In part two of my chat with author and musician Eric Litwin, we discuss his work with The Learning Groove and life as an independent Musician and Author.
So your live shows are like your laboratory.
[Yes] The creative process is really enhance by moments that happen in performance. Some of the best ideas, when you check them out live and they go no where. Then some other ideas that make you think “maybe, maybe not” you try them out and the love it. They’re responding to this, why are they responding to this, I have no idea, and then you keep on going.
You are also co-founder of The Learning Groove, an early childhood music education program based in Atlanta. I’m interested, on the Learning Groove website, you’ve taken a really modern approach. I feel like there’s this new mindset that giving away resources and giving away music for free and giving away as much as you can for free actually enhances not only your brand, but actually your sales. Right now in the music business especially there’s this big debate about how much should be free, how you’re going to make your money, and I’m curious why you went this way, where you’re giving away as much as you can
Well, I think that there is the way things should be and the way things are, and there are positives and negatives to everything. I am very concerned about how musicians are going to make a living if nobody’s buying anything I’m also very concerned about how authors are going to make a living if nobody buys books anymore. Having said that, (co-founder) Michael Levine and I felt that having a high volume website was an extraordinarily positive accomplishment and that by having a high volume website, there were many things that would happen, one, more people would learn about The Learning Groove, and there are other ways that you can monetize.
We have over a hundred songs, every song has a webpage, and on the webpage, you can listen to the whole song for free, there are activity suggestions, music, guitar chords, a coloring sheet a comment section where people can share lesson plans.
What made you decide to give so much away for free?
I feel, in today’s world, you need multiple ways to make money. You just cannot rely on just one particular way. So I make my money through book sales, through performances; I still give close to 200 performances a year, I travel 10 days out of every month and I usually do 2 to 4 shows a day. I also do a lot keynotes and presentations. This is something I love to do and it’s also how I develop my music and I get paid for it, and I want people to have something after I leave. They can buy my CDs, but the selling of CDs is becoming obsolete, because people prefer things like pandora, they download stuff. We do sell cds, I think the website has helped. But the people we’re selling CDs to are the ones who prefer CDs over other media. People can also take our training to offer parent and child classes or do live shows using our materials so we also monetize by offering training, and by offering the parent/child classes. And what we do there, we have different licensing plans, but one of the things we do is that every parent you have ins going to need to buy a CD. So, it’s just different things that you try and you experiment. The learning groove has not been profitable, we haven’t lost money … every year. Over all we’ve put an enormous amount of time into it and from a business perspective we’re hopeful that things will get better. We have teachers all over the country, someone’s going to begin training in Poland and possibly China.
You and Michael Levine do this all yourself?
Oh yes, we created this ourselves, in our home audio, there are six books associated with The Learning Groove…..It’s a lot of work and we love it and we’re trying to streamline and get it out to the world as much as possible. We hope to have it one day get out to hundreds of teachers and people throughout the world. We love for our material to be used in classroom and it’s been very rewarding. we love it.
How do you have time to do all this?
Techonology is making our lives easier! I use a lot of Google services
The world is changing and the game is changing.Technology has been part of the Pete the Cat experience. I not only wrote the book, but I alos produced and performed the music. And that was made available, people would listen to the song and read the book, and then you had kids reading the book and their parents putting it on youtube, so YouTube was part of the success and the free download on the website was a big part of the success and then you have Pinterest, where teachers were putting lesson plans for the books on Pinterest, and so that became a part of the success. So my books are multifaceted in that there’s literacy there’s words, music, movement and all of this is enhanced through the internet, through computers.
To learn more about the Learning Groove, click here.
To learn more about Eric’s new series, The Nut Family, click here.