• July 12, 2018 1:46 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)

    Country Artist Susan Giacona is living the dream.

    She's breaking barriers and demonstrating that switching gears and fulfilling your lifelong dream of being in music can be achieved.

    When I sat down to interview Susan, it felt more like having lunch with a friend. Having just come from a writing session, she was comfy chic and all smiles. Her excitement about her current and upcoming projects was infectious. It's clear that making the shift from working in Marketing & Advertising at a major corporation to following her musical dreams was the right move for this Texas songstress.

    One of her recent projects was for the Battleship Texas Foundation. She had the honor of featuring the historic vessel in a music video for her original "Walkin’ Away From Heaven" which depicts a timeless love story where a serviceman, who is a husband and father, is leaving during wartime. Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world and is credited with the introduction and innovation of advances in gunnery, aviation, and radar. The ship is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.

    Susan's patriotic song serves as a moving tribute to those who served their country and to the families they left behind. The music video is part of a campaign to raise awareness of and funding for the foundation as it provides financial support for the restoration and promotion of the Battleship Texas, in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It also operates and organizes educational tours, such as the Overnight Program, and increases public awareness of the USS Texas' history as well as her current and future preservation needs. Additionally, it is engaged in assisting in sustaining an active veterans affairs program.

    Other recent projects and honors include licensing projects in the works for Netflix Original films produced by 430 Entertainment, and John Pocino Film Productions. Susan will have songs featured in the opening and closing credits for the John Pocino Film, “Destiny,” in which she will also have a small speaking role. She will also have a vocal performance scene in the film. “Destiny” is set to air on HBO as an HBO Original.

    Susan's song "Loving Me Into the Light" is featured in an upcoming Lifetime Original Film that has yet to be named but tells the story of poet and author, Dr. Beverly Johnson. Another film set to feature Susan's talent is the 2018 film "The Silent Warrior." She collaborated with hit songwriter, Marty Dodson (“Songs Like This” by Carrie Underwood, “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” by Kenny Chesney) to write “Kindness Matters” for the documentary film that explores "Bullycide" and the aftermath of what can happen when bullies push their victims over the edge. Susan’s music will also be used in a kids TV show, The Grimps, as well as various other TV ads.

    She received our Texas Country Music Association Single of the Year Award in 2017 for “Where Will I Be,” which was cut by The Darrin Morris Band. Additional accolades include being nominated by her fans for Songwriter of the Year, East Texas Music Awards. And she'll be awarded in Vegas in November at the 2018 Producer's Choice Honors for Female Solo Artist of the Year.

    Her upcoming debut EP, entitled "Take Me Back," is scheduled to drop in 2018, and is being produced in Texas by Chad Mauldin Productions at the historic KSIJ Radio Station/Recording Studio. Planning for the video for this EP's featured single is already in the works including a custom-designed dress by famed designer Nick Navarro.

    With a voice often described as one that combines the sound of the superstar LeAnn Rimes with the sound of Faith Hill, Susan’s soulful voice delivers each song she sings in a style all her own. You can see a recent recording of a live performance she did for In the Music Room Studio and Listening Room.

    She recently signed with the Clif Doyal Agency out of Nashville who will be focusing on placement of her music in films, live performances, modeling, sponsorship opportunities, and supporting her ongoing work for military charities.

    Susan resides in Texas with her husband, three boys, and two dogs. Her days are spent either creating new music, lending her voice to voice-over projects or volunteering at the various organizations for which she is deeply passionate. She donates her time serving on the Board of Directors of Wheelchairs for Warriors, a Texas-based non-profit dedicated to helping wounded veterans and first-responders obtain motorized wheelchairs enabling them to improve their quality of life. She is also a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children, and although she no longer researches cases and reports to the courts, she still volunteers for special fund-raising events.

    Susan is an avid traveler and has spent time in Italy, France, and many other European countries. When she’s not traveling for vacation, Susan splits her time between Nashville and Houston.

    For more information about Susan or to hear her music, head to her newly revamped website. And for booking, contact Clif Doyal at cdanashville@gmail.com.

  • July 07, 2018 4:30 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)

    Submitted By TCMA Correspondent Wayne Duke:

    First things first, I am a songwriter, not a lawyer. Anytime you’re entering into a contractual agreement with another party that has complex and complicated matters or laws attached to them, get the best lawyer you can afford to represent your interest in the matter. Not your Uncle Earl, Esquire, who doesn’t have any more clue about the music or publishing business than you.

     This will not be an exhaustive collection of knowledge of copyright law as I am still wading through those waters myself. I will share what I’ve been taught over the past couple of years from the most informed person I know. I will also share with you from where I received this education and how you can get your hands on it also.

     Let’s get started. You are writing songs that people other than granny and Uncle Earl say are good. This also means you have probably written somewhere between 500 - 1000 songs by yourself or with other like-minded souls and a few of them don’t make the dog run for cover. You have developed your craft into more than a hobby or “do it when I feel inspired to” kind of thing. You have started writing songs that connect with people about the human condition. You also have to write or your head will explode, metaphorically speaking. Now you need to know how do I protect my songs legally. I’m glad you asked.

     If you have written a song all by yourself, you own 100% of the rights to copy. At the time you placed it on paper and/or made a simple recording it is protected from anyone using it other than you or someone you have given consent to through the licensing process. At this time, you can go outside and bury it in the yard and nobody can touch it without your permission if that’s what you want to do. You can also register it at The Library of Congress at this time, but it wouldn’t be prudent. You can do that in bundles of songs on their website. You also will want to leave time for revision of the song and if you have already registered it, now you have to amend the song for an additional fee. Schedules of fees can be found at https//www.loc.gov under the Copyright header. If you register every song you write in a year and you write 100-150 songs a year it can get expensive. And besides, a song is never final until it’s vinyl. Publishing companies don’t even register the songs their writers write until they are cut. It’s a business and you have to start thinking about it this way. The best business practice is to wait until you or an artist cut the song to register it in the final form. As a side note, forget the poor man’s copyright, it won’t stand in court.

     I can hear the alarms going off as I type, “What if someone steals my song”? Not very likely. They would have to have heard it somewhere or been in the room with you when you wrote it. Now ideas, titles and chords are not protected. You may here a song on the radio written by someone else that has similarities to one you have written. If your song hasn’t been on the radio or played out live a lot, take it as a shot in the arm that you are actually writing songs like the pros do. Registration with the Copyright Office gives you the right to have standing in a federal courtroom. There have been two recent cases where the rights of a copyright holder have been found to be infringed upon. But even then, these are lose/lose propositions. If you get caught up in these kinds of things you’re more than likely done in the business. Take it as a compliment and move on. One more note on this, most music is stolen when it is file-shared or performed at a venue that does not operate with a license from a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). I’ll save that for another time.

    Here is a simple formula to remember:  song © +license= $.

    If you are planning to perform and record or allowing an artist to record/ perform your song, you have to invest in an education or the school of hard knocks. The school of hard knocks just has too many dead ends, road blocks and land mines to satisfy me, although I tried it for a short time very unsuccessfully. An education from those who have done it and lived to tell about it are out there making themselves available to teach you how the road is navigated. There are no guarantees or shortcuts to success because they don’t exist. Knowledge is the key that opens doors. And there are a ton of things that you will need to be very familiar with before you will be able capitalize on your songwriting talent. Knowing how to take care of the business side of things will allow you to gain the respect of your peers and will let the people you are doing business with know that you are ready to work on their level. Professionally.

    I will get into the bundles of rights (licenses) in part 2. A list of sources is below for you to check out if you seriously want to go for success in the music world. They have been priceless for me.   

    Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    Wayne Duke

    TCMA Correspondent





    Library Of Congress https//www.loc.gov/

    Amanda Colleen Williams

    Marty Dodson

    Clay Mills III

  • July 03, 2018 7:11 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)

    It's no secret that social media has changed the landscape of marketing. And it can be a very beneficial tool for artists. (It can also be a very harmful tool if used poorly.) Social media presents a very unique opportunity for artists to connect with fans on a regular basis and really build solid connections.

    Here are some tips to help you grow on social media:

    1.  Be there.

    You don't have to be on every social media platform, but at least pick one and do it well. Try to pick the platform where most of your audience is active. Check recent stats to help you decide where to go, and consider which platform would be most enjoyable for you.

    2.  Be complete.

    Social media profiles offer many places where your audience can learn more about you--your upcoming shows, your favorite things, how to book you for a gig, where to buy your music... So, fill out each section as much as possible, and use photo and videos to connect and inform your audience.

    3.  Keep it positive.

    Be careful when airing grievances on social media. Remember that it's not just fans reading your posts. (Although, they probably don't want to hear negativity either.) Potential sponsors, potential booking agents & potential managers are also reading your posts. If they consistently see you whining about something or speaking poorly about other artists, you risk looking like a whiny artist who might be hard to work with, or someone they simply wouldn't want to be around. Try to stay positive and avoid making things personal.

    4.  Be engaging.

    Don't just talk AT your fans, actually engage with them. Ignoring someone on social media is very similar to having someone compliment you at a gig, and then you ignore them. Even if your fan base is rather large and you can't possibly respond to every single comment, make sure you make as much effort to reply as a whole, acknowledge as a group, at least "like" their comments...

    You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and requests to buy your album. Ask them questions, answer their questions...just interact.

    5.  Keep the quality.

    Avoid posting overly blurry or pixelated photos.

    Be thoughtful about what you post, too. Is it really something your audience will enjoy? Does it represent you well? This doesn't mean you must always post "perfect" things. A great way to connect with your audience is to show them the "candid" or "imperfect" posts such as band practice or brainstorming for a new song.

    6.  Be balanced.

    Go for content that is educational, funny and sometimes inside info about you that many people might not know. Post your polished moments, but balance that with authentic posts. This doesn't mean to post your dirty laundry or post during an after-gig drunken stupor. This just means balance your posts so that people see the image you want them to see, but also know that you're a real person, too.

    7.  Be considerate.

    Remember that it's easy to offend or irritate others online, so avoid doing things that will for sure leave a bad taste in your audience's mouth.

    For example, don't hijack someone else's post. If another artist posts about their new single, DON'T comment and include anything similar to "check out my new single." Just don't. Be happy for them, and keep it about them.

    Also, people might not tell you that it irritates them when you add them to groups or tag them without their permission, but unless they're highly involved in your projects, chances are, they're probably irritated that you've tagged or added them. I'm not saying it's not ok to do that but just think carefully about the people you add. Make sure it's someone who you really think wouldn't mind or actually would be glad you included them.

    Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have, and I'll do my best to either answer them directly or post about them in another post. 

    Happy posting!

    Chrissy Bernal
    Fractional Marketing & Creative Partner Specializing in Customer Perception & Communications

    CE Communications


  • June 10, 2018 3:20 PM | Chrissy Bernal (Administrator)

    The Texas Country Music Association proudly partners with others who also have a genuine desire to support and educate Texas artists; supporters such as Chris Fox with Texas Music Pickers.

    Chris Fox, Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers, describes himself as a Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and an avid Houston sports fan. While his professional background is in Business Administration and Marketing, Fox's innate love of music, specifically Texas music, inspires him to help artists at all levels gain industry knowledge, tools for honing their craft and assistance in increasing awareness of their music.

    He has been in the Music scene in unofficial capacities for over a decade, but he made it official about four years ago with the launch of Texas Music Pickers. What began with a website and a desire to help Texas artists succeed has now turned into an ever-growing and highly respected organization. Texas Country, Americana and Red Dirt music is currently the primary focus of the organization, and while much of their activity has been in Texas as of late, they see a dramatic uptick in popularity of Texas music in other states--and even other countries.

    One way they help artists gain exposure and hone their crafts is with their annual songwriter competition. Now in its fourth year, their songwriter competition is even more exciting and more beneficial for the artists than ever before. They've been able to secure an incredible prize pack for the winner. Artists get a shot at winning studio time from one of the top studios in Texas, radio promotion from an accomplished radio promoter, songwriting sessions with award-winning songwriters and more. They’ll also get the opportunity to perform in front of some of the scene’s top venue/festival talent buyers, booking agents, radio personnel, and more! Their competition is unique in that it focuses on multiple aspects of an artist's capabilities: songwriting, vocal ability, and musical performance. Note: Songwriters of all ages are encouraged to enter.

    A live competition is also part of the contest, which will incorporate showmanship as part of the judging. Artists will bring additional original music to perform in front of a live audience. The deadline to enter is TODAY, June 10. Artists contribute a nominal $20 to enter. Each artist will gain valuable exposure to top-level industry professionals; it is well worth it for songwriters to enter. Past competitions have resulted in artists being able to book gigs with venues that were previously unaware of that artist. This contest is sure to showcase how spectacular Texas talent is.

    Fox remarks that Texas music is so unique because its infrastructure is based around the music rather than a gatekeeper. It's authentic and real. It provides artists with an opportunity to pave their own career path and grow their fan base organically and genuinely.

    When asked his thoughts on what he sees as a common thing that trips up or stunts the growth of newer artists, he replied that often he sees newer artists limit themselves by thinking they can't be successful if they don't have a big-time manager or the backing of a label. While having that sort of official support can undoubtedly be advantageous, Fox notes that because of how well Texas artists can connect with their audiences and with professionals within the industry, they can certainly find immense success by pounding the pavement with their music and cutting their path themselves. Fox points out that growing your career this way is actually very beneficial in that the artist can retain more control over their music and can keep more of the profits. He adds that social media has also dramatically changed the way artists can find success. Artists would be remiss in neglecting social media as an outreach tool as it offers another avenue for grassroots support and consistent engagement with an artist's fans.

    Fox advises that artists wait until they simply cannot keep up with the logistics of their career before the seek assistance that would require them to share a portion of their revenue. He also says that artists should try to keep costs down as much as possible and to remember that it's a long journey that requires patience and tenacity. Even "overnight successes" have spent years growing their careers.

    Texas Music Pickers also has their own playlist on Spotify where they track songs that have either been submitted to them, that they've discovered on their own or that have made it on to various Texas radio charts. They focus on songs that are actively promoted as singles and have a Texas-based primary listening audience. Click here for more information on how to submit your songs to them.

    Fox said they also want to be informed about what artists have in their pipelines so they can help spread the word about upcoming gigs, events, exciting news...and attend as many events as possible. While they do track and follow numerous artists via social media, BandsinTown and by word of mouth, the best way to let them know about something is to email them. While they might not be able to reply to your message, there's about a 90% chance that they have indeed seen it if you email them. The commonly abused tactic of tagging dozens of people/companies in a post isn't the best way to ensure that they see your news. They attend as many events as they can all across Texas, and they've even begun to add out-of-state events to their calendars.  "We follow the music [Texas music] rather than geographical boundaries," Fox adds, "Texas music is experiencing some major growth." At the time when we spoke, he was currently working on a blog piece about the increased viability of being a musician. Be on the lookout for that.

    I asked him his thoughts about the commonly discussed notion that women are less likely to have a viable career in Country music. "If anybody says it's not tougher [for women], especially in the Texas Red Dirt scene, then they're not grasping the full picture...But the tide is starting to turn," he stated. "There is a lot of potential [such as Bri Bagwell, Sunny Sweeney & Kaitlin Butts] that is starting to come to fruition and pave the way and knock down the gender barriers that are currently in place."

    Fox offered a crucial piece of advice for female artists. "Don't be afraid to spread the message." He revealed that of all the submissions and correspondence they receive that 90% of it comes from male artists. So, when they sit down to compile their chart rankings, playlists, and coverage schedules, they're most likely going to result in male-dominated outcomes. He suggested that it could potentially not be the case if more women were more proactive about spreading the word about their music. He expressed that right now is an exciting time to be a female Texas artist and that the landscape of Texas music will most likely be very different in five to ten years.

    It's an exciting time for Texas indeed. Texas' reach is greatly expanding, and Texas artists are carving new paths to success. Fox and the rest of the Texas Music Pickers look forward to sharing and celebrating Texas' increased influence on the world. The Texas Country Music Association is proud to partner with them in supporting Texas artists.

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