Mike on the Bass

"The Afterlife" by Mike McClellan

April 10, 202435 min read

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[00:00:00] Mike McClellan: I'm Mike McClellan and this is my song, The Afterlife.

[00:00:16] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Welcome to the Song Saloon! I'm singer songwriter Jordan Smith Reynolds. If you enjoy this episode, I'd really appreciate it if you shared it with a friend. Today's guest is Mike McClellan.

Mike McClellan is a producer, composer, and songwriter based in Burbank, California. A multi instrumentalist who leans heavily on keys, guitar, bass, and percussion in the studio, Mike creates tracks described as cinematic, soulful, and groovy.

When he's not in the studio, Mike teaches college classes on music production and enjoys trips to the cinema and spending time with his wife and son. Welcome, Mike.

[00:00:53] Mike McClellan: Hi, how's it going?

[00:00:54] Jordan Smith Reynolds: It's great. How are you doing today?

[00:00:57] Mike McClellan: I'm feeling swell.

it's nice and misty outside. Kind of magical looking.

[00:01:02] Jordan Smith Reynolds: got that mystery

is, that Yes, and uh some background for Mike McClellan, for those who are listening in. Mike actually produced my song, 1933, that came out in November which I'm super happy with. so you work pretty heavily as a producer.

[00:01:17] Mike McClellan: That's right. Yep.

[00:01:18] Jordan Smith Reynolds: How do you balance your, your work with songwriting and production?

[00:01:22] Mike McClellan: You know, honestly, uh, songwriting is something that I have to willfully make time for because people tend to bring me finished songs to produce. So a lot of my actual, like, work time isn't taken up by writing. So I kind of have to be, like, I should spend some time just writing, just for the sake of doing it.

[00:01:39] Jordan Smith Reynolds: how does that influence your production work? I noticed when I write songs that, production work comes, differently or like it strikes you like, yeah, I would just love to go into your reasons for writing and versus production work and all that stuff.

[00:01:54] Mike McClellan: You know, I think sometimes it's one way and sometimes it's another way. So, there are times when an idea will strike me and I've just got to get it down and it's something that I feel just compelled to bring to fruition somehow. I would say The Afterlife was like that. Where it was like, this is just something that I literally just wanted to say.

and wanted to release, . the theme of it is kind of, uh, pandemic centric. And so I released it long after the pandemic has kind of calmed down a bit. And, but I still just still just really wanted to say it because it was an idea that just kind of wanted to get out of me and be said, there are other times that.

When I'm writing it's for a specific objective because I'm a professional and there are times when I need to write something for an artist or for something specific or to a brief or for a corporate project or something and it is kind of a different headspace because when I write songs that I know that I'm going to be the one singing I tend to have a very particular voice about me and you know like I think my my cousin once was saying to me something like, do we want to use the We were writing a song and I used the word catapult somewhere and he's like, do we want to use this in that literal sense of like, this is a medieval siege weapon?

And I said to him, you know, that's, that's just me. That's a classic Mike move right there because my head is just so full of like Shakespeare and scripture. And so I tend to err on the side of like a little, a little grandiose, a little too dramatic. And when I write for other people, I have to consciously kind of tone that down and be like, let's talk a little more like a, like in a more conversational, normal person sort of way.

I don't know, do you experience that as well? Do you find that when you write with other people you change your word choice and imagery a little bit?

[00:03:40] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yes. that was, that's really interesting you put it that way. I imagine when I work with other songwriters, I do probably focus more on being a little bit more conversational in my lyric writing. where, when I do my own artist stuff, I give myself a little more freedom to kind of just live in the abstract and

write stuff that. That I may not, uh, fully understand until half the verse is written, you know,

[00:04:03] Mike McClellan: Yeah.

[00:04:04] Jordan Smith Reynolds: where you don't, I don't really think you have the luxury to do that when you're in a co write as much, because if you've got a several hour co write scheduled, you kind of have to figure out your, your mission statement and what's going on pretty quickly.

If you're going to walk away with, with something you can use,

[00:04:23] Mike McClellan: Something I think about a lot. I don't know if you've, covered this with, with other people.

But, I often wonder about the popularity of the abstract, if that makes sense. Like I feel like when I was in high school and I was, you know, just getting into pop music and learning to write songs that, abstract lyrics were a lot more in vogue.

And like, you got like songs like, Black Balloon by the Goo Goo Dolls. You know, he talks about like, scatter like ice from the spoon. And if you ask anybody, like, what does that mean? I don't think you'll get the same answer twice, right? Like, it's very, very abstract. And I can't think of a lot of Songs that have done really well in the past 5, 10, 15 years that are as abstract as that, unless you get outside of like the radio friendly pop adjacent stuff and more into kind of the, the more progressive or avant garde genres.

I don't know. What do you think of that?

[00:05:16] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I would agree with that. I mean, I think as a good example, you could look at Flowers by Miley Cyrus, which is pretty like, cut and dry, you know what you're getting from the lyrics, right away. Then I'll listen to, like Adrianne Lenker and, uh, Big Thief and people like that.

And the lyrics, are not on, I mean, the songs are not on the radio typically, but I, I gravitate to them. Really to, to kind of those more artsy spaces that lets you put yourself. it allows you to put yourself and your own experiences in a little bit more. when you have some, some range to kind of interpret what's going on.


what would you say for this song, the afterlife? where does that fall for you lyrically?

[00:05:57] Mike McClellan: Sure. Yeah. So I think this is on the side of the more abstract. but if I were to just kind of pull the curtain back and say, this is where I was at when I wrote it. when the pandemic was kind of at its lowest point and we were all stuck at home and, you know, feeling very limited in what we could do and places we could go, things we could experience.

this is the song that I wrote about that. And the, the afterlife is specifically. the next chapter when things get different, when this chapter is over and things kind of open up. So, it is kind of just fantasizing about returning to a more expansive life experience where you can go and do the things that you want to do and go to the places you want to go.

and then I didn't release it at the time because there was, I was just not quite satisfied with the lyrics and it felt a little too on the nose and it felt like the message wasn't getting across in the right way. And I, I think over time I realized that it needed to be a little more universal and a little less specific about where I was at at that time and maybe just open it up a little more to a universal experience.

So reworked it a little bit and I think where it's landed is it's less a pandemic song and it's more of a, um, what is the next thing in life? What is the next chapter? And I think you could apply it to a literal afterlife, like religious belief or metaphysical spiritual beliefs, or you could just say it's about, you know, fantasizing about a different life than the one you're living in and you can get to it eventually.

So what's the word? Manifesting that. That's the word. Manifesting it.

[00:07:32] Jordan Smith Reynolds: cool. Well, I'd love to get into the live performance here and then kind of dive further into the, into the song with you. Does that sound good?

[00:07:41] Mike McClellan: That sounds good.

[00:07:42] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Awesome. Let's hear it.

[00:07:44] Mike McClellan: headphones

[00:10:53] Jordan Smith Reynolds: All right.

[00:10:54] Mike McClellan: They were slowly slipping off that last chorus. And we made it, we made it all the way


[00:11:02] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Well, thank you so much. That's awesome.

I want to dive into some of these lyrical choices and melody things that you came up with. first off, the, I just need to know what happens next. I'm letting go of chapters read, I think is a super effective, refrain I love how the melody kind of shakes up and you can tell like the, I don't know, I don't want to say desperation, but like you're, Your desire to know what's going on comes through with the melody getting higher and higher and and I also like that, you know, the song's called the afterlife.

that's kind of the recurring thing in the verse, but then the chorus is something, completely different.

[00:11:37] Mike McClellan: yeah, I believe in a strong contrast between verses and choruses.

[00:11:42] Jordan Smith Reynolds: yeah, I think it's interesting that the afterlife isn't mentioned in the chorus of the song, which is kind of cool.

[00:11:48] Mike McClellan: think that's, you know, like the prevailing wisdom is The chorus is where you put your hook. Chorus is the hook. So your title should be the hook and should go in the chorus. And that's, that's the rule, right? but you can break the rule. And people do. I've seen, a fair amount of examples.

And I'm going to struggle to think of one on the spot, I know. But, uh, but if you repeat your your title, If you repeat your hook enough times in the verse, I think it works, you know, because the repetition makes it stick and as long as the chorus is thematically related, I think it's cool. Or, you know, sometimes, um, you mention your title one time in the bridge, but as long as it's set up in an impactful way, that can work too.

Like, uh, Rascal Flatts "Skin" comes to mind. so yes, it did break the rule, but I did it intentionally.

[00:12:32] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I think that's really nice to have songs that don't kind of follow the conventional format. So yeah, let's look at this. So in the verse, you have in the afterlife repeated four times in the first verse.

[00:12:44] Mike McClellan: I thought it would be overkill if I kept up that same level of repetition in verse two.

[00:12:49] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Mm

Yeah but you do still have it kinda being the pre

right into the into the chorus so cool I think that's awesome. what would you describe your process of songwriting with this. to me, it looks like the verses came first. and then the chorus came after. Would you agree? Is that kind of what happened?

[00:13:06] Mike McClellan: believe, I believe that is what happened. Yes.

[00:13:09] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah.

[00:13:10] Mike McClellan: It's not, it's not usually that way. Usually I do start with the chorus. But if you listen to the record that I released, it's um, The vocal melody is doubled by a marimba and with the very like percussive acoustic guitar, that texture of like the the breathy double track vocals doubled with the marimba, doubled with that same rhythm on the guitar.

That was the, I think the initial idea that was in my head. that I, so I was thinking, thinking production from the get go when I started

writing this. but yeah, but that's, yeah, that was kind of the, the hook to hang my hat on. And, and then the lyrics started tumbling out with what I was thinking about at the time.

[00:13:56] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Cool. And I wanted to ask you as a producer, do you find yourself jumping to the DAW pretty quickly, when you're working on writing something like this, or did you stay pretty far away from production elements until later? Just kind of thinking through them as you write.

[00:14:11] Mike McClellan: Yeah, no, I don't, I don't tend to write in the DAW. Um, I actually do most of my writing while walking or driving without an instrument. And I'm just, uh, singing to myself, and then I, you know, if I'm driving, find a safe place to pull over and then, uh, create a little voice memo. And usually, usually I have either no idea what the chords are going to be or some idea of what the chords are going to be, but I often have to kind of fit it to the melody later because I wrote it without a guitar in my hand or without a piano nearby.

But I think that's, I think that's a good thing because it, you know, It makes it so the, the, the melody is something that can stand on its own, or at least that's the idea,

[00:14:54] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah. I found that to be a really nice exercise writing to, to nothing. Basically, just walking around and getting the melody first. Um, writing to a drone is really fun too. that can be a really cool thing. Just having one continuous note that you kind of just Play around with

[00:15:11] Mike McClellan: Should we call that the bagpipe technique?

[00:15:13] Jordan Smith Reynolds: the bagpipe.

I think yes, I think that should be it recently i've been writing really to just kind of like guitar riffs that I like

But I think motion is really important for writing and whether that's motion of some sort of instrument or riff happening or you physically walking or driving.

Like you were saying, I think motion is just essential to good living and good songwriting.

[00:15:39] Mike McClellan: Yeah, yeah. I mean, well, if you think about our early ancestors, how much they had to move during the day, just by necessity. And how a lot of like the songs that have survived the longest tend to be songs that were sung, marching or during like liturgy or processionals.

[00:15:56] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Sea shanties.

[00:15:58] Mike McClellan: yeah, while you're like working or while you're on the road or something.

And, contrasted with how little we move today in the course of daily life, unless we force ourselves to. So. Yeah, I would agree with that. I think moving your body and moving through a changing landscape, it's very helpful for your mind to release the ideas that are in there.

[00:16:19] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah. I've also had success with morning writing and that's what I've kind of been focused on recently. So I'll actually, we'll stay in this room. I'll go into this room and write, as soon as I wake up for like an hour and a half or two, and try to get as close to a complete song as possible in that time.

And that doesn't, always happen. But

[00:16:39] Mike McClellan: Is that every day?

[00:16:41] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I want to do it every day. That is ideally every day. and I've started recently, doing that I imagine I'll improve quite a bit faster if I can crank out a song like that, that often.

[00:16:52] Mike McClellan: Yeah, that's impressive. That's really good.

[00:16:55] Jordan Smith Reynolds: thanks. Yeah. Today was just a, a verse chorus kind of idea, but I also was playing with the riff that was more in like, it's another seven, eight.

Kind of song where the riff is just seven eight the whole time and trying to come up with a melody that felt really nice

[00:17:12] Mike McClellan: I have a question about that.

Cause, cause, uh, recently I've been talking to students in a, in a class that I'm teaching about, time signatures and unusual time signatures. And, um, how did you get to the point where seven, eight is something that you gravitate towards rather than like, I'm going to write something at 7, 8 as like a challenge to myself, because that's, that's what I would have to do.

but how did you get to the point where it's like, yeah, 7, 8. I just live in it. I feel it. It's natural. And I can just write melodies over the top of it. So I feel like that's, that's unusual for most writers.

[00:17:45] Jordan Smith Reynolds: is super unusual, I think, for this in particular, it was just that the riff needed to feel spicy enough to me to feel like, something that I wanted to keep working on and adding that little extra, that, that, that I needed to make it seven, eight. Um,

[00:18:03] Mike McClellan: is that the boredom of 4, 4 that we lesser mortals content ourselves with is not enough for you anymore. You must reach higher. You must reach further.

[00:18:13] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah.

[00:18:13] Mike McClellan: For the spice.

[00:18:15] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I don't know. Today was a 7 8 day.

[00:18:18] Mike McClellan: Oh, cool. Well, I mean one of the, when, you know, when I, uh, when we started working on 1933, one of the things that impressed me the most about it was that it was in an odd time signature, but it didn't feel that way. It felt very natural. And I think that's something that you are very good at as a songwriter is, is making the cadence of your phrases feel very natural and the 7 8 Or 7 4 doesn't really call attention to itself, I think.

[00:18:43] Jordan Smith Reynolds: thank you. that is definitely the goal for me as well. I think that is the most interesting for me, is when you can do a 7 8 sort of riff, and just have it feel like, oh yeah, that's how it had to be. It should be that right

[00:18:55] Mike McClellan: yeah.

[00:18:56] Jordan Smith Reynolds: And that's what I liked about the melody I was writing today was it feels, it doesn't feel like I'm, uh, going into like syncopated, uh, this is feeling groovy mode.

It's just, It just feels like it should be in seven, eight. I hope so. Anyway. but yeah, do you experiment with a lot of time signature stuff? I mean, I know you've got like crazy instrumental chops on bass and guitar. So like, that's definitely in your wheelhouse. Do you find yourself writing in that

[00:19:23] Mike McClellan: You know, I don't really, in fact, I'm struggling to think of a time that I've ever even attempted it. I think I probably tried back in my college days when I had a little performing duo with my roommate. And, uh, he was going to school for classical composition

. And so his, His mind was in, you know, strange places to me, you know, thinking about Schoenberg and 12 Tone Rose and stuff.

So, so that kind of trickled in and I think we probably must have done something like that. But, left to my own devices. No, I think I, I just really, love a good backbeat and, uh, I can't, I can't resist the pull of just clapping on two and four, you know?

There's a, an artist I've worked with who, whenever she brings me a song. three out of four times, it's in six, eight.

And that's just, that's just where she lives. That's just what feels really natural to her. And, Yeah, and that's cool, you know, like that's just, you know, why not?

Why is, why does it have to be four most of the time instead of three or six? and then like an artist I really like, Eloise, who works with, another artist I really like, Bruno Major, you know, like a lot of her songs and a lot of his songs are also in 6 8. And, you know, why not

? So I think, I think it's fun to, I think it's fun to try to, uh, branch out and try different things, but also just, you know, There's, there's something to be said.

Somebody said this to me recently. I forget who it was. I think it was a student, but it was really profound. It was, We strive a lot to leave our comfort zone, and that's, you know, considered praiseworthy to leave your comfort zone, but sometimes maybe it's okay to celebrate doing something where you're comfortable and just sort of like revel in the comfort of it.

And I hadn't really thought about that before because it's a kind of a counter cultural idea, but I think that's, that's good and insightful. It's like, yeah, is there not something to be said for just enjoying doing something that feels good, you know? When it comes to writing or creating.

[00:21:21] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I really like that perspective. because we do kind of in this capitalist society focus on kind of that, Oh, if you're not pushing, Oh, if you're not growing, then what's the point of the thing, but really the songs that resonate with people the most, I feel like are the ones that feel really good to listen to.

[00:21:40] Mike McClellan: Yeah.


Um, there's a, there's a book that I read. It's the. It has different titles in different countries and I can't even, I was in the UK when I read it and I read the UK version and it's got a different title in the states and as a result I cannot remember what it's called.

but basically in this book it's, it's about like the science of how things become popular and why things are celebrated or universally known, why people like the stuff they do. And his main thesis was, related to this, um, industrial designer named Raymond Lowy, who is kind of known as the father of modern industrial design.

He took things like locomotives that were very practically shaped, form completely following function. And he added this, like, what if we made them look nice? What if we made them look cool? And so a lot of like the art deco streamlined, very, straight or curvy lines that we see in like the 1930s through the 1960s.

Like a lot of that is his influence. And, his guiding principle was something he called the Maya principle. M A Y A, which is "Most Advanced Yet Acceptable," meaning the sweet spot between what is comfortable and tried and true and acceptable and what is advanced and novel and kind of shakes you out of your comfort zone.

His theory was that people have this sweet spot of where it's just weird enough to be interesting, but just familiar and, accessible enough to be comfortable. that's something I've thought about a lot. And it's something I tell my students. And I think that that sweet spot is going to be different depending on your taste and what kind of personality you have.

And also the genre, like nobody expects, um, Justin Bieber to be playing like, sharp 13 chords or working in like, you know, uh, seven, eight. Uh, whereas if you're going to go to a punch, a punch brothers concert, they do some traditional bluegrass, but they also do some really far out stuff. And that's just that genre there.

That's just the expectation from that band is that they're on the side of advanced more than acceptable. And probably Justin Bieber is more on the side of acceptable rather than advanced. So it's a moving target. And I think finding that target is the great challenge of making art for an audience.

[00:24:02] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah. I mean, if it worked for Raymond Loewy, um, it would be cool to kind of approach songwriting that way too.

[00:24:09] Mike McClellan: Put another way, my old college professor Ron Simpson, he used to say something that was basically the same idea, just worded differently, which was, We build our musical walls with familiar bricks, and then we have to insert the one golden brick that only you could have put in there.

And so same idea, right?

We use similar structures and we use the same chord progressions over and over. We use the same scale. We're not trying to like reinvent the wheel when we write songs, but then there's gotta be some, some nugget of novelty or some way you've phrased something that nobody else has done before. Otherwise, how are you going to call attention to it?

How are you going to stand out from the sea of other talented people all around you?

[00:24:52] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah. That's awesome. If you were to say for this song, for "The Afterlife" what you feel like is your golden brick, would you be able to point that out?

[00:25:02] Mike McClellan: well, I don't know. Is

[00:25:04] Jordan Smith Reynolds: I know that's a tricky thing to

[00:25:05] Mike McClellan: interpreting my own art or something? I don't know. I think I can tell you what my favorite line is in

the song.

[00:25:11] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah, I love that.

[00:25:12] Mike McClellan: It's a, it's racing up the overpass in a city made of glass and a spider web of concrete in my

[00:25:17] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Me too.

[00:25:19] Mike McClellan: And,

[00:25:19] Jordan Smith Reynolds: also my favorite. Go ahead.

[00:25:21] Mike McClellan: Often I have dreams where I'm just driving on a freeway at night in some huge futuristic city with crazy looking freeways and everything.

And I think I actually captured that pretty well in a verse of song. So I feel good about that. Maybe that's it. I don't know.

[00:25:37] Jordan Smith Reynolds: That's awesome. Oh, also, I wanted to ask you about this experience you had recently about, your music being taken off of streaming. Uh, can we talk about that for a minute?

[00:25:49] Mike McClellan: absolutely. So, back in 2020, I released an EP of five songs and I did some work to promote it at the time. And I got it over the past three years or so. I, I, I guess four years now. Sheesh. Um, I got two of the songs over a thousand streams into the two to 3000 stream range, which was, you know, which is, which is all right.

You know, it's perfectly all right. And one day, a few weeks or months ago, I suddenly logged into, I logged into Spotify for artists and suddenly noticed that one of them had gotten like, 2100 streams overnight or something, something crazy like that. And I thought, wow, it must, it must've gotten on some popular playlist.

Some curator liked it and is now putting it on somewhere where people can listen to it. The thing that I've wanted to happen ever since I put it out there, right? The thing we all hope will happen. and then the next day it was a very similar number of streams. And then the next day it was the same, and then the next day it was the same, and then after about four days it was just gone, it all stopped.

So, just back to, you know, the three to five streams a day that it would get. And I thought, that was weird, I don't fully understand, but, oh well. And I had heard before of, you know, people using bots to artificially inflate streams with bot farms, but I didn't solicit that. I didn't, I didn't do anything to cause that to happen.

I didn't reach out to any, I wasn't approached by anybody and nobody asked me like, Hey, you want to be on our cool playlist? And well, you, you pay this amount of dollars and you get this many streams. And I hadn't done that. So I didn't think anything would happen. But then a couple of days later, uh, I, I, Logged into Spotify for Artists and the EP was just down.

It was just gone. It had disappeared. And I reached out to DistroKid, my distributor, and I reached out to Spotify and DistroKid sent me like one little notice that was like your songs have been shown to have Over 90 percent of the streams are coming from bots so we've been it's been taken down reach out to Spotify if you have any questions and Spotify said reach out to your distributor if you have any questions, and I I got onto a chat with somebody from Spotify and I was like, Hey, look, this isn't fair because I didn't pay for this.

I didn't cause this to happen in any way. And they literally said, there's nothing else we can do. I'm ending this conversation now. And they left the chat and it was demoralizing and a little bit infuriating.

[00:28:17] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah, a little bit. You

[00:28:19] Mike McClellan: yeah, yeah.

[00:28:20] Jordan Smith Reynolds: how much, how much time and effort goes into creating songs, even the ones that like, even if you feel like you didn't get a lot of streams on your songs, artists are putting in so much effort. And of course, there are songs being put on Spotify that are like voice memos.

You know, so, so that is happening too. That's what's so crazy to me is Spotify has kind of opened the floodgates, with, DistroKid and everything else too, where you can put anything on streaming platforms, but there are artists that are putting in so much of their heart and soul and time and effort and work and money, into making these tracks, what they are.

And then Spotify can just turn around and be like, meh, too bad. So sad. Like what? Mm

[00:29:06] Mike McClellan: did say, basically your, your course of action right now is that you can re upload. We'll let you re upload if you get a certain amount of strikes, we'll, we won't let you upload anything anymore. so, you know, it's like the, the primary consequences, a little bit of effort on my part to re upload, you know, it's not a big deal.

The, and the, the streaming numbers. Which, you know, how important are they at the end of the day is a matter of perspective, I guess. but that is erased. And if that represents any hard work on my part of trying to promote things and, and play shows or, or put it on social media or whatever, and that effort is erased.

And we could, we could have an interesting conversation about the value of those numbers on Spotify. But I think the scariest part is just the realization of just how little They care right how little how little distro kid actually wants to help you Or determine whether or not you were at fault or whether you paid for this or no recourse.

No, no grievance process No appeal process. They just they just don't really care. I put this, uh, I put a video talking about this on TikTok and it's to date gotten about 70, 000 views, hundreds of comments. And most of the comments are along the lines of this happened to me too. This happened to my band, or I just got put on this weird playlist from Finland and I don't know what to do.

Am I going to get kicked off? So it's, uh, it's not just me. It is, it is a thing that's happening and Spotify is in the middle of kind of restructuring some things about the way they work with independent artists. If you don't get a thousand streams, they won't pay you anything. you know, it was going to be pennies anyway, but, uh, they're not going to pay you any pennies now if you don't get a thousand streams and it just, it feels like something fishy is going on, right?

And there was, um, what was his name? Something Weaver on YouTube did a really deep dive into the, the relationship between DistroKid and Spotify and DistroKid apparently has other, problematic issues with their. Their customer service. And so it's a, it's an interesting time to be trying to play the streaming game.

And, a lot of the comments were also like, see, this is why you shouldn't even use Spotify. It's all corrupt and it's not good for the artists and you should all just go to band camp. And, and then somebody else is like, well, band camp just got acquired, so they're probably about to come, become corrupted too.

And it's just a, it is a tricky thing if you want to distribute your original music. And make any kind of money off of it or even just use it as a portfolio piece and just put it online where somebody can Go listen to what you do. It just feels like the the options are they're not ideal at the moment, I guess

[00:31:41] Jordan Smith Reynolds: agreed. Um, that goes for social media too, I think. just because on Like they can change things so quickly. The, the algorithm, like what worked for Instagram, changes, what worked on Tik TOK changes, and then you've got this huge audience supposedly, but then you can't reach them, because of what they change.

so I've kind of come to the conclusion recently that all of it matters and none of it matters in the same breath. it's great to have a social platform to be growing your audience.

The only thing that is important is actually growing your tribe, like where you are actually able to, to reach out and connect with people.

So to me, that's like email list, texting, and, just being able to develop. Relationships with people that you can reach out to, whenever is, I think that has to be top priority now, cause I see it with artists that, That don't have the huge streaming numbers, but are crushing it in live performance and actually growing their own audience.

And like, I know that they could go to so many cities in the United States and just be like, Hey, I've got a show and get like, a ton of people out to their show where you could get someone that has millions of streams on Spotify and say, Hey, I'm going to go play this show in Pittsburgh and have like one person show up, So that's my thought on it right now is, I'm pretty frustrated with Distrokid and Spotify as well.

I've had some issues, not as intense as getting my music taken down, but, changing my artist name to Jordan Smith Reynolds was the biggest headache. And I think I was like 15. Emails in with DistroKid before they finally gave me something practical I could do. so yeah, that's the thing.

They don't, they just don't care. What they want is they want to make money and it's really not about the artist. So other artists that are experiencing this, like, and listening right now, please do reach out and share your experiences. Um, things do need to change in the industry. I think, I think a lot of things need to change. And I think there's a lot of power we have as individual artists, in growing our own, tribe, through email lists and through texting and things like that, I think that really does need to be the focus.

[00:33:55] Mike McClellan: Hey, man

[00:33:56] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah. Anything else you want to add to that, to that idea or, um,

[00:34:00] Mike McClellan: Yeah, gosh, I think Yeah, I think that it's it's good to be intentional about with social media and with, with streaming and everything to be intentional about, you know, what do I want to get out of this? Because I, I feel sometimes a creeping pressure to make content for social media for its own sake. And, and when I, when I get into that mindset, I begin to, I have to remember that the people who run those platforms, they benefit from me spending as much time on there as possible. Because I'll see more advertisements, that's, that's at the end of the day what they want. that's got to be different from what I want.

I can't just want to have as much content for just the sake of having content. I have to want something specific from it. So what you said about like, if I'm, if I'm trying to grow an audience of real people, I have to remember that I held, I'll have different strategies for this. And that they will either work really well or they'll work somewhat well or they won't work.

And that's okay. You know, I'm just experimenting. And if I can evaluate what strategies aren't working, I can try something different. So I think, yeah, I think being intentional about it's really important.

[00:35:17] Jordan Smith Reynolds: yeah, yeah. Being intentional about it. And I think putting as much stock in it as it deserves. Right.

Um, so like, if you're an artist out there and you're like, wow, I got, I got, I got You know, 10 streams on release day, like, I think putting it into perspective of one platform does not mean really anything like, what are you going to determine success for yourself?

How are you going to figure out what that word means to you? and going after it. And if it is success on Spotify power to you, it's great to have ears on it.

[00:35:53] Mike McClellan: Yeah. if the goal is to make money, to write songs and make money with them, then perhaps just, you know, putting them out on Spotify isn't the best idea, you know, and there might be something, some other way to do it, like through sync licensing or, I've heard of people doing well on Spotify, but it's largely like I made a bunch of study music, a bunch of lo fi beats, and they got millions and millions of streams because people just put it on while they study.

And, that's different than like, I have a song that says something and I want people to hear it so I can, so I can move you and, and hopefully like, give you the experience that great songs give to me, you know, like that's a, that's a very different thing. And the mechanism is not set up for that necessarily on Spotify and also to make you money doing it.

it's a tricky thing to navigate.

[00:36:45] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Agreed. Yeah, well, thank you so much for sharing your experience with that. if people want to see your music online, what's the best channel? What's the best way that they can do that if they want to check out your music?

[00:36:55] Mike McClellan: Well, you can go follow me on Spotify. I am there. It's, uh, I'm, I'm Mike McClellan and

[00:37:02] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Tell the next bot farm comes along. You can, you can check him out there.

[00:37:06] Mike McClellan: There is another Mike McClellan on Spotify. He's an Australian gentleman who, uh, who's more famous than I have ever been, uh, in Australia. But they haven't come after me yet to make me change my name.

So, so I'm, I'm the other Mike McClellan and I'm also on Instagram and TikTok as Mike McClellan music. And I also have a, uh, a production portfolio of the other songs that I've worked on for other artists where you can find great songs like 1933. and that's my Mike McClellan production portfolio playlist, which is on Spotify.

And you can find that, uh, most easily, probably from my Instagram.

[00:37:45] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Awesome. And I'll make sure to link everything in the show notes. So please do check those out can listen to Mike's work. thank you so much for being here today. Mike, do you have anything else coming up that we should be aware of for your artist project?

[00:37:58] Mike McClellan: Yeah, well I am, I am re releasing a few of the songs from my EP that got taken down. I decided to, revisit the mix and some production ideas and make them even better. one of those got dropped a couple weeks ago and then, there's more to come. And then I have a few more original songs, just singles that I'm, finishing up and will be out in, uh, several weeks to several months.

[00:38:19] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Mike, for being here today. Yeah, yeah, it's great to chat with you great to dive into your music a little bit more.

[00:38:28] Mike McClellan: Thanks, I appreciate it.

[00:38:29] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Yeah, thanks. All right. I'll see ya.

[00:38:32] Mike McClellan: Have a good one.

[00:38:33] Jordan Smith Reynolds: Bye.

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Jordan Smith Reynolds

Singer songwriter, podcast host, voice teacher, dad.

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