Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve Lesson

Mariah Carey gave all aspiring music artists an invaluable lesson during the Dick Clark 2017 New Year’s Eve celebration with Ryan Seacrest. Performing in front of an estimated one million person audience proved to be the perfect classroom.

It’s no secret that most pop artists now incorporate some kind of backing tracks in their show. The level of track dependance varies from artist to artist but most use them at the very least as a click track and voice-over guide to cue band members on stage. Track technology has proven to be a great tool for live performance but many have become too dependent on the tracks. What happens when the tracks or in-ear monitors fail to work? Apparently, Mariah Carey didn’t have a good solution for her dilemma on New Year’s Eve.

I remember a moment when an artist we worked with was given a huge opportunity with a prime time slot at a prominent music festival. Unfortunately, his track interface failed just as he was to begin his set. The artist used 35 min of his 40 min set trying to fix the interface. I surveyed the stage and saw a band of A level musicians who could have played anything on the fly and made it sound amazing without tracks. The artist could have turned disaster into a huge win with a Plan B.

If you strive to be a professional artist and you use tracks, you are crazy to perform without a Plan B. I will guarantee you will encounter a show where the tracks won’t work or your in-ears will fail. A true professional should always have a Plan B.

Plan B

  • require  a couple wedge monitors in your rider as a back up
  • pre-pare an unplugged type set and be ready to transition at any moment.
  • when issues arise, act quickly and explain to the audience that you are experiencing technical issues but will do something special for them instead of the normal show

If the artist has an ounce of talent, they should be able to pull off an unplugged set on the fly. Imagine what could have happened if Mariah Carey would have quickly transitioned to an unplugged or even an A cappella set?


The Artistry of Commitment

Through my time as an artist manager, I have found the term commitment to be taken very lightly by many artists & musicians. I’m not sure why, but many feel like that word doesn’t apply to them. For some reason, many artists feel like they get a “free pass” allowing them to make commitments and not honor them. It’s been surprising to experience this disregard for commitment even with some Christian artists & musicians.


Websters Dictionary’ s Definition of Commitment

com·mit·ment noun \kə-ˈmit-mənt\

: a promise to do or give something

: a promise to be loyal to someone or something


God’s Definition of Commitment  (taken from the Bible)

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:5-8 ESV)


I have personally witnessed an artist purchase merch from a vendor on credit, sell the merch and then stiff the vendor. Others have taken money from record labels to make a record and then walked away from contract obligations of supporting the record. We have had artists not pay us on commissions owed from shows and other income with total disregard. In talking with other artist managers, I have found many of them with similar experiences. One would be arrested if they walked into a retail store where they committed to purchase something and then walked out with the item without paying. Why then would they treat record labels, management companies and merch companies differently?

It appears parents & society are failing in teaching our children what commitment actually means. How a person treats a commitment is a direct reflection of their character, integrity, morality and humanity. The artist community has an incredible opportunity to show others what commitment means as it is an integral part of their artistry.

What does your Artistry of Commitment look like?

Christian Musician Summit Comes To Nashville!

Great news for musicians, artists and worship leaders as the Christian Musician Summit is coming to Nashville October 5 & 6! The CMS Summit that has been so successful in Seattle, Sacramento, Phoenix and Buffalo now makes its first ever appearance in Music City USA. The Nashville Summit promises to be extra special as it will incorporate some of the greatest musicians from both Christian & Country music. Seminars on songwriting, instrument techniques, worship leading and special concerts from some of the greats are what one can expect. Just some of the artists/musicians/songwriters who will be appearing include Phil Keaggy, NewWorldSon, One Sonic Society, Brenton Brown, Steve Taylor, Zoro, Casey Beathard, Allen Shamblin, Ed Hill, Tim Rushlow, Ashley Cleveland, Ian Eskelin, Rick Cua and our very own StompTown Revival!  Its also a great opportunity to rub elbows with some of the top execs in the Record Label & Publishing industry. Visit this link to find out more and register


The Music Gardener’s Proverb

Much of 2011 was spent in artist development which includes consulting, mentoring, and listening to new artists. Some artists we work with expect success to fall in their lap with little effort while others work diligently to be good stewards of the talent they have been blessed with. I am inspired by a few artists who listen, act on advice, work hard and strive to be incredible stewards of the talent God blessed them with. Those diligent artists will see great things happen as a result. To begin 2012, I would like to share a proverb for all artists who desire to find an audience for their art.

The Music Gardener’s Proverb

  • One who has a field but doesn’t secure the tools necessary to work the field will not grow a garden
  • One who has a field & tools but sleeps through the planting will not grow a garden
  • One who has a field & tools, plants the garden but doesn’t water it will not grow a garden
  • One who has a field & tools, plants & waters the garden will grow a garden that yields a fruitful crop

One Great Pro Audio & Mac Store

Our latest edition to the “One Great Business” series is Atlanta Pro Audio/MacroTek, a pro audio & Apple authorized dealer and service center in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta Pro Audio’s founder, Chick Cusick, has been serving both pro and amateur customers for over twenty years creating a legacy of relationships throughout the recording and live music industry. The store specializes in vintage music gear as well as the latest keyboards, recording equipment and computers. Atlanta Pro Audio’s biggest asset is their staff of friendly professional audio engineers who have worked on multi-platinum selling records. Customers can have confidence that they are buying from a store that knows and cares how the gear works. Every purchase from the store comes with one free year of technical support which is an added bonus that I really like!

Rick Sheppard, who recently became a principle owner of the business, bring’s a wealth of expertise to the twenty year old company with his experience as an audio engineer/programmer for producer Dallas Austin on projects with TLC, Boy II Men, Pink, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Gwen Stefani to name a few. Rick has served as a consultant for Logic and has been featured multiple times in Keyboard Magazine. His passion for Apple Computers brought in the addition of MacroTek, an authorized Apple dealer and service center.

One of the fun things about my recent visit to Atlanta Pro Audio/MacroTek was their Mac Museum. The collection of vintage Mac computers gives customers an opportunity to see the evolution of the Mac computer from the very first Mac to the latest Macbook Air. On-line customers can take a video tour of the Mac Museum via the website.

Whether you are a professional audio client or someone who does it for a hobby, Atlanta Pro Audio is the place to find the best prices and service on all audio gear. If you don’t live within driving distance of the store, they offer an incredible on-line alternative at . The store also offers great prices on Apple consumer products including, iPads, iPods, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, AppleCare and a collection of cutting edge accessories. Need your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Macbook repaired? Atlanta Pro Audio/MacroTek can help!

Atlanta Pro Audio/MacroTek is making a special offer to all readers of the Music Gardener Blog. When you place an on-line order, enter the coupon code The Music Gardener and save $10 on a purchase of $25 or more. If you visit the store live, print off this post and bring it with you for the discount. Offer is good through December 31, 2011 and can not be combined with other offers. 

Should I Take Vocal Lessons?

One of the daily rituals around our office is sorting through music submissions from artists looking for management. 99.9% of the emails we receive, are accompanied by links to recordings that are less than stellar. That always surprises me as it is so easy for the producer or engineer to tune the vocals with Auto-tune or Melodyne. There is no excuse for pitchy vocals on a recording. However, in live performance, most vocalists will experience pitch problems at some point in their career. Even the greatest vocalist in the world have problems from time to time.

If someone has aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player, tennis player or golfer, they know they must find a trainer who understands what it takes to make the pros. Striving to be a professional vocalist is no different. Most professional singers use a vocal coach, even after they find success, to ensure they are maximizing their vocal potential and to keep their vocal chords in shape. Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Justin Timberlake, Haley Williams, RED, Rihanna and Kelly Rowland all use vocal coaches. While great vocal coaches can be pricey, they are well worth the price you pay. One of the vocal coaches we recommend at Artist Garden Entertainment is Nashville’s own Brett Manning.

Do you have any experiences with vocal coaches that you would like to share?