UMP-12 Mira Goto Talks Nashville, Songwriting, Periscope and Spiders

I had a chance last week to catch up with Mira Goto, a friend who recently made a daring move from her hometown of Santa Cruz California to Nashville, in order to surround herself with other songwriters and likeminded music professionals. She’s doing and learning all kinds of things in the process, all in the DIY spirit of making it happen.

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Mira Goto Singer Songwriter

Mira is a country singer songwriter with whom I became acquainted whilst gigging around the South San Francisco Bay Area in 2014. At our first gig, I was taken aback by her guitar playing and voice; and that was during soundcheck. She’s the whole package from musicianship to good looks and charm, and I have high hopes for her in the highly competitive landscape of Nashville’s country music scene.

She’s a lifelong singer songwriter who has wanted to be in Nashville for as long as she can remember, and recently decided it was now or never. Her move started with visits, then work songwriting workshops, then renting a room, and ultimately buying a home, all over the period of six months. She knew absolutely no one upon landing in Nashville, but a songwriters workshop changed everything. Before long, she was performing live and meeting future collaborators.

We talk about networking, being liked (or not), professionalism, community, and gaining peer support. We also talk about her encounter with a nest of brown recluse spiders, building a tribe on Periscope, becoming a publisher, her passion for storytelling, and country music’s gender gap.

Please enjoy our conversation, and if you do enjoy it, share it with a friend, subscribe to this podcast and/or leave a review. 🙂

Show Notes

Episode 11 Networking with and Helping Musicians

This week’s episode of The Unstarving Musician’s Podcast features yours truly, in solo fashion. There are a couple of noteworthy themes that have emerged from interviews I’ve done for the podcast and my book, the importance of networking and helping other succeed.

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Why networking is so important, and totally worth it

Allow me to begin with personal experience. Here are some forms of networking I regularly engaged in while in the SF Bay area.

Visiting venues

I regularly visited venues with my wife, friends and/or bandmates (also my friends). If you enjoy wine, beer and food like I do, many venues serve such things. Get out and enjoy life at one of your favorite live music venues, preferably when the owner and/or booking contact is there. Don’t stop by just visiting, make sure to say hello to the owner, manager or booking contact. Schmooze if you will. This type of socializing helps keep you top of mind. Ask about upcoming open dates for booking your band, or ask if there’s anything you can do to help them out, like recommend another band.

Robonzo's podcast recording and drum rehearsal space at Tercer Acto in El Valle, Panama

Sitting in an open mic/jam events

If you read my book, you know that I found my initial tribe in San Jose, California by going to a blues jam run by Lara Price. Check out episode 4 to hear my conversation with Lara. You don’t even have to sign up to perform, although I recommend that you do sign up to play once in a while. There are benefits to just attending such events, because you’ll still have an opportunity to meet other musicians, and possibly discover some new venue contacts. Don’t forget to socialize (aka schmoozing). Show a genuine interest in others, and you’ll find it to be a much more rewarding experience.

Attending and hosting events for musicians

I’ve co-organized and attended events for musicians. Paul Kent (episode 9) hosts an annual holiday happy hour event. I’ve made countless musician friends at events such as these, and many of them have called on me for gigs, referrals, and more. Some of them are helping me find guests for this podcast.

Most of my podcast guests deliberately network with others in the music space. Lara Price talks about networking at length in episode 4, and has a great story based on her experience at Blues Awards. She was nominated for Soul Blues Female Artist of the year in 2017. It turns out that awards ceremonies are more than great parties. According to Lara, they’re great networking opportunities.

Chris Raspante told me in episode 2 of this podcast that networking and reputation are everything. He said, “It’s all about the hang.” Now based in his home state of Texas, the Dallas Fort Worth area to be more specific, Chris is a recording engineer, guitarist, songwriter who has worked with The Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt and Stan Lynch. He’s performed on The Tonight Show w/Jay Leno, and if a featured guitarist on the theme track of HBO’s True Blood. During time in Nashville, he clearly devoted tons of time to relationships.

When I asked John Wolff in episode 6 how he screens acts who will perform at the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival, he said that it was mostly done through referrals & recommendations. He looks for artists who are not high maintenance or prima donnas. He also told me that he’s always had his pulse on music. This works for John, because he’s savvy when it comes to networking and relationship building.

The stories go on and on. And all of my guests preach showing up, doing the work, and being a nice person, which leads me to topic numero dos of this podcast episode–Why helping other musicians matters.

Why helping other musicians matters

I wrote about the importance of helping others in my book and have spoken with many people about the subject, for my book and this podcast, and they echo my sentiment. Sometimes it’s small favors, other times it’s much more.

Why do we do this?

Here’s what I think. We do it because it feels good to help others. We do it because we want to see others succeed, because we want to pay it forward, and because others have and would do the same for us.

If you’re ever at a loss as to what you can possibly do to help others within or outside of the music space, take comfort in knowing that little things and small gestures can be very meaningful to others.

I want this podcast to be about musicians helping musicians. There’s plenty of gigs, work and opportunity for us all. When we realize this our world opens up to limitless possibilities. So it matters that you help others. It matters that others help you. It matters that we help one another.

My hope is that I’m not just stating the obvious, that my rant serves as a little reminder for you to serve others, when the opportunity arrises. Thanks for reading.

Please remember to subscribe to this podcast and if you like it, please leave a short review. I would be forever grateful.

Peace, love and more cowbell.

Show Notes

How to Get More Paid Music Gigs

Relationship building and networking isn’t just for suits.

As part of the Unstarving Musician Project, there’s an entire book and podcast dedicated to the topic of how to get more paid music gigs. Since starting the project, I’ve talked to weekend-warrior musicians, full-time songwriters and performers, recording engineers, and musicians-for-hire. They all have one thing in common. They value relationships, and they realize that networking is huge.

Gold sax player among musicians and friends. Quality relationships can lead to more paid music gigs.

People want to help you, but they also appreciate being helped.

Quality relationships will get you just about anything you want. People love helping others, and believe it or not, most people in your tribe really want to help you. Often overlooked in the music world is the fact that those of us who readily support others will find it easier to gain the  support of others.

When we hustle for gigs or to get our music on indie radio, we’re asking for help, and often from people who don’t know us. Don’t let this be an obstacle, but remember to take a genuine interest in those of whom you ask for support. Think about how you can be of service, how you can help the other party, and offer it up.

In the case of a venue, you can offer to do some co-marketing or recommend another act that might be a good fit. In the case of the radio station, you could do a little research about their listening audience and make a case for how your music would well serve that audience.

If you’re thinking this will all take too much time, and that you’d be better off sending a high volume email campaign to dozens or hundreds of venues and indie stations, you would be wrong. Those type of inquiries resemble spam. Think about it. What do you typically do with unsolicited emails from people who know nothing about you, but who want to sell you something, all while offering little or nothing in return?

Yes you have to be good and you yes have to have a quality product, but by showing a genuine interest in the other party, your chances of getting someone genuinely interested in helping you are exponentially higher.

Musicians and artists are stereotypical introverts.

The stereotypical musician is an introvert, which can be a big problem where building and nurturing relationships is concerned. Blues singer songwriter Lara Price recently told me that her Blues Awards nomination in the Soul Blues Female Artist category was, among other things, a great networking opportunity. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought that a nomination like this is primarily an awesome invitation to an awesome party; but according to Price, events like this are amazing opportunities to make new friends and to build ones network.

Lone acoustic guitarist and possible introvert. One must schmooze a little to get more paid gigs.

Commit to stepping outside of your comfort zone…

“One bite at a time” is one of my favorite sayings. It refers to how one accomplishes the seemingly insurmountable. Building a network of quality friends may feel like a daunting task, but a commitment to regularly step outside of your comfort zone will truly help you to make new friends, one at a time. If it makes you feel any better, you don’t have to look at this as a full-time activity. You need only turn on the outward charm when among friends or when the opportunity arises to meet someone new. Sure it’s not always comfortable, but it’s always worth it.

Attend an award show.

If ever you’re invited to attend an awards event like the Blues Foundation’s annual Blues Awards, accept the invite! If you’re not so lucky, seek out other networking events, or create your own. A couple of years ago, I co-created a musician’s marketing event that was attended by musicians local to my then home of San Jose, California. These were fantastic learning events and a great way to make new friends. I’m in regular contact with several of those event attendees, many of whom I didn’t know prior to hosting the events. Many of these friends are now part of a growing community that follows the Unstarving Musician Project.

Where might you schmooze a little this month? Ask a friend or mentor for suggestions. Heck ask me. DM me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Is Indie Radio Still Relevant?

Vintage Radio Pexels.comLater this month I’ll be interviewing D Grant Smith, podcaster,  author and indie radio show host. The interview will be an episode of my forthcoming Unstarving Musician Podcast. D Grant is an interesting fellow in many regards, but I’m particularly anxious to discuss with him indie radio, his book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, and the Appetizer Radio show.  A number of musicians I know are part of the DIY community, but I know a few who are connected with artist management.  I presume that any preoccupation with radio varies by where you are on the spectrum between DIY artists and those with representation; however, I’m intrigued by something I assume to be true, which is that radio does still matter, particularly indie radio.

Despite my personal beliefs, I still hear people say that radio is dead.  I believe what I’ll find out in the coming days is that while radio has changed dramatically in recent years, it does still matter. Perhaps the degree to which it still matters hasn’t yet fully played out, as the music industry continues to change. We do after all seem to be caught in a perpetual state whereby most music listening people feel that it (music) should all be free.  I disagree.  That said, I’m happy to see an emerging trend whereby artists at all levels are finding that there are many ways to monetize their art, besides just selling music on iTunes. If you’re a songwriter or performing artist, I might have just made you twinge with the word “monetize.” While I’ll admit that the word is a little Silicon Valley, or whatever, I feel strongly that artists should be able to make a living from their art, and if they’re good enough, that they should even make an extremely comfortable living.

Maybe I’m in for a big surprise on the relevance of indie radio. If my first Google search is any indication, it doesn’t appear that much is being written about it lately.  I get it though. There’s so much other new and exciting shit happening in music, granted not all of it good. Hopefully, I can help bring something current to the topic with this and the D Grant Smith interview.  Most of all, I’m hopeful that musicians following the Unstarving Musician project will learn something.

As I get ready for my interview with D Grant, you can check out some of the resources I did find.

Top 3 Prerequisites to Getting Indie Radio Airplay

The Indie Musician Strategy for Getting Your Music on the Radio

DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook by D Grant Smith

How to Get Your Music Played on Internet Radio


Music Lesson Websites

Thanks to a broken link alert, I was reminded of this post, which I wrote way back in September of ’08.  In the revision below, I visit the topic of music lesson websites.

How things have changed

At that time, I’d spent the afternoon scouring the web for drum lesson websites, and noted that it wasn’t all that easy to find ten good drum lesson sites.  Back then, it was my impression that curating top-10 lists was great for blogging.  Not really sure it was all it was cracked up to be, but I still thought that online drum and music education would be worth exploring again, almost 10 years later.  Oh by the way, remember MySpace?  I actually included it in my original search in 2008.  Again, how things have changed.

My criteria for music lesson websites

My original criteria for drum lesson websites was that they…

  • Offered good quality videos
  • Easy to navigate
  • Included some free content

Seems like a good set of criteria still.  However, today I would add some measure of quality for user experience and customer service for online music lessons sites.

In looking back at my original list, I’m amazed at what made the cut.  Many of the originals on my list are no more.  Some are in the throws of eventual death.  Fortunately, there’s so much to choose from now, with tons of free content and higher quality subscription based content.

I’m personally a student subscriber.  Mike Johnston and company have put together what I consider to be a music family, and I’ve been a subscriber for three or more years (I’ve lost track).  Even his site and content has come a long way.  Besides being an super passionate educator, I really appreciate Mikes entrepreneurial spirit.  Needless to say, he belongs somewhere at the top of my revised list.

Next on my list is Drumeo, also connected to  These guys feature a slew of quality drummer instructors, many or most of whom are celebrity.  On the outside, it looks like they offer a truly high quality experience, and I’m happy to see this, having watched some of their instructors back in 2008.  The hard work has paid off, and we the consumers are the beneficiaries.

YouTube far and away most popular among musicians

Acoustic guitarI polled a number of musician friends and peers on what their favorite learning sites are, and YouTube was far and away the most popular response.  One of the more interesting replies I got, from a drummer of course.  He tells me that he’ll search a groove like “shuffle” within YouTube.  I’d never even thought of this, but can imagine the shuffle rabbit hole that opens up by doing so.

Here are some other resources people shared with me. – Justin Sandercoe started posting content on YouTube back in 2006 and has since amassed a library hundreds of lessons deep.  He’s got some nice testimonials, and the best part is, it’s free.  Justin does however ask for donations–totally fair. – Founder Charlie Wallace has created a respectable body of both free and reasonably priced paid content.  You’ll also find great testimonials here, and the whole online experience looks pretty good.  He event touts a support team.

David Barrett’s – This site features quality learning content and a very reasonable monthly subscription plan.  Barrett has leveraged multiple instructors and pros to put together what I hear is a great learning resource for harmonica players. – When a friend mentioned Coursera, I thought of course (no pun intended). Courses are offered by top instructors from top universities and educational institutions.  Prices vary by the course, but what a fantastic resource for musicians.

A couple of searches helped me find what appear to be great sites for lessons in voice, bass and piano; and I’m sure there’s much more.  I’m also confident that I could write for days on this topic, and may do just that.  Perhaps this is an area worth delving into on my forthcoming podcast.  Stay tuned.



Official Book Launch for The Unstarving Musician’s Guide

Rocket launch, book launch, Unstarving Musician's Guide to Getting Paid GigsThe Unstarving Musician’s Guide to Getting Paid Gigs was published in late October 2016, but the official launch is only just now about to happen.  After clicking the publish button, I wrote to close friends that I thought writing the book would be the hard part.  I quickly learned that the work was only beginning as I had to next go about the business of promoting the darn thing.  Working on a book launch plan has only brought this reality into greater focus, and I have to admit; it’s overwhelming, scary, and exciting, all at the same time.

Projects like this are the exact moments when the voices in my head crank it up a notch.  Here’s the kind of shit they say.

You’re a poser.
No one’s going to listen to what you have to say.
You have no clue as to what you’re doing.

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