There’s been much discussion of what is kindie and what is not kindie in children’s music. There are some who worry that if they’re not “hip” or “young” enough or don’t play within the confines a very narrow musical genre, they’re “not kindie.”
I’d like to think there’s an entirely different set of principles that determines if you’re kindie or not. Here’s my take.
This is Kindie:
- You’ve taken enormous risks and sacrificed thousands of hours to hone your craft on your own dime and the help of grassroots crowds who have come to believe in you.
- You’ve experimented through trial and error, finding your authentic voice and making it resonate with kids and their parents.
- You’re learning not to be too consumed with whether or not you’re hip enough (No one will ever completely master this). You’re just you.
- You can “go with the flow” when the kids and families don’t react the way you imagined; you tinker with your act to improve family and child engagement as you go.
- Your onstage appearance and presence are an extension of who you genuinely are, but you’ve also put thought into ways big or little to elevate it to a remarkable level.
- Your album artwork invites families into a vivid, exciting or soothing experience.
- You play folk, jazz, rock, punk, funk, hip hop, country, reggae, Americana, whatever–it’s genuinely you.
- You’ve taken your time to write and record quality material; you’ve meticulously mixed and mastered it or invested in someone to do those steps for you. You either recorded real drums or made an arrangement that naturally flows without a drum kit.
- You’re in awe of the community and the movement of artists surrounding you; your marketing of your music occasionally reflects that.
- You love the music you make and you do it because you’ve gotta!
This is Not Kindie:
- Sony Records gave you a $100K advance for your new album.
- Disney Corp. put your band together, choosing you because you “fit the suit.”
- You fly a charter jet to your gigs.
- Your songs were written by a team of top Nashville songwriters, one of whom gets $200K a year just to come up with titles.
- You twerk onstage in front of pyrotechnic effects.
- You have a Jumbotron behind you showing images other than a little yellow guy from the sun (sorry, couldn’t resist, Morgan & Rachel!).
- You didn’t get that last joke.
- You lose it when the kids don’t act like the perfect little adoring fans you envisioned.
- You chose to program cheesy-sounding fake drums on a rock song (as a cheaper substitute for real drums) instead of working with a drummer, using hand percussion or just leaving the drums out on an album you plan on releasing commercially.
- Your album artwork is a WordArt graphic and clip art done in PowerPoint in 5 minutes.
- You cut corners because “heck, the kids won’t know the difference!”
- You pitch your album to the media as the only one in the world that kids and parents can agree on.
- You brag that your album is the first ever to get kids dancing and learning at the same time.
- You don’t really love this music; you do it because, hey, it pays better than the bars.
What do you think? Did I miss anything on either list? Please comment!
Every story has a beginning. The idea of this podcast had been marinating in me for some time, but it was the give-and-take at the KindieComm kids & family music conference in Philadelphia last weekend that urged me to transform this idea into reality. For over 1/2 hour I speak from an outline addressing the takeaways I got from several of the breakout sessions that were happening at the event.
I’d be delighted to have you discuss the finer points of the podcast and add to the conversation. You’ll have an influence over what we talk about in future episodes.
Interview guests are being lined up; if you’d like to contribute your unique wisdom for the good of other kindies, let me know and we’ll work out a Skype call date and topic.