Do What You Love / Do The Work

26 Apr

I have been sitting with the knowledge of a long term dream of mine come true for a few weeks now.

It’s a bit of a weird, specific type of dream, in a niche part of the already niche-d out world we all inhabit. The music business is full of little corners of opportunity, those corners sitting right next to dead ends and wrong ways and all the stuff that keeps musicians wondering, “What are we even doing?” when we have coffee together for moral support and inevitably sigh and make a pact to keep doing “it,” whatever “it” is.

I am a long time purveyor of acoustic singer-songwriter type songs. I have done it since high school, and I have written with my folk writing heroes on my shoulder since way back then. I value that education, hours spent absorbing and dissecting some of the world’s greatest songwriters.

When my tastes shifted in my late-20’s to OHMIGOD POP MUSIC…I kept those worlds a little separate. Play acoustic guitar, keep erudite folk tastes, listen to pop music in the car. Taylor Swift’s Red album (her country-folk-pop hybrid project) was really one of the first to merge the two worlds for me, and I realized a pop song’s heart is in the melody and the emotion, not necessarily the amount of bass and synth added onto it. (But bass and synth are important, don’t get me wrong). I kept listening to Gaga and Taylor and Betty Who and Imogen Heap and Carly Rae Jepsen and I of course kept writing songs. Sure enough, over the months and years, the melodies coming from my head and out of my mouth got more pop-oriented. Verse structures changed a little (after a lot of studying…it is so hard to break out of the rule of 4 lines everywhere in folk music).

While Rihanna would not walk in and yell “THAT IS A HIT!” (I mean, maybe she would I don’t know Rihanna)…my sound changed because I was listening to what I loved…and through song osmosis (songmosis), it bled into my work.

In person and on the social medias, my pop obsessions were met with some support, mostly general amusement, and some occasional comments in the “why do you listen to that sh*t” vein. Comments which, Dear Reader, if I had as thick of skin as I wish I had, would bounce right off. My thin skinned pleaser self sometimes had a hard time embracing loving something so much and having the music-centered folk around me dismiss it, or actively diss it. Then my friends would ask why I cared so much about what they thought anyway, which made me care MORE. Kind of hard to really make free art when you’re thinking about that. I’ve gotten better at doing my thing over the years, and it bothers me less, most of the time…usually.

Writing a folk-pop melody on guitar and transferring that to a recording…that’s a whole other big long process. One I initially thought was unobtainable. I didn’t really know someone interested in making that music with me, and I was weirdly too scared/intimidated to ask around about it. Enter fate and Mark Addison, a great producer with a fantastic pop ear and the synths to match. We got to work.

We put out the onetwothreescream EP last July – my songs, his awesome pop production, both our brains working together for the pure joy of it. I did walk into this project telling Mark that one of my goals was to find out more about sync licensing, and to make something that we thought was licenseable. We did that, while never giving up the integrity of the lyrics or the spark of inspiration…we went with the flow, and the flow turned out pretty great, I think. And…(I think this fact is very important), when I walked into the studio one day early on in our process, Mark had pulled up Taylor Swift’s reputation album and was making sure what we ended up with compared sonically from mix to master. That was a big giant YES moment for me, because it’s always good to look to a gold standard when you’re in the studio zone, and that was my current gold standard.

When Lit came out, I spent several days parked on the couch sending out press release emails to music bloggers and whatnot. We didn’t have a promo budget, but I had time and lots of email addresses in a spreadsheet. I sent things everywhere. We heard back from a few. Such is how the whole thing goes when you are your own publicist.

Getting a song into a movie, as has been my goal forever? I had no idea where to turn. There are websites you can submit things to, but in this wild west of internet+music, it’s hard to tell who is trying to scam you and, most likely, take your submission money $30 at a time. Sometimes it’s legit, sometimes it’s not. (Usually it’s not).

Our summer pop EP met fall and winter, and other projects happened and life went on, and that weird film+TV licensing thing kept coming up in conversations but no answers were ever really found. There are gatekeepers, a lot of “who you know,” and a lot of “maybe you should move to L.A.” which I mean…I would and maybe I will one day.

Queue an email a couple weeks ago from a sync licensing company run by a real person in a real office, with a really cool reel of film, TV, and ad placements. He liked onetwothreescream. Would we be interested in having our music in his pitch library?


I mean, after some googling and a contract, YES.

How did he find us? From a review on one of those blogs we submitted the EP to last summer…9 months ago. The most random thing, and then not random at all. We made music with strong intentions. We sent it out into the world. Someone heard it. Here we are.

Can I answer the “how do you get our music licensed?” question now? Heck no. And while, for the purposes of optimistic thinking and laws of attraction, let’s say onetwothreescream will end up on something somewhere due to this new opportunity, nothing has happened yet aside from there being a little more possibility of something happening. Welcome to the music business. (Welcome to life?)

I wish I had a more concrete lesson here, because I like to share lessons. That is a really meandering path I just described in this really meandering essay.

I am just really grateful. Grateful to Mark for taking this project on with me. Grateful to the blog that wrote about us. Grateful for the real life validation from someone outside our circle that hey, we made a good sounding thing in line with our goals. Grateful to Taylor Swift for being an example of morphing your sound and going after your true self in your art. Grateful to my heart for beating so loud when I hear something that moves me.

I’m learning to do/make/write/follow/be what I love…and as for the rest of the trappings of all this stuff…shake it off.

7 Responses to Do What You Love / Do The Work


Carole Coburn

April 26th, 2019 at 5:53 pm

I l❤️Ve you!




April 26th, 2019 at 6:11 pm

NO YOU <3 <3



April 26th, 2019 at 8:11 pm

Yay! (I’m listening to Lit on Bandcamp right now. So good.)



April 26th, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Jana, that is so awesome. Congrats on cracking part of the nut and taking this step forward!



April 26th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Thanks so much Scott! More steps forward!



April 26th, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Heck to the yes! Keep that grateful vibe up, and keep doing the work. Something will come!



April 27th, 2019 at 6:46 am

Wow… just wow Jana. I’m so proud of you and love to read the unabashedness of this post. Xoxoxo You are killing it.

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