Suzanne VanRandwyk

The modern, online musician

July 30th, 2012 at 3:19 pm by under Uncategorized

Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World”. That’s great! You’re a musician. You love to sing. You know enough songs to fill a two-hour set. Now what?

In the old days, you had to pound the pavement from place to place, just to meet people who MIGHT want to listen to you. First you had to write and record your songs. You had to snail mail (aka. the U.S. Postal Service) your demo tapes to record labels and hope that they like them. If they liked you and actually recorded an album, then you had to use snail mail again to send the albums to as many radio stations as you could afford. Hopefully, they played your song and you were slowly on your way.

Luckily, things are very different today. Yes, there are still record labels, but for many musicians, it’s easier to get started on their own. Technology and the Internet have many tools available to help a musician record, upload and promote their tunes!

The first step is writing the song.  If you’re just beginning, there are some local options. Girl Guitar offers a songwriting class that runs six weeks. If you’re not into the classoom scene, then you might want to check out the Austin Songwriters Group which is in its 25th year of serving Austin songwriters. There’s also a songwriting group on Meetup.com and another on a Facebook Songwriter page.  A songwriting software such as Masterwriter is invaluable. I use it every day.

The second step is finding someplace to play the song. Now I know that some people might want to record it first but I like to actually try it out before I put the effort into recording it. Austin has some great open mic venues and there is a Facebook Austin Open Mic page that lists almost all of them.  Gigmaven is another great source for finding venues to perform at.

Next, you’ll need musicians to play with you. Where do you find them? You can meet some great people at the open mics. But you can also access some amazing networking resouces online.  Musolist  is a website that specializes in locating other musicians. There’s also a Facebook page for people looking for gigs and bandmates

Then it’s on to recording. The traditional route is to sign with a record label and have them pay for the recording.  But, let’s face it, for the most of us, that’s just not going to happen. We’re going to have to find a studio and pay for it ourselves. Luckily, the Austin Texas Business List  has a recording studio page as does the Texas Music Office. Or, as a beginner you could record the songs yourself at home using your own computer. Garage Band is probably the most popular recording software. The down side is that it only works on Macs, iPads and iPhones. There’s also Band In A Box, which I use to get the basics of the song down. Another option is to create a page on a website that allows you to collect payments from fans to help finance your time in the studio. The two that I’ve seen used are Pledgemusic and Kickstarter. The upside of going this route is that YOU get to decide how to spend the money. The down side is that you have to hope that your fans make enough pledges to pay for your project.

Once you have some songs recorded, you need to get them out to the public. Digital is the way to go. Sure, you still want to make physical CDs that you can sell at venues or mail to customers. But, in the meantime, there are several websites that provide platforms to market and sell your music. MuniteCDBabyNumubu and Reverbnation all offer ways to connect with other musicians, producers, studios and, most importantly, the public. You can upload your songs and videos, send invites to people via connections to your Facebook and Twitter pages. 

The Internet has literally brought the entire process into our own homes with so many different ways of reaching out to the masses. It has empowered all aspiring musicians and singers to take control of their careers instead of being dependant on others who might not share the same ideas of how it should be done. 

So at the end of the day, there is no reason for anyone who wants to sing and record their own songs to not pursue their dreams.  I can’t wait to hear some of the songs that come from your dreams! Best of luck!


Fair Bean Coffee Open Mic

July 11th, 2012 at 4:41 pm by under Photo/Video

Every Friday for the past 3 years, Amy Zamarippa has been hosting an open mic at Fair Bean Coffee at 2210 South 1st Street in South Austin. On Friday, July 6th, I joined her for some great tunes and poetry. Amy opened with some of her original songs, “New Day”, “Rose”, “Come to the Water”, Big Sexy”, and a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Can’t Quit You Baby”.

Smoky Talmanson joined Amy on harmonica for her original song “Cobalt Blues” and then went on to play & sing covers of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”, WildWood Flower”, a patriotic medley of “America The Beautiful”, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “This Land is Your Land”. He closed his set with a cover of “Faded Love”. 

Next up was D7 with three of his own songs, “London”, The Celery Stalks at Midnight” and “Baby Blue Tweets”. I took the mic next with my originals “Believe In Yourself”, When Will You Know” and “Movin’ On”. It was really fun to do and the response from the audience was great! After I finished we had some original poetry readings by Thom Woodruff. 

Next up was Preston Smith with his original tunes, “Wild Woman”, “Father Mother Sister Brother” and “Two White Horses”.  Chase Kreger followed with his original songs “Never Know”, “Five In The Morning” and “Despite Tonight”. From there we moved on to Justin Follin who entertained us with original songs “The Sweetness of the South”, “Izabella’s Waltz” and “From the Cavern In the Dirt”.

Closing out the show was Gary Devries with his original song “Crows Have Flown” and two covers, Guy Clark’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey” and Slaid Cleave’s “Broke Down”.  We played from 5PM until 7:30Pm and had a blast sharing our music and making new friends.

So this Friday or the next, stop on by Fair Bean Coffee after work and join us either as part of the audience or step up behind the mic for some real fun! See you there! 

Click here to see the photos!


SXSW – 3 Days To Go

March 6th, 2012 at 4:11 pm by under Uncategorized

I’m really excited about this year’s film selection at South By Southwest. I’m busy choosing which ones to review. Stay tuned!


Noise Revival Orchestra

November 2nd, 2010 at 10:23 pm by under Photo/Video

The Noise Revival Orchestra

Every once in a while I get to meet a unique and interesting artist or group. The Noise Revival Orchestra  definately qualifies as unique and interesting. They put an orchestra spin on modern music. Here are two of there songs along with an interview about their music.  You can also find them on Myspace and Facebook.

They’ll be appearing at Stubbs at 801 Red River in Austin on November 6th, 2010. The show starts at 8:00pm. Swing by and check them out.

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Austin Film Festival – Review of “Planet World”

October 29th, 2010 at 3:49 pm by under Photo/Video

Planet World

How would I describe “Planet World”? Strange. Silly. Funny. Hilarious. If you like sci-fi movies, go see this film. If you like Saturday Night Live, go see this film. If you like to laugh, go see this film. It’s “Saturday Night Live” meets “Planet of the Apes” meets “Star Trek”. 

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Austin Film Festival – Review of “Company Men”

October 28th, 2010 at 12:47 pm by under Photo/Video

The Company Men

This review contains “spoilers”.

When I went to see “The Company Men” at the Austin Film Festival 2010, I wasn’t sure what to expect since it was a last minute addition. Having seen it, I think  it’s a good movie. The acting is great, as it should be, given the acting pedigrees of the cast members Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson and Maria Bello. They all did a fantastic job.

But I am still a bit confused about the main point of the film. Is it a “feel good movie” about surviving the economic crash or is it meant to show how awful corporate greed is and how it destroyed more than jobs?

I liked that the movie showed how Bobby Walker’s family became closer even though they lost their home, the fancy car and all the other “toys” from their “pre-layoff” lives. I like that it showed Bobby’s emotional growth and the growth of his relationship with his brother-in-law.

What I did not like about the movie was how apathetic it was to the true depth of destruction the economic crash caused.  I don’t think it shows the damage after Phil Woodward takes his own life. It left too much to the imagination…sugar coated the aftermath. When Bobby Walker and his wife are discussing the selling of their home and the struggle to pay their bills, it didn’t show the true anger that every person in that situation would have felt, no matter HOW much they got along and loved each other. The transition from affluent to losing everything but each other, was much too soft…sugar coated. When Gene McClary finds out that he’s been let go along with Phil, does he react in anger? No. He goes and sleeps with the woman who fired them all.  James Salinger continues to spend money, building his new office, even while more employees are let go. The film does not give closure on his character, leaving the viewer unsure if he’s still out there living the lush life and not being held accountable for his greedy actions.

I realize that it is just a movie and we each bring our own backgrounds when we watch it. And I really do like this film. “The Company Men” is a good movie that celebrates Bobby Walker’s family coming together in adversity. It just left me scratching my head a bit over “what” the movie was really about.


Austin Film Festival – Review of “The Legend of El Limbo”

October 25th, 2010 at 6:18 pm by under Photo/Video

Writer/Director Michael Suter describes his film, “The Legend of El Limbo“, as “The Three Amigos” meets “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“. I think it’s more a case of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” meets “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.

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Austin Film Festival – Review of “Exporting Raymond”

October 25th, 2010 at 12:41 pm by under Photo/Video

Phillip Rosenthal (photo courtesy of Austinfilmfestival.com)

If you like to laugh, then you MUST pray that ”Exporting Raymond” gets released into our theaters! I honestly cannot remember ever hearing an audience laugh so loudly or so often as I did when the film was shown at the Austin Film Festival on Thursday, October 21st, 2010.

The film is brought to us by Philip Rosenthal and Sony Pictures. Rosenthal created and executive produced the comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond”.  “Exporting Raymond” is the true story about his attempt to turn “Everybody Loves Raymond” into a Russian sitcom. In the film, he once again proves his ability to find the “funny” in any situation, whether it’s a family or an international cultural divide…or an uptight costume designer who thinks she’s prepping for the fashion runways in Paris rather than dressing an every day housewife.

My favorite scenes were the ones where he looked into the camera with the expression of a deer caught in the headlights, as if to say “Wha..? Is it me or…?”. Of course, that look…combined with the rest of the particular scene, makes you “instantly GET IT”…and the laughing starts all on it’s own. It’s a beautiful thing! What an absolutely fabulous way to kick of the festival. 

So that just leaves me to say, “Thank you, Phil Rosenthal! Thank you so very much for the wonderful gift of laughter. I wish you would release all of clips that were edited out.”

P.S. – Also, Phil, you are just as great in front of the camera as you are behind the words!


Austin Film Festival – Interviews from Days 1 & 2

October 24th, 2010 at 4:16 pm by under Photo/Video

Austin Film Festival 2010

Sadly, the Flip camera that I used to record all of my interviews on days 1 and 2 went for a “walk” while I was in the restroom at the Paramount during Friday’s showing of “Peep World”.  Thankfully, nothing else went for a stroll with it. I am still, naively, hoping that someone will turn it in to the Paramount office.  For those of you whom I interviewed, my sincere apologies. I will try to reconnect for a followup interview about your entrees in the festival.


Austin Film Festival – Day 1

October 23rd, 2010 at 11:41 am by under Photo/Video

Austin Film Festival 2010

The main thing that I wanted to do on the first day of the Austin Film Festival was to find out how it all worked. As a “first-timer”, just trying to figure out WHERE to start was the hardest part! After reading about the different panels, I decided to try “The Business of Screenwriting” and “Breaking In and Staying In”.

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