In one of my previous articles I talked about ‘team building.’ This is a very important aspect of any business. My team consists of an attorney, accountant, manager and creative group. This concept will work no matter what type of business you’re in. The first, and possibly the most important person to have in place is an attorney. He/she needs to be available before certain decisions are made and before any contracts are signed.
If you know you will need an attorney in the near future, the best time to start looking for one is now. As you seek one out, make sure he/she has all of the qualifications that you’re looking for. He/she should specialize in your area of entertainment and be able to accommodate your needs. I feel that it’s better not to sign a retainer right away. Instead, consider a case-by-case agreement so you can have the opportunity to see how well you work together. You can also get a feel if your attorney is right for you. I found what makes a good attorney is one that listens to you, answer all of your questions and puts your best interest before their own. While looking, consider recommendations from family and friends. Sometimes word of mouth can be a great source, especially if these people are in the same type of business as you.
For so many, one of the biggest joys of Christmas is listening to the holiday tunes. There are of course many traditional, timeless songs but always new classics being made. Well in case you didn’t know, Brian Kennedy has an album full of amazing Christmas jams to share with you! Called Christmas In The City, its a phenomenal collection of holiday classics mixed with new songs, all featuring that incredible piano musicianship only Brian Kennedy can offer. Recently, BK gave us an inside glimpse behind the music.
BK on his early beginnings:
“I was 18 when I made this Christmas CD back in 2004 and still living in Kansas City. That was probably my third “official release” album locally there.”
On his inspiration for making the record:
“What’s crazy about Kansas City is, it is a city that has a major change of seasons, all very seasonal. To be honest with you, how I process life is always having something to look forward to. So I was like, ‘man, its December, what’s goin on? Oh right– a Christmas album!’ And making that record became my whole Fall season. I needed something to keep my mind stimulated. At that time, I never had a placement, I never went to LA before, but I was a young kid and had a following, and I knew my fans would love to hear a Christmas CD. Plus, Christmas music sells every year. So I called up my friends like Liz Sowandi, Napio, Andy Vargas, Tracy Neely- who is a guitar jazz legend in Kansas City, a real player who does it for the love of music- and we made the album.”
How BK got it out there to the people back in the day:
“I got some local airplay but to promote it, I went to the streets. Started playing Xmas music at a place called Plaza, and selling the CDs at these performances. Hundreds of people a day I was selling to, hand-to-hand. The Hallmark stores, Nordstrom’s, banging on pianos wherever I could. Then we did a live show and released the CD the next day.”
BK on his favorite songs from the album:
“Hard to pick a favorite song, but I encourage people to check out “Kennedy’s Christmas.” I also love the piece with dueling pianos — “Silent Night”– featuring myself and Issac Hates. We got classically deep into it. He’s a prodigy. And the one closest to my heart is “Sweet December” because it reminds me of how much I was living Christmastime when I made the record.”
Brian Kennedy reflecting on his experience working with country music superstars Rascal Flatts:
“You know how you’re a kid and can’t believe you got to Disneyland? That’s how I felt working in Nashville with the Rascal Flatts. That was my moment, when I was invited to a session to produce with Dan Huff. It took me awhile to look back and really reflect on what happened, that’s how serious and intense it was for me at the time.”
“This youtube video chronicles two or three days of operations in the studio. To physically record the song, took one day. But to actually finish and complete requires more time. Plus Gary came back in and cut extra vocals and Natasha did as well, so to get it 100% right took a bit longer, maybe three days all-in. But nothing matters when you’re putting out something you really love. You don’t put titles on love, you just LOVE. That was one of my favorite sessions of all time, I learned so much from it as a musician and producer.”
BK’s first experiences working in Nashville:
“When I first started working in Nashville three years ago, my goal was to get to Rascal Flatts,” Brian says passionately, “and most were like, ‘yeah you and everyone else.’ Not in a bad way but just, you work here and you’ll see. So it was pretty amazing, not having any ‘country music’ experience, that my first placement and major hit in the Country format is with the group that got me loving country music in the first place. It was a huge break for me. I love listening to Kenny Chesney, I’m working with him pretty soon, and I love Faith Hill. But I wasn’t really super into Country music until I heard the melody and the voice of Gary LeVox from the Flatts.”
BK talking about the actual recording session for the Rascal Flatts/Natasha Bedingfield smash “Easy”:
“The session itself was awesome. Real cool. I’m used to being behind a keyboard and controlling production and everything that goes on from the keyboard, but this was me constituting a whole live band. That was a whole other feel too. To be able to sit there with Dan Huff, and communicate to the musicians, how to play and what to play is a form of producing in itself and yeah it tripped me out! I was like wow, this is next level. This is how scoring, and live music really is. That’s how they did it back in the day. They all got in there at once. Gary was singing, Natasha was singing, and the band was playing simultaneously. And you feel it, cuz everybody’s connected. Being a band member and conducting my own band The Brian Kennedy Project, I could immediately relate. With a full band it’s like one big moving machine, not parts. But this is completely, totally different from how the pop music world records things.”
Brian describes what made this particular session so special:
“Just to communicate with each of them on a one-on-one basis, and the humility of the artists is one thing I want to express here on this blog. For the magnitude of stars they are, to be so humble was inspiring. Luckily I’ve never had a really bad experience recording with any artists, but I had a really great experience with the Rascal Flatts. They made everything worth it. These guys have platinum, platinum, platinum, #1s, #1s, #1s, and they treated me like their equal. It was one of the best sessions I’ve ever had in terms of unity, and just working in their creative environment. Their way is, “let’s all sit down together,” and “let’s all make it happen.” Total inclusion. They brought their personal chef in and we all ate food together, talked and laughed, and when everyone got done they hopped on tour buses, and went their way back on the road. Major work ethic.”
On why Brian Kennedy is now creating music the “Nashville Way”:
“This is why I’m incorporating the Nashville way into my pop way and slowing down, to get every single piece of the puzzle right when constructing a song. In Nashville, the writing, the playing, is secondary to living and loving. That’s the key difference. When you work in the studio with a “pop” artist, it’s like “let’s RUN and get this done!” and then, “let’s go eat.” There is much more of a sense of urgency about things. In Nashville the sentiment is, “Hi, nice to meet you. let’s go eat.” The reason is to go get to know each other first because in the end I’ve learned that helps the creative process. For example this other session I had in Nashville one time– we all sat in the lobby of the studio an hour before the session was supposed to start and just got to know each other. We were laughing a bit, talking about churches, where you’re from, and that’s what its about…. Living, liking, loving and THEN….”okay let’s go make some music together”. With my experiences there I really feel like “producing music”, in Nashville, is secondary to “living the music.” And that’s why I love Nashville.”
In today’s world, teamwork may sound like a strange concept. Many people have been taught to solely operate from a place of extreme individuality and self-reliance, because nobody cares about you like you do — be number one at all times as second place is not an option. People try to do it all on their own, but realize that it takes a lot more effort and time to accomplish their goals. They prefer doing it this way because they want all the credit and benefits for themselves, but there is an easier way — working smarter, not harder.
Placing a good team around you will make things go faster and easier. By sharing ideas within your team, you will find that their input could possibly be the difference between good and great. A reliable team of people will do their best to make the whole team rise, which in turn makes each member rise as an individual. In my case, I have two teams: creative and business. Even though they are separate, they seek the same end result; Success!
Remember: “Many hands make light work” – popular proverb