struck fifth graders was able to hold the award individually, something Sacks allowed them to do, hoping that tactile, tangible moment would touch that “this can really happen” nerve. Sacks’ “Best Historical Album” Grammy was awarded to him in 2014 for producing the 9-CD “Bill Withers: The Complete Sussex & Columbia Albums.” He currently works as an A&R consultant and producer for Sony Music Masterworks.

Discovering new talent

In over two decades as a music producer, Sacks has produced boxed sets of such artists as The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind and Fire, Aretha Franklin, and other giants of soul and R&B. He’s done a lot of other things, too, spending much of the 1990s as an editor, writer and producer at NBC News. Earlier he wrote and reported for newspapers and music trade papers. Having helped some of America’s most influential artists “preserve their life’s work as a living language,” as he describes it, Sacks calls it “a privilege and also a tremendous responsibility” to discover new artists. Sony doesn’t need me to help them find the latest beats. Somewhere there’s a singular voice, or a boundary-busting band that’s utterly fearless, or a writer with a passionate point of view, and they’re not on TV. So I keep my heart open by listening and wondering whether anyone else will feel what I’m feeing. Scouting, signing and recording an artist may have satisfied the old business paradigm,” he adds, “but in today’s business of music, the real A&R job begins once the artist leaves the studio. It’s about formulating a plan that clearly communicates the story of any new project. And I love a good story.”

Newser turned producer

Those good stories harken back to the years Sacks spent as a newsman. “I always wanted to know how many slugs did the perp fire? Why did she lead a double life?” he exclaims. His news reporting slid into music business scribing. As he himself bylines, “I’ve wanted to make records ever since that magical, mysterious Sunday night in the winter of 1964 when the Beatles unleashed all those pent-up feelings on the Ed Sullivan Show. By that time I was tall enough to turn on the radio and was forever touched — and haunted by the voice of Levi Stubbs and the street lamp harmonies of the Four Tops singing Reach Out, I’ll Be There. I didn’t know he was singing to his buddies in the foxholes of Vietnam. But it made me want to become an artist’s advocate and write about the music that was touching me, and it kindled my appreciation for music journalism. In that respect, I was following in the tradition of music journalists who became record producers: John Hammond wrote jazz reviews before he discovered Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Billie Holiday. Jerry Wexler coined the term ‘rhythm and blues’ as a writer for Billboard before he joined Atlantic Records and produced Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.”


5 Bad Habits That Songwriters With Home Studios Need To Quit

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably a songwriter, musician or producer with a home studio. But let me guess, you don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done and, as a result, your songwriting has suffered. Right?

Being aware of our bad habits can bring about change and get us back on track.

Here are the 5 Bad Habits That Songwriters With Home Studios Need To Quit.


In the quest for the perfect plug-in or new gadget to make your sounds better, it’s easy to start going down the rabbit hole. I know this because I’ve done it. There are so many products out there, new ones that become available each day. My inbox gets stuffed with new product emails and videos and my tendency can be to get lost in exploring all the latest and greatest. I’ve had to call to task my “gear lust”.  What I need to remember, though, is to keep writing and focused on creating songs. Looking at all the latest and greatest stuff is fine, but in balance with the goal of creating. It shouldn’t be taking up your whole day. Most of the day, IMHO, should be spent writing and re-writing. All of the best gear in the world can’t write a song or even improve one.

This leads into the second bad habit of Home Studio Owning Songwriters.

Read the other 4 habits here

Somebody Asked 13-17 Year Olds How They Listen to Music. Half the Answers Didn’t Exist When They Were Born.

full article – click here

The question was simple: ‘How do you listen to your music?’  The answers were anything but.

So, how do teenagers really listen to music?  What started as a simple question by a music research firm revealed an unbelievably complicated set of answers.  In fact, most people between the ages of 13-17 exercise a myriad of options when it comes to accessing, discovering, and relaxing to music.

Most amazingly, that blend includes both old and new formats, with everything from AM/FM radio to podcasts.

But the most amazing part: most 13-17 year-olds prefer formats that didn’t even exist when they were born.  But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily opposed to age-old formats like broadcast radio.


FAKE HITS: Millions Of Streams vs. A True Fan Connection

In this article, David Emery explores the industry wide issue of “fake hits” tracks which, although they may amass a host of plays on platforms like SoundCloud, generate little to no appreciable revenue for artists or any label with which said artist may be associated.

“You can’t sell out shows based on big streaming numbers alone. These numbers represent attention and revenue, which is great, but the engagement is transitory, at least to the scale that the numbers would suggest. They’re the start of a fan’s journey with an artist rather then the end.”

Read full article, click here

Soundcloud has new potential buyer: Deezer

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Spotify already passed on buying SoundCloud.  But Deezer thinks this just might be a winning play.

SoundCloud is enormous.  And, enormously unprofitable.  The site has amassed 150 million songs on its streaming service, mostly from indie DJs, rappers, and other musicians.  Chance the Rapper has thanked the service for his success. However, the company has quickly bled through most of its cash.

Now, as it faces certain bankruptcy, a new buyer may have emerged to save the company: Deezer.

Last July, SoundCloud apparently mulled a $1 billion offer.   Yet, late last year, Spotify walked away from SoundCloud acquisitions talks.  Had they acquired the popular yet underperforming platform, it would’ve slowed down their IPO plans. Then, after posting a very poor financial report, co-founder and CEO Alexander Ljung admitted that the company may close its doors at the end of 2017.

That’s now less than 6 months away.

Following the dismal financial news, top executives quickly jumped ship and deserted the company.  Its COO and Finance Director saw that SoundCloud had no straightforward way to post a profit.  As a last-ditch effort to gain users, it slashed the price of its premium Go+ service to just $5.

Things continued to deteriorate.  Clearly in a dire situation, to obtain at least some cash, the company reportedly offered to sell itself for $250 million.  The company also reportedly then begged German investors for money.

In less than a year, SoundCloud had lost 75% of its valuation.

After Spotify walked away from acquisition talks, Google reportedly wanted to purchase the company for $500 million. Apple’s Jimmy Iovine had also reportedly expressed interesting in purchasing the company. Cupertino insiders quickly dismissed the rumors as “fake news.” Now, sources close to SoundCloud have told the New York Post that the company “is being eyed by a host of players.”

A ‘senior music source’ told the New York Post,

Defining Success And How To Achieve It With A Career In Music

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The first requirement for being successful in anything is to define what success means to you. That is one of the biggest challenges musicians face today. There is no standard to follow.

It’s not like going to college, where there is a defined set of measurable parameters. You attend classes, you pass exams, you write papers, and after completing all of the requisite steps you succeed in earning your degree. That’s an ideal scenario where you can demonstrate that you are making progress and, therefore retain the ever so important support of your friends and family. Unfortunately, the pathway to a career in music isn’t so cut and dry.

Let’s first examine some characteristics that are pretty much universal in successful people:

  • Authentic Interest: A genuine state of curiosity, concern, or attention.

  • Consistency: Steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.

  • Persistence: Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or oppression.

  • Goals: The objects of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Those are the basics. Those are the characteristics that will enable a student to take the SAT, go to college, pass the exams and write the papers, take the MCAT, attend medical school, complete a residency and come out the other end as a doctor.

A career in music however is far less arbitrary. There is no curriculum, no checklist, no predetermined pathway to become a professional musician. Even earning a degree from the Berklee Colloge of Music won’t necessarily give you a leg up. And because of that lack of definitive stepping-stones you find that the people that are supposed to be your cheerleaders (friends and family) start to celebrate your failures more than your successes. They really do want what’s best for you. And since a career in music is not a sure thing, they think that it’s better to get you on track for something with more defined goals and measurements.


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“I’m very proud to share my new single “Out of Time”. This song is about getting older and all the stages you go trough in life. Every stage has its up and downsides so enjoy the ride :) I’ve been working very hard on it so please share it! Would mean the world to me!”

- Lizzy V

Special thanks from Lizzy V:

Roberto (management), Louis Henry Sarmiento (sonic vista studios), Ruben van der Velde (Fields Studios), Serge Dussault (Black Oak Studio), Sander Veenendaal (Bass, Keys, Dobro, Electric Guitar), Jens van der Ham (Percussion) and Robin van Beek (Backing Vocals)

Glenn van de Wiel and Felice Klop (Music Video Evolution studios), Yfke Wegman (Little Lizzy), Rita Arends (Old Lizzy), Jens van der Ham (Drums), Joost Koevoets (Bass), Mark Sloesen (Guitar), Ronald Veenendaal (Teacher), Dustin Hofman, Katja Visser, Colin Beunis (Friends), All the kids that played as extras

Awesome locations:
BREStheater Brielle, R.K. Basisschool de Rozenhorst

Awesome brands:
Taylor Guitars, DigiGrid, Koch Amps, Jerry Harvey In Ears