"A great record is its own best marketing tool." Those words from singer/songwriter Derek Webb echo the motivation of NoiseTrade.com, a new website by which artists can supply their music directly to their fans. After the enormous success of Webb's FreeDerekWebb.com experiment, Webb sought to create a platform for artists and fans to interact.
Here's how it works. An artist uploads his/her music to NoiseTrade.com. You (the consumer) hear about this magnificent website and check it out. Soon, you find an album that you wish to own. No problem. You can download the album after you 1) email three friends about the site or 2) pay what you want. Yes, that's right. Pay what you want. It can be as little as $1 or as much as $25.
Now, you may be asking yourself, "Why are these artists doing this? Don't they realize that they will lose money if people pay what they want?"
But remember the wise words of Derek Webb, "A great record is its own best marketing tool."
Honestly, when it's all said and done, the majority of an artist's income doesn't come from record sales; it comes from ticket sales. You see, a musician's album is a vehicle for getting his/her name out there. The more people know of you, the more opportunities will arise for you. That's what NoiseTrade is all about, allowing artists the chance to get their music out in the marketplace.
Personally, I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. One of the best albums available for download in my opinion is Derek Webb's "The Ringing Bell." You can download it below if you'd like. Believe me, you won't regret giving NoiseTrade a look. But don't take my word for it... see for yourself!
Yes, my friends, it's true. The Muppet characters we all know and love have now officially joined YouTube and have uploaded their first round of hilarious videos. Sam the Eagle, Gonzo the Great, the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and our favorite hecklers Statler and Waldorf have now entered cyberspace to bring Muppet mania to your computer screen. Their renditions of famous pieces of music will bring you to new depths of laughter... enjoy!
Stars and Stripes Forever (Sam the Eagle and friends)
The Blue Danube Waltz (Gonzo the Great and Camilla)
Habanera (The Swedish Chef and Beaker)
Ode to Joy (Beaker)
Statler and Waldorf
Recently, I came across a new book by Gary Chapman called Love As a Way of Life. I haven't finished reading it yet, but what I have read is full of practicality and spiritual truth. Below is a book summary and a special interview with the author himself. Enjoy!
For decades Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling books have shown readers how to speak the “love language” of those they care about. Now he digs even deeper to uncover the foundations of what it means to cultivate a lifestyle of love and how doing so leads to satisfaction and success in every area of life.
Drawing fresh insights from timeless biblical principles, Chapman presents poignant stories of real people who have discovered the joys of living out the seven characteristics of authentic love: kindness, patience, forgiveness, humility, courtesy, generosity, and honesty. Enhanced with eye-opening self tests, practical ideas for building daily habits of love, and inspiring examples of love’s power to change lives, this book guides readers in putting love to work in all of their interpersonal relationships.
Convinced that in a world of constant conflict people desperately need authentic love, Chapman paints a compelling vision of how life can be richer and relationships more satisfying for anyone who practices Love As a Way of Life.
Interview with Gary Chapman
1. Can you describe some of the everyday situations that can be changed if a person has a foundation of love?
When love becomes the focus of ones life it will change every encounter we have with people. In the family, the husband is thinking, “what can I do before I leave for work that would be helpful for my wife?” Such thinking may lead him to take the trash out, put his breakfast plates in the dishwasher or feed the baby while his wife takes a shower.
In the workplace, employees are asking, “on my break, what might I do that would help someone else?” They will also make time to listen to a co-worker who seems to be having a hard time with a personal issue.
At the bank, post office, or cafeteria, the lover will look people in the eye and smile, perhaps opening the door to a conversation. They will express interest in what is going on in the lives of those they encounter.
The focus is not on “it’s all about me.” But, rather on “It is all about others.”
2. What is the take-away message of Love as a Way of Life?
Love as a Way of Life is designed to help the person who sincerely wants to make a positive impact in the world. I believe that is ‘most of us.’ Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how and we keep getting tripped up by our own selfish ambitions. The purpose of the book is to help us break free from the prison of selfishness and come to experience the satisfaction of truly loving others as a way of life. It is little acts of love that build up to a lifestyle of service.
3. Why do you need a foundation of love before you start figuring out our love languages?
The five love languages give information on the most effective way to express love in a meaningful way to a particular person. But, if you are not a loving person – don’t have the heart or will to focus on others – the information is of little value. Most of us must make a conscious change of focus from self to others if we are going to genuinely, and consistently enrich the lives of others. Love as a Way of Life is designed to help people make that change.
4. When did you realize the need for this book?
I first recognized the need for Love as a Way of Life when in a counseling session a husband said to me, “I’ll tell you right now, if it is going to take my washing dishes, and doing the laundry for my wife to feel loved, you can forget that.” I had just explained to him the concept of the five love languages and that his wife’s primary love language was ‘acts of service’ and that these acts would deeply communicate his love to her. I realized that he lacked the will to meet his wife’s need for love. He was locked into his own perception of what his role was to be and it did not include washing dishes and doing laundry. I knew at that moment that there was something more foundational than simply knowing a person’s love language.
5. What are the seven characteristics of lasting love?
I view love not as a single entity, but as a cluster of traits, which if developed will enhance all of life. These traits are:
Kindness: discovering the joy of helping others
Patience: accepting the imperfections of others
Forgiveness: finding freedom from the grip of anger
Courtesy: treating others as friends
Humility: stepping down so someone else can step up
Generosity: giving your time, money, and abilities to others
Honesty: caring enough to tell the truth
6. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to embrace these characteristics?
All of us have some of these characteristics to some degree. Most people see love as being better than hate. But most of us are comfortable to live somewhere between love and hate in a lifestyle that is fundamentally focused on self. We feel good when we are making money, accumulating things, gaining status, but in time these things do not ultimately satisfy what I call the ‘true self’. The true self longs to make the world a better place to live. To do something to help those less fortunate than we.
However, we all suffer from the malady of being ego-centric. I call this the ‘false self’. It is that part of man that pulls him to focus on self-preservation and a self-centered lifestyle. This is not all bad. Indeed we must meet our own physical and emotional needs in order to continue life. It is when we never get beyond this self focus, that life becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world where everyone is out for self even at the expense of others. Such a life never brings long-term satisfaction. However it is often later in life that people discover the emptiness of selfish living. I’m hoping that Love as a Way of Life will help people discover the satisfaction of developing the ‘true self’ earlier in life.
If you'd like to learn more about Gary Chapman's new book, Love As a Way of Life, visit the link below!
There are only two possible disaster scenarios that can occur when you ride on a plane. The first, and most obvious, is a plane crash. The second is losing your luggage.
Hold on. Let me rephrase that second one. The airline loses your luggage.
I recently experienced this disaster firsthand, and I’m now telling you about it to vent my frustration.
It all started in the St. Louis International Airport at the check-in area. Everything was fine until I realized that the airline I was flying on (which will remain anonymous) was charging me $15.00 to check my bag. Miffed at this superfluous surcharge, I reluctantly handed my suitcase over to the airline employee. My flight path would take me through Dallas / Fort Worth to my hometown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My luggage was supposed to follow, but due to the inept nature of several airline employees, it did not.
After arriving late into Fort Lauderdale International (about 10:45 pm), I made my way to the baggage claim. Slowly but surely, the baggage carousel crept along, revealing bag after bag after bag. Time passed, and I soon realized that the crowd around me had begun to thin. And then the carousel stopped.
My bag was not there.
I made my way to the Baggage Claim office to try and straighten things out. After waiting fifteen minutes in line, the woman at the desk told me that my luggage had been left in the Dallas / Fort Worth airport. However, I was soon informed that my suitcase would be placed on the next available flight to Fort Lauderdale, a flight scheduled to arrive at 12:30 am. I described my bag to her and gave her my address so that they could ship it to my house first thing in the morning. She handed me a sheet of paper called a “Property Irregularity Receipt,” and I was on my way.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. When I gave this airline employee my address, I was speaking clearly and concisely. I even spelled out the words “Oakland Park” one letter at a time to make sure that everything was correct. Despite my efforts, I discovered after I had left the airport that the address on the receipt was noticeably different from my actual address. “40th Court” had become “48th Court” (a street which does not exist), and Oakland Park was spelled “Aokland Park.” Maybe my thick South Florida accent got in the way…
We turned around and headed back to the airport. I waited in line again at the Baggage Claim office for several minutes. When I reached the desk, I explained the mistakes, gave her the correct address very slowly, and triple-checked my second “Property Irregularity Receipt” when she printed it out for me. Everything was correct. By this point, it was a little past midnight. Frustrated, I left the airport and got home around 12:45 am.
After coming home, I called my father to explain all that had transpired that evening. During our conversation, he informed me that the airlines only deliver baggage when there is someone present to receive it. Because of my job, I wouldn’t be at my house at all the next day. Thus, my bag would not be delivered to my home. I called the airline’s 1-800 number and pressed “0” frantically until I got hold of an actual representative. I explained the situation, and the operator said that she would make sure my bag wasn’t sent out, but instead left at the Baggage Claim office. I thanked her and hung up. I called my older brother briefly to fill him in on everything and then went to bed around 2:00 am.
I woke up the next morning and emailed my boss, telling him that I would be late to work that day. My plan was to head to the airport in the morning around 8:30 or 9:00 am to pick up my luggage and head back to work. Problem solved, right? Well, when I reached the Baggage Claim office (for the third time now), I was told that my luggage had missed the 12:30 am flight. However, I was soon informed that my suitcase would be placed on the next available flight to Fort Lauderdale, a flight scheduled to arrive at 11:05 that morning. This all sounds too familiar, I thought to myself. The man I spoke with also told me that he would call my cell phone as soon as he had my luggage, which he said would be around noon. I thanked him and left for work. My new plan was to wait for the call and stop by the airport during my lunch break.
Before I continue, here’s a little side note I’d like to share with you. The cell phone that the airline was going to call had very low battery that day. Why didn’t I charge it the previous day? Because my charger was unavailable to me. Where was it? Yep, you guessed it. It was in my suitcase. Thankfully, my battery didn’t die until later that day.
Back at work, I kept my eyes on the clock. 11:00… 11:30… 12:00… 12:30… 1:00, and still no call. Fearing that making a call might drain the battery on my cell phone, I used a work phone to call the airline. After pressing “0” several times, I spoke with a representative about the status of my bag. Checking her computer records, she said, “It says here that your bag was picked up this morning at 10:30 am.” I informed her that I had not picked up my bag this morning, and she agreed to send a notice to the Baggage Claim office.
Now my biggest fear was that someone else had stolen my bag, and there was no real way to find out except to visit the airport for a fourth time. I gave them another hour and a half to call me, and when they didn’t, I got in my car and drove over to the airport around 2:30 pm. I explained my situation and handed them my “Property Irregularity Receipt.” The woman at the desk took my paper and began to look around the office for my bag like she was looking for the remote control. I’m sure she was thinking, It’s gotta be here somewhere.
As she was looking, the man I had spoken with that morning came out of a back room. He recognized me and began to help me. While looking up my records on the computer, he asked me if I’d like to help them. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Would you like to step into the back room and see if you can identify your bag?” Puzzled, I agreed. As I stepped into the back room of the office, I felt like I was breaking several federal laws. After all, who can say that they’ve entered the inner sanctum of the Baggage Claim office? As I scanned for my luggage, I noticed two workers sitting in the back room watching TV and munching on some snacks. Not very surprising, I thought to myself. They looked at me strangely as I surveyed the room, as if I shouldn’t be there. After failing to locate my luggage, I returned to the outer office.
The man at the computer said that my luggage may have missed the 11:05 flight, but he wasn’t very sure. After a little more research, he realized that the flight had been delayed. Instead of arriving at 11:05 in the morning, it had arrived about 3:00 that afternoon. At that point, it was 3:15 pm. “Carousel #8 has the luggage from that flight coming in. If you stand over there, you might find it,” he said. I rushed over to the carousel and waited impatiently for the luggage to start rolling in.
Eventually it did, and I watched as bag after bag passed me by. Nothing. The crowd began to thin, and my spirits began to wane. And then, my bag appeared. The carousel stopped. I hurried over to my bag and picked it up. I’m not exaggerating here: it was the second-to-last bag. But there it was, good as new. Exhausted but satisfied, I loaded my bag in the car and drove away from the airport. After four visits and a dozen or so blunders, I don’t want to go back to the airport for a long, long time.
With Independence Day on the minds of Americans this weekend, I felt it fitting to share this song by Ben Shive. It is simply entitled, "4th of July." I hope you enjoy it!
The first star of the evening
Was singing in the sky
High above our blanket in the park
And by the twilight's gleaming
On the 4th day of July
The city band played on into the dark
And then a cannon blast
A golden flame unfolding
Exploded in a momentary bloom
The petals fell and scattered
Like ashes on the ocean
As another volley burst into the blue
But the first star of the evening never moved
We stood in silence
The young ones and the old
As the bright procession passed us by
A generation dying
Another being born
A long crescendo played out in the sky
This nation, indivisible
Will perish from the earth
As surely as the leaves must change and fall
And the band will end the anthem
To dust she will return
So the sun must set on all things, great and small
But the first star of the evening
Will outlive them all