January 15, 2015

5 Steps To Becoming A Successful Commercial Country Singer

5 Steps To Becoming
A Successful Commercial Country Singer

By Sean Claes
If you follow the following 5 steps, you too can become another of those pretty-boy country singing stars that would make Hank Williams, Sr. want to come back from the dead and punch you in the chin.

Step 1:
You need something bold that stands out. Incorporate an acoustic guitar, highway sign, Texas flag, Star or filigree… or all of the above. Don’t worry.. this is just an attention getter before the label throws all that out and uses that “Bleeding Cowboy” font and renames you something that has more universal appeal.

Step 2:
Dress Code:
$150 jeans and $100 plaid shirt, or classic rock & roll shirts, or Southern Thread apparel…if you feel really bold… why not an Affliction shirt. Add a handkerchief sticking out of back pocket and a wallet chain… basically try and look like a more douche-y version of 1990s grunge and add a cowboy hat or John Deere-themed baseball cap. Facial hair is not recommended, but it doesn’t hurt early on… when you’re looking hungry. It’ll give the record company something to stick a feather in their hat saying they “improved upon your look” when they sent you to the stylist and they shave you.

Step 3:
Write your songs about trucks, Saturday night, Dirt Roads, Drinking too much and driving, yesteryear, fields, tractors, barns, blondes and tailgates. Make sure you have a chorus that is easy to remember and is repeated often… Don’t worry… your stuff will never actually make it on the radio… if you have a decent voice and look good you’ll get “label support” which means a team of writers will be penning the song everyone will assume is about your youth.


Step 4:
Oh.. Just hire some session musicians to play on the album… it’ll save you from firing your best friend when the record company decides they are only interested in “carrying” one person.
Anyways…all you need is your acoustic guitar to play the radio stations and tour until the record company buys you a backing band.

Step 5:
 Oh.. I guess I should have mentioned that before… you need the deep pockets of a record company to make it… you know.. so your amazingly polished sound (that has the same sound as 4 other bands with songs in the top 10 this week)  can make its way to corporate radio (cha-ching) and begin a serious rotation (palm greased). Or maybe you can go on some music-based reality TV show. That might work.. if you can get on there... Oooh... or just marry a music exec’s daughter.

So there you have it. Follow these easy steps and you too might just get yourself a duet with the next American Idol winner. All it takes is style, money, a little talent, and a total lack of self-worth.

(Note: If you’re a commercial country singer and you read this… don’t worry, I’m talking about the other ones.. not you. You got it honestly… we can all see that. Love you… have all of your albums).

Good luck out there.

Sean Claes has been a music journalist for about 20 years and he doesn't actually believe the above story to be true… but writing it made him chuckle. I hope it does for you as well. It's humor...OK? Breathe. 

Thanks for reading. 

If you're ACTAULLY looking for advice on being a successful musician... I did a 52-week series of advice for DIY musicians here - link

January 2, 2015

Design Samples - Sean Claes

Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume. I invite you to visit me on LinkedIn - here. Some examples of my design skills can be found via the Web. I’d like to point you to a few of my favorite links.

I was the volunteer Communications Chair of my neighborhood HOA from 2003 - 2007. I completely redesigned the newsletter (from a Microsoft Word product to an InDesign product).
An example of this newsletter from 2005 is here - link

I designed these ads and they ran in different publications.
I used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to create these pieces.

Concerts For A Cause flier (print & web) - 2015

Pumpkin Patch Ad  (Web) - 2015

Newspaper / Magazine flier (Print) 2007

I did the complete design for the following publications.
I am able to bring these in as part of my portfolio is chosen to interview.
They are not available via Web.
NIDRR Success Stories 2002 (link to PDF) 2003

Experience Austin (Official ACVB Publication) - 2000

Explore Magazine (Laredo, TX) - 1995

January 1, 2015

Writing Samples - Sean Claes

Where Have You Been, Sean Claes?

Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume. I invite you to visit me on LinkedIn - here. Some examples of my writing can be found via the Web and my blog. I’d like to point you to a few of my favorite links.

Sean Claes – Examples

Marketing campaigns
While at Dell, I was in charge of Global Communications for a Learning and Development group. This entailed writing communications and campaigns for a variety of audiences including Executives, Managers, Stakeholders and Staff. Unfortunately, the work I did is confidential and because of this, I cannot share samples of my campaign work.

While a Communications Specialist for a Federal Grant by the name of National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research I penned some articles, presented at conferences, and designed products. All were to help market the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).
a.    Here is one of the articles I wrote about Website Accessibility. It was published by the World Institute on Disability in 2004. - link
b.    This is an example of the three posters we produced to promote different grants under NIDRR. These are for the Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems (MSCIS) Projects, Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) Projects and Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) - link
c.     I also conceptualized, collected content, created and edited a publication in 2002 called “Success Stories” that captured “wins” that NIDRR Grantees produced. link

I served as the Communications Chair for my church, the Kyle United Methodist Church for 7 years. During that time I wrote, laid out and edited the monthly church newsletter and produced marketing materials (banners, logos, mailers). I also ran the church Pumpkin Patch.
a.    This is an example a promotional mailer (with a little edge) - front / back
b.    This is an example of the Church Newsletter (from 2014) - link
c.     This is an advertisement I produced to both promote the church and the pumpkin patch. It ran in a Val Pak Advertising mailer -  link

Written communications

During my time as Marketing Manager for Equipment Locator Service (2010) I wrote a number of targeted e-mail campaigns for the business. This was reaching out to Agricultural Equipment Companies to offer web services
a.    Here is an example of what an e-mail looked like. link

I am a founder and the president of a soon-to-be non profit in Kyle, Texas called Concerts For A Cause. We host a monthly concert series to increase awareness of and raise money for area non-profits. We’ve raised over $15k in our first two years.
a.    Here is an example a couple of promotional fliers (I wrote & designed) – Year 1 - link, Year 2 - link
b.    Here is our Website where I’ve written all of the content - link

Other items

In recent months, I’ve been writing a series of Small Business advice columns to help owners of small businesses better understand how to capture customers. One of my blogs was picked up by Austin’s Launch Marketing - link
See the entire series thus far here - link

While working at Roy H. Williams Marketing, I came up with an idea to produce a cookbook, “Gems To Enjoy”  to promote a jewelry store. Seems odd, but people in the community contributed alongside celebrities and the $$ earned from selling the product went to charity. It was a big win for Alter’s. - link

  For the 2008 Buda Lions Club Weiner Dog Races, I wrote this commercial and voiced it as well. The theme of the year was "Nacho Weiner," a play off of the Jack Black movie Nacho Libre. See YouTube video below