Small Changes

You might notice some small changes around here. I've cleaned up the right sidebar and the tabs up top.

One of the things that is interesting about slowly adopting and growing into the self-definition of a songwriter is watching old expectations and theories fall away as they get replaced with new ones. They can be as minor as believing it's essential to have all my social links on the right sidebar. I guess I've switched to thinking that cleanliness is more organized and more attractive to whoever might come and blaze through the site. In the future I'll probably rework my bio (it's already a bit dated) and maybe the site design itself.

She Believes (v3)

4:31 minutes

At about the time his daughter turned five, a buddy of mine started telling her goodnight stories. Except, this guy grew up reading comic books, so his idea of telling goodnight stories was to tell her the story of Darth Vader, and of Superman. There was something about that that I thought was so funny, and kind of touching too. So that eventually turned into this song.

This new version of the song is probably the last one until the cd. This has drums and upright bass and is closer to my overall concept for the song. Some great energy provided by Scott Townsend on drums and Chris Gustafson on upright bass. Previous versions of the song can be found in the Bone Yard.

If you enjoy this song, feel free to download and share, but please sign up for my mailing list. Thanks!

More Awards

One of those occasional GarageBand awards came my way today... Damn My Eyes won "Best Mood in Alternative Pop, week of 9Mar2009" today. Here's the song page, where you can also check out a few of the reviews.

Give the Music a Boost

Each time I post a new song to my site, I'm hoping for another microscopic (or macroscopic) boost to find new fans. But creating the music isn't enough, I have to find new ways to get the word out - and that's where you can help.

The number one best method is for you to use your own creativity - if you think there are professional opportunities for any of my songs, then go ahead and follow up and see what happens - it couldn't hurt! But beyond that, here are some simple ideas:

  1. If you're on facebook, join my facebook group. Facebook is a highly connected place and it's very possible to recommend music to friends and start pushing things in a viral direction.
  2. Check out my player on the right sidebar - there are ways to share it and republish it on your own web page or blog.
  3. Go through the links on my right sidebar and if you have any memberships to any of the relevant sites, "add" me, "like" me, do whatever seems appropriate to boost my numbers - most of these sites react to additional popularity by increasing the likelihood a song will be recommended to new people.
  4. Simply recommend the site or the songs to friends you know - the more people on my mailing list, the better.
  5. Send me suggestions! I'm always curious about other effective ways to get the word out.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on writing new songs and coming up with enough repertoire to be able to gig in a variety of circumstances. In addition to the songs on the Songs tab, beyond Damn My Eyes, I have two more songs completed, one other mostly completed, and three others in workshop mode. They'll all exist soon enough.

Damn My Eyes

4:58 minutes

You're at a bar and you see someone amazing. What do you do about it?

This one has some great playing from Steve Turmell and Chris Gustafson on drums and bass respectively. From a recent live rehearsal in my living room.

If you enjoy this song, feel free to download and share, but please sign up for my mailing list. Thanks!

Acoustic Conversations Podcast

I'd like to point you all to a very cool project that I'm participating in. Acoustic Conversations is a show where singer-songwriters are interviewed about their life, career and music, and also perform several live unplugged versions of their songs. They're professionally recorded and the whole show - interview and songs - is made available for download to all the show's listeners, through a podcast format.

Pete Wright and I are the hosts of this show, and we've got an active season planned, with a couple of episodes already live. We just pushed live the Sam Wegman episode, and we just recently pushed live the Tyler Stenson episode, as well.

The show appears to be getting popular quickly, as the fans of each musician adopt the show and check back for further episodes. We're finding several amazing musicians from the region and beyond and will be releasing new episodes over the foreseeable future. If you want to get some good high-quality tracks from independent musicians and also hear what makes them tick, come check it out at There is also a facebook group that gives early access to the songs if you join it.

Vagabond Blues

I dug up one of my old songs from my back catalog. This song isn't particularly representative of my current direction (for one thing, there are no instruments), but I'm fond of the memory. College a cappella goodness, and much more difficult a song than those guys had any business being subjected to. Kudos to them for getting through it. Vagabond Blues.

Mississippi Songwriter's Showcase, 2/11/09

I got an email from Dan Lowe that tonight was the final songwriters showcase at Mississippi Pizza - I haven't been for a while and decided to attend. I went with Pete, with whom I'm co-hosting Acoustic Conversations (more on that later).

Turns out it's not really the final songwriters showcase in Portland, it's just happening at a new location now. It was a fun night, though. It was a sparsely attended open mic night (I still haven't figured out where the busy open mics are), so the people who attended got to play multiple songs. There were a few people there also that weren't there to play, so it was a nice audience of 15-20 people.

I didn't have any intention of playing; didn't bring my keyboard or anything. But after they got through the first round, Dan good-naturedly heckled me from the stage a bit and I agreed to go up and play a couple of songs using the upright piano.

I chose to do My Favorite Clown and She Believes. This was technically my third gig. It's fun how in these early stages, there are all these firsts. This is the first time I've performed live on a real piano, and I prefer it. Sound-wise I prefer even an upright to a keyboard, I think.

The audience was great and I was pleased at how comfortable I felt up there. I think I could get used to this!

Art Musings - After The Rain

Another Kasey Baker painting, in response to my piano musings.

After The Rain is the second part of a two-part improvisation sequence exploring tension and release. As always, the piano music was made up on the spot, and the art was done similarly and quickly, with no planning ahead of time.

After The Rain

"The rush of the storm has passed. The only things that got washed away were those things you can do without."

Silly Facebook Marketing

So one of the cultural realities of being an online musician is the whole routine of trying to find fans. There's all this advice out there about how to not approach finding fans. You're supposed to not talk about yourself, but also sell yourself, but only ask others about themselves, but find support, but not look for them, but make it easy for them to sign up, but don't look too available, and... urf, this reminds me of my dating life. It's ridiculous.

So, this all plays out over in facebook too. About a year ago I created a facebook "fan" page, because it seemed like that was what you were supposed to do. Then I wrote my facebook friends and asked them to become a fan, but you know, only if they were interested! And then I watched the fans roll in... well, not. Because at the time I only had fifty or sixty friends, which translated to about twelve fans.

It's amazing how your first impression of something - a price, any number, whatever - can set your economic expectations. Twelve fans! You immediately make that data point somehow line up to being roughly proportional to your amount of output. So maybe writing another song would mean two more fans. I completely accepted my twelve fans and took that to mean I only had about twelve people on facebook that were interested in hearing more. I'd dreamily fantasize about the days of reaching 20. (I have 19 right now.)

Well a couple of weeks ago one of my college-age buddies got all ridiculous with facebook and created an event for himself and managed to invite 900 people to it. Which led me to look more into facebook's different viral marketing approaches. Here's what I found.

  1. Fan pages suck. They're really only for entities that have a large devoted following already. They're not viral. They get indexed by google which is cool and all, but it's not the way to build your fan base. If you want to write your fans, it doesn't even go to their inbox.
  2. Group pages are great. They don't do as much as fan pages, but you can email all group members, and group members can easily invite others to join the group.
  3. Events are nifty because you can invite every one of your friends to the event, and you can even email the entire guest list - even if they haven't rsvp'd yet

So I figured, to heck with it. My facebook friends are already my friends. They're not going to hate me. (Please don't hate me!) They won't mind getting a firm invitation from me to join a group - it's not like I'm pestering their inboxes all the time with gigs or anything.

And by now I have about 215 friends on facebook anyway - too many to email 20 at a time. So, I created a group, the Curt Siffert Music Fan Club. And I invited everyone to a group, even though that won't show up in their facebook inbox.

And then I created an event giving instructions on how to join the group, and I invited everyone to the event - and then emailed them all with similar instructions. The event is also three weeks long, so it will be in their sidebar for a while until they RSVP.

You can see - I basically decided, to hell with the blasé approach. I said, "I promise I will make you happy!" and "I need your ears to make my fingers work!" To hell with shame, right? And depending on how people have their facebook configured, they're getting pounded with three notification emails (sorry, Kira) in addition to the facebook inbox message.

Response rate is vastly different. Most people are joining the group. More than 3/4 still have yet to respond, and 40 have already joined. Plus, they can invite their friends if they want. So now I have an outlet to send out my next new song, and ask them to add it to their profile or invite their friends if they like it. And I'm looking back at the 12 fans I have on my fan page and scratching my head at the whole thing. Sometimes it really is just about how you ask.

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© 2007 Curt Siffert. Some audio protected with a Creative Commons license.
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