{Behind The Music} Randy Wayne Belt Barley Station on No Breaking Ground

{Behind The Music} Randy Wayne Belt Barley Station on No Breaking Ground

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“Songwriting is about taking an entire book and condensing it to 2 or 3 verses, a chorus and a bridge. ” Randy @BarleyStation

Listen to the interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2015/08/13/episode-248-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax

by Jacqueline Jax

The best advise I have ever received…
I know some people won’t like to hear this, because songs and lyrics are so personal, but…
One best piece of advise was this, don’t get too emotionally attached to your lyrics and song. What do I mean by that? I don’t mean don’t have emotion IN your lyrics or song, I mean don’t get so attached that you won’t change a bad line or overused phrase or lousy melody or even chop out a verse. Songwriting is about taking an entire book and condensing it to 2 or 3 verses, a chorus and a bridge, or something like that you know? So don’t be afraid to work it right. If you can’t do it without writing a novel you should become a novelist perhaps.

All this talk about being inspired to write a song in 15 minutes and it is perfect is mostly nonsense. I have had that happen but it’s really the exception and not the rule and the exception proves the rule. Other advice? Never give up! And never give up your passion! That’s some of the best advice I’ve had so there you go.

No Breaking Ground
One of our more rocking songs. Created in 2013 about leaving home for the first time. I was 16 and moved out to start over. I moved to St. Louis to have a fresh start. It was there that I got involved in musical theater and it changed my life. Life is full of regrets but you have to move on and not let it get to you. That’s what Breaking ground is to me.

Let’s talk about music marketing…
Well, first I’ll say that it is important that you have a grasp of who your fan base is before anything else. There is so much to say but I’ll do my best to keep it short… but you know me. There are many ways to help do that. For instance, places like radioairplay.com have great tools to help you see who your fans or potential fans are. And it allow you to target who you are played to – channels with similar artists, etc.

I urged them for years to do a song by song target and they finally implemented that, which is good for bands like Barley station that cross between genres a bit and it’s also good for general songwriters to target more specifically. It was a good move they made. There are charts where you can compare and see what other artists those who have fanned you like. Very cool stuff. Once you get enough spins you begin to get more accurate info. After having close to 50,000 spins there, we have a really good idea which songs appeal to whom, and to whom we appeal to in general.

And there are other sites where you can see what genres or other artists your fans like. For us, there is a common thread among our fans with genres they like, though sometimes it varies, but generally it is Country Pop, Country Rock, Pop/Rock, Country Americana and Folk. Well that sounds a lot like Barley Station, so it’s pretty accurate. So yeah, you really need to know your fan base. And the best thing, above all, is just talking to them!

Now, I’ll give you my witty answer. Music marketing is obviously important. But I’m going to give you an honest answer. It used to be that this is something that labels would deal with, not so much the artist. But the business models have changed.

Now the artist is left with doing everything if they don’t have a separate label. Or they are at the mercy of a label that doesn’t quite have it down yet. Branding, marketing, making music, recording, socializing on media, you got the artist trying to do everything. You can’t make music when you’re thinking in business mode like that. To be honest, a lot of the best artists really don’t want to deal with this kind of stuff. And the best songwriters may just quit the business with their songs never heard. I’ve watched a lot go down because of this. The Beatles tried to do this with Apple (their label) and it wasn’t exactly a huge success. It failed. They should have just been making music with that kind of band you know? THEY said it, not me.

It can be stifling of the creativity of an artist. Not all, but a lot. It takes a very special person to be able to effectively do all these things. And the sad part is, that once you are doing this, you can easily lose site of the music and it starts to suck, unless you are that rare person that can dichotomize and seperate the business from the music when you are in creative mode. So what I’m saying is, marketing theory or planning is for the marketers not as much for the artist. But the artist needs to be mindful of it. To use some Star Wars dialogue: “Obi-Wan: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future. Qui-Gon Jinn: But not at the expense of the moment.”

Artists create art and marketers find where there is demand for the art – or help the artist create the demand. So my marketing theory is get a lot of advice and let others help you so you can focus on writing, recording, playing, etc. If you have to be your own label, then outsource if you can. This might not be the expected answer, but there it is. Most truly artistic people generally don’t like marketers or marketing.

That’s why they do music, to escape the mundane world of the “day job” (marketing) haha If you can make it fun, that helps. If not, then it’s for someone else to do. Hire a marketing firm. Sit down with them and tell them who you are what you’re all about, and let them figure it all out.

So what’s our own plan? It’s a dichotomysticological secret!

Favorite social media platform…
Facebook! (www.facebook.com/barleystation) It just allows more room and to say what you’re going to say. Being trapped into using 140 characters or less, like on twitter, is a bit stifling. It wasn’t really designed for serious deeper conversation. So Facebook wins hands down there. ha ha In a world that has been overcome with sound bites and one-liners, I’m still with the “hey, let’s have a normal conversation” crowd.

Just sharing what we’re doing or how we are doing it by pictures, paragraphs and print! We did a picture series on our rehearsal space not too long ago, and showed all the various pictures on the walls that show our influences. There was one with me sitting under a picture of Sid Barrett (old Pink Floyd) and Brian with Tori Amos behind him. An REM poster, a Bob Dylan Concert ticket. I thought those pictures were really interesting if the observing eye caught it.

What I love about being an indie artist..
Being able to be creative in the studio and taking the time to do it the way it should be done. If you’re lucky enough to be an indie artist with the knowledge and experience of recording or mixing, you don’t feel rushed for time in a paid timeslot in a studio. I think that’s why a lot of artists these days end up using auto-tune on their voices – and end up sounding robotic – because they are racing against the clock! They probably don’t really want to, but you can’t improve your singing by doing that. So the freedom of doing a vocal take until you have it with just the right mood, sound, style, and pitch, and all that, to me, is a big benefit!

Changes ahead…
There are some changes in Barley Station already. We’ve had them before, so not much change sound wise except that I will be taking over all lead vocals for the most part. I already sing lead or lead harmony on most songs anyway. Brian has decided to play a lesser role and lend a more supportive hand, like some session work, some of his songwriting skills, etc., and he will be focusing more on furthering his education and Chinese studies.

So, having always been the engine behind Barley Station anyway, you’ll be hearing more of my voice from now on which is very versatile and my range is around 3 and a half octaves – more on a good day of doing background vocals for weeks at a time. Haha. Your voice is an instrument that you must keep in shape and practice!

It’s my voice you hear on songs as diverse as “Younger Summer Memories” to “10 Nights” to “No Breaking Ground” to “Dream You Lost”. Also, our drummer Steve might be doing a song contribution sometime as well if I can coax him into it! He has several really great songs that he’s hiding. haha. And he can sing them well enough.

But meanwhile, I am looking for players so that this can get back out on the road again. That’s a very difficult task to get the right players when you’re not in a major music capital, so patience is required, and we’ll mainly focus on just getting more music out there and continuing to build our fan base. I have a pretty huge catalog of songs and am always writing new ones, so plenty to look forward to there.

But as for touring ,when the demand is great enough, then there will be the supply (tour). After playing well over 300 shows already in the last decade, I’m taking my time to get it right. It’s important that you LIKE your live sound more than just PLAYING live just for the sake of it. I remember reading about one very popular band that didn’t even tour until they sold a million records. So I’m not concerned about it at this point. When the time is right it’ll happen.

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