Hearing the music and not the artist.

How should friends respond to a musician’s request for feedback.


My friend Peter just asked me if I wanted an honest reaction to my latest musical effort. Or did I want feedback designed to boost my self esteem?[sic.].

Good question, Pedro.

When I was in high school I played Judge Danforth in the Crucible and to the shock of my fellow cast members and teachers managed to remember and deliver my lines. Afterwards my father said, “It’s hard to believe the character and not see your son playing the part. But for a few minutes I really thought it was Judge Danforth.”

Wow! Thanks, Dad. That’s a compliment I remember.

Since my first and only acting performance, I’ve self-published four novels and created an internet musical presence through home recordings and self-made videos. I’ve learned to separate critics into three camps.

  • Family and friends — not to be trusted — unless they’re truly cruel they’re going to as Peter suggested pat you on the head and say, “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?”
  • Strangers — better because they see the art not the artist.
  • Professionals–best because they comment on the intricacies of what you’re doing and can make suggestions that actually improve your mix.

Professional artists have big audiences because they have professional backing. Of course there are exceptions particularly in music where an artists can self-generate a large base of fans who will discuss and appreciate the music. But for most of us until we’ve found a publishing house or record label to invest, develop and promote our music or novels you’re going to be left mostly with family and friends.

So, I have a response for my friend Peter and all family and friends of artists:

No artist rises fully formed from the physiological storms that produce their art. Every artist must go through transformative stages to get to the point where his art can capture the imagination of someone else and take them out of themselves–the ultimate affect of art.

What I want from you depends on what stage I give you the project. If I send you a preliminary mix or draft then what I want is detailed feedback I can use to improve my art (e.g. bring up the bottom on that part of the song).

If I’ve sent you, as in this case, a mastered demo then I want you to hear the music not the artist and tell me when you forgot it was me up there and you saw Judge Danforth.


Apokaful is now shopping a demo to record labels and has received one offer so far from Plusquam Records.

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The Subconscious of the People — thoughts a day after the election

trump

If you believe in a collective social conscious — a subliminal wisdom of the American people — blessed to live in a society where anyone can do or say  what they want to insane limits — then you can understand the election of Donald Trump as President.

His ascension is like some inner voice telling you not to get on the plane that crashes — your higher intelligence telling you something that all your conscious thoughts and rational thought says no — you have to get on that plane because the world is depending on you to lead the fight to save the human race from global warming and if you don’t get on that plane…

His election was a straight shot from the subconscious of the nation.

And what did this strange massive concoction of dreams and archetypes say?

“We don’t want to listen to that voice for four years or see that face and wonder when the next Wikileaks is going to drop. We’ll take the clown and his whole posse.

Now the Republicans own it — no more divided government just a flimsy wall of filibuster.

Give the Republicans credit. They brilliantly devised a plan to drop the GDP by 2 points by abandoning fiscal policy and refusing to fund an infrastructure bill that would have benefited the very people who elected Donald Trump; the ones deprived through three congresses of Republican intransigence jobs, affordable higher education, and health insurance. The Republicans systematically impoverished and sickened the people who now turn to them to save them.

The Benghazi/email scandal circus is closed having served its function of distracting the victims from the true source of their pain.

What is the first thing Trump offers? An infrastructure plan — the very proposal Obama was forced to abandon in the early days of his administration to save the auto industry.

The Republicans now own health care, restructuring college debt and affordable higher education. They own the rebuilding of schools, bridges, ports. They own Iran, trade, climate change. They own being tough as a negotiating position in domestic and foreign affairs.

Now let’s see what they can do with it. The collective consciousness of the nation is still stirring in a disturbed sleep.

Let’s see if the plane really crashes.

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A Lifeline to the Indie Author–What To Do If You Can’t Even Give Your Book Away

You’ve finished your book. No agent is interested. Your manuscript is at the bottom of a slush pile.

You publish it yourself. Huzzah! Your work is finally out and available and…

nothing.

Bummer–you’re lost in the nearly thousand books published each day in the U.S. — no shame there — even the big girls bang their heads against that wall.

Well, if you can’t get people to buy your book at least you can give it away. Right?

Welcome to the land of the free.

Google free books and you get 38,000,000 hits.

The free ebook market is saturated. It’s nearly as hard to find a free reader as a paying one.

What to do?

Well I’m gonna tell ya…

A when-all-else-fails book marketing plan.

And not a bad one to sell more books.

1. Get some software and online chops.

If you haven’t already—learn Photoshop, InDesign, and MailChimp.

2. Create an online newsletter.

I recommend MailChimp — a free and intuitive platform for creating and sending professional-looking newsletters.

3. Give your newsletter a theme and topic. Make it attractive.

Obviously — it’s helpful to have a book-related theme. My BetaReader Journal and Bulletin Board caters to readers, authors, and self-publishing support professionals.

4. Market your newsletter.

Not nearly as hard as getting someone to read your book.

Invite Facebook friends, Twitter followers or email contacts. Don’t just sign them up — that’s spamming.

5. Be active on social media — make friends.

A cyclical way to expand your subscriber list and build interest in your book.

— HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART —

6. Provide a forum for your audience to express themselves.

thought I came up with that but of course I didn’t

7. Organize an online book club on Goodreads and/or Google Groups

By far the best site for authors to meet readers is Goodreads. The Amazon-owned book social site is a great platform for exchanging messages about books.

Online book club for the Dim Light of Reason

8. Provide suggested discussion topics.

Just like terrestrial book clubs suggest discussions topics relative to your book. The Dim Light Reading Group has discussed topics as far ranging as black maids in white houses and teen rape.

9. Give it away

Now is the time to give your book away to your subscribers — they’ll be more receptive than a cold give away.

Will this work? The Andy Weir effect.

After being rebuffed by agents, Weir put his self-published book the Martian online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website and the rest…

And for me…

Two weeks ago, I started putting out a chapter a week of the Dim Light of Reason (I’m including previously-released chapters each week if you want to get in on it).

With enough chapters for seven months of weekly mailings, I have lots of time to build my subscribers and interest in Dim so that when I do release the book, hopefully there will be some word-of-mouth buzz to generate some sales.

And if I can’t sell Dim at least I’ve managed to give a few copies away.

By ones and twos I’m slowly gaining an audience and who knows — I have hopes for this one.

The Bushes and Republican Elite will Decide the 2016 Presidential Election

Bush

The electorate of the United States is so closely divided and the two major candidates so objectionable to the other camp, that the 2016 Presidential election is bound to be close. The number of voters who can be swayed, despite the billions to be spent on their persuasion, is probably not enough to decide the outcome of the election.

What may well defeat Trump is the elite of his party, particularly the Bushes.

Many Republican elected, economic, foreign affairs, and military leaders believe Hillary Clinton more closely adheres to their worldview on trade and security than does Donald Trump.

While the Republican elite might not vote for Hillary, they may well not vote for Trump.

To persuade reluctant Republicans to vote for Trump the U.S. Senate refused to consider the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and Ted Cruz was allowed to speak at the convention to implore Republicans not to stay home.

That Trump recognizes how implacable the Republican leadership who did not attend the convention is evidenced by his making no overtures in their direction as he did to religious groups in his convention speech.

The often referenced Trump as strongman is bolstered by his elimination of all who oppose him. Trump has not and will not eliminate the opposition of the Bush clan.

The Bush-Trump war will be one of the most consequential battles of the 2016 Presidential campaign. The Bush grievances against Trump extend not only from their contrary worldviews of traditional Republican positions, but to a personal vendetta from the trashing of Jeb, Trump’s easy dispatch of the $130 million dollars Bushes supporter put up in the primary to support Jeb, and most personally egregious–the mocking of matriarch Barbara Bush.

 Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 11.13.47 AM

The Bush clan may act “low energy” but they are vicious close-in fighters.


I predict that the Bushes and Republican elite will peel away enough Republican support from Trump to defeat him — not to bury him in the landslide some long for— but by enough so that their worldview will be preserved, and future generations of Bushes will play a major role in the reconstruction of the GOP


The brilliance and foresight of the Clinton’s political instincts are evidenced by their cultivation of the Bushes as friends.

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Donald Trump too plays a long game. Even if he fails, one or more of his  attractive children who are accumulating experience and connections at the center of his campaign, will someday be a much stronger and ultimately successful candidate for President. I’d say Ivanka is the morning line favorite but the younger Eric had a more polished and politically impressive speech, and then there is Donald, Jr., who has primogeniture rights.

We should fully expect to see these political clans battling into the future with the savagery and shifting alliances of the War of the Roses.

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Conservative thinking is to blame for Brexit

The longing for a homogeneous society/why can’t things stay the same— is at the root of Brexit.

Brexit

That and the tag BREXIT.

High on the list of those to be blamed is the stone-cold marketing genius who came of with that sobriquet (a quick search does not reveal the culprit).

Know any successful tech companies known for being “conservative?”

My father, one of the original architects of the European Union, once said, England should be turned into one big beautiful park. Little did he know…

Donald Trump — the Greatest Democrat Ever

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Persistent rumors that Donald Trump is a black hat Democrat who made a deal with Hillary and Bill Clinton to clear the field for her election must now be confirmed.

It is time to emphatically declare that Donald Trump is the greatest Democrat ever and is accomplishing what no Democrat before him has ever come close to doing — systematically destroying the Republican party.

On issue after issue beginning with his claims that Obama was disqualified from being President because he was not born in the United States to immigration and abortion, Trump has extended positions held by various parts of the Republican party in a manner that has forced Republicans to either support or renounce their own dogma.

Trump repeatedly uses legal logic to expose the hypocrisy and lack of workable solutions of the Republican party. If abortion is illegal and criminalized then anyone assisting the abortion including the mother would be a party to the crime. If it’s a crime to be here illegally then you should be deported. If trade deals harm some workers then they are bad contracts and should be broken.

Forcing Republicans to address the logical outcomes of their proposals is like the Biblical story of Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and was turned to a pillar of salt. Right wing rhetoric doesn’t work well when nuanced. When compromise is heresy you either have to support a position or your arguments turn to salt and your party is blown away as will happen to the Republican party up and down the ticket in November.

As a lifelong Democrat who hungers to see issues addressed and solutions reached through a mature, political dialogue, I say thank you Donald Trump. And if the Republican party is to reemerge from its destruction I hope the party will be one based on optimism and political arguments that can withstand a Democratic plant taking their ideas to their logical conclusions.

Thanks, Donald.

A Website in Your Name

Jeffrey Marcus Oshins

Should you get a website in your name?

I’ve got multiple artistic careers going — an EP that’s getting some attention and my fourth novel coming out in February. My dilemma is how much do I want to promote myself— a battle between innate modesty and the cold truth of entertainment — if you want the spotlight you’d better grab it because there’s a lot of competition for those readers and listeners.

Giving into graven dreams that somebody might actually come looking for me, I bought my name (.com) and put up a website jeffreymarcusoshins.com.

I have also been promoting myself on the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Part of that effort involves the mostly fruitless effort of contacting all your friends and letting them know that you’ve a novel coming out.

Now, the good thing about Goodreads is that it really is mostly populated with readers. But lurking in reeds of Goodreads (forgive me) are…

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A Website in Your Name

Should you get a website in your name?

I’ve got multiple artistic careers going — an EP that’s getting some attention and my fourth novel coming out in February. My dilemma is how much do I want to promote myself— a battle between innate modesty and the cold truth of entertainment — if you want the spotlight you’d better grab it because there’s a lot of competition for those readers and listeners.

Giving into graven dreams that somebody might actually come looking for me, I bought my name (.com) and put up a website jeffreymarcusoshins.com.

I have also been promoting myself on the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Part of that effort involves the mostly fruitless effort of contacting all your friends and letting them know that you’ve a novel coming out.

Now, the good thing about Goodreads is that it really is mostly populated with readers. But lurking in reeds of Goodreads (forgive me) are hungry authors.

One thing I noticed in going through my 800+ friends was that you could tell who was an author and a reader by their picture. Readers had pictures with their cats, significant others smiling in a neighborly way. Authors had formal expressions and professionally shot photographs as if to say “I’m serious.”

There is something about promoting yourself even if you have flacks doing it for you that requires a dressed-up version of yourself and the confidence to say, “Seriously, I’ve worked hard on this shit and I’m worth a few minutes to take a listen. Or in the case of a book — well that’s going to require some more of your time.”

I believe I have a new understanding of what success in art would be — that you reach a point where people come looking for you and you can just smile back at them in a neighborly way.

A Classless Society Emerges in San Francisco

SF-Master-Servant

Much has been made of the class wars of San Francisco and the emerging servant class where any service can be provided to those who can afford it. I find hope for a better future in the way the classes mingle in the City.


My family has lived in San Francisco since the 1880’s. I’m 65 years old and have seen the City (a real San Franciscan always calls it the “City” and certainly never “Frisco” according to my mother–a proud Daughter of the Golden West) change from old and decaying to “summer of love” decadence to gay capital to latest incarnation of tech center of the universe.

Upon a visit to see my son paying a remarkable amount to live in a walk-up in the Outer Richmond, I was struck by the obvious vibrancy of so many young, brilliant and beautiful living and playing together.

The City has always attracted the artistic, gifted, and bohemian but now is a magnet for those who want to invent and be part of the future. I won’t make this a paean to what is obvious and widely celebrated but I do want to point to one remarkable classless (in least pejorative sense) feature of life in the City.

I do not believe there has ever been such a commingling of servant and served where in the bars, restaurants, and parks the rich and poor are indistinguishable from each other as they eat, drink, and play together.

Now this is not to say that the homeless, addicted and criminalized are suddenly welcome in the condos that are encroaching on the Panhandle. But the woman who is coming to do your laundry or drive you to your meeting is likely to be just as attractive as you are, similarly educated, and occasionally on the receiving end of a Frisbee in a game of Ultimate in the park.

I spent a good part of my career in Washington where the first question upon meeting a new person was almost always “what do you do?” You don’t hear that much in San Francisco and if you do it’s usually answered with “I’m in tech. I teach. I work for a startup. I drive for …” There is not the suspicion or need to categorize that I found in DC.

Aspects of society in San Francisco today gives me reason to hope that a new more egalitarian culture is emerging along with the tools and toys that are bringing the world closer together.