Friday, April 3, 2009

Who Sells Inspirational Music?

Inspirational music, at this time, is clearly an unclaimed category. That’s why it is such an exciting business venture. Its potential customers are listed in the millions at a time when the whole concept of the need for Inspiration around the world is mighty. There are a growing handful of players in the category.

The following websites are the top seeds on Google search engines for “Inspirational Music” and “Christian Music”. This site is the #1 site on Google for Inspirational Music and gives away free digital downloads, but all the songs are basically rip-offs of known artists. Gives away some rip-offs of known artists and also sells them as Digital Down Loads (DDLs) through i-Tunes. Both of these sites demand email info before doing anything. This is an LDS (Mormon) site. It is handled well, but only sells LDS music (37 Artists). Does not sell DDLs or Hard Goods on the site. A Christian Music radio station. Not ecommerce. One can download free Inspirational music with the purchase of the Winamp software. Music production is not particularly good. This is really a World Music site with a small Inspirational category. When you find something you like, and start the purchase, it takes you to which then takes you to i-Tunes for final purchase. Long and involved process.

Amazon/ A very odd division of Amazon. Deeply unorganized. No separation of genres – everything lumped together in a hodge-podge. About 140 titles. An Amazon afterthought. This also is an odd Christian site that promotes Christian product (books, movies, knick-knacks) but strangely enough sells secular music and as far as we can tell, doesn’t really have Christian music. A reference site only. No ecommerce. If you want to buy, it takes you to Non-original artist ripoffs. Offers free music, but no hard goods sales. Same as above. Reference site only. Very confusing. This is one of the big 3 of Christian Music Labels. They command 13.5 percent of the label market share. Site is excellent, between 20 & 30 Christian music stars, they sell hard goods CDs off site but no DDLs. This is another one of the big 3 of Christian Music Labels. Site is excellent, they have 24 Christian music stars. They sell no hard good CDs off site or DDLs. This is the number one of the big 3 of Christian Music Labels. Site is excellent, they have 22 Christian music stars, they sell hard goods CDs off site but no DDLs. This is an on-line Christian magazine that is reference only. They talk about Christian music but sell no music off the site. With free music downloads without prior email address commitments, a roster of 56 Inspirational artists, video, and both hard good and DDL sales right from the site, WFM is already placed as one of the leaders of both the Inspirational and Christian music website categories.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who Buys Inspirational Music?

What Kind of people Are Inspirational Music Lovers and Consequently Buyers?

recordsThe potential customers of Inspirational music line up by the millions. First, let’s remember that Inspirational music is entirely trans-denominational – it attracts people from all religious denominations. And this attraction is world-wide.

Of course there is the Christian music market. The Christian book market is estimated to be worth more than $4 billion. The Christian music market has become an industry powerhouse, selling 43 million albums in the United States as long ago as 2004.

As a whole, the Christian video game industry is only expected to grow… and fast. In fact, estimates are that the video games market could be worth more than $55 billion by 2008 from the $22 billion reported in 2003. Wal-Mart, for one, is smart enough to know from selling about 550 Christian music titles and more than 1,200 Christian-themed books.

Beyond the Christian market lies a fascinating unclaimed market. We like to call that the Spiritual, But Not Religious market. These are people who may not go to church or, in fact sometimes do attend church sporadically.

They are seekers of spirituality who might go to their Methodist church, but also watch Wayne Dyer on television, have taken part in the amazing Oprah Winfrey/Eckardt Towle “A New Earth” internet explosion or might read Deepak Chopra. This market is 20% of America.

They are people who are not following a religious tradition per se, but are seeking beyond the boundaries of any one particular religion. They are people who think for themselves and are working out their sense of spirituality individually.

This market is on the rise at a time when people the world over need to turn to a higher power to find their way through the problems of this world. We clearly need an end to the financial crisis in the world. President Obama and other world leaders are doing their human best to balance the world’s economy, but the real answer here lies in this higher power.

At this time what the world needs now is a little (or a lot) of Inspiration. What lifts our lives daily? What brings the message of new hope? What better elixir than Inspirational music?

~ Peter Link


For more inspiring music you can download
and information about Peter Link, please visit Watchfire Music.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Steinway Hall-Part 2

Last night’s posting (Steinway Hall - Part 1) about the gifted Laura Garritson got me to thinking. I suppose if you haven’t read that one yet, you might go there first. It got me to thinking about greatness in performance.

npstsignAs a young man I came to New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. There I spent two intense years under the tutelage of world-renowned teacher, Sanford Meisner.

There I learned to act, but interestingly enough, I’ve always liked to say that it was there that I learned more about composing music than anywhere else. At an acting school. Had I ended up being a sculptor, I really believe that this acting school would still have been my high point in study.

It was there that I learned what makes an artist tick – an understanding of the reality of doing. That acting is reacting. To act before you think. That there is no indicating in the reality of doing.

It was there that I found my inner sense of emotion and experimented with and finally figured out how to bring myself to my art – whatever the medium. It’s something I’ve thought about and taught all these years since my student days.

The other night with Ms Garritson, my student days simply continued. I doubt she’s ever been to acting school. After all, when you master both the violin and the piano in 25 years, who would have the time? It always brings a smile to my face when I see someone who has accomplished so naturally what I’ve spent all this time learning. I’m not jealous. Rather I’m excited and proud of our human and spiritual abilities to grasp so fast the fundamental.

Most people grow up with terrible misconceptions of what performance is. Moms and Dads push children into so many bad habits as they encourage them to find their greatness. It’s not Mom and Dad’s fault. They don’t know any better, but many artists spend much of their time trying to break bad habits developed when young. Occasionally, either because of good teaching or simply a natural understanding, young artists come through the learning process unscathed. But I digress.

When one achieves a certain level of technical performance, the ability to perform the tasks of one’s art mistake free, then greatness becomes possible. But we all know that a mistake free performance does not ensure greatness. The mastering of the technical is only half the problem. The mastering of the reality of doing is the other half. Hopefully, in the best of scenarios, it’s a balancing act – a balancing act between the technical and the emotional. If one half is developed far beyond the other, there are always problems.

To be a great technician, but not have the ability to pour your emotions through your work makes for art that comes off ‘intellectual’. To do the opposite is to simply lose the confidence of your audience no matter what the art form.

The other night I watched this young lady work with this proper balance. She stood out because of the balance; whereas the others lagged behind somewhat because of their relative imbalances concerning just this issue. I’m not saying that Laura played perfectly and with total emotional focus. I’m sure she would agree with me that she has some growing to do on both counts. There’s always a way to go on the growth scale no matter how great the artist. But she balanced the two on the level of her abilities at this time in her career.

And that balancing allowed me to trust her in the moments of her performance so that I ceased to be the audience, the observer, the watcher. Instead, I left my seat and joined her in her exploration of the music. She took me on the ride. She allowed me into her soul and filled the space with her artistry. Her craft was solid and so I did not have to worry about her making mistakes and her emotional commitment was balanced so that, again, I did not have to worry about her reality of doing.

Consequently I was able to become completely absorbed into the performance. No need to analyze, no need to pull back and protect myself from the abuse of mistakes, no need to doubt. Because of the totality of her commitment, I too could commit to my part of the performance — to be a totally absorbed listener.

And so I did. But it was really she who did. As I said, I just went along for the ride. It was only afterwards that I began to analyze what had happened there in Steinway Hall. It’s why, when Laura Garritson finished, I stood and applauded. I had already left my seat minutes ago.

~ Peter Link


For more inspiring music you can download
and information about Peter Link, please visit Watchfire Music.

Steinway Hall-Part 1

Steinway Hall - Part 1

garritsonI went to a classical music concert at Steinway Hall here in NYC the other night. It was presented by my alma mater, Principia College. The whole evening was extremely well done and the talent fierce. Students, faculty and alumni performed a variety of music – all inspired. While the others were all excellent, one alumna totally blew me away.

Laura Garritson, pianist, is some performer. Probably in her mid to late 20s, she is not only a wonderful pianist, but also an accomplished violinist. She played both instruments in this concert and, for my money, dominated the evening.

Later on, reflecting back, I asked myself why. Besides her technical excellence, she played with a total deep commitment to the passions of the music. Her strength was evident in the way she stood, the way she sat, the way she walked on stage. At one point she turned pages for another pianist. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her focus at turning the pages was that complete. Her commitment to even that job was total.

In the power of her playing, she ‘showed’ nothing – no emotional shenanigans, no facial grimacing, no indicated emotion. She was real. I’m not saying she had no emotion. Oh she had plenty, but instead of showing it in her body and face, she simply poured it into the music and let the music carry it. Consequently, the music she played moved me deeply. I experienced both the composer’s intentions and Laura’s interpretation of those intentions through the viewpoint of her own life and feelings for the music.

She’s on to something very special, this girl. She’s a centered performer who has found the delicate mix of the reality of emotion through her commitment to the music. Whether instinctual or learned, she understands the balance of pure performance. I remember thinking of my favorite tribute line: “She’s got a lot of music in her”. And it made me think more deeply about what that means. She has the ability to get herself out of the way and let the music pass through her unscathed by pretense, but shaded by the force of her emotional understanding and commitment to the moment, to the music. End result? She’s a powerful performer with a great future.

I walked away from the evening inspired – inspired to go home and get to work, write some music, think more deeply about my work – practice. It’ll be fun to watch this woman grow. I will not forget her.

~ Peter Link


For more inspiring music you can download
and information about Peter Link, please visit Watchfire Music.

What Is Inspirational Music?

What is Inspirational Music?

sunset - inspiring musicTo inspire is “…to breathe life into”. To lift thought higher. To fill with hope. Inspirational music is just that. The genre of the music doesn’t matter – it can be pop, country, jazz, R&B, gospel, heavy mental – whatever. The lyrics must be in some way uplifting.

A love song is an Inspirational song. “I woke up this morning and I feel good.” is an Inspirational lyric. It is inclusive; it is spiritually trans-denominational. All are included. Along the way it promises to brighten your life and enliven your soul. How? Simple, really. With great music.

We claim a new category. At a time in our world when fear is rampant and hope is down, the ability to inspire mankind seems to be of utmost necessity. And so we set out on this musical adventure with the goal to preach to none, but to include all in our endeavors.

What are the endeavors?

Inspirational music embraces all spiritual ideas but promotes no religious theology.

Inspirational music spans all cultures, religions and people. It believes that all people have inside of themselves truth, life, love, spirit, soul.And so it serves all mankind.

Inspirational music has no doctrine to preach, no mission to fulfill except to offer positive value in the music and lyrics.

It is its mission only to be a gathering of light.

Inspirational books are a clearly defined category. We all know what Inspirational books are. Books that inspire. Well, Inspirational music is the same. It is music that inspires us – to reach greater heights, to be a better person, to love mankind, to carry on.

Where is God in all this? Where He or She or It always was and is — right smack in the middle, at the circumference… and everywhere in between. If you don’t believe in God, or if you don’t believe in your old definition of God, Inspirational music is there to help you find your peace when you are at war, help you be a better individual on the planet, or help you find a new and better definition. If you do believe in God, Inspirational music is there to do the same as above.

We say that Inspirational music is a new category and yet it’s really as old as music itself. It is the cave man beating on the stretched skin of an animal. It is the synthesist programming Spectrasonics Omnisphere. It is an old man on a curb, whiskey voice and gutbucket guitar, howling at the moon. It is the Beatles changing the world. It is Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. It is Frank Zappa. It is A Chorus Line. It is Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.

Inspirational music, if done right, should speak to all of us – or one of us. Ultimately it reconnects with its derivation. That is, it breathes life into people no mater what their religion, their culture, their tradition. It wakes you up, it calms you down, it lightens your life, it deepens your thought.

Inspirational music inspires.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Random Thoughts-On The City Of Inspiration

New York, New York: A place so big you have to say it twice.

New York New York is a wonderful town
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down
The people ride in a hole in the ground
New York New York is a wonderful town

I live two blocks from Times Square, one block from the Broadway theater district and in an apartment on the 38th floor with a spectacular southern view of Manhattan – the Empire State Building to the left, Wall Street, NY Harbor and the Statue Of Liberty head on, and the Hudson River landing strip to the right. In between are buildings, buildings, buildings. On Saturday mornings the QE2 and the S.S. United States sail up the Hudson and park in our side yard. Last month I watched people stand on the wing of a jet plane landed in the river and get saved from my dining room window. Standing on my terrace you could have watched the World Trade Center go down in my front yard and on New Year’s Eve if you lean out far enough, you can watch the ball drop and hear the roar of the people.

It’s a historic and inspirational view. We love it, live in it, look out at it and appreciate it every day. I open my living room door and walk out on my terrace and stand on the edge of the universe, its bright lights blazing before me, its millions of people scurrying below. It is a city of wonder.

Sometimes I miss Mother Nature. When my son was seven I took him to his first Yankee game. After the game as we were moving through the crowds to the subway we passed through a parking lot where there was a small divider plot of grass. “Look Daddy, grass! Can I go run in it?” And so he did. Two little laps. “Now can I roll in it?” I checked it for broken glass. And so he did. It’s what he remembered about the game.

From my studio window I watch the fog roll in, roll out. This morning the sun rises and the city is pink as a baby’s bottom with light.

Sometimes I’d leave and live in the mountains or on the sea, but I can’t. It’s the talent that keeps me here. A few calls and I’ve got the best in the world standing in my living room, singing and playing in my studio. The talent is addictive.

I watched a new disaster movie the other night. The end of the world. Once again it’s NYC in the final moment that gets blown to smithereens. Why is it that it’s always NYC? Any thoughts on this one?

You bet it’s expensive to live here; but then again you make more money. It evens out.

I live on 9th Avenue. Within a 6 block radius you can eat (reasonably for NY) any kind of food you can imagine: Turkish, Afghan, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, French, Peruvian, German, Russian, Jamaican, etc. A true melting pot. My son grew up with eclectic taste buds. No McDonalds for him.

Walking the sidewalks in my neighborhood is a trip. The tourists clog the concrete, all, necks craned, looking up in wonder, running into each other. The New Yorkers take to walking in the streets – impatient to get to work.

“One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” – Paul Simon Oh so true. Sometimes I think about the 37 apartments below me – layouts all the same. Some day I’ll organize a D line open house where we can all visit one another and check out how we’ve each decorated the same space. Most of the time I’m totally oblivious to living on top of all these folks. Weird!

I don’t know the last names of any of the people who live on my hall. We live so close, we maintain our privacy.

I wake up each morning in a city that doesn’t sleep
I’m not king of the hill, but I’m definitely on top of the heap

Last night I went to Steinway Hall and saw a classical music concert. On the way home passed by Carnegie Hall, Birdland, The Schubert Theater on Broadway. It’s the hood. It’s a city of inspiration.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hallelujah!-The Power of the Word

A minister I knew once questioned the depth or “the soul” of a song I wrote because it was “ a song of largely just Hallelujahs”. Today I’d like to take a moment on this issue and look at the word “Hallelujah” in some depth.

Its etymology is from the Hebrew and means “Praise Jah” or “Praise God”. Interestingly enough, it is a word that circumnavigates the globe and spans most languages. When translated, the word “Hallelujah” (or sometimes “Alleluia”) remains the same: In Spanish it’s “Aleluya”, in Finnish and German it’s “Haleluja”, in French it’s “Alleluia”, in Estonian it’s “Haleluuja”, in Icelandic it’s Halleluja, in Slovak it’s “Aleluia” and on and on like that. So it’s a word whose four syllables mean the same thing to most of mankind. Say the word almost anywhere in Africa and they know how you feel. Very few words translate that way. Consider even the word “God”. Even this word changes dramatically in its pronunciation and spelling in translation. “Hallelujah” is truly universal.

I know of no other word in language or song that carries such joy, such celebration, such depth of spirit and soul. With its four open vowels, it is a gorgeous utterance to sing and when sung alone or surrounded by itself and repeated over and over it is the epitome word of celebration in human language. I find that when I’m writing a sacred song and I am most filled with the spirit of God, these are the words that spill out of me over and over as the melodies pour through me from God. Over and over again, “Hallelujah”. It happens so often that I have to rewrite the lyrics into other words, otherwise most of my songs would sing nothing but “Hallelujahs”.

A man named George Fredric Handel used it to musically summarize his penultimate tribute to the birth of Christ in the finale of his “Messiah”. Who has not sat in wonder at the singing of this great gift to mankind as the same word cascaded from the choir?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

In no way comparing myself to Frederic Handel, I too used these words to great effect in a song that opened the performance of The Jenny Burton Experience which ran to sold out audiences for over seven years here in New York City.

Let’s start with a Hallelujah
Let’s begin with a Hallelujah


There is music in our lives
There is music in the air all around us
There’s a spirit in our lives
And the music and the spirit are one


A simple statement, but with the weight and power of this amazing word you can be sure the audiences knew exactly where we were going with the inspirational intention of the performance. It set the spirit of the evening in stone and launched us cleanly and clearly into the realm of spiritual thought.

What is a word but a symbol for an idea. These sounds that come out of our mouths represent concepts large or small. Say the word “streetcar” and we know exactly what you mean. Say the word “God” and you will have as many definitions of that word as you have listeners. But say the word “Hallelujah” and the world is suddenly all on the same page and in some way feeling and knowing the light that you are experiencing. It is a word that bears repetition, no, in fact, clamors for repetition, for to say it once is not enough. It must be repeated and repeated in the wonder of God’s grace and power, love, soul, and spirit. It is the penultimate word in the human language in praise of God.

When life is at its best, in the moment when no other words suffice, for most of us here on this planet, out pops the word “Hallelujah”. This elegant and universal utterance captures the essence of celebration and is immediately understood deeply in the soul of all.