Monday, December 14, 2009

Great Performances Are Two Taylors-Made

Within the past month, I’ve had the unusual and fortunate opportunity to personally encounter not one, but two of the musically talented Taylor brothers:

Livingston Taylor and his older brother James Taylor

I met Liv Taylor in November when he visited Nimbit’s offices in Framingham, Mass. and enjoyed hearing his perspectives as a longtime performing musician and music professor on his firm belief that “success in the music business comes as a result of the cultivation, care, and feeding of your audience.” Since our mutual friends at Nimbit ( are focused on helping music artists build sustainable careers by better connecting, engaging and selling directly to their fans, it was fascinating to hear such a talented performer share his thoughts on how many in the “music biz” have forgotten the importance of staying connected with those whom Liv says “have decided that your art has value."

Two days ago I was one of a lucky handful of people who attended a private birthday party for a very dear friend of mine. In the “Hall of Impossible to Top Birthday Presents,” her husband arranged for a surprise birthday concert for his wife and 50 guests. The performer: James Taylor (and a small supporting group including two vocalists and a cellist from the Boston Symphony). Fellow husbands: Unless you can somehow find a way to convince your wife’s favorite-ever performer to come to your house and have him sing for 2 hours to your sweetheart with her best friends and family present—don’t even try!

Having sung along with, danced, laughed, and cried to James Taylor’s music ever since 1970 (when my younger sister played Sweet Baby James night and day), hearing him sing his intimate songs in such an intimate venue was nothing short of awesome. For the 50 forty-to-sixtyish Boomers in the audience--- seeing JT perform “Fire and Rain” forty years after he first sang the song was spellbinding and reminded me of the memorable lyric from one of his songs: "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time." For my friend (the consummate James Taylor fan), hearing him sing “You’ve Got a Friend” in the presence of those who love her must have been spectacular!

While the circumstances behind meeting both Livingston and James were as different as these two singing siblings are from one another, I can’t help but think of similarities between the Taylor troubadours.

Both of them are:

• Survivors who’ve lived with depression, divorce, family substance abuse, and the travails of life as touring/recording musicians
• Mediocre students who each found success through talent and very hard work
• Gifted storytellers who are able to combine poetic lyrics and beautiful music that can move us and warm our hearts
• Brothers who’ve learned and remind us of the value of family and friends

As an a cappella singer myself--- what impresses me most about the Taylors is that they are both performers without peer! Watching and listening to each of them was a delightful reminder of the power of great performers to connect, captivate, and inspire an audience. Beyond their guitar mastery and soft singing delivery of great tunes, the combination of genetics and the experience of performing thousands of concerts has created two different but very gifted musicians whose performances are accessible, compassionate, engaging, and humorous.

While James may be the better known of the brothers, Livingston sets a great example for their family for those of us would like to emulate him.

Ten years ago, as part of his affiliation with Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Livingston Taylor wrote a seminal book for aspiring musicians entitled Stage Performance. Bizarrely now out of print, but sometimes available as used copies from book stores or Amazon.comStage Performance makes great reading and provides good advice for musicians, for marketers, for life.

Here’s a selection of excerpts:

“Look at, and pay attention to, your audience.”

“It's okay to be human on stage...They love you to be normal, to make a mistake, acknowledge it, smile, shake your head slightly, forgive yourself, and move on.”

“Our songs remind them of past worlds. When they want to relive those worlds, they seek us out."

"Silence is the canvas on which we paint our performance. There is nothing more wonderful than complete silence in a sold-out hall—the anticipation of the paint on canvas."

“Don't get lost in the fantasy of how your career should be. It's good to have heroes and inspiration, but not good to compare yourself to others, and the career progressions of others. Each person's path will be different.”

“Accept compliments graciously.”

My personal heartfelt compliments are directed to James and Livingston – who are as gracious as they are gifted.

Thanks for your entertainment and your example.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nimbit Launches First Survey of Professional Musicians on Direct-to-Fan Engagement

Here's Nimbit's News Announcement of the first-ever online survey of musicians on their use of direct-to fan:

Nimbit Launches First Survey of Professional Musicians on Direct-to-Fan Engagement

2010 Direct2Fan Survey to “take the pulse” of the state and future of music artists and the industry

BOSTON—December 2, 2009—Nimbit (, the leader in Direct-to-Fan music marketing and commerce, today announced the first-ever online survey of musicians and their teams for their input on direct to fan (D2F) marketing and sales.

“We are about to begin the decade of the fan” said Patrick Faucher, CEO and Co-Founder of Nimbit, Inc. “For the first time in history, music artists will be able to connect and engage directly with those who matter most—their patrons: those who attend their concerts, listen and buy their music. To best help them: we’ve decided to go directly to musicians themselves, to learn what they’re doing now, and what they’re planning for the future—in the way of fan engagement.”

Professional musicians and those who support them (managers, agents, publicists, labels, et. al) are invited to participate in the online survey by going to:

This initial Nimbit “2010 Direct2Fan Survey” is part of a new Nimbit Research initiative to interact, learn, connect and foster a strong community between all in the music industry.

Summary results of the “2010 Direct2Fan Survey” will be published early in 2010.

About Nimbit
Founded in 2002, Nimbit, Inc. is the music industry's leading direct-to-fan platform for musicians, managers, and emerging labels. Nimbit powers the brands and businesses of thousands of successful artists by giving them the ability to easily market and sell their music and products (digital and physical) directly to fans, wherever they are (web, gigs, social networking sites, etc.) A complete online solution for fan engagement and monetization, Nimbit ensures musicians’ long-term sustainability and success by fostering strong, interactive, lifelong, and profitable fan relationships. For more information, go to

Press Contact: Patrick Rafter for Nimbit, or 617-901-2697 (cell)

Nimbit, the Nimbit logo, Powered by Nimbit, Nimbit Direct-to-Fan, and Nimbit MyStore are trademarks of Nimbit, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going from an energy-eater to a green house

Those of you who follow me know that I've had a longtime committment to sustainability, interest in/support of clean technologies and energy conservation.

I recently wrote a piece on "living green" for my local paper:
The Wellesley Townsman which follows below:

Going from an energy-eater
to a green house in Wellesley

December 1, 2009
The Wellesley Townsman

By Patrick Rafter, Guest Columnist

Some words I overheard at the Wellesley dump in September stuck in my mind: “I do a lot for the environment. Every other week I come here to drop off my recyclables.”

That comment made me realize that for many in town dropping off empty wine bottles and sorting aluminum from tin cans at the RDF constitutes being “green.” To interest some of you in doing the same,let me share our family’s effort to bring the issue of climate control closer to home --- literally.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), housing contributes 18% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in our country. As you might guess--the quantity of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, various carbons and sulfurs) that any given house emits into the atmosphere is mostly a function of how much energy it consumes.

Beyond my desire to “do good,” as the owner of a drafty 70 yr old Wellesley Hills colonial who cringes when I see my oil and utility bills-I decided to find an expert who could help our family determine how much energy our house was using and wasting, and what could be done to reduce that amount.

After consulting with a half-dozen of my neighbors—we found a great resource in a Massachusetts company called Woodmeister Master Builders ( While I had first learned of Woodmeister having visited several gorgeous new homes they’d built for friends in Wellesley and Weston—it impressed me to find out that the company has a Chief Sustainability Officer who was active in creating the new National Green Building Standard for residential construction. The NGBS encourages homeowners to make smart green choices based on energy efficiency, climate and geography as well as style preferences and budget.

My next step was to contact Woodmeister’s Rational Sustainability team which works with homeowners to build and re-hab residences to make them more energy efficient, healthier, more comfortable, and environmentally responsible.

A crew from Woodmeister recently spent an entire day at our house conducting a Home Energy Analysis to determine areas of energy loss, suggest strategies to reduce heating and cooling costs, improve our home’s indoor comfort and air quality, and reduce its carbon emissions.

Here’s what is included in a Home Energy Analysis:

Preliminary Safety Checks:
Test for carbon monoxide in the heating system, visually inspect for asbestos, knob and tube wiring, and mold and mildew in the attic and basement areas; and check for satisfactory ventilation in the attic, bathrooms, and dryer.

Locate air leaks
Using an infrared camera, along with a calibrated blower door fan, pressure-sensing device and smoke stick, the team locates air leaks throughout the house. A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into an exterior doorframe. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. Using a blower door, the technicians can quantify air flow, pinpoint specific leaks—then track the location and quantity of heat loss.

Fix the leaks
Based on the results of the testing and with our permission, the Woodmeister team set to work – to seal leaks around exterior doors and windows; seal pipe and wire penetrations in the basement; close gaps in the attic walls, roof, and floor; insulate hot water pipes and wrapping heating ducts.

Plan for Next Steps

Shortly after the Analysis, Woodmeister reviewed with us a detailed report
summarizing an assessment of the efficiency of our house, and detailing initial fixes they implemented during the analysis--with associated projected benefits, estimated energy bill savings, and CO2 reductions. What I found especially interesting in the report was a listing of recommended future remediations, which we plan to do in the near future:

1) Wall Insulation – Like many pre-World War II houses in Wellesley, our house was built with no wall insulation. Blowing cellulose insulation through the clapboard siding of our house will reduce heat losses.

2) Install a programmable thermostat (automatically turns heat up or down at appropriate times of the day) will save an estimated $237/yr just by lowering the temperature 6 degrees for eight hours per day.

3) Insulate our attic roof with open cell spray foam to reduce air leakage.

4) Insulate our basement steam pipes: Will help reduce the heat gains on the first floor and balance the heating system better.

Through these small steps alone, Woodmeister projects we’ll save more than $1,000/yr in energy costs, and lower our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide our house emits by 3.93 tons a year. That’s the equivalent of driving 6,601 car miles!

Fellow residents: if any of you are considering remodeling or an addition to your home, or even just want to save some money on your energy bills—I can recommend connecting with an eco-minded contractor like Woodmeister to turn your old house into a green house.

Patrick Rafter lives in Wellesley.



Original article online at: