VIEWS: 63 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 3/9/2010
Jeff Leonard answers questions from fans.
My music, my life, and my future… Some of the things you want to know about me! So many times when I’m out on the road playing music and visiting with the friends and fans I meet along the way, I encounter a series of questions that I would like to share with all of you. The most common questions I get are: 1. What/who motivates you? 2. How much work do you have to do to become successful in the music business? 3. Do you think you have succeeded in the music business? 4. How hard is it being away from your family when you need to travel for a concert? 5. How have you been able to make it to the point you are in your career? 6. Whose music do you imitate and/or who do you sound like? And finally… 7. Where do you get your energy? Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer these questions in as much detail as I do when I speak to people in person, but I will do my best to give all of you the fullest answer from my heart and deliver as much passion in this writing as I do in my music. I hope this writing will help any upcoming artist who needs guidance and direction in the music business, and help all of you learn a little more about me. Starting with the first question; “What/who motivates you?”… This is always a fun question to answer. As I have said, to many people along the way, for me personally I don’t think I can associate my motivation to a single event, person, or desire. I have always been motivated by every “thing” and every person that has crossed my path and have been motivated by every musical influence before me. Although most people can pinpoint a single reference for their own motivation, I truly feel that I may limit my own motivation if I stop with one point of reference. My motivation is driven by my friends and family who ask me when the next show is, by the smiling faces on the people I talk to after the shows, by those who send me emails and tell me how much they love my music, by the fans who call the radio station(s) every day requesting my music to be played, and by the people who ask me (every day) to play in their town. The motivation I feel from EVERY genre of music, from classical, to R&B, to heavy metal, also plays a role in my motivation. As you can see, it’s hard for me to truly narrow down my true motivation. When someone works in an industry that is driven mostly by the love of the fans, their hard work for my success motivates me to become even better than I was at the last show, or to write lyrics based on the lives and passages of those I meet on the road. That, combined with the kaleidoscope of musical genres that collage our radio stations, empowers me to seek new ways to incorporate “something new” to deliver to the listeners of my music. With all of that said, and before I go into too much more detail (that may bore you), I would like to say “THANK YOU” to all the people who have motivated me and to all the people that will motivate me in the future. For the artists and musicians who have graced us with their God given talents, “THANK YOU” too and please keep the great music coming! The question: “How much work do you have to do to become successful in the music business?” is mostly asked by people who have the desire to become a performer/artist. This question is one that I don’t like to spend much time on. Why? Well, let me put it like this… It was once said that: “A person who truly loves their job, never truly works!” My advice to those that want to know if there is any work involved, well, sure! There is a TON of work involved! But is it “really work,” or your desire to succeed? I can say that I have spent MANY nights booking shows, promoting shows, designing posters for gigs, designing new logo’s, working with t-shirt distributors, writing new music, designing a solid business plan, trying to find sponsors, working extra jobs to purchase our next piece of equipment, missing my children’s ball games to play a gig, and the list goes on… At the end of the day I have never said to myself: “WOW! That was a lot of work!” I end my day thanking God for blessing me with a gift that I think people should hear and thank Him for giving me the strength to continue with my passion day after day. I also end the day feeling a sense of accomplishment. Sure, I get tired just like everyone else, and at times it shows (with a stagger in my step, a crack in my voice, or bags under my eyes). But, all of you still want to hear, and see me at my best, so the show goes on without a hitch and I find my motivation to go on without complaining about my job! It’s worth every second of every day, after every song, and every cheer! For all the aspiring musicians, artists, and performers: IT ISN’T WORK it’s the job you chose! Don’t let YOURSELF down by not taking a chance and spending the REST OF YOUR LIFE thinking about the “what if’s!” Don’t let your family, friends, and fans down by being a quitter once you find out how much devotion, time, and money it takes to succeed. Every day you need to keep your head up and push on! We have all been there and done that. However, be careful what you wish for! When “it happens,” there will be more to absorb than you can imagine. If you thought it was “work” in the beginning, it will be EVEN MORE “work” once you make it and 9 out of 10 never finish what they really wanted to do! However, if you ABSOLUTELY LOVE what you’re doing, every day will end with a feeling of success and accomplishment, you will wake up ready to conquer another day, face the job that you LOVE, and ready to greet every fan with a smile!!! Now for the question: “Do you think you have succeeded in the music business?”… The notorious question about success… So, how does a person measure his or her success? I think that all depends on the person. Have you ever wondered why there are “one hit wonders,” or local bands that only want to play covers and play the local scene?? That’s simple! They have measured their success with the completion of a certain goal. Whether their goal is to have one big release on a National level, open one time for their FAVORITE band, or play on a local level covering all of their favorite music, they have all accomplished what they set out to achieve… Me on the other hand, I want to play at the biggest arenas all over the world. I want to play shows in front of 10’s of thousands of people… Will I stop what I’m doing when I accomplish that? The answer is “No!” My reason for saying that is because I haven’t yet measured my level of success with the completion of a goal. If I have, I have set the bar SO HIGH that it will take me a LONG TIME to measure my success… What do I mean by that? Well, I guess I’m kinda like Garth Brooks in a way. I have ideas that I think will revolutionize some of the ways we sell music and so concerts. I have a mind full of NEVER ENDING ideas that I want to do, and the problem is: THEY JUST KEEP COMING! … So in regards to if I think I am successful, I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. I want to play music, sing songs, and perform for my fans until they lay me to rest. I want to try re-inventing music in my own style. I want to play with some of the top artists in the industry, I want to play with an orchestra, and I want to make AS MANY PEOPLE (AS POSSIBLE) dance, since, laugh, and smile! Until then, I don’t think I will consider myself successful. I have made a promise to MANY family, friends, and fans to keep doing what I’m doing until my fans have had enough. But, like I said previously, I want to keep re-inventing myself and my music to make sure that what I do is new, fresh, and WANTED by all of you! As long as I have fans I don’t plan to stop playing and performing. Why should I let YOU down if you aren’t letting me down? … With that said, feel free to let me know where you’d like for me to perform. Send me the name of the venue/club, the city and state, website, phone number, and anything else you can think of. You can start helping me achieve my goals by arming me with the information I need to start playing venues all over the United States. Remember, you are the people I am here for, and I am the one who wants you to have a good time. Together we are an UNSTOPPABLE team and CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN! I love it when people ask me: “How hard is it being away from your family when you need to travel for a concert?” This is a VERY SIMPLE question to answer… In fact, at times, it even brings tears to my eyes. My kids call me to check on me, they ask me how was my show, my wife sends me pictures of the kids while I’m away, but yet I still love doing what I do! So, the answer is: “It is VERY HARD being away from my family!” However, just like I stated earlier in the first paragraph, I have an obligation to my job. It’s the life I chose and I won’t let anyone down; not my family, my friends, my fans, the label and Management that depends on me, and especially myself! Again, this is part of what motivates me! I’m sure there are many people who dread sending their children off to school and/or despise dropping their children off at the sitter when they need to go do their own job. But the truth is; the bills can’t be paid if you stop working your job just because the family sheds a few tears when you leave. It’s tough for EVERYONE and we all know it, but if you can go to work every day, then I can go to work every day just the same. One of the biggest differences between you and I is that you get to go home at the end of the day and be with your family, my time with them just takes a little longer to get to… If there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this, my fans are like my family. I hear from people EVERY day with words of encouragement, and that helps overcome most of the sadness involved with being away from my family. Without you I can make it to where I want to be in my career, so I need to keep my head up, stay strong, and do my job! I don’t expect you guys to give up on me, so I won’t give up on you! For the aspiring musicians who need some words of wisdom when they ask me: “How have you been able to make it to the point you are in your career?” Let me just say this… The one thing I TRULY love about the music business is that you will NEVER talk to two artists who got to where they are by doing the same thing. In this type of business you need to get yourself out there to meet as many people as possible. This means people who are already in the music business (managers, label executives, other musicians, and FANS). There are many different ways to network and make yourself known, but you also need to be innovative. As for me, I have TONS of ideas just waiting for the right opportunity. Unfortunately, I can’t just “unleash” them because I don’t want them being “taken” from me. Rest assured I have spent MANY sleepless nights and countless hours trying to come up with something new that has never been thought of. When you can come up with something like that, and when the right person wants to hear it, you will get even further in the business… What I have accomplished this far is easy enough for anyone to accomplish. All you need is a SOLID plan, “baby step” achievable goals, and let the pieces fall into place. Arm yourself with good music, great talent, and people behind you who believe in what you do and you too can make it to the point that I am. You can find local recording studios who can record quality demo’s for you, or do what I did; record it at home on your PC... When I look back at where I started I remember purchasing a USB recording device, a $15 dollar microphone to plug into it, and I downloaded some tracks to lay my vocals down on. I burned that music to a CD and the feedback I got was tremendous. That led me to where I am today… Other musicians feel the need to move to Nashville (where musicians are a dime a dozen) and record executives don’t always go out looking for them. However, when they hear an artist who has been very successful in their hometown, have a following all over the globe, and continue to make breakthroughs, they want to know more and they seek that person out… In my case, I’m still waiting to be “discovered,” but I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing until the right heads turn in my direction. With only a couple questions left, I want to tell you the answer to: “Whose music do you imitate and/or who do you sound like?”… REALLY? Someone wants to know that??... OK, for those of you who haven’t heard me live yet, I think you will be in for a BIG surprise! Although the music you hear on my site sounds “dated” and has been recorded with a “traditional country” style, I think I need to explain this a little… When I first went to Nashville to record my CD, I met someone (who I think) was very honest with me. I sat at his desk and told him what “I wanted to do to the music” when I got to the studio, and he told me this: “We can do whatever you want! But know this… You already have music tracks which were previously recorded. You can either record your vocals over those tracks to save LOTS OF MONEY or record the music the way “you want to” by hiring session players that may cost anywhere from $150-500 an hour. The musicians you get will be more than capable of playing the music the way you want it, but I wouldn’t advise it.” He continued to tell me: “You have a family and they need you to be able to pay the bills. I would recommend you record the music the way it is. This will give everyone a pretty good idea on your vocal abilities. If you want to change the music, go back home to Ohio, find you some good musicians, and recompose the music the way you want it to be. When you think you have it the way you want it, re-record it and deliver the “new Jeff Leonard” to your friends and followers.”… I did just that! I came back to Ohio and found a lead guitar player from a Blues background, a rhythm player from a Rock background, and a drummer and bass player from a Jazz/Funk/Gospel background. The music we play live is an upbeat, rock, country, hillbilly, redneck, beer drinking, fun style of music that has (so far) kept everyone very entertained and wanting more… I can’t actually say that I sound like anyone (vocally), because I don’t think I do. As for my music style, well, it’s unique too… If you’d like to hear what we do, please help us get to your area, and then you can post your own opinion on my page to let me know what you think. As for what we do live, we perform a mix of covers and originals; however, even the covers have a “Jeff Leonard flavor” to them… Here is something funny that I want to share with you… The other day I received some emails after our show and someone told me that they heard one of our covers on the radio. The person who sent the email said she had been to quite a few of our shows. She told me: “When I heard the cover song on the radio, I need to say that I HONESTLY like your version MUCH BETTER! In fact, when I heard it I thought there was something wrong with my radio because it didn’t like the song that it should’ve been!”… She went on to say more about our shows, and how she loves seeing us perform, but that little bit of information got me very excited and THAT’S EXACTLY what keeps me pushing on to the next monster I create! It’s nice knowing that people appreciate what I do and that I CAN make a difference. The final question to answer is: “Where do you get your energy?”… That’s the BEST QUESTION of them all!!... I can’t say that I know exactly where it comes from, and I have to admit that there are times before I go on stage that I am very tired and could use a nap. Recently, I even performed several shows while fighting pneumonia… What I can say is this… I love ALL OF YOU for coming to my shows, wearing my t-shirts, making signs, buying my CD’s, and asking for autographs. You guys have busted your tails ALL WEEK LONG and have come to a show to have some fun, listen to great music, and to relax. When I see all of your smiling faces in the crowd, it’s YOU who gives me the energy to go on! YOU DESERVE NO LESS THAN THE BEST THAT I CAN DO and I PROMISE to give that to you at EVERY show! I guess that’s my way of saying “THANK YOU” to all the beautiful that come to my shows! In closing I hope you have learned a little more about me and I hope I have answered some of your questions. I am planning to make 2010 a BIG year and I plan to get to AS MANY locations as possible. I want to meet all the wonderful people who send me emails every day and I want to be able to thank you in person. I hope you have enjoyed reading this. Many people think I’m crazy for writing this, but I think you should know who I am, where I’m coming from, and where I’m going. God bless ALL OF YOU and I hope to see you soon! Jeff Leonard
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