Author: Cornish, Rick

Lists within lists within lists

Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where my special, once each year list that’s headed Things to Do Before Grass Valley is mercifully down to a mere 32 items, items like: download book for I-Phone (I listen to books like the twenty-two hunredred page Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire like some folks use ambian…knocks me right out), find, print and learn lyrics to Jaded Love (you know, you old K-FAT listeners, the one that goes, Well I can see you are an angel whose wings just won't unfold; Tune up your harp, polish your old halo; Yeah the only kind of man that you ever wanted; Was one that you knew you'd never hold very long; Sittin' there cryin' like I'm the first one to go…I memorize the lyrics of at least one new song each year before starting the drive to Nevada County); demo old gate at rear of property, buy larger fence and install (at least a half day’s job but necessary to be able to park my old trailer next to my shop so I can do some major upgrades…this item has been on my list for seven years but I finally got ‘er done yesterday; do 12 upgrades to trailer, (which appear on a sub-list headed FIX THE DAMN TRAILER); make new trailer tool box/step to replace crumbling one (the trailer tool box/step is a clever little invention I came up with nine years ago when I accidentally scraped off the original Argosy folding step mechanism on a giant California red oak planted too close to my camp site at Belado Park at GOOFY #11); get bows re-haired (there’s never been a year that I haven’t waited till the last few weeks to accomplish this item, which, naturally, causes me no end of stress given the dearth of people who do hairing in Sonora…probably ten times as many people in the county who do herring); take Bill S. to nice lunch at Black Oak Casino, talk him into putting new bridge on fiddle (this strategy has never failed; and so on…Like I said, down to only 32 items with 23 days left to go.

In a little more than one month I’ll begin my third year of retirement. The first year and a half was a very difficult time in my life; I experienced some real anxiety and depression. My job had always been the one given in my life. It provided a quick, short-hand way to explain to strangers who I was; it was a service job, in public education, so I never had to worry about whether I was doing something for my fellow person; and, best of all, it made prioritizing and scheduling my time simple since my job was both a huge time and energy suck and always at the top of my list. Where else would it be? But then retirement happened and I found myself spending long, rambling run-on sentences telling strangers who I was and what I did, I found myself pondering pretty much on a daily basis whether I was actually accomplishing anything truly worthwhile during my waking hours and, hardest of all I would continually over-book my time because there was suddenly so much of it to keep track of. But it’s been nearly two years now and all that’s leveled out. I still ramble, though not as long, am still a chronic self-doubter/critic but now only at bed time and still find competing entries in my calendar, (e.g., May 30, Giants game with Brooks and Maria vs. appointment with my endocrinologist), but just not as many.

Lately there’s been a confounding element added to my time management conundrum…a few weeks ago I took on a little consulting job for an old high school buddy. (When I went off to college my best friend, Chuck, took an instrument mechanics apprenticeship at the Alameda Naval Air Station…destined to punching a time clock into old age, right? Nearly fifty years later the college graduate is a pensioner on a fixed income and the apprentice sits at the helm of a two hundred and fifty million dollar energy management business. So much for guidance counselors.) Anyways, this is the first writing job I’ve taken since retiring and so far it's been pretty fun, though there are times when those specialized little nubbins of gray matter required for technical writing rebel… Hey, leave us alone. We’ve been sleeping for two years. Go bother some other neural cluster. And then, wouldn’t you know, smack in the middle of a white paper re-write on centralization of HVAC controllers using web-based technology a friend calls and wants help completing her new CD…no, not singing or fiddling, she wants help getting it out the door. So, here’s the good news; half way through writing an email explaining why now was not good for me I received Joe Weed’s Studio Insider column for June. Talk about good timing…

Studio Insider #182 June, 2013
Preparing for a CD release


I’ve recently helped a few clients finish up recording projects for summer CD sales, and thought I’d pass along a few tips for readers who are working on their own recordings. Scheduling the various parts of a project, and then sticking with the schedule, can really help ensure that every aspect of the project gets done well and with the proper amount of deliberation and preparation.

One element that I like to help clients prepare for is the art and graphics package that will accompany the CD project. Once the project has become defined and focused enough that a theme has emerged, it’s a good idea to engage a graphics professional and begin to search for images that express that theme. Images, portrait styles, illustration styles, fonts and colors are all elements that a graphic artist can use to convey the project’s theme to a prospective CD buyer. A good graphics pro will provide an array of choices to the client, who can then look through them and pick elements that work together to express the theme or feeling of the project. Then the graphic artist can work her or his magic with the chosen elements and fashion a unified and cohesive look that conveys the thoughts and feelings of the music.

There are many uses for the graphics that are generated for a project – posters, ads, fliers, web ads, links and prompts, merchandise labels, handouts, etc. It’s wise to discuss these various uses with a graphics pro, who may have some valuable suggestions regarding font selection, image size and complexity, branding, etc.


If the CD artwork is going to include text, such as song lyrics, credits, other communication from the artist, etc., then that text should be submitted to the artist as early in the project as possible, so that layout and proofing can be done while there is still plenty of time to make edits and corrections. It’s not uncommon for recording artists to let the graphics work go slowly until there isn’t enough time for final proofing before manufacturing deadlines arrive. Having a finished graphics project well in advance of deadlines allows an artist to live with the look and feel of the package during the last stages of music production. It also helps give an inspirational boost to everyone on the production team as the project nears its end after a long and focused work process.

Copyright and Clearances

It is the recording artist’s responsibility to check the copyright status of all music that appears on a CD project. Original music written by the recording artist should be registered with the copyright office at the Library of Congress ( to ensure that ownership is well documented. Under today’s law, anything an artist writes is copyrighted in the act of creation, but proving ownership can sometimes be difficult or impossible. Registering a work with the Library of Congress eliminates all doubt if questions about ownership arise.

If a recording project includes music written by somebody other than the recording artist, then the artist must obtain copyright clearance. Fortunately, that is usually easy, as licensing sites are on the internet. Songfile, a service at the Harry Fox Agency’s website,, lists music published by record companies and other publishers, and in the case of multiple songs with the same name, allows a relatively easy determination of ownership. The Harry Fox site exists to make ownership searches easy, and it facilitates the payment of a “statutory rate” that covers mechanical royalties. The statutory rate for use on CDs and permanent digital downloads is currently 9.1 cents per usage of a song if the recording is five minutes or less. Check out the Harry Fox Agency’s website for further information.

See you at Grass Valley!

Please come attend my workshops and say hello:

Friday afternoon - Improve Your Techniques for Bluegrass Fiddle
Saturday Lunch Time - Recording Acoustic Instruments in Your Home Studio

Joe Weed records acoustic music at his Highland Studios near Los Gatos, California. He has released six albums of his own, produced many projects for independent artists and labels, and does sound tracks for film, TV and museums. Joe’s composition “Hymn to the Big Sky” was heard in “The Dust Bowl,” a film by Ken Burns, which premiered nationally on PBS November 18 and 19, 2012. Joe recently produced “Pa’s Fiddle,” a collection of 19th-century American music played by “Pa” Charles Ingalls, father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the “Little House on the Prairie” book series. Reach Joe by calling (408) 353-3353, by email at, or by visiting

Posted:  5/16/2013

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