Guest Post: Let It Out: Mike Schmid On Miley, Fame, Twitter, And Music For Kids
- October 5th, 2011
- 2 Comments
Today’s guest post comes from our friend Derek Baird who spoke with Mike Schmid, a talented singer-songwriter and highly sought-after musician who has worked with some of the biggest acts in the music business.
In addition to playing keyboards and touring with Miley Cyrus, Mike has played with the Jonas Brothers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sheryl Crow, Kenna, Chantal Kreviazuk, Ed King, Jeffrey Steele, Van Hunt, Aly & AJ and the Corrs as well as many independent singer/songwriters, such as Connie Kim, Right the Stars and Rob Giles. His songs have been featured on the TV shows “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Flashpoint,” “The Real World,” “All My Children,” “The Bad Girls Club,” “Felicity,” “The Black Donnellys” and others. His new album, ‘Let it Out’ is all about expressing yourself in every possible way: dancing, dreaming, painting, singing. The album is for the kids (and kids-at-heart). It is about being yourself in every situation, a message that is resonant to children and adults alike. Derek interviews him below…
Let It Out: Mike Schmid On Miley, Fame, Twitter, And, Music For Kids
Mike Schmid: It’s been a total out-of-body experience. I mean, none of us knew just how big it would become. I came on board right before the Best of Both Worlds tour in 2007, and we watched Miley go from a TV star to an international phenomenon in what seemed like seconds.
Very surreal: screaming teenage girls everywhere we turned, grown men in blonde wigs… It was a blast, and it could not have happened to a nicer person: Miley is the best boss ever. Totally genuine and loyal to her crew. I’m still working with her after 4 years, which is pretty rare in this business.
Fame is fickle, as everyone knows, but she is proof that it doesn’t have to dictate who you are, and it’s more important to take joy in what you do, as opposed to what people think of what you do.
Derek Baird: What are your thoughts on the state of the music business? File sharing. iTunes. Indie music publishing platforms like BandCamp. Where do you see music going in the next five years?
Mike Schmid: I think it’s great. Because people can hear the music before they buy it, it forces artists to up their game. You can’t just release an album with one good song and lots of filler anymore. Every song has to be brilliant. We all win there.
Of course, I hope consumers can be honest and eventually purchase the music if they’re enjoying it, but that doesn’t always happen. In the next five years, I see music becoming more and more social. I’m sure we will invent new ways to interact with and share the artists we like. The gap between artist and fan is lessening to the point where it’s almost non-existent.
Derek Baird: When it comes to marketing your music, you’ve embraced all types of new media, but especially Twitter. Talk about your media strategy and why you decided to embrace social media as both a marketing tool and medium to engage with your fans.
Mike Schmid: As an independent musician who doesn’t have a million-dollar marketing campaign behind me, social media is an absolute no-brainer. This is where the people are. Twitter is something I discovered early, at the recommendation of my friend (and social media expert) Samantha Murphy.
She dragged me kicking and screaming on Twitter back in 2007 (right before I started the Hannah Montana tour). There were like a thousand people on it then. It was a wasteland. And the 140-character limit felt like a burden at first. But it became so much fun speaking in snippets that I became addicted, started thinking in tweets, and I saw my followers grow.
Over the last few years, lots of sites have cropped up and my rule is to have a presence on as many as possible (Mike is on Facebook too). But Twitter is always the cornerstone. Now I can broadcast to my thousands of followers instantly and they can respond immediately. It’s pretty magical.
Derek Baird: You’ve had your music featured on quite a number of television shows. What’s that experience like? As an artist do you experience a bump in sales? Or is it something that gets your name out there and leads to other opportunities?
Mike Schmid: It’s always cool to hear my music in new, dramatic contexts I never imagined. Every time, it brings in new fans and I receive some really cool fan letters about people’s personal experiences with the songs (which is one of my favorite parts of the whole job). There’s usually a big spike in sales that eventually evens out at a higher level than before. There’s really no downside.
Derek Baird: You’ve said that your muse for your new album ‘Let it Out’ was your 4 year old son Noah. What was it like working with him in the studio?
Mike Schmid: It was the most honest collaboration I’ve ever experienced. Grownups filter their thoughts to be diplomatic, but Noah was just totally blunt. He was an unfailing barometer. I would run the lyrics by him and would get anything from “I really like it!” to “that’s boring.”
It kept me in touch with what kids want to hear, but it also helped me rediscover the pure joy of making music for fun. When I first played the finished recording of “Shake It” for him, he started dancing wildly upon hearing the first note and didn’t stop till the end. There’s no more encouraging feedback than that.
Derek Baird: Most music for kids is really pretty formulaic and simple. How is this album different? Who is your audience for ‘Let it Out?’
Mike Schmid: I’ve listened to a lot of kids music since my son was born, and I really wanted to make something very different from what’s out there. So my goal from the very beginning was to be accessible to all ages. My template was much like the Pixar philosophy - it’s all about layers.
I wanted to give the kids very positive messages and music they can dance to, but with themes that are even more resonant for older listeners. The audience is everyone - though it is a very different experience for grownups.
For example, the song “Can You See All the Colors” is, for the kids: a song about all the different colors in the world, but for grownups: it’s about enjoying all the ups and downs of life, and how we are all capable of every feeling there is.
Derek Baird: Explain the thought process behind the choice of ‘Let it Out’ as the title to the album. What does ‘Let it Out’ mean to you?
Mike Schmid: The song “Let It Out” is all about self-expression. The chorus is, “There’s no wrong way to write / You just feel it / Or paint the picture in your mind / You reveal it / And let it out.”
Once I had written it, I knew that was the main idea of this record, letting it all out: your true feelings, your true self. Most of the songs are about that idea in some way or another. There’s a song called “Be Yourself,” a song about dancing out your feelings (“Shake It”), a song about dreaming (“Dream”).
Derek Baird: Is there anything else that Ypulse readers should know about Mike Schmid?
Mike Schmid: Let’s see. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and was classically trained on piano from the age of five. I’m a huge movie buff (the Oscars are my Super Bowl). I have a history in video production and have directed a couple short films. I also used to own and operate a wedding videography company.
Derek is a technologist specializing in the development, planning, implementation and execution of multi-platform (web, TV & mobile) digital media & content experiences focused on the educational media (edutainment), entertainment and digital kid/youth media markets. As a consultant, he advises clients in both the U.S. and international markets. His blog, Barking Robot, has been syndicated in several leading publications and he has published articles in both academic peer reviewed & online industry journals.