Archive | May 2011

Darth Vader Trombone and Salsa Dance

Jonathan Arons dubs himself, “Dancing Trombonist” — in this video, he demonstrates what that means exactly. Here’s his “Darth Vega Salsa” routine at Andrew Jackson Senior Center in Bronx, NY:

-LAMA Staff

Drummer’s Reality Camp June 29 – July 2

Don Lombardi, Jim Keltner, Ralph Humphrey and Terry Bozzio from Drummer's Reality Camp 2010

It’s baaccccckkkkkk! and Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music are teaming up to bring you the Second Annual Drummer’s Reality Camp June 29 – July 2. This year’s lineup includes Alex Acuña, Kenny Aronoff, Terry Bozzio, Jim Keltner, Cobus Potgieter, Gil Sharone and Thomas Pridgen (with others to be announced) while LA Music Academy’s own Ralph Humphrey, Dave Beyer, Aaron Serfaty, Tony Inzalaco and Joe Porcaro round out the artist list. The four-day event includes workshops, lessons, master classes, special performances, autograph sessions and a DW Drums factory tour; individual days and evening concerts will be available a la carte. Here’s a trailer for the event, which will take place at LA Music Academy, located at 370 S. Fair Oaks Ave. in Pasadena, CA 91105.

-LAMA Staff

Choosing a Music School: Why Location Matters

Our staffers visit with a lot of prospective music students at LA Music Academy open houses and on-campus tours. It is amazing how little location factors into students’ decisions on what music school to attend (“consider the location” is the first tip in our recent blog post “How to Choose the Right Music School“). We can imagine how it happens — you get so focused on the intricacies of each school and the great faculty (Tariqh Akoni chairs the guitar dept at LAMA!? cool!) that you often forget that you are going to be living in a city for your entire time at college. Let’s examine why it is important to look into location:


There are music schools located all over the world with a million different climates so you want to make sure that the weather is conducive to your learning. Ask yourself where you grew up and live now, was it a cold climate or a hot climate? Did you like it? Have you ever lived in a different climate? It can be a huge adjustment. Witnessing your first snowstorm can be very scary to anybody! If you want sunshine year round, you might think about a school located in California. If you don’t mind carrying your instruments and books through the rain and snow, the east coast may be more up your alley. Go visit the schools and see if the weather suites you! Don’t get fooled if you visit an east coast school in Summer since the weather, most of the year, will not resemble anything like what you see.


If you wanted to go to a music school, wouldn’t you want to be, well, you know, sort of close to the entertainment industry? People often don’t take this into consideration. Why waste time in a state that has NO music industry? The great thing about going to a school like LAMA next to Los Angeles is you get to use your time in music college to network and meet all the people IN the industry who will help you get your first job after you graduate. Not to mention, sometimes you need to be close to all the action and get inspired by seeing other people who have made it and living the music dream. Trust me it helps!


There is no doubt that certain cities are more expensive than others to live in. Weigh the options. Would you rather live in a city with cheaper rent or live in a city with a slightly higher premium but with the benefits of being closer to the music industry? Also, just because the music school you are looking at is in an expensive city, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart about spending your money and turn it into a cheap city. Make sure to check out our blog on “Living On The Cheap In LA” to get some ideas.


Rumor has it that Axl Rose’s lyrics to “Welcome To The Jungle” are about getting off the bus in Los Angeles for the first time. It can be scary heading to a big city if you haven’t before, so make sure you feel comfortable. If you don’t mind living in an urban environment with higher crime rates, you can look into schools right in the heart of a big city. However, if safety is a concern, you might like LAMA, which is located right outside LA, so you get the perks of safety and less traffic, but still just a short car or bus ride away to being in all the action.

These are just a few of the many reasons why checking out the location of the school should rank high when you are looking at different schools. Don’t forget as well, that each one of us is built differently, so you may or may not adapt well to certain environments and cities. You will know which city feels right to you. Trust your gut more than anything else!

-LAMA Staff

Singing with the Stars

LA Music Academy vocal instructor and artist development director Dorian Holley recently hosted his student’s performance finals at Noor in Pasadena, CA. The soon-to-be-alumni of the music college performed for Dorian and four guest judges — the featured singers on Dancing with the Stars including Darryl Phinnessee (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey), Beverly Staunton (James Taylor, Martina McBride, Michael Buble), Carmen Carter (Queen Latifah, John Legend, Nelly Furtado) and Antonio Sol (Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, Celia Cruz). Watch our video recap of the wonderful evening below:

5 Tips: Get “Discovered”

We could probably do an entire blog post defining what it means for a musician to be “discovered” but generally, use these tips to increase your visibility in an age where competition is fierce and everyone has a voice (and Twitter account):

1) Update Your Status: All right, so now that Myspace has become as useful as a wet blanket, how do we get viral with your tunes? Well, focus on Facebook page “Likes” and YouTube subscribers. Most labels have put more value in the above mentioned than your Twitter following!  According to some nameless record execs, Facebook is exponentially more interactive then Twitter with a return on “calls to action”.  So update your status and tell your parents Facebook is now part of your career.

2) Give It Away: That’s right. Stop charging for music. Instead, use a friend sharing service that requires a call to action in order to download.  For example, search for a service that requires fans to tweet the free download link to 5 friends before they’re allowed to download your tunes for free (there‘s a ton out there, so find the best fit for your project).  Even though you’re giving your music away for free, you’re growing your fan base while exposing them to your music.  Many bands have done this and made up their money when newly exposed fans by merchandise, or the full albums (or prior albums) form your catalog.

3) Great Things Come in Small Packages:  The days of walking a CD into any label and getting signed off of the music alone have long gone.  They want an image – a brand to market.  So give it to them, all wrapped up in a neat package.  Include photos, press hits, any small merch pieces you have, press releases and of course, three (3) copies of your CD with only 3 songs to demo. We know you have a full album but give the A&R department only enough to want to ask for more. 

4) Coffee Anyone?:  Hit the coffee shop circuit.  There is probably one down the street from you now that is begging for someone like you to take up a residency.  What’s a residency you ask?  Well, consider it like a scheduled TV program.  Every week at a certain time, you allow fans to “tune in” to watch you perform.  They’ll know where and when to find you, listen and hopefully bring friends as well.  Ask your local coffee shop for a 4-week residency trial.  If you’ve got the chops, they’ll love you for it.

5) Don’t Worry About It:  Look, if you get discovered and sign a deal, it still doesn’t promise you an album release.  So be creative and support yourself.  Release EPs. Commit to new photo shoot every 6 months.  Don’t rely on being “discovered” to save your career because 9 times out of 10 it will actually destroy it if you haven’t put in the pre-game time to develop yourself.  Remember the saying “If you build it, they will come”?  Well this holds true to your music and style – build it up and someone will come chasing after you with a record deal. Nothing like artistic control to put a smile on any artist’s face.

What other tips do you have to help fellow musicians get “discovered”?

-LAMA Staff

Q&A: Music Finance

We turn to our financial guru Clemens Kownatzki, author of Money Music 101, for Get to the Music’s first post in the Q&A series. From an LA Music Academy student:

Q: I put my songs up on Tunecore and make about $20 a month. Do I need to report this on my tax return? If so, how?

A: Technically, you are required to report all of your taxable income no matter whether you are selling songs on Tunecore or CDs on the Internet.  Anytime you are engaged in selling a product or a service at a profit you must report the income from that activity.

The frequency or the amount of your income from selling songs are not the point actually. Instead, the question focuses on whether you are selling something at a net profit.  Net Profit means the revenue or proceeds from selling a product or service minus the expenses associated with the production and marketing of it.  When it comes to selling a song for instance, the problem is to demonstrate what costs you incurred from producing the song.  That can be quite complex in fact.  It is not just the cost of hiring a studio, manufacturing the CD or producing the MP3 and marketing your music etc. but also the hours that went into writing the song.

This can get very complex and in terms of reporting you are best advised to consult a CPA familiar with these types of transactions.

-Clemens Kownatzki

Clemens Kownatzki, one of our guest bloggers, teaches a finance elective at LA Music Academy College of Music.

He is the author of the just released Music Money 101 (pictured at left; available on Amazon).

Tonight Show’s Rickey Minor Visits LA Music Academy

Students taking Dorian Holley’s vocal class at LA Music Academy College of Music were surprised recently with a visit by Emmy-nominated music director Rickey Minor. Rickey worked as American Idol’s music director before joining The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he replaced longtime music director Kevin Eubanks. Rickey has also collaborated with artists such as Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Ray Charles and Beyoncé Knowles so the students were really excited at the opportunity to meet and learn from such an established music industry veteran.

Read more about LA Music Academy’s vocal department here.

-LAMA Staff

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