We saved you a seat.

It's funny but this year seems to be the year where everything we were talking about at ArtistShare back in 2001 is coming to pass.  Someone recent equated musicians over the last decade to "canaries in a coalmine".  It couldn't have been stated any better.  Musicians seems to have been the sacrificial lambs of the Internet technology movement.  It seems as if only now musicians are beginning to realize that they in fact are holding all of the cards.  It's a little late but I don't think the situation is irreversible.  

When I started and built ArtistShare more than 15 years ago it was with an eye towards creating a model for artists that enabled them to be independent of any gatekeepers.  As long as the fans could directly support the artist and the artist took care of the fans it didn't matter how it was done.  Well, I am thrilled to see that artists are really coming to realize this.  ArtistShare artists/releases were up for 4 Grammy awards this year.   Maria Schneider brought home two (one for a collaboration with David Bowie).  It is all of a sudden not that uncommon for independent artists to be winning these types of awards for project funded by fans.  What a beautiful thing!  Come and join us for our revolution.  We saved you a seat.

New Orleans 10 years later and the power of music

Last week I had the honor or producing a new recording at the Ellis Marsalis Center for music in the heart of the Musician's Village of New Orleans.   The dates also happened to fall on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.   It was a week I won't forget anytime soon.

The recording was for one of my favorite New Orleans musician/songwriters Chip Wilson.  It was my first time at the Ellis Marsalis center.   I must say that between the wonderful staff, engineer Daryl Dickerson and the absolutely beautiful sounding room there it is a session that will go down as one of the most enjoyable I have had to date.

Engineer Daryl Dickerson behind the board at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music


The recording dates also coincided with the 10th anniversary of Katrina.   Every morning before the sessions I took a long walk through the old city as the sun was rising.   There is a calm and serenity at that time that is unique to New Orleans.  Something very spiritual that transcends tragedy and is reflected in the people, the air, the buildings and the sky above.

I will post some of the tracks once we get rough mixes.  I am sure you are going to enjoy them.  I certainly am right now.

Chip Wilson

The incomparable Sean Harkness

Yours truly


What makes it all worthwhile?

As I was coming up for air today I received an email from a very nice journalist from Vice looking for a statement on the lawsuit that was filed by Kickstarter against us back in 2011.  

I was just finishing up launching a new project by Robin Eubanks and absolutely marveling at the amazing music he is creating these days.  This year thus far has been probably one of our best years to date.  Alex Skolnick (the track with Rodrigo e Gabriela is amazing), THREE BlueNote/ArtistShare releases, Gil Evans project winning all sorts of awards and critics polls, the first Maria Schneider recording in eight years (in my opinion her best to date), Hank Jones and John Clayton!  The list just goes on and on.  I can't tell you how proud I am of each and every ArtistShare project we have released and how interactions with the participants give us all so much inspiration.   It is what makes it all worthwhile.  I just wanted to share the gratitude I feel today regardless of anything else that is going on.

Regarding the lawsuit Kickstarter filed against us, we are currently reviewing the judge's opinion and our options moving forward.   We are still very proud to have provided the blueprint for the crowdfunding industry by conceiving and launching the Internet's first fan-funding website for creative artists in 2003 and we look forward to continuing to innovate and help even more  artists achieve their artistic dreams through both ArtistShare and our latest endeavor, FanFunded.com.

Brian Camelio



Rolling the Dice (or Music by Chance)

Sometimes one just needs to write a song, right?   

The relationship between math and music is pretty amazing.   Back in the late 80's when I was studying the craft of orchestral composition I became fascinated with modern classical composers and twelve tone writing.   I had a great professor also who showed me the beautiful symmetry and clear mathematical influence in Bach's music.  It was then I started to experiment with different styles of writing.   One of my favorites was by rolling dice to determine pitch and rhythm.  The only problem was I didn't really like the way it sounded ;)  

Well, one thing led to another and I decided it would be just as easy to write "tonal" music this way.   I came up with this nifty little way to write songs.  If you are ever stuck on starting to write a song I suggest you try this.

1. Get some dice

2. Choose a key for the song.   How about C Major?

3.  Assign a diatonic chord to each number 1-6 of a die.  For example 1=C major, 2=D minor, 3=Eminor, 4=FMajor, 5=Gmajor, 6=AMinor

4. Roll the die and write down the chord - let's say for now one roll of the die will be one measure.  Do this for 12 or 16 measures.

5. Play it back.  sounds pretty good huh?  Tweak it any way you like to get it to sound good and symmetrical to your ear.

6. Assign a note from the C major scale to each number on the die. 1 =C , 2=D , 3=E, 4=F, 5=G, 6=A (add B somewhere if you'd like - remember this is just to get you rolling).  We will call this the pitch die.

7. Take the other die and assign a rhythmic value to each number.  For example 1=half note, 2=quarter note, 3= dotted quarter note, 4= eight note, 5= dotted eighth note, 6=sixteenth note.  Any combination of any note values will do. We will call this the duration die.

8. Roll a pitch die, Roll a duration die, write it down, repeat.  See what you come up with.  

9. Play through the melody you have just created and pick out what  you like and develop it.

I really like this method of sparking creativity and speed writing songs.   It's just like coding right?  A set language that you put together creatively to make it do what you want.

Send me some samples of what you come up with.   I always love to hear from you all.

Happy Songwriting, Happy Coding





Exploring The Essence Of The Relationship

Originally posted on All About Jazz June 28th, 2010

Way back in September of 2000 a few of my friends were having a difficult time with their record labels. Some were dropped two weeks before a big recording session (years in the planning.... poof!) and others found fine print in their contracts which made it impossible for them to make money from their recordings. Being a musician myself and knowing what it was like to dedicate one's life work to music and one day after hearing yet another story of broken dreams, it suddenly became clear that we needed a solution. On that fateful day ArtistShare was born. Over the next three years I would write over 800,000 lines of code, define and redefine the business model, have many late night bar debates with proponents and opponents of the concept and finally in October 2003 we launched our first project. 


 Maria Schneider and Brian Camelio 

Through this series of essays I want to explore the concepts that are key to the success of ArtistShare, but more importantly explore the essence of the artist to fan relationship as I see it. My hope is that by writing about my my ten years of experience, I can help others find success and longevity in their careers.

Let's begin by asking a few very important questions.

What is the goal here? Or, what am I really trying to accomplish?

To this day I am constantly asking myself this. It has a centering effect on me and tends to immediately weed out all that is unimportant and gets directly to the matter at hand. Everyone will have a different answer to this question and one of my favorite things to do when working with a new artist is to explore this aspect. It may seem strange but before I answer this I always think back to the moment in my life when I first realized that I absolutely had to be a musician. For me this moment was in elementary school when I first heard Stevie Wonder coming out of a transistor radio while standing in my Grandmother's driveway. Wow, I had heard all kinds of music before, but there was something about what I was hearing that unlocked a whole new set of emotions that I had never felt before. It was almost like a glimpse into the future and with it all of the possibilities of my life ahead—embodied in a three minute song. I knew at that moment that whatever it took, I had to learn how to do that. To this day I can still feel that moment and focusing on it always brings me back to the reason why I do what I do. Suddenly, all obstacles vanish and the purpose is clear again. Ask yourself this question, a lot. Before communicating with your fans make sure your message is pure and your enthusiasm will be contagious. Don't worry about "selling," your fans will know what to do. If you have the same effect on just one person that Stevie Wonder had on me as a child you will have passed the torch. Inspiring someone at that level is perhaps the greatest achievement one could ever aspire towards in this lifetime. Thanks, Stevie! This is not limited to making music but it should embody every aspect of your life, including your business. What is the goal here? What am I really trying to accomplish? 

There are so many distractions out there, how do I get my fans' attention?

Great question! Businesses spend billions of dollars every year trying to get your undivided attention. No kidding, advertising and branding is big business with incredible competition in very small spaces. How do we compete with that? It's easy. Create some great music. It doesn't matter where you are or how distracting a situation is, if you hear a melody or a rhythm that speaks to you, it will get your attention. Have you ever been in a shopping mall (a battleground of lobbying for your attention) and heard a song you liked? It's amazing how quickly you forget about everything to listen. This is the power of music. Every musician has the power to completely capture someone else's undivided attention above just about anything. Use it. Others would if they could.

How do I get new fans?

People are constantly asking me this question. My response is most always the same; what is the last communication you had with your existing fans? The fatal flaw of most artist to fan relationships is that the artist is constantly trying to bring in new fans while ignoring the fans they have. Your real fans (fans you have direct contact with, not MySpace or Facebook friends but people who have signed up for your list) are as good as gold. You need to constantly make them feel like they are playing a major part of your artistic life. Do that and you will see your fan base grow not only in quantity but with real fans. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool and remember that no matter what everyone else is doing, a focused and personal approach to your fan building will reap incredible rewards. That is how we approach everything at ArtistShare and with 7+ years behind us we can now see the results of this approach. Always think long term.

I would like to end this section with an ancient Chinese story about the importance of the relationship between the musician and the listener.

A long time ago in China there were two friends, one who played the harp skillfully and one who listened skillfully.

When the one played or sang about a mountain, the other would say: "I can see the mountain before us."

When the one played about water, the listener would exclaim: "Here is the running stream!"

But the listener fell sick and died. The first friend cut the strings of his harp and never played again. Since that time the cutting of harp strings has always been a sign of intimate friendship.

Brian Camelio and Jim Hall

At ArtistShare our philosophy is that the listener is equally as important as the musician. Without one you can't have the other. This I believe is a healthy attitude to have, especially in these times. Until next time...

Enter the Rubber Duck phase

We are in the final stages of testing and debugging the FanFunded.com website.  There are just a few more things we need to finish which are requiring some rubber duck debugging.  I use a my trusty pig Pablito. I found myself doing that most of the day yesterday as the snow came down in Manhattan. A grown man explaining the flow of the code to a plastic pig. Soon I will have to return to the day to day tasks of running ArtistShare which I love as well.  This is a welcome respite though.

Over the 18 years I have been coding I feel AngularJS is perhaps my favorite framework to date - client and server side combined (I have worked with many.  Who has a PERL camel t-shirt?).   Even though with Angular there was a slight learning curve and the documentation is not exactly stellar, the end results are just spectacular.   Performance, code organization, re-use.  It's amazing.

UPDATE:  Codementor.  Awesome service.   For experienced developers learning a new language or beginners I can't recommend it enough.  For our Angular work it was an indispensable resource.  We tried AirPair and the problem we had with them is that although it is a "managed" service, higher price does not mean better quality and the "manager" essentially is a scheduler and not much else.   AirPair I'm sure is great for some but it does not vet their programmers in a way where the price = the level of expertise. This was a confusing point and perhaps set up a false expectation.  Either way, this new breed of online mentoring services is amazing.  

Coming soon:  Rock Star Coders (literally) 


AngularJS and FanFunded.com

We are getting pretty close to launching our new fan-funding website FanFunded.com.   Since we are building it on top of our existing .NET/SQL backend (that we have been using for more than 10 years now - it's a workhorse for sure) it is quite easy to create a RESTful Javascript UI.  My initial instinct was to go for a JQuery solution and we were almost finished when I spent a couple of weekends diving into AngularJS.   I was told that "Angular is for SPAs" and "it will mess with your SEO" but after building a few apps with, I was (am) hooked.   Yes, I agree that it is ideal for SPAs however the benefits of the code organization and workflow really made sense to me coming from an OOP background.   I always found Javascript to be a bit messy and piecemeal.  AngularJS solves all of that (in my opinion).   The learning curve is a little steep but the benefits are huge.  I highly recommend checking it out before your next project.