The Idea: Some six months prior to this event, Anonymass had a note saved in his phone. A note him and Caskey would soon extrapolate into an opportunity like no other. The Plan: Gather artists from all over, attendance would likely lead to getting some tidbits of wisdom from professionals with mo re combined years in an industry than the sum of all actual years that industry was in existence.
Monumental. To say the least.
MY STORY OF THE PRODUCT My Expectation
I knew this particular endeavor sounded special. So I wanted to make the most out of the best chances to take. The summit was to be held at The Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, FL. consisting of a two-day schedule - Dec. 11th-12th. A full two rotations of the earth to learn and network, growing not only your scope of possibilities, but your wisdom of how to attack those opportunities head on without doubt. I want to preface this by stating, I do have a song with Caskey. And I have also conducted business with his producer Taysty as well. I however, had not met Anonymass until this event. I am pushing my feelings aside, and going to be speaking MY TRUTH of how I feel this endeavor has gone.
(Photo Credit: Caskey's Instagram @caskey) ~~~ Seeing the claims of a powerhouse roster of speakers, ranging in subjects from entrepreneurship to music industry blueprints, I found myself quite intrigued. However, as a professional as well, I know that a lot of the topics in regards to rights, distribution, copyrights, royalties, etc... can become very nuanced and unpalatable for most beginning songwriters, artists, and creators in the industry. I would go as far to say, if you are at a master level with all aspects, you're a liar. Furthermore, if you feel as though you fall into the category of expert in the music industry, then you must've had some secondary education. The vast majority nowadays, sadly, fall into the category of hopeful. I know that may sound harsh but we we're all once, just that, hopeful. This understanding sent chills down my back and made my hair raise, and as realization struck, I knew there was one flaw in this plan. If they were to hold the event for enough days to actually thoroughly get a mere 20% of the room (AT BEST) to a knowledge level to be able to tackle tasks such as signing up with and registering works with BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, SoundExchange, Tunecore, The MLC, Nielson Sound Scan; all the while hitting a home run on subjects like the best and most effective way to file your copyrights, the process of filing for a trademark, the importance of sequential and chronological book-keeping, etc... NOBODY would be able to afford that lengthy of a trip, who truly needs this knowledge. It's sort of, in my eyes, an ironic form of golden handcuffs that the music places on anyone who tries to further it's evolution out of pure inspiration and drive.
I expected one of two very polarized outcomes. One, They jam pack all of this wisdom and technique, as well as mindset, into a mind-numbing two day... (We are talking encyclopedias worth of information) ... freestyle? I don't know, either way, it wouldn't truly be digestible knowledge and wisdom even for someone at the intermediate level in their career. It would require things to only be said one time, very quickly, and then BOOM, whole different aspect, subject, and context for the next task. Two, they hold basically a free for all Q & A for two days where I gotta sit through hundreds of people finding ways to get their music listened to without breaking summit rules... Which clearly stated this was not a listening party, or a promo endeavor. So you were expected to act according to business-casual style and mindset. Remaining respectful of your peers and fellow creators. Well, luckily, I was wrong on both of my expected situations..... Kindof. Regardless, I knew if I was going to be taking my time, to fly to Florida, and commit to this, I would want to make it worth it. I.E. why a good 4% of the artists who attended have reached out to me about helping them understand not only copyrights and royalties, but even the processes in which you undertake commitment, such as starting an LLC, or switching from a C-Corp, to an S-Corp. That said, let's continue this journey...
I knew from past endeavors that arriving early would seal the deal on me coming at this Summit with the best I could bring to the table. Ready to share my knowledge, failures, successes, and theories. I was eager, anxious, aside, dare I say hopeful? All for the prospect to gain new knowledge or see a new perspective at a technique. History has taught me, it is always more rewarding to be early to the ____________ (whatever it is). I booked the Caribe Royale for me, and my two best friends. I feel it's always vital to have comfort in stressful situations. But, be careful who you take, some people may not see the value of what exactly is going on and will be blinded by their own emotions and wants. I planned on us three being there for roundabout 5 days. And boy, were those 5 days, 5 days that will replay in my memory until I leave this earth. Upon taking the flight from Pittsburgh, PA the WHOLEEEE way to Orlando, FL. It hit me, I was doing something LIFECHANGING. However, I didn't know what, nor could I tell how. We landed and immediately I started looking for a way to the resort, having never been that far south on this side of the USA, I was unsure of the transportation prices and such, but to be honest, I'd have paid whatever it took, to get me, and my only two non-business loved ones' bags to the drop spot, i.e. the suite, and start networking and rubbing shoulders with those who were also roaming the resort. The first meaningful interaction took place at that moment, We all put our stuff down, and unwound from the craziness of two airports, being around thousands of other travelers, all just trying to do one thing. GET THERE. I realize that may sound trivial, but getting there, is 90% of the battle. The other 10% is maintaining your bearings, now in a new, somewhat uncomfortable environment. Not that the ambiance of the resort doesn't come into play as a calm and serene place of like-minded people, but just that feeling of an irregularity in your surroundings. A way to remedy this, is, SHOW UP EARLY! With our extra few days before my obligations at TFOAS (The Future Of Artists Summit), We decided to explore. This led to the next most meaningful moment of this trip.
The destination, Cocoa Beach; about 1hr. 35min. from the resort. Obviously, my thoughts were on the fact that the long drive would mean awkward small-talk with a driver whom obviously doesn't have a TRUE interest in what you are actually doing in town. Here is why it means a priceless value to be ready, always: We climbed into this beautiful, clean, & to be honest... executive style SUV. The man said a polite hello and promptly asked why we were in town. After I explained TFOAS and why I felt it was imperative that I come to it. He too, to my surprise, agreed. He said he had a similar background as I did. And that if he'd had known it was going down, he may have attended. His name is Sean Cruz. Here he was, a man, who's past, though in a completely different generation, seemed so parallel to mine. He started off, writing poetry as basically a toddler. He would even get recognized in school regularly through his articulate eloquence with a pen, that would continue through to his Graduation of High School. He too, went to the service after high school. Amongst also obtaining a degree soon thereafter. A friend whom was heavily into music then began letting Sean know he needed him in on doing some DJ-style events. Sean always found solace in the raw, emotional, and contextual value of hip hop songs. To him, it was poetry, spoken well, over an arrangement; or preferably, over a live band. Sean's favorite way to experience hip hop. "Pass the mic!" As a promoter for a short 3.5 year stent early in my career, I did a lot of shows. Amazing one's, Great one's, and more than I would like to admit, to damn near empty one's. ONE THING and one thing only was congruent with every event though... At some point, a freestyle circle gets poppin', You know... Starts with 2-5 people, all takin' even splits of time, just vibin', and then Adam Adlib takes his turn immediately as he enters the circle, cutting off whomever was actually up. It never fails, you'll hear the best freestyle in POV of the hype-man. Oh, and you'll know its fire, cuz it'll go, and flow, lil' mo',from da flo', to da cut, I'mma shut, you a rut, lit uh blunt, this ... You get my point? You gotta shut 'em up. I swear after hearing Sean's Story I fully credit every time "Pass The Mic!" is yelled, to him and him alone. Upon us getting so deeply into conversation, we learned we had similar expectations of what it was to be a creator or a person involved with the industry. And with a somewhat heartbreaking timbre to this message, I must say, we both have & share exact values of GREED, PRIDE, & EGO. I believe these qualities, when leveraged properly, can fuel a drive within a human being to wherever they deserve to be, at breakneck speeds. GREED firstly, can make one study those extra analytics, it can force one to begin the practice of book-keeping in a more efficient manner. It can fill the pockets of a team. It can bring proud tears to even the most hardened of individuals. However, risks also come with this, like, you could be on a team and one man lines his pockets leaving you and several others astonished. Know this, I won a rap competition, hosted by a man named.... lets say, Rug Doctor, well, Rug Doctor put on the flyer, winner got a distro deal through Universal. When they said "AND THE WINNER IS...." I was literally getting up to get ready to applaud whomever just put on a better show. As I had lost many events of this type getting to this particular 'opportunity'. "GET'M PRODUCTIONS!" and the place erupted with applause. I was interviewed in the back of the venue by a camera crew whom treated it like we were just making a youtube video with cinema quality equipment. (KNOW TO SEE RED FLAGS YALL, DONT BE DUMB LIKE ME) A few weeks later there it was, GET'M was official. Got the first LLC and registered with BMI as my P.R.O. (Performance Rights Organization). You can have ASCAP, or BMI, but cannot be a member simultaneously of both. I point people to BMI because they pay me well and they've never let me feel lost. Sometimes they do take a while to reply, but truly, things take time. That never have left an issue unresolved with me or anyone I know who uses them. Now, I'm not trying to cause a problem but my original album, "The Detour" was for sure published correctly, whilst this lady was "teaching" me how to do it, she had already done it, giving publishing rights to some unknown Detroit, MI Record Label. If you know how to search that stuff, great, go see what those clowns did. But yeah, upon me unable to license the songs I searched the ISRC (The code identifying the specific recording. All sounds in sequence of the audio that is under this code are proprietary to this specific identifier.) and staring me in the face was Rights Owner: ******** Records Detroit, MI. I'll never know why she taught me and also tried to stiff me, maybe assuming my ignorance or inability to handle deskwork style formats, referencing multiple sources for a single task, and long hours in front of a keyboard and screen, typing. But guess what fool, look where we are right now. I will do whatever it take's to make sure the proper outcomes can be obtained & verified. So you know how it went down. Haha.
(When you are loving the weather.) PRIDE going on, is immeasurable in value. Priceless beyond comprehension, however, in my experience, that can only be true if you find pride in selfless ways. I can achieve an accolade, or a true blessing will appear in my reality and I am more thankful with each; In the same respect, I feel very proud when I see others do kind things for one another, not just out of novelty, or even principal, but out of moral and ethical belief. When I witness those moments, my heart swells with warmth and it feels as though my mere presence in that moment, was a sum of everyone there's choices, luck, and chance's from every moment leading to that moment. This is my argument for pride, if you believe it is a thing that must be proprietary-to-self, you need to re-read GREED^ and reconvene with us here next round. EGO... lastly, can be the center of you, or you can be the ego and have yourself centered. It is quite the conundrum. A paradox. This is why one must be cautious of ego. Even the most noble of human being, can make a mistake, wrong choice, or bad choice. We all share in the bigger picture. To fall to something as feeble as a less than honorable act, well that would mean you gave into yourself. You practiced PITY. SELF. PITY. The loudest in an argument, has either one; no way to get away, or two; doesn't recognize in the mirror they see two ears, and one mouth, and two eyes. Make your priority observation. Analyze the body language of those closest to you. Compare that to strangers. You'll learn your environment, and begin to be able to adapt with better dexterity to high-stress moments. That's making your EGO work FOR YOU. But as far as however many shows you've done, no matter the amount of tracks you have released, no matter the amount of money you make, NOTHING can buy back a moment one let's their EGO cloud their inner true self. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY. NOW... Back to my main story here.... Sean Cruz told me many great stories, bearing his memories and life to me as I just did for you, but using my similar experiences as subject to protect Sean's privacy. However, he was a dope DJ, and was that during a time of evolutionary moves within the industry.
So mad respect!
He dropped us off at Cocoa Beach, and as I walked toward the sand, I was overwhelmed. I was here. I had done it. I made & executed a very strategic plan to be able to get a sitter for my 3 kids and arrange this so that my two best friends could come with me to share in such a historic moment. As never before, has an artist(s)/professional(s) at the levels of Caskey and Anonymass held an event so wrapped around helping others understand the complexities of the music, as an industry. This was a blessing, a reward, an opportunity, a moment, a cherished keepsake forever to hold in my memories.
After returning to the resort after Cocoa Beach, we decided it would be nice to go down to the jacuzzi. ALWAYS BE READY.
It was then that 5 older gentlemen, 3 of which were visibly intoxicated, joined us three. they all sat down and the two men closest to me were in a very deep discussion, I politely said hello to all of them and the man closest to me said "I apologize, I am normally not so excited and loud. I just sealed my first major deal." I reached behind him and patted him on the back. "My man," I said, "You need not be apologizing, I would be ecstatic too!". He thanked me for the encouragement. Having face tats and my generally "young" appearance always has older people assuming my ignorance it seems, as one of the more elder looking men spoke to me and said, "What are you in town for?" I replied "It's called TFOAS, it's basically a summit where artists, engineers, producers, etc... come together and hear from delegated speakers a story and perception of the tasks in being in the music industry. To kind of shed a light on something unknown, or shed a different color of light on a tried and true method." After that, all of them asked me why I would want to be at something like that, I told them about my business in producing, writing, distribution, copyrighting, publishing, tour routing, booking, etc... The men all looked somewhat astonished. One stated "I would've never thought music involves so much." I said back jokingly to that "Well, it doesn't, everything I just mentioned was how to make money from the music." The man furthest from me was talking about his business, and how he built a business that takes hedge funds and leverages them out to insurance businesses and then accrues interest based on the amount and other factors contracted to said corporation(s). He suddenly seemed interested in what I was speaking on. "What's your name, my man?" I asked as I politely reached my hand out to shake his. "Chris (redacted for privacy), Nice to meet you, sounds like you sure do have a full schedule of tasks. I feel that." And we chatted for quite some time, long enough in fact, that the other four gentlemen had left by the end of the conversation. When resort staff alerted us to it being passed the time that guests were allowed to be in the pool and spa areas, we both got out and exchanged information. As Chris showed interest in one day possibly conducting business with me, and I too, feel that one day we will collaborate on a venture. Chris is a man with the leverage, knowledge, and ability to not only invest to make a living, but also not have to put himself or any of his employees at risk of anything that would inhibit their ability to live from their work. To many people I have met in the industry, Chris would've been just a guy who was part of a group of old guy's who hold no bearing on the future. I see all people as vital. All people should see that too. From the beggar, to the mogul, we all live, breathe, and perceive in some way. I point that out to implore you to rethink, not just rehash the information in your brain that you know as truth. However, to always rethink, meaning, when someone is talking, hear them out. Even if nine out of ten things they say is based on objective opinion, when that one time comes, if you aren't listening, you could miss the one piece of information that could change your life. I returned to the suite. Laid down, and unwound from the day. Knowing that my next set of daily tasks included the summit.
TFOAS Day 1
I grabbed my laptop, my notebooks, my pens, business cards, and headed to the building where the summit was being held. It would be a lie if I said I wasn't a tad-bit nervous. Not knowing the true context or personalities of so many people with a shared goal, and being there, in the moment, seeing all the faces. It truly was a humbling experience. As a person doing music professionally, I know that the vast majority of others in my position have heard "There's a lot of people who do the same exact thing as you. And they never make it." That statement used to be a driving force in me to excel, surpass, and see that as failure, thus re-igniting the fire to excel. This was wrong of me, and I will explain that soon. The hallway outside of the summit area was filling fast and artists were mingling amongst one another. I met so many people whom I can honestly say, I see going very far. The way we people in music, conduct ourselves, is so refreshing, we are kind, loving... hug people, basically. Now, to get the hug though... That requires one thing. AUTHENTICITY.
Disingenuous vibes literally roar around those who practice deceptive and superficial lifestyles and actions. Be genuine, be real. If a person is willing to shun you for ignorance to something that is clearly not a common practice or knowledge, you didn't need them or want them in your reality anyway. So it is somewhat a self-fulfilling prophecy. As they ushered the networking to a respectful pause and directed us all to enter the area and all sit where we were designated to be, I recall a tense heaviness building in the air. ~Ivan Paychecks~ A very motivated man. He spoke on finances and remaining HUNGRY. Waking up, attacking your daily tasks as you see most efficient and progressive toward your completion of that goal. I look forward to recalling this man when I am feeling lonely, or as though the pursuit of my life goals is a precursor to a lonely ending; to remember, I have things to do, a lot of people out there never do anything so they never have anything to do, this man instilled the thought in me to be motivated and grateful. ~Anonymass~ Anonymass took the stage, as the room applauding died down, he stood tall, center stage, explaining his background, his struggles, trials, tribulations, and just how exactly he intertwines with Caskey. His outlook is something I can appreciate, He realistically places goals. He focuses on them, committing his time, energy, and basically, his life, to his purpose. Which has shined unto him as music. Truly a creator. He explained his enjoyment of more tonal, dark, and dissonant arrangements. It really gave a new perspective to me on my way of attacking dissonance in my mixes. After his stories and explanations, as well as quick tips, he thanked everyone. A sure sign of his appreciation and something I found touching. Mainly because he didn't come off to me as the sentimental type. He then introduced the next speaker.
~Caskey~ Applause erupted, most of the attendee's, including myself, admire Caskey's musical art, alongside many other avenues of artistry. The man truly has to have been placed on earth for art. His passion for it is heard with every syllable he utters. From speaking on the loss of his father, a recording contract with Cash Money Records, conflicts of interest with managers, personally packing and shipping merch, going from cd blanks with "Caskey" sharpied on them the whole way to streaming. He explained the mindset he had, what it should have been, why it was what it was, and how it could've changed, and what qualifies him today to place those judgements.
However, his message from 'the bigger picture' point of view was beautiful to me. Yes, we can all listen, we can all hear what worked, what didn't; and place hindsight on it. Regardless, each experience shaped the little clump of clay we once were, to the sculpture or lack-thereof we are today. Regardless, what you do NOW, is the real question. ~Brenda Lee~ At a conference, Brenda was walking and come to see a young man at a piano, noticing his tattoos, she disregarded her inner calling to speak to him. Until she took a few strides, stopping herself... Backing up, she asked the man his name and if he had experience playing piano. He replied explaining he was still trying to learn and that his name was Brandon Caskey. She then explained the beautiful amount of respect and love they have built. Stating his impact to be cherished by her and her family. Her message was on the baggage we carry. Nobody sees the baggage, just the person. So her exercising her baggage (her religious upbringing frowned upon tattoos), she almost missed a chance to have something greatly powerful and impactful in her life. We all can take a lesson from that.
~Danielle Archer~ "It's a lot easier to believe a failure, than a success." The statement Danielle said that most resonated in me. Her life's work is a very exponential task. Mental health, but specifically, mental health for musicians, entertainers, etc... She spoke on many emotions that I have and have had in the past. Especially while touring. To most a tour looks fun, like a vacation, partying it up, city to city. In reality, a lot of my times on the road, I was working very hard to not only promote the next event, but evaluate the last show. Finding better ways to go about the performance, the handling of other acts, building the line-up for the event (later began making that a concrete thing well in advance to mitigate this troublesome task). As you can plainly see, the actual part of touring that makes it a tour, is the booking, the promoting, the managing, the routing, the ticketing, the vehicles, the gas, lodging for all participants, scheduling, etc... I could go on. So when someone becomes immersed in that mode, meeting the demands of those jobs, it is easy to lose a lot of what keeps you, you. In great recommendation, I proudly say, Danielle Archer is a therapist, role model, and inspiration. Definitely look her up! ~Bedros Keuilian~ Pfew, this man's presence, is that of a full grown lion. Qualities ranging from beautiful and uninhibited by the outside world, to bloodthirsty passion and drive. Surely the MOST INTERESTINGLY BLATENT DISPLAY OF AUTHENTICITY I have ever been a witness to. I don't want to go too far into detail for you here, because you can hear it for yourself on Bedros' podcast, he is a highly decorated individual whom focuses his life to this world. Let me explain: Bedros inspires young men to be better, stronger, and to move with confidence. However, he is the first person who aims to instill those values whom ALSO acknowledges that you can not move with confidence, if you base your actions on your emotions. One should understand what he is doing, when he is doing it, why he will do it. Bedros comes from an upbringing of much adversity, though I imagine he hates that others stress that portion of the story. I say, yes, his story is a very impactful one to hear, it mirrors my life in many aspects. But I believe that the true POWER behind this man, and his story, is that he had overcome the bully's of this world, and began doing what a role model does. Bedros regularly contributes to multiple charities that contribute to children in sub-par conditions/situations get school supplies, clean drinking water, medicines, etc... It felt humbling, here I am, hearing a man whom at first comes of like he wants to slap you upside the head but then immediately abolishes that vibe with kind, understanding, REALISTIC words and ideas. He is without a doubt an individual I can call an inspiration. I have full confidence that any endeavor he has his heart in, will blossom into a beautiful crop, providing for those who are at a loss to provide for themselves. To learn more, visit his website. If you are reading this, Much Love.
After the first day came to a close, I returned to the suite and took a nap, I woke up and then decided to go jam at the pavilion outside between my tower at the resort, and the building that the summit was being held in. I jammed with a lot of people and informed a lot of people on more revenue streams from their music. It made the trip feel like it was going to be such a great two days! I went back to the suite to drop off my guitar. Two of us decided to go for a walk. After all, there was a running trail surrounding the perimeter of the resort. A full 1.5 miles.
We walked down and then around the front of the resort. I was so stunned to be there, I had to take a picture.
Once we got to the end of the sidewalk, keep in mind, it is late, we began walking the trail. I seen a pond and reminded her "Keep an eye out". But no sooner than we got two more strides in I grabbed her. A fairly large snake was rearing back in the ankle high grass, clearly capable of striking either of us, especially had we walked right in front of it. She suggested we go back. I thought about the risks and what I would miss if I was at the hospital. So I agreed.
We ventured back to the suite, tired from a long day; excited for the days to come, eager to get some food and fill our bellies.
Well... White Castle was pitched. and as you may, or may not know, the running banter/joke is, NEVER get White Castle. I have had it in the past, however the results weren't very valid to back that joke. THIS TIME THOUGH... Lets just say, I missed almost the rest of my entire trip, from the toilet seat of the suite, at the resort. I am still upset I couldn't attend day 2.
Had I not planned ahead and went early, I wouldn't be able to say I feel good, or even okay with how the trip and summit went. But my drive and knowledge leading to an early booking with time well advance of the obligations led to so many different perspective changes for me on this endeavor.
All in all, I believe every artist who is serious about their career should attend, given they do another one.
I know I will FOR SURE be in attendance, willing to learn more and share more, with every experience. To be a professional, one must invest, invest time, effort, sacrifices, sleep, focus, and better themselves, DAILY. I come across a lot of hopefuls. I met a lot of hopefuls at the summit even. The truth is, since the summit, I've had time to look at them, look into their past posts, etc...
This summit turned so many peoples lives around it's just dumb luck for me that it involves music too haha. Seriously, follow Anonymass & Caskey, when you do, look at their posts, these are men going the extra mile, out of ability.
Not out of necessity or ambition alone. I appreciate anyone's time who read this, and I wholeheartedly hope to see any of you next year given they hold this event again, I know I'll be there!
Make the most of your time. Make sure you have the most time you can get. BE READY. ALWAYS READY.
Much love. & Much success to anyone out there putting in the effort. But to leave this on the strongest note,
I will quote Bedros,
"You don't get what you deserve. You get what you earn"
Jacob Skelly aka Skweeze Get'm
Jacob@GETMrecords.com Owner | GETM
Give Everything To Music @GETMproductions on all social media incl. snapchat. Extra Photos:
A frog spotted while on my way back from the store across the street.
Tree's along the driveway/deliveries area at the resort.
A hotel at cocoa beach and it's name is my favorite number. 333
A boxer who had just fought an opponent who is a future inductee to the WBA Hall Of Fame. He was fighting there as part of the WBA 100th Annual Convention.
Flohana, Hope you read the blog post! haha Thanks for the bag!
The beach and waves.
A huge tree at the mall in Orlando... Well, the closest mall anyway, to the airport haha!
This last airplane picture was landing in Pittsburgh. It was a somber reminder, MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT, before you know it, it is over. Then the chance is gone. Truly, MUCH, MUCH LOVE AND ADORATION for anybody who has read this. Hope it helps.