Photography and a visual ‘presence’ is essential in music, it’s as important as the music itself.

Photography by Kenny Schick – Kenny is a music producer, engineer, singer songwriter & photographer, living in Nashville TN (from the Bay Area CA)  (see more photos here)

Having great photos shows people who you are, in the crowded arena of music how you look is going to get attention and supports the music you make.

Mike Drew – country artist – – has a song called ‘Maybe It’s the Whiskey’ – photography by Kenny Schick

Music is as much a visual thing as it is audio.

When I check out new music it is not just an amazing song that grabs my attention first off it’s usually a photo, that tells me ‘who’ the artist is, is it someone I can relate to or be inspired by, are they quirky, unique, interesting and what genre are they. People are drawn in whole to an artist. It’s not just about your music but what you believe in and your ‘style’ that attracts like minded people to you. Your audience wants to relate to you and it might be that you just look like someone who I would want to be associated with or be friends with. It’s simply about making a good first impression on your potential new fan. People want to feel ‘connected’ and that they are a part of something. I like an artist more if who they are comes across in photos and video.

What you’re all about should reflect in your music as well as your ‘image’, your photos, your videos, what you support etc… I guess I’m saying don’t let your music down by not having a good visual representation of who you are.

I don’t know how many albums I’ve bought purely because of the cover or a picture of an artist – by flipping through albums in a music store I discovered Gillian Welch and Blonde Redhead and they are my two most favorite artists now and I consider myself a superfan. Sometimes I found gold that way and other times I felt like the cover misrepresented what was on the inside… ha just like people. Once I’m a fan of an artist, seeing exciting beautiful images of them makes me like them even more and certainly makes me interested in a new song, video or album. It’s another element to them that for me is just as important as the audio of them.

For some musicians thinking visually can sometimes be a challenge, but knowing what kind of photo you should have depends on who you are and what your music is all about. What are you trying to say in a photo and who are you trying to attract. It’s a bit of soul searching but with some spit and polish added to it. Its important to understand and know who you really are and be confident in that, and know who your audience is and then attract them to you. If you’re having a hard time trying to figure it out, then copy the best… what is your music likened to (sounds like….) how are they portraying themselves, and what attracts you to them, then do something similar to that. Don’t be shy about it, push it, go beyond your comfort level, you’re an artist right, a performer so go perform. If people like what they see they will explore you, find and listen to your music, hopefully love you and support your music by buying your music and merchandise.

Good photography and videos give your music a better chance of being heard!

Contact Kenny about Photography

Our aim is to empower our clients and fellow artists!

Artist: LeGrand Hutchings – Album Thoughts Along The Way – produced and recorded by Kenny Schick – Photography by Kenny Schick

Kenny and I both come from a do it yourself mentality when it comes to… well everything, especially our music career. Kenny wanted to record himself because he wanted to record more and experiment and that gets expensive. So he learnt how to do it for himself and then took those skills to do it for others. He’s happy to pass on his knowledge to artists who want to know how to do things themselves. He loves it when artists go to the trouble of figuring out things themselves like recording themselves and bring him just tracks to produce and mix. We run a business yes, but more importantly we are part of a music community. We are also recording and performing musicians so feel like we really understand the people we work with.

We love the idea of a creative community of musicians who help each other and we can all together find success (whatever that means to you). We encourage artists to support each other by going to local shows and buying local music. If you don’t do it, how can you expect others to support you! It’s a community not a competition! We ‘create’ a music scene and listening to each other not only inspires us but helps us learn to get better.

Venues, especially for singer songwriters and ‘quieter’ acts are becoming more hard to find and if people stop going to see live music the venues will have no choice but to shut their doors. My dream has always been to have a venue and perhaps one day that will happen mean while, there are some great venues in our area that support the local scene.

The Art 44 Race Street San Jose, CA 95126 – they support singer songwriters and have some great singer songwriter nights on their roster.

The Poor House DOWNTOWN SAN JOSE 91 South Autumn Street, San Jose, CA 95110 – they have a lot of blues there but also an open mic for singer songwriters

There are of course more and you are welcome to add them in the comments! Tell other songwriters about venues!

We have an amazing, talented and exciting music community – do music, love music and listen to others’ music! Learn from others, support others as you would like to be supported, basically treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself and music will continue to be important and vital to our lives.

Some great new artists to check out:


NAMM Music & Recording Gear mega conference.

The NAMM conference in Anaheim CA is the largest music and recording gear event in the world. Thousands attend from musicians, recording people like producers, engineers and musicians to teachers of music.

Although I’ve been heavily involved in the music industry for decades, I’ve somehow managed to never attend the NAMM show in Anaheim—until this year. It’s all quite overwhelming to a ‘NAMM virgin’, and it took most of the first day to adjust to being around 100,000 other music industry folks all dying to see the latest gear, attend lectures by industry leaders, hear music, and, of course, join other hopefuls in spotting rock stars.

Once I got a general feel for the layout of the show and a general idea how it was organized, I settled in a bit and was able to lose myself in the staggering amount of gear and products that are out there–instruments from the large makers down to the quirkiest boutique makers, software, DJ gear, accessories, and some of the best people watching you can imagine. It is a cacophony of sound and a visual assault that would cause an agoraphobic spontaneously combust.

I did my share of drooling both in the pro audio section and on many really cool instruments, but for me, the lectures were the most thought provoking and insightful part of the event. It was the panels that gave me the most food for thought about where this rapidly changing industry might actually be heading, and how I as a business owner within this industry might navigate these unsettled waters for a successful future.

The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology

One panel that was particularly interesting to me and got my juices flowing in both good and bad ways was called ‘The Global Impact of Disruptive Music Technology’. With panelists Jack Joseph Puig (multi-platinum producer), Marcus Ryle (founder/president of Line 6), Steve Slate (Slate Digital), Dr. Jeffery Smith (founder/ceo Smule), and Ernst Nathorst-Boos (ceo Propellorhead), the discussion focused on technologies that disrupt and challenge traditional practices in recording and making music.

Here at Basement 3 Productions, advancements in virtual instruments (particularly drums and strings in my case) have really been helpful in allowing me to make top notch recordings for singer songwriters at a price that an independent musician can handle. Though even with the minimal use of virtual instruments here at B3P, one downside is that I’ve replaced the need to hire out work to fellow musicians in some instances, but I can pass on savings to clients. With just this small example, one can see potential dilemmas, like we have certainly seen as well with the rise of digital media (mp3, AAC, etc) replacing physical media (CDs, tapes, records) and it’s impact on music sales/profits. Dr. Jeffery Smith’s company, Smule, is particularly in the front lines of the democratization of music–providing the ability to make music to the masses. This democratization is where the conflict begins to arise for me–where the obvious advantages of technology start to do battle with the cheapening of music as an art and a discipline. The other panelists companies fall more in the zone of helping musicians/engineers to get top quality sounds that would only have been achievable in big studios in past years. Obviously, the latter type of technology is in line with what I find useful and good—it has helped me create my whole business model—but on the other hand, the downside has been for big studios who have gone out of business, disrupting the livelihoods of many.

“…as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it…”


With technology on an a seemingly endless rise, are we going to see perpetual instability in the music industry? As an avid user (and AVID user) of technology, it is perhaps hypocritical of me when I start to suggest that technology is also in part severely damaging the music industry–but that dark part of the technology boom definitely exists too. One thing that came up that really hit me between the eyes was when it was pointed out that as a society, there is less and less knowledge about music, but way ability for the masses to create it. One panelist mentioned that Charles Ives had suggested that people would become way more knowledgeable of music in the future, but the complete opposite has happened. Yet there are an ever increasing amount of mobile apps, like Smule, go here to read more: SMULE APPS SOCIAL MUSIC NETWORK JESSIE J  that will allow users to ‘make music’ and put it out for the world to hear. And this is where I struggle with the internal voices that on one hand say ‘right on’ and on the others that are screaming ‘get off my lawn’. Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days. I feel like music is something one needs to work for, and with the experience and work ‘removed’, the whole joy of achievement and the joy of the process are also removed. For me, being human is all about a lifetime of mistakes and successes that lead to further growth–that is what is unique to being human and the very essence and definition of being human. If we allow technology to replace all this experience, then what happens to joy and accomplishment? I can say that as much as I utilize new technology, I don’t enjoy the process of making music quite as much–there is really something rewarding in the process and the time and struggle it takes to achieve one’s goal. The same has been true in photography too–even more so, I think, as everyone has a ‘camera’ these days and thinks they are a ‘photographer’.

“Part of me really feels that apps like this feed the annoying ‘entitled’ stance that is way too prevalent in all aspects of life these days.”

On the other hand, does it matter how one achieves and end result? If someone creates a brilliant song using apps to piece together elements in a creative way, isn’t that good enough? Maybe just the way in which creativity is manifested will change with the tools, but if the end result reaches and touches people, maybe that’s all that matters.


I have no definitive answers, but I do certainly have feelings and opinions. For someone who values music above all–from the creative process, to the execution, to the sound of the recording, I feel that technology might have done a little more damage than the good it’s also brought to the table. Technology brought us the mp3, which degrades the sound and impact of music. Earbuds and computer speakers are the new norm for listening. Autotune has often replaced talent. Elastic Audio and Beat Detective fix bad timing. Though I still think there is lots of great music being made, there is a major proliferation of crap to dig through to get to it caused by the ability to make it so easily. But new technology has made my business possible too, and has helped me to achieve some of the best production of my life. We can find new music in an instant, and listen to it anywhere. I suppose it actually sounds better as an mp3 on earbuds than it did coming off cassettes on my crappy Sony boom box. So back and forth we go.

I still feel that humans, despite all their flaws and imperfections, emote feeling in a way that machines don’t or can’t. The beauty of all art to me is it’s expression of humanity (the humanities…) –the struggle for perfection that may be the only purpose of each our existences. For me, I suppose it will be a balance that just ends up ‘feeling’ right. As Jack Joseph Puig noted at the end of the panel, one will always find what they are passionate about and will take what that need to achieve their goal. For me, at those times when I feel that the distraction of trying to keep up with the latest technology is getting in the way of making music, I need to remember that all the decades of studying and loving music result in the best tools anyone could have, and no technology is a replacement for that kind of experience, technically or emotionally.