10 Reasons Your Uber or Lyft Driver Hates You (and 10 Pro Tips to Fix It)

10 Reasons Your Uber or Lyft Driver Hates You (and 10 Pro Tips to Fix It)

Ridesharing has become the preferred method of transportation for many people living in and around major cities, which has created the opportunity for others to become their own boss and earn a modest living by transporting those folks.

I’m proof: I’ve been driving for Uber (and Lyft) since December 2015, and have given over 2,200 rides in the metro Detroit area. Doing so has allowed me pay all of my household expenses, so that the money I earn with my musical endeavors can be used to further those efforts.

Because of ridesharing, I have total agency and autonomy over my time and energy, and in our current economy, I wouldn’t ask for anything more.

Overall, most of my riders are polite, grateful, and socially aware. And many of those same riders are knowledgable about how drivers earn, and what the pros and cons are when it comes to the gig.

But too many are not. This list is for them.

When it comes to fixing a problem, the first step is to become aware that a problem exists. By being aware of the key habits and behaviors that Uber and Lyft drivers loathe, and consciously avoiding them, anyone can be a 5-Star Rider.

Based on my personal experience of giving over 2,200 rides in the last two years, here are the top ten things riders are doing wrong which either annoys drivers or screws them out of our earning potential.


1. You make us wait. 

Uber and Lyft drivers are technically supposed to wait up to five minutes after arriving at the pickup destination. Riders and drivers are both aware of this.

But unless we arrive less than five minutes from the time you request the ride, why are we waiting?? I’ve had someone make me wait seven minutes for them to get into the car, after it took me 12 minutes to come pick them up. Their ride was three minutes long, and I made $2.88 for 22 minutes worth of my time.

You know the car is coming. You asked for it. You were told how long it would take to get there. There is a clock on your phone, and you are notified as soon as the vehicle arrives. Why aren’t you ready?

And if you have multiple stops, that’s fine, but we are only supposed to wait up to five minutes. Taking you to a restaurant to pick up your carry-out order? No problem. Taking you to a restaurant so you can place an order and wait for it to be prepared? Big problem.

Please be aware, we earn five times less for every minute of the trip than we do for every mile we drive. What do you think we’d rather be doing, driving or waiting??

PRO TIP: Don’t request a ride until five minutes before you are ready to walk out the door, and don’t make us wait more than five minutes anywhere.


2. You touch our radio/temperature controls. 

Part of the joy of driving for Uber/Lyft is having your own traveling office in which to work, and be able to listen to anything or nothing as you wish. I prefer to learn while I earn, so I listen to podcasts and take notes in between riders. It’s my way of maximizing my time.

So when you touch my cockpit controls without permission, it infuriates me.

How dare you?? You’re not in your car — you’re in MY car. And just because Lyft encourages riders to sit in the front doesn’t mean you have the right to fiddle with anything in the cockpit. It’s rude, and reeks of entitlement.

If the radio is too loud or you want to listen to something different, ask your driver to change it. If it’s too hot, or cold, or breezy…again, ask your driver to change it.

PRO TIP: Don’t touch the cockpit controls without permission. 


3. You cancel the trip when we are already on our way to pick you up, and then request again (sometimes via the other app). 

This is incredibly frustrating.

Many times this happens when we are on a freeway heading in one direction, and receive a request which causes us to take the next exit and turn around — riders assume that we’re going the wrong way and cancel after we’ve already exited the freeway and turned around. This is annoying.

OR, you’re simply seeing what the rates are, and you cancel the trip once you find out what it’s going to cost on one app, and then request a ride on the other app.

We know what you’re doing — you’re hedging your bets. Stop it.

Instead, make it easy on yourself and just stick with one app. I recommend Lyft because it is a much more altruistic rideshare platform; it’s better for riders and drivers, hands-down; and over time, even after tipping, using Lyft exclusively will save you money.

PRO TIP: Don’t hedge your bets — pick an app, request a ride, and stick with it. 


4. Your trip is less than a mile.

Understand: The base fare of your trip is mostly absorbed by the rideshare company — the driver makes around 51 cents per mile and 11 cents per minute (Uber), and does not get compensated for the drive to come pick you up.

So, if it takes us 10 minutes to get to you, and you make us wait 5 minutes for you to get in the vehicle, and your trip is less than a mile…we just made $2.88 (taxable) for close to 20 minutes of our time and gas and vehicle wear — a terrible return on investment for us in order to spare you a few extra minutes of exercise you’re probably not already getting.

Just because you can afford to take an Uber doesn’t always mean you should.

If you’re not disabled, why do you need me to drive you a half a mile? Did you forget your umbrella? Can your kids really not walk the short distance home from school? Is this a hey-look-at-me status thing, or a way you flex your dollar for yourself? Are you dying of exhaustion, or otherwise being set upon by the universe??

It’s not all about you — other people have much longer distances to travel, and you are making them late.

PRO TIP: If your trip is less than a mile…WALK. 


5. You eat in our vehicles. 

Yes, I know, people have been eating in cabs for forever.

But Uber and Lyft drivers don’t pick you up in a cab owned by some company who hoses them down every night after the proletariat abuses them. We pick you up in our everyday cars!

For those who pay their bills by driving their cars are their second home. I wouldn’t come into your home and open up whatever random food I brought with me and start eating it, not caring about crumbs getting on your floor, and leaving the wrapper under a chair. Don’t come into our cars and do the same.

I’m not saying don’t bring food into our vehicles. If you’re coming from the grocery store or a restaurant, and you’ve got your bags or leftovers, that’s fine. No sweat.

But to open your food and eat it in our car, especially without asking first?? What’s that about? You’re not going to die in our car from lack of food, so do you simply have no self-control or no respect for others? Either is gross.

PRO TIP: Eat your food at home. 


6. You don’t control your children.

Speaking of food being left in cars, part of the reason that happens is because parents are more involved with their mobile devices than they are their children. The kid is eating some snack or candy of some sort, and the parent is on social media, paying little to no attention to their child’s behavior.

I make a point to compliment my riders who are attentive, engaging parents with well-behaved kids, because I see it so rarely. And most of the time, if the kid is of speaking age, they will be attempting to engage the parent in conversation, but the parent only responds with a couple of words or a sentence, immersed in their technology.

Parents, I’m sure there are times when you just want your kid to be quiet so you can do your own thing. But I’ve seen this so often that I think it’s an epidemic that is happening across the country.

If I have to step in and tell a child to stop kicking my seat, or to not get their messy hands all over my car, then you are not fully present as a parent.

PRO TIP: Disengage with your mobile device and engage with your child; reign in their bad behavior — or we will.


7. You’re too drunk.

For the record, I love white women in their 20s — so much so that I’ve been living with one for the past two years!

But I’ve given over 2,200 rides to-date, and by a landslide, my most ungrateful, disrespectful, condescending, self-important, and socially unaware riders are white women in their 20s who are day drunk.

Ladies, I know you enjoy your Sunday Fundays. But please, don’t party so much that you don’t realize how drunk and annoying and rude you are.

The same goes for the guys and any other people who know they’re drunk but are still trying to play it cool. To borrow from the late George Carlin, “You’re not cool. You’re fuckin’ chilly.”

Please believe, I don’t mind picking up drunk people. I actually enjoy that part of the job; it makes me feel like a civil servant of sorts. And many of my riders have revoked or suspended licenses because of DUIs, so I appreciate the folks who decide to open their wallet instead of crashing their car. That’s a good look as a human being.

But if you’re so drunk that you’re experiencing short-term memory loss during our brief conversation, and acting like you’re on top of the world, it’s ugly.

I know you’re not that ugly when you’re sober. You’re better than that, people. have some respect for yourselves.

PRO TIP: Know — and mind — your alcohol limits, and above all, be respectful.


8. You have awful body odor.

One thing that separates Lyft from Uber is their stringent vetting process for their drivers.

I was approved to drive for Uber in less than 48 hours by submitting my picture, driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance; it took Lyft almost a month to approve me to drive, during which time they sent a seasoned Lyft driver out to have me drive them around.

Lyft guarantees that your driver is friendly; speaks English; doesn’t drive like a jackass; and more than likely has a newer and/or nicer vehicle — with Uber, you never know who or what you’re going to get.

Another thing that Lyft guarantees riders is that their drivers do not have awful body odor. Unfortunately, the same guarantee doesn’t apply to riders.

I know, you can’t smell yourself. I get it. But before you request a ride, ask yourself, “When was the last time I bathed??” you may be surprised.

PRO TIP: Bathe regularly! (This should be obvious.)


9. You’re ungrateful. 

One benefit of using Lyft as a driver is that when we rate our riders, if we choose to give someone three stars or less, Lyft guarantees that we will never see that rider again. This comes in handy after an ungrateful — or smelly —rider exits our vehicles.

Most of my riders thank me at the end of their trip. The ones who don’t, I never care to see again.

Even if we didn’t have a conversation, a simple thank-you goes a long way. It means you are aware that you are a member of a civilized society which values being polite to one another and showing gratitude for services rendered.

Sure, you’re technically paying us, so you are technically the customer. I respect that.

But before you’re a customer, you’re a human being, just as I am, and as we all are. You should make your mother proud and act like one.

And if you’re not going to be nice in the way our culture and society has collectively agreed, then I choose to interpret your behavior as being self-important, self-absorbed, and therefore, false — you are lost inside yourself, and I am sorry for you.

PRO TIP: Even if it’s the only interaction you have with your driver, thank them at the end of the trip.


10. You don’t tip.

I saved the best for last…

During my first four months driving for Uber and Lyft, I rarely received a tip.

That may not shock you, but I couldn’t believe it, because for the most part, ridesharing has effectively replaced cabs.

Cabs take longer to come pick you up, they drive under the speed limit to exhaust as much money out of the fare as possible, you feel like you’re in a cop car, the driver isn’t always friendly, the car isn’t always clean…

But when you pay the cab driver, you tip them! Why not us??

I understand that part of the convenience of using a rideshare app is that you don’t have to carry cash on you, and that we are moving toward a cashless society. These are facts.

But here are two more facts: you are saving money and time by using ridesharing instead of a cab (or your own vehicle), and, generally, having a much better overall experience; and, Lyft allows you to tip in the app immediately following the trip (Uber will have this feature as of August).

The biggest reason that tips are so appreciated by drivers is that 10% of every dollar we earn goes toward vehicle maintenance and repairs. That doesn’t even include gasoline or oil changes, which — for whatever reason — many riders believe Uber or Lyft pays for. HAHA! (Yes, we can write these things off on our taxes, but that’s not the point here.)

Most puzzling to me is that I’ve had this exact conversation with riders, who agree with me in lock-step…and then don’t tip!! People are complicated.

Not having cash isn’t the issue. Tipping your driver is easy. You’re being cheap.

Don’t be cheap. You’re better than that.

PRO TIP: TIP YOUR DRIVER!!!


Bonus: The 5-Star Rider Cheat Sheet

Self-driving Uber and Lyft vehicles will be here before we know it. But until then, you have to rely on us.

Use the cheat sheet below to be a 5-Star Rider, and feel free to forward this to your friends and family because…someone you know probably does one or more of these things!


5-Star Rider Cheat Sheet

  1. Don’t request a ride until five minutes before you are ready to walk out the door, and don’t make us wait more than five minutes anywhere.
  2. Don’t touch the cockpit controls without permission.
  3. Don’t hedge your bets — pick an app, request a ride, and stick with it.
  4. If your trip is less than a mile…WALK.
  5. Eat your food at home.
  6. Disengage with your mobile device and engage with your child; reign in their bad behavior — or we will.
  7. Know — and mind — your alcohol limits, and above all, be respectful.
  8. Bathe regularly! (This should be obvious.)
  9. Even if it’s the only interaction you have with your driver, thank them at the end of the trip.
  10. TIP YOUR DRIVER!!!

 

#Uber #Lyft #rideshare

 

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

I Can’t Make This Up

I Can’t Make This Up

http://a.co/7oX2pXb

I didn’t just read this book. I devoured it.

As a person with a certain level of ambition, I seek out the stories of those who “made it,” the ones who have gone on to become the best, or one of the best, in their field. The undeniable ones.

Kevin Hart is undeniable.

The man has sold out an NFL stadium, and his entire show is just him alone on stage with a single microphone, talking about his life. And people love it because he is hilarious.

Sure, he has a gift for being funny, but to be able to entertain over 50,000 people at once and succeed at it goes far beyond natural talent. It takes a team of people working together for the greater good, and it requires a certain set of core values to guide the team to make the right decisions along the way.

Persistence, patience, class, commitment, learning, passion-centered competitiveness, positivity, and discomfort; these are the eight qualities that Kevin Hart singles out as being the ingredients for his particular success recipe.

With any book I read, I have a highlighter in my hand. As I read, if something is relatable to my life or adds value to it, I highlight it. Once I finish the book, I type all of the highlighted passages into my computer and organize them to work for me. I do this to maintain a personal “commonplace book.”

From Ryan Holiday’s How and Why to Keep a Commonplace Book:

“Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books. Marcus Aurelius kept one — which more or less became the Meditations. Montaigne, who invented the essay, kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims, and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important. Thomas Jefferson kept one. Napoleon kept one. Bill Gates keeps one.

“And if you still need a why, I’ll let this quote from Seneca answer it: ‘We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application — not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech — and learn them so well that words become works.”

After reading Kevin Hart’s words in his new book I Can’t Make This Up, co-written with one of my favorite authors — Neil Strauss — I got right to work.

The reason his story is so powerful is because it is happening right now.

This isn’t someone who waited until the end of their career to distill the secrets of their success and share their life lessons with the world. By the time most of the undeniable ones tell their stories, so many years have passed that the tools and techniques they used to succeed are no longer relevant to the era in which we live. They aren’t practical, but nostalgia.

The tools Kevin Hart used to build the foundation of his superstar career are available to most people today: our brains, our bodies, and the Internet, specifically social media.

I’m persistent — I’ve been in the game for over 25 years.

I practice patience — this one is the most difficult of all, but becoming easier.

I have class — ‘ello, Guv-nah!

I am committed to my goals.

I love to learn every day.

My competitiveness is passion-centered.

I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

And I have become most adept at tolerating discomfort.

More than ever before in my life, I am ready to floor it down the highway of my dreams. I’ve spent the better part of the last two years learning how to live, how to build a foundation for a career as a creative artist, how to put a team together with the right people in the right seats, and how to execute and manage the process.

The wheels are in motion: I’ve got three podcasts in the hopper ready to be finalized for release, one song almost complete and two more coming thereafter, and my excitement is boiling over into my blog.

Plus, if you recall the judge I worked for as a journalist on her winning campaign, she reached out to me about co-authoring a book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the opportunity is there.

And after a couple of minor setbacks, the band is rehearsing and moving forward together as a unit.

We’re putting our brains, our bodies, and the Internet to work.

The future looks bright!
———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Music: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

New Year, New Song, New Podcast

New Year, New Song, New Podcast

2016 is finally over.

For many, it was a particularly brutal year.  For me, it was one of the best years of my life.

Mind you, it still had its challenges, from being laid up with injuries to having my car in the shop nine times, and my laptop — the heart of my business! — dying in the summer.

But mostly, it was a great year.

I bought a nice house less than three miles from my mom and dad, got my hands dirty and did some pre-move construction and finishing with my best friend, and moved myself and my queen in in February.  We took out the above-ground pool, and installed a fire pit, around which we hosted two fun parties with many of the awesome people in our life.

I bought a great car and use it to drive for Uber and Lyft, which has proven to be both a viable source of income to cover my household overhead and a way to retain my agency as an entrepreneur.  I get to listen to podcasts — I like to learn while I earn — and meet cool people, some of whom have become fans of my music.  (Remember: Tip your Uber or Lyft driver!)

I’ve been reading anywhere from 20-80 pages of a book every day, and will include my recommended reading list below.

I got hired as a freelance writer and editor by my local newspaper, and conducted a 3-hour strategy session with them to help determine their core values as a business.

Because of the experience with my local paper, along with my blog, I ended up being hired by a candidate for Wayne County Circuit Court Judge to write a 14,000-word story of her life and career, which became the centerpiece for the grassroots social media movement I coordinated to maximize its impact.  She ultimately won the election, and the votes needed in order to secure her seat on the bench were a direct result of my efforts, according to her social media manager.

I also began training in Wing Chun Do, a self-defense-focused martial art developed by Grandmaster (“Sijo”, see-jo) James DeMile based on his years of practicing and learning with Bruce Lee in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  I had the opportunity to meet and learn directly from Sijo this past August, when he travelled from his home in Hawaii to bequeath the Wing Chun Do system and Grandmaster title to my personal instructor, Rocco Ambrose.  I’m excited and fortunate to be learning from the Grandmaster of a martial art!

There wasn’t really a single thing that I would consider to be the best thing that happened to or for me in 2016, but I think overall, I’d have to say that I learned a lot about myself and my capacity to get things done, to become my best self.  And I learned a lot about others, too.

Every day, I effort to learn something new.  Whether it’s through reading a book, or listening to a podcast, or talking with a rider when I’m out driving, I’m constantly learning and applying the knowledge gained.

I think that having a student-like mindset is a great way to approach life, and I encourage others to ask tough questions, to seek deeper knowledge in all things.

But I always keep in mind something Sijo said during his visit: “If it doesn’t work for you, it’s pure entertainment.”

So this year, I encourage you to find what works for you, and use it to help you become better at whatever you’re doing and get closer to whatever it is you’re working toward.  (I’d love to hear your story!)

What works for me is operating from a place of authenticity, and creating the best content I can.

I’m happy to announce that starting in 2017, I am now delivering content in three forms:

My blog, which, now that I have a new laptop (yay!), I will endeavor to publish on a weekly basis…

My music, of which a new song was released yesterday (the general consensus among the feedback I’m getting is that it may be my best song to date)…

Finally, my new podcastGet After It! w/ John Kay, the first installment of which was published today at 5:00 AM!  I’ve already interviewed five guests for Get After It!, respectable mavericks each of them, and plan to release a new installment on Monday of each week.

The first installment features my interview with Emily Schaller, the CEO of a Detroit-based non-profit organization called RockCF, which raises funds and awareness for the fight against cystic fibrosis.  Emily’s story and life are inspiring, and every time I talk to her I feel the need to kick my butt a little more in my own efforts.  She truly is a ray of brilliant light, and everyone can learn something from listening to her.

I’m grateful to anyone reading this right now, and to anyone who listens to my music and my podcast.  If you like my music, please buy it.  If you like what you hear on my podcast, please subscribe to it.

2016 is over.  The best is yet to come!  🙂

New song, “We Know We’re Gonna Die”: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com/track/we-know-were-gonna-die

New podcast, interview with Emily Schaller: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/4951467

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

My 2016 recommended reading list:

Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman
I was raised on the Beatles, classical music, and country music.  Anyone who is a Beatles fan generally has a favorite Beatle, and mine was always Paul, although the songs that I loved the most and wanted to learn were usually George songs.  This 800+ page book, a birthday gift from my parents, grabbed me from page one and I read it voraciously, at one point over 125 pages in a day.  Paul was the meticulous one, the one who focused on the details, staying late into the night at the studio to get his bass parts just the way he wanted them, which is to say, perfect.  This book reached into my soul, and I found myself empathizing with Paul in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible if someone told me so.  The author had McCartney’s ‘tacit approval’ to interview anyone and everyone who knew Paul about anything and everything, so this truly is the definitive Paul McCartney biography.  A must-read for anyone interested in one of the biggest superstars in the world.

The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook
I hear all the time about how new music is no good, the radio sucks these days, all the songs sound the same.  Well, this book explains why.  From ABBA to Ace of Base to Kelly Clarkson and Rhianna and more, the evolution of pop music’s dominance is thoroughly broken down.  You get the inside scoop on who really writes the music we hear everywhere — mostly white, middle-aged, Scandinavian men.  This book was fascinating from start to finish, and I recommend everyone reads it.  It’s full of delicious and salacious stories, from Ke$ha’s turbulent lawsuit against producer Dr. Luke, to the time Kelly Clarkson bawled her eyes out in Clive Davis’s office because he insisted on including “Since U Been Gone” on her sophomore record (it would go on to win the Grammy for Song Of The Year).  Treat yourself to this book.  You won’t regret it, even if it does disgust you.

Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
I need to read this book again, this time with a highlighter.  That’s something I have been doing more of, highlighting books as I read them.  This year I’m going to transcribe the highlighted passages from my books onto index cards and create what’s known as a ‘commonplace book’ for myself.  A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations, and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits.  The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking, or whatever it is that you do.  Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books.  Marcus Aurelius kept one, which more or less became the Meditations.  Petrarch kept one.  Montaigne, who invented the essay kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important.  Thomas Jefferson kept one.  Napoleon kept one.  Bill Gates keeps one.  I first heard of the idea of a commonplace book from Holiday’s blog, and liked the idea so much I decided to apply it.  This book will be one of the first to get transcribed.  It’s relatively short, and one can likely read it in a day or over a weekend.  Beneficial to anyone.

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
This one hits you where it hurts: your smartphone.  Everywhere we turn, most people seem to be looking down at a device.  It’s the reality of the culture in which we live.  But there are devastating side effects to our new habits that are only now being discovered.  This book sheds light on those side effects.  There’s a group of friends going out to dinner and mandating the creation of a ‘cell phone tower’ in the middle of the table, where everyone stacks their device on top of the others, and the first person to grab for theirs when it rings has to pay for the entire meal.  Or consider that many young professionals fresh out of college and beginning their careers would rather talk to their colleagues, bosses, and employees through text, email, or Gchat, than have an actual one-on-one, face-to-face conversation.  We are connecting with our devices more than we are with each other.  According to Turkle, based on her research, this is a growing epidemic, the results of which are a general lack of empathy toward others and an inability to tolerate natural lulls and awkwardness in conversation.  Sound like the world we live in?  Ever since reading this book, I have effort to ‘elevate the conversation’ whenever possible.  Instead of emailing, I’ll text.  Instead of texting, I’ll call.  Instead of calling, I’ll drop by.  By elevating our conversations, we can reclaim our empathy and our connection to one another.

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
Believe me, no one was as shocked as I that I purchased something from Arianna Huffington.  Regardless of any opinion one may have about her, the information in the book is immediately applicable.  Since reading it, I do my best to get at least 7 hours of sleep every single night.  You should, too.

Seizing Opportunity, or When Light Recognizes Light

Seizing Opportunity, or When Light Recognizes Light

I’m back!  😀

Long story short, at the beginning of August, just when I began working at a furious pace on new music and all the other content I’m excited to share, my computer died.

Like many independent artists, a powerful laptop is the hub of my entire enterprise.  Rather than go even deeper into debt beyond the student loans, car loan, credit card, etc….I chose to suck it up, deal with the fact that my enterprise would have to be placed on hold for a bit, and earn enough money to buy a brand new laptop.

Now that I have it, one would think that the first thing I’d do once I got the new computer is get right back to working on music, continuing where I left off.  But that isn’t the case.

Here’s what’s going on…

I bought and moved into a house in Redford Township, MI at the beginning of the year, and made a personal commitment to be a good neighbor and contribute positively to the community as best I’m able.  My queen even baked cookies, and she and I went up and down our block from door to door, handing out cookies and introducing ourselves to our new neighbors.

One day, I was at Costco, filling up my gas tank.  From behind me I heard a woman’s voice…’Hey, who does your tattoos?’  I turned around and saw the woman walking up to me.  Before I could finish saying the name of the artist, she had grabbed my wrist and was manipulating my arm to get a better view of my ink.  After telling her who did my tattoos, she said “Hold on…” and went to her vehicle.  She came back with a business card, handed it to me and said “Vote for me on the second of August.”

I looked at the card.  It had her picture on it and said ‘Vote Kelly Ann Ramsey for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge’.  “Oh, you’re running for judge?” I said.  “That’s right,” she replied.

This was in late July of this year, just three short months ago.  At the time, I had just done some freelance work for the Redford Neighborhood Connection, our local newspaper which is circulated to every house in the township on a monthly basis.  I first discovered the paper on my porch in June and thought, “Well, this is my local paper, so I should probably read it and get an idea of what is happening in my new community.”

As a writer, the first thing I noticed was that the front page was filled with typos and redundancies, and littered with punctuation and grammatical errors.  There was even a section advertised as being on page 6, which turned out to be on page 9.  Rather than dismiss it as an amateur effort and throw it away, I decided to find out who publishes the paper.  It turns out it is privately-owned, and is essentially a two-person operation plus a freelance graphic designer handling the layout, with no editor-in-chief on staff.

I called the owner of the paper, and we agreed to meet.  While they said they do need an editor, it’s not in their monthly budget to hire one full-time, but they promised to keep me in mind for freelance work as needed.

True to their word, within a few days they sent me an email saying that a candidate for Trustee had delivered them “a dog of a political ad”, and they wanted to get my professional opinion on how to make it better.  They hired me to re-write the ad, and according to the publishers, it ended up causing quite a stir among the so-called Redford political elite.  The paper has since hired me to do additional editing and writing, along with a strategy session to determine their core values, and occasional social media consultation.

So…at the Costco gas station, when Ramsey told me she was running to become a judge, I said, “I write for the Redford Connection from time to time.”

Her eyes widened — “Do you have a card??”  I told her no, but that I had hers now.  She told me to get in touch with her and we would do lunch.

We emailed each other over the coming weeks, and finally met at Sheesh in Livonia — her favorite — where she introduced me to beef sajji, which I’ll put right up there with Bucharest Grill’s shawarma.  (That’s right, I said it.  Oh, and extra sauce is a must.)

She proceeded to give me a basic background of her career, told me what’s going on with her campaign, where she needs help.  I told her how I came to be doing freelance work for the Redford Connection, how I saw something with several obvious errors, and instead of seeing something worthless, I saw…

And as I paused for a moment to find the word, Ramsey was already finishing my thought.  She leaned across the booth, smiled and said, “You saw opportunity.”

And she nailed it.

Sure, the errors bothered me.  I have a “perfect problem”.  That is to say, everything has to be perfect, and that’s my problem.

But beyond the errors, I saw the opportunity to help my community.  After all, how many in Redford have noticed the same as I have, and just throw the paper out without even reading it anymore?  If I could assist the paper with delivering its content as best as possible, perhaps its public perception would improve, perhaps its readership would increase, along with its inherent value to the community.

That’s the opportunity I saw, and what Ramsey was able to put into words.

(I’ve since learned that Ramsey is great at spotting opportunity in every person or problem she encounters.  She also believes that the playing field should be level for all, so that everyone is able to have as many opportunities as possible to achieve the life they were meant to achieve.)

I didn’t expect that by keeping my mind open and recognizing an opportunity to help my local paper, it would lead to an opportunity for me to help someone I have come to now refer to as “a judicial Joan of Arc.”

At our first Sheesh meeting, Ramsey told me “I want you to write a story about me that will go viral.”  Of course, no one can necessarily make anything go viral.  It happens organically, and many variables work together to cause it.  I knew I could help her write a story, but it wouldn’t make much of an impact without a coordinated effort to have others share her story.

But first, I had to hear her story, to see if it was worth telling.  After all, I had just met her.  Given the current political climate in our country, how could I know at first glance whether or not she was just another sleazy politician, in it for the glory and the power and the paycheck?  So we scheduled another lunch meeting so I could prepare some questions and conduct a more in-depth interview.

Since the beginning of October, I have conducted nearly 10 hours of interviews with Ramsey.  What I have learned in those interviews, the things she told me, resonate to the core of who I am as an individual.  I value personal sacrifice, measurable growth, individual accountability, a reputation for excellence, time, intensity, and respect.  Ramsey exemplifies all of these values.

I began to believe the universe had created that chance meeting at Costco for a reason, that we met so I could help her as best I’m able to get her into a seat on the bench.  It’s a seat she deserves, based on her decades of experience in the judicial system, the indelible events which have shaped her personal and professional life, and her tireless crusade for our communities, especially our children.  Light recognizes light.

So, after much thought about how to accomplish the task of putting Ramsey’s incredible story into words, and consideration of the strategy and implementation needed to help it reach as wide an audience as possible, I decided to put my own efforts on hold and help Ramsey coordinate a grassroots mobilization of her staunchest supporters whom are active on social media, specifically Facebook, in the final week leading up to Election Day.

Understand: In order for Ramsey to win a seat on the Wayne County Third Circuit Court bench, the communities of Wayne County need to know her story.

To quote noted trial lawyer Gerry Spence, who never lost a criminal trial and whose notable cases number in the hundreds, “Storytelling has been the principal means by which we have taught one another from the beginning of time.  All learning of humankind has been handed down for eons in the form of stories.  We are, indeed, creatures of story.  All varieties of creatures inhabit this planet…but we alone are story creatures.  Telling stories and listening to stories are the activities that most distinguish our species.  The stories of our childhood remain with us as primary experiences against which we judge and decide issues as adults.  They are forever implanted in both our conscious and unconscious.”

In order to give Ramsey the push she needs to get into the seat she deserves, we’re asking her staunchest supporters whom are active on social media, specifically Facebook, to make a daily commitment to share her story, to please share the posts from her page with their networks of people on Facebook, and across social media.

Understand: Facebook actively suppresses posts from pages in order to entice page owners to pay for the post to reach a wider audience, and the advertising dollars generated are what get Facebook’s shareholders paid.  Likes and comments do not make a significant impact, but shares do, big-time.  If her supporters commit to navigating to the Kelly Ann Ramsey for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Facebook page on a daily basis, and sharing the content posted over the final eight days leading up to the election, I believe the collective effort will do the job of winning the hearts and minds necessary to capture enough votes for Ramsey to win.

Starting Tuesday, November 1, and continuing each day until Tuesday, November 8, the seven parts of Kelly Ann Ramsey’s story will each be released and hosted on my blog.  Please feel free to share each part on social media, even if you don’t live in Wayne County, or Michigan for that matter.  Every share counts.

I’m very excited to help Ramsey get into the seat she deserves, and return to music-making and tour planning after Election Day.  I’ve got a bunch of new songs written which are ready to be recorded and mixed, a few songs ready to be mastered and released, and a couple of secrets up my sleeve to share before the end of the year (which my fan club members already know about).

Let’s do this!

Oh…happy Halloween!  🙂

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com


Hear the music: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Join the fan club: https://therealjohnkay.com
Connect on Twitter: https://twitter.com/therealjohnkay
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What Do You Do When Your Lover Hates Your Art?

What Do You Do When Your Lover Hates Your Art?

So I have this problem.  Not really a problem, it’s just…I guess…a bummer.

My girlfriend doesn’t like the new song I’ve been working on.

This tune has been milling around in my head for the past few weeks.  I stumbled on a melody that I enjoyed, sang it all day in the car, and got the gumption to wrap a song around it and record it.

And now I can’t stop listening to it!  But there are a couple of things I need to address before actually releasing it, which include re-recording the lead vocal.

Many who have given me feedback on my music say “John, your stuff is really good, but sometimes your lead vocal seems forced,” or “it seems like you’re trying to hit all the notes,” or “it feels like you’re concerned with being perfect instead of just singing.”

Those are tough pills to swallow, because I don’t really know when my vocal is done until someone else tells me it is.  Being that I produce my work myself, I have no way of knowing if my work is truly done.

And how do I know when it’s actually good??

Yes, I want to hit all of the notes, but I also understand that feeling and emotion can sometimes get lost in the process of striving for perfection.

I’m at a point where I don’t know whether my vocal is good, or what I should even do with the tune — my queen doesn’t like the song, and her opinion matters to me.

According to her, I should not release the song under my own name, or I should try to sell it to another artist.  She says she hates my new song for the same reasons that I don’t like Sia’s music.  And a huge part of the reason I don’t like Sia’s music is because I have learned how today’s hit songs get made…

I just finished reading a book two weeks ago called The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook.  The book explains that the majority of major label producers and writers today utilize a method Seabrook calls “track-and-hook” — a (hopefully) compelling music bed is created and vocal melodies and hooks are paired to match, or vice-versa.  There are teams of writers who work on songs together, trying to add the best beats, melodies, and “top lines” (the vocal hooks that are the most memorable).

The most successful top-liners generally sing the lead vocal on the demo versions of the songs they are attempting to sell to a recording artist.  In many cases, their performance is, in fact, better than that of the artist who ultimately records and releases the song.  But, these top-liners are kept in their place by the powers that be in the music industry (not pretty enough, skinny enough, buff enough, young enough, and on and on and on).

And then all of a sudden, came Sia, swinging from her chandelier.

Sia cut her teeth in Australia, but her bands failed to break through to the mainstream.  So she moved to NYC and became a top-liner, crafting hits for today’s biggest stars before creating her worldwide solo success.  Her writing credits include “Pretty Hurts” for Beyoncé, “Perfume” for Britney Spears, “Boy Problems” for Carly Rae Jepsen, and “Double Rainbow” for Katy Perry.  She’s fantastically talented, has a gift with words, and her voice is powerful.

I hear potential in Sia’s work in the same fashion as I did Lady Gaga’s music when I first heard it.  I thought, “Okay, you’re obviously talented.  And now that you’ve hooked everyone with your catchy pop stuff, the next album had better be the real deal.”

The issue I have with Sia is that, to me, her music sounds like a bunch of top-lined demos, waiting to find an artist to re-record them.  Much of the time it sounds like she’s mumbling words so the artist can put their own inflection on them later, or pretending to sound like Rihanna…which is incredibly ironic, since Rihanna probably had to figure out how to sound like Sia when she recorded “Diamonds”, since Sia wrote it!

One successful top-liner has a particular way of working: she goes into a recording studio and listens to several beats and music beds pre-produced for the session by the rest of the writing and production team; once she hears something that moves her, she enter the vocal booth and makes noises along with the music, trying to find the right emotional impact; then, after the basic pattern and melody are established, she improvises different lyrics on the spot, or reads from her notes of one-liners and couplets, trying to find The One.

This top-liner’s name is Ester Dean.  You may have heard of some of her songs: Ciara’s “Drop It Low”; Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”, “Only Girl (In the World)”, “What’s My Name”, and “S&M”; Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and “Turn Me On”; and “Firework” for Katy Perry.

They figured out the formula.  They figured out how to craft a song in such a way that after repeat listens, you actually like it.  At first you may hate it, but after you hear it a bunch of times, you may like it.

Then again, the opposite is true in the case of my queen and my newest song.

When the person who loves you the most and supports you in your endeavors doesn’t like the work you’re doing, does that mean you shouldn’t share it with the rest of the world??

Frankly, I feel as though I need to release it, simply because she hates it.  I’m not sure about you, but I hate most pop music that comes out.

But they keep playing it, and people keep streaming it.  Some people — not nearly as many as who stream it, but some people — keep buying it.  And both go to the concerts.

So if I hate most of the songs on the radio, but they’re incredibly popular with millions of others…and if there are many unsung heroes behind the scenes, writing songs, and creating today’s hits…why can’t I follow my muse from time to time and create a pure pop song for the sheer enjoyment of it??

No, this particular tune doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to it.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth and meaning.  But why is that a problem, considering that most of the songs I’ve written throughout my 20+ years of songwriting do have depth and meaning?  Why is it a problem for me to make one pure pop song?

Hell, maybe I’ll make ten more!  Do ten pure pop songs outweigh the value (or take away from the value) of the hundreds of other songs in my songwriting catalog which have depth and meaning, and interesting chord changes, and intricate melodies, and multiple vocal harmonies, and an orchestra’s worth of tracks and instruments??

Sometimes it’s okay to just like a pure and simple pop song.

Unless of course, you’re a rock and roller, in which case you may be called a faggot or a sellout for liking something that doesn’t fit the mold of what’s “acceptable” in the rock scene.  A scene which rails against the use of computers and digital technology in the creation of music.

Maybe the reason I’m so fearful to create and release a pure pop song is…I fear that it will alienate people who enjoy my other music.  I don’t want that to happen.  I want to be able to create music whenever I want, based on the inspiration I get from my muse.

And my muse speaks to me randomly.  It happens all the time.  It doesn’t even have to relate to music.  It could be an interaction with a person, a news article I read online, a book I am reading or have read, a movie; it could be anything.

For example, the sound of an ambulance siren in Budapest, Hungary that I heard as I was strolling through the city on a day off while on tour last year.  Noticing the rhythm and the melody, I immediately opened up my voice memo app and captured them, so that when I got somewhere I could create music again, I could take that sound I heard and put it in a song, or rearrange it.

Or whatever I want, because while there are some rules when it comes to making music, there really are no rules when it comes to making music.  No limits.

That’s how the world works for me: anything and everything can be an inspiration to create.  So I’m not making this pure pop song as a way of selling out (or buying in).  I’m not making it so that I can get clicks and likes and shares all that stuff.  Those things are nice, but I would like to believe that they are a byproduct of making quality art.

But “quality art” is subjective, and the subject of this particular song is about going out to the club with your friends, catching a stranger’s glance from across the dance floor, and falling in love at first sight.  Can’t get more cliché than that, can you??

(“You’re going to be 35 next week.  When have your friends ever picked you up to go to the club??” my lady says.)

AND, the song only has four chords — D, E, F# minor, and A; and they cycle over and over for the entire song.  The chord progression does not change, and yet the song builds and builds, as do most of my songs.

(“You say Sia’s songs are the same thing over and over, but so is this song.  Don’t be a hypocrite.” she elaborates.)

With my music, I try to take you somewhere.  I try to transport you through time, over the course of a few minutes, and escort you on a journey.  Music is the only art form that can do that.

Visual art, as stunning and amazing as it can be…once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.  You see a tattoo or you see a painting, and you’ve seen it.  It’s over.  But a piece of music, it takes time to unfold.  You have to sit there — have to pay attention — if you really want to get the depth and meaning.

Or don’t.  Either way’s fine.  Some music is just there for background noise.  Many artists even pride themselves on being essentially background noise for the party.

Most of my songs, I don’t want them to just be background noise.  I want them to be the songs that you spin when times are tough, to remind you to keep going, to persevere, to never give up, and to believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and achieve something.

But this particular song, the purest pop song I’ve ever written, is simply ear candy.  It may get stuck in your head, because the melody is memorable and you can sing it and sing it and sing it, and not get bored with it.

I speak from experience: though the song hasn’t yet spent a month in the universe, it’s one of those that I can’t stop singing.  It is physically gratifying to me to sing this melody and the words the way they are.  It feels good on my tongue, in my throat, in my chest, and in my stomach when I vocalize the sounds which make up the words and melody for this tune.

So I’m going to recut the vocal.  I’m going to mix this song, and I’m going to do it as quickly as possible and get it on Spotify.  Because I think that there are going to be a lot more people that simply enjoy the song for what it is, rather than hate it for what it is.

Because what is it at the end of the day?  It’s just a song.  Just another song out there in the ether.

But it could become a party anthem.  It may make you sing.  It could be a song that gets the club jumping.  It could be a song that makes two strangers fall in love and become best friends.  Who knows?  Maybe it’ll just lead to a couple of one-night stands or random hook-ups.

Understand: if it affects you — if it causes a reaction — it’s done its job.

This song moved my girlfriend to hate it and call me a hypocrite.  I wonder what everyone else is going to think of it…

But first I have to sing it again, better than last time.

P.S. My new album has finally been mastered, and is currently being prepared for release on Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Tidal, BandCamp, and iTunes.  It’s all happening. 🙂

John Kay

blog@therealjohnkay.com
TheRealJohnKay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
InstaGram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay

Kick in the Butt

artist

You know, the universe never ceases to amaze me….

I ordered some monitor stands for the studio in the new house so I can migrate my operations here.  Along with the stands, I bought a few books, which have all since arrived.  Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work was delivered this morning and I’ve just completed it.  At a mere 98 pages, it was easily the shortest book I ordered.

The main theme in Do the Work is getting out of your own way by overcoming Resistance (Pressfield purposely capitalizes this word), and allowing Assistance to aid you in your efforts.

Pressfield essentially says that in order to succeed at effecting a change in one’s life, one needs to:

1. Stay stupid

2. Trust the soup

3. Start before you are ready

When it comes to being creative, to “stay stupid” means to not over-think and just act — without simultaneous self-criticism.

Just begin.  Get after it.  Don’t worry about the results yet.  Just follow your muse and allow it to take you wherever it goes.  You can sand off the rough edges later, just get started and engage in the work.

To “trust the soup” is to let go of the need to control, and put your faith in something bigger than you.  Not necessarily God, but the “Big Mystery” or “The Source” or just the universe itself.

The goal is to remove any preconceptions or held-fast rules or judgement and simply allow ideas to come to you naturally, organically.  There are no right or wrong ideas, only ways of thinking which make them so.  Don’t think.  Just write your ideas down.  Record voice memos.  Capture your thoughts as swiftly as possible, or they may leave before you get a chance.

“Start before you are ready” is a theme I find common throughout my studies.  It’s good to be prepared, but if you prepare too much and your plan is too rigid, you leave no room for maneuvering should problems arise.  And problems will always arise!

If you begin before you are ready, you know you are unprepared, and therefore, you will have to be more focused and attentive to the matters at hand.

You are naked, you are alone, and you are scared.  You must do something.  So DO something.  Place yourself on what author Robert Greene calls “death ground” — if you are in a position in which you absolutely cannot fail, in which you either live or die, your focus and energy will rise to meet the challenge.

Pressfield’s advice in Do the Work is delivered pointedly and succinctly, with humor sprinkled throughout.  I recommend it to anyone who wants to make a fundamental change in their lifestyle or business.  It’s a good kick in the butt for those who need it.

Don’t we all need a good kick in the butt sometimes??

I got mine today, right after lunch…

My queen left for work, and I sat my happy butt down in my easy chair and settled in for some me time, playing Black Ops 3.  After a few rounds, I cooked a pork chop and warmed up some bacon jalapeño mac and cheese (yes, it’s as good as it sounds; feel free to email me for the recipe!).

As I was eating and playing, I thought of the book I had just read.  And I got upset with myself.

I thought, “Is this Resistance??  Right now?  Me, reclining in a comfortable chair, eating and playing video games instead of working on something?  Should I stop what I’m doing right now and start working?”

[It may seem weird, but I have conversations with myself often.  You see, entrepreneurs have no true barometer for how hard they supposed to be working, at any time.  “I’m my own boss” literally means that I am the one who has to boss me around and hold me accountable.  For each time I think I’m the hardest working person I know, there’s a time I believe I’m the world’s biggest slacker, that people think I’m lazy.  (This is actually very common among entrepreneurs, and can lead to serious bouts of depression.)]

Once I finished eating and cleaning the dishes, I looked outside to see if my monitor stands had arrived yet.  They hadn’t, but the regular mail was in the slot.

Along with the usual ads/junk/bills was a package for me.  Upon opening the mailer, I laughed.  I had received the kick in the butt I needed — The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles, the other Steven Pressfield book I ordered.

Reading is very important to me.  It makes my brain tingle in a very positive and productive way.  When I read, I read with intent to learn.

There was a book I bought once for $70.  My friend laughed at me, thought I was crazy.  “You paid seventy dollars for some old book?!”  I told him that I didn’t just buy some old book, I bought the author’s thoughts.

When I opened The War of Art, I knew this was the universe saying “John, slow down.”  Because I haven’t really read any books since I last toured, which was November of last year.  I’ve been so busy with my fan club, buying and moving into the new house, producing and writing new songs, driving nice people (and a couple crazies) around metro Detroit, blogging, etc.  I haven’t taken time to sit and read, to soak up new insights.

So this weekend, in between moving the studio gear and furniture to the new house, getting everything in its proper place and setting it up, acoustically-treating the mix room, and approving the master of my new album (excitement!), I’m going to be doing as much reading as possible.

As soon as those monitor stands get here…it is ON!

But first a few more rounds of free-for-all in Black Ops 3.  😀

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com
TheRealJohnKay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
InstaGram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay

Spinning Plates

I need to express how satisfying it is to be in my and my queen’s new house, sitting at our kitchen table and writing this…because at this time ten years ago, my life was flipped upside down.

I was in the process of filing bankruptcy and finalizing a contested divorce, ultimately resulting in the foreclosure of my home and repossession of my car.  Moreover, I was walking away from a career in retail sales management, and the cushy benefits and guaranteed income which came with it.

Music has been my passion since I was born, and I decided once and for all to make the creation and performance of my own music my number one priority in life.

So I took out $20k in student loans and relocated to Phoenix to attend a premier audio engineering school.  (I wanted to learn how to professionally record and mix my own music in order to save money.)  Graduating required the completion of 480 hours — 12 weeks — of an unpaid internship, and six months after arriving in Phoenix I moved to Nashville.  Once there, I bought a 1989 Mazda 929 for $400 and lived in it while interning at a newly-opened all-analog recording studio.

The car died halfway through the internship.

Without a vehicle, and with no money and nowhere to live, my parents drove the nine hours down and brought me back up to Detroit.  Just like that…poof!…I was essentially a teenager again: fresh out of school, with no car and no job, living in mom and dad’s basement on their dime.

I was utterly ashamed.  I felt like a total failure.  But I had a new skill set, and promised myself that I would work as hard as possible to get my own place within a year of moving back.  After a year of busting my butt securing occasional freelance work, I got a job as the house engineer at a venue.

I applied to get a place, but got denied a loan because I didn’t have enough history of income.  So, I built a makeshift recording studio in my parents’ basement, and toughed it out.  I had clients here and there over the following year, building my income history, and things were running smoothly until I was no longer needed at the venue I worked at.  My main source of income was now gone.  The only thing left was my band and our potential.  But due to perpetual discontent, the band dissolved within the ensuing two years.

There I was, back at square one again.  I was angry…with myself.  Because I believe you are where you are today because of the decisions you made yesterday.  Likewise, tomorrow is a result of today’s decisions.

Taking the time to reflect on everything, I ultimately realized that I wasn’t being my true self….I needed to make music which truly comes from my heart, and not just my head.  I needed to make music that speaks truth to power, and has depth and meaning.  I needed to be true to my positive habits and instincts — musical, professional, and personal — while allowing ample room for further enlightenment.

This realization led me to finally begin writing my own original music with the intent of performing it as a solo artist.  I’ve always written for bands I’ve formed with others, and I felt it was time to take the leap on my own.

Suddenly my creative juices were flowing at an unstoppable pace.  I began writing furiously, and before I knew it I had the makings of a full-length album on my hands.  I took my life savings at the time and spent it to have the songs mixed by a major label mixer, and began saving little by little to have the album professionally mastered.

And then…Koffin Kats called, offering a golden ticket to touring life.  I dropped my plans and accepted their offer wholeheartedly.  What followed was an amazing ride across the US, Canada, Europe, and the UK spanning two years.  I was excited for the future, and started making plans to finally get my own place.

Then five months ago, they told me their original guitarist was coming back to the group at the beginning of the new year, and my services would no longer be required.

Panic.  I was less than half a year away from being back at square one for the third time in six years.  I didn’t know what to do.  All I knew is I was going to make the best of the last couple of tours with the Kats, and figure it out.

On tour last November, I was chatting with a fan after one of our shows, and she asked to hear my solo material.  I explained to her that it wasn’t finished but she said she didn’t care, so I sent her a link to my Dropbox folder containing the tunes.  She got back to me a couple of days later, telling me that she loved the album, recommending I share it with others.  So I did; since first sharing with her, I’ve been in touch with over 400 people who have all listened to my tunes.

The responses have been positively overwhelming.  In my 25 years of making music, I have never received reactions such as these.  The ongoing communication with everyone has shown me that my music resonates with people, and I am honored by that.

Going back and forth with everyone has resulted in creating my website, where people can preorder my album (once I send it out for mastering) and join my new yearly fan club.  I feel incredibly humbled and grateful to say that several people have joined already, and we are all excited for what’s to come.  🙂

In the meantime, I’ve found a great way to earn viable income while growing my musical efforts: driving for Uber.

I bought a 2001 Ford Focus on its last legs back in July.  I submitted to drive for Uber in early December, thinking they’d turn me down because my car was too old, but they approved me within 48 hours.  I immediately began driving as much as possible in order to make money for…

Closing costs on a new house!  It turns out that based on the history of income from my two years with Koffin Kats, and the money in the bank from Ubering, I was able to get approved (with my dad as cosigner) for a mortgage.  We closed on New Year’s Eve, and my queen and I just moved in less than two weeks ago, after doing some remodeling and painting and whatnot.  And, the Focus died in mid-January, but based on my credit I was able to purchase a gently used 2012 Chevy Sonic!

So…I’m in my new house, sitting at the kitchen table, listening to sports radio on the sound system in the living room, and working on this letter.  And it feels so good because it feels earned.

I look at balance in life like the plate spinner.  You know, from sideshow acts, the guy or gal who takes long sticks and spins plates on top of them?  The goal is to get as many plates as possible spinning at once, so the performer can step back and say “Ta-da!”

That’s life: there’s a money plate, a job plate, a spouse plate, a family plate, friends, hobbies, spirit, health, etc.  The object is to get everything in your life in order so you can sit back and say “Ahhhhhhh…” and relax.  Just like the plate spinner, I can’t relax until I know all of my plates aren’t wobbling.  For a while, I had all of my plates on the verge of crashing to the ground.  Some did, and I had to get new plates.

It feels good to be able to step back and reflect on the journey of the last decade, to see how far I’ve come since my world was flipped upside down.  And now that the house and car and income plates are spinning again, I can get back to spinning the blog plate and the emails plate, and most importantly, the new music plate.  I’ve got another new single coming soon which reflects my newfound confidence at getting through this thing called life.

Get ready to dance.  😀

P.S. If you want to hear the album that is resonating with hundreds of people, email blog@therealjohnkay.com and I’ll share it with you personally.  🙂

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com
TheRealJohnKay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
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