Finding the Guitarist Inside with Blake Jennelle CEO of Instinct

Hello, who are you?

Blake Jennelle InstinctHey, I’m Blake Jennelle, one of the creators of Instinct. Instinct is a new way to learn guitar that listens as you play. It’s completely interactive and really easy to use.

If this was a rockumentary about your life what would the big moments be in the movie?

My rockumentary would start with the first time I tried to learn a rock song as a kid. It would be kind of like the movie Rocky, where I keep losing fights until I get older and get the right training.

What’s your mission on this big blue earth?

My mission is to help more people find the artist inside. I grew up thinking that I wasn’t creative, wasn’t artistic and wasn’t really musical. If I had the right teachers or had been able to teach myself, that would have changed everything.

What are you freakishly good at without trying? (Your superhero power)

I have pretty good reflexes, like if I drop something I’ll often catch it in midair before I have a chance to think about it. Maybe I was some sort of cat in a previous life.

What would you do everyday if working for money got abolished?

Honestly, the same thing I’m doing now. I don’t think about money until the rent is due each month. And then sometimes I panic. :)

Main Interview

Tell us about your badass guitar teaching website and why we should come visit.

We designed Instinct to be a completely natural way to learn music. You see a note on the screen and you play it. Instinct listens and fills it that note. Then you learn a few more notes, and before you know it, you’re playing a full song.

Our goal is to teach you your first song in less than 10 minutes. Most people are able to do exactly that, it’s pretty magical. :)

Is there secret to what you’ve been able to achieve so far? (Maybe a special breakfast :)

One secret is our sense of possibility. If we can imagine it, we usually think that we’re capable of doing it.

That’s a pretty powerful thing… Instead of arguing about whether something can be done, we argue about how it should be done!

If I gave you a time machine and you could go back to the start of your career and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

I’d tell myself to work on the things I’m most passionate about. If the passion’s missing, that’s your spirit’s way of telling you to change directions.

What makes the difference in modern online sales and marketing?

Doing magical things. It’s easier for people to spread things than ever before, but you have to blow their minds.

What do you do on a daily and weekly basis to keep spreading the word about your site?

We keep our eyes open for little opportunities and try to jump on them. Our friend and advisor Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, calls these “micro opportunities” (

For example, we follow people who we’d like to write about us, and we look for opportunities to engage with them.

We also try to be open, positive and generous at every opportunity – even if no one is looking! I think that’s made a big difference for us.

What’s been the biggest struggle in your online business and how did you overcome it?

The biggest struggle is trying to do everything with just two people. It’s been a blessing too, because there’s no room to be unfocused, and because we can survive without lots of money.

Who is your hero and why?

Honestly my first hero was Mr. Rogers. His show seems pretty boring now, but as a kid, I think I could tell what a generous spirit he is. As I got older, I was in awe of Bob Dylan as an artist. And Abe Lincoln is the example I try to follow as a leader.

Where can we follow what you’re up to?

You can follow Instinct at and

And for my personal tweets, you can follow me at Although my tweets have been kinda boring lately. ;)

Click Here To Get Instinct


How To Borrow A Little Songwriting Power From Bob Dylan

This is a guest post by my talented friend Mr Ben Connor… you can follow his musical adventures here.

bob dylanTwo chords, no chorus and a whopping eight verses, Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ goes for four and a half minutes and still keeps me interested.

How can that be?

Last night I spent two hours, guitar in hand, analysing the lyrics, chord progressions and melodies of songs in the Bob Dylan Little Black Songbook.

Aside from confirming that Dylan is a lyrical master who despite occasional use of two chords has also been the progenitor of some wonderful chord progressions, the experience brought to light an often ignored fact:

Bob Dylan’s fundamental draw is his melodies.

And Masters of War is a perfect example of this.

The lyrics to the song are undoubtably impressive. A direct address of a disgruntled citizen to the world’s leaders, almost every phrase gets to the emotional core of the issue with elegance and wit.

But write the best lyrics in the world and sing it to a crap melody, derivative melody or non-existant melody (as the case may be), and no one will listen.

The reason, I concluded, that Masters of War works is the melodic arc in the phrasing of each verse.

It’s by no means complicated.

In fact, it’s as simple as they can get.

But one thing that many songwriters, myself included, regularly fail to do with their melodies is to take them on journeys with phrases (or movement) concluding (or resting) in places at variable distances from the satisfying, but monotonous comfort of home – the root note.

Have a listen here and continue reading below (There is a little “X” in the top right hand corner to skip the AD)

WARNING: As much as the video depicts the horrors of war, there is some incredibly gruesome footage in there. So I made it very small so as not to disturb our younger readers. (Click the little “X” in the top right hand corner to skip the AD)

The phrasing goes like this:

First Phrase: Starts on the root note, ends on the root note

Second Phrase: Starts on the fifth, ends on the fifth

Third Phrase: Starts on the fifth, ends on the eighth

Fourth Phrase: Starts on the fifth, ends on the fifth

Fifth Phrase: Starts on the fifth, ends on the eighth

Sixth Phrase: Starts on the fifth, ends on the fifth

Last Phrase: Starts on the fifth (possibly the fourth), ends on the root note.

In other words, you start walking across a plain, at sea level, to a mountain. You make a steep climb to a plateau where you have a picnic with a great view of the surroundings. You then climb to a mountain peak and feel exhilarated (and strangely it feels like home). Then you stumble down to another plateau and catch your breath before climbing another equally high peak. Then it’s time to go home. You descend to another plateau and have afternoon tea, before descending, with the joy of the return, to a seaside town for some satisfying ales and righteous indignation.

Admittedly, you then need the motivation to take this journey eight times.

To achieve this, Dylan’s lyrics turn you into a hobbit on a quest to destroy the ring of power and reward you at the end by placing you over the grave of the evil one.

If you enjoyed this post it would be great if you could retweet or ‘like’ it and comment below, or better still sign up to my mailing list for more of the same...

Ben Connor

Ben Connor

Independent Musician Gets 200+ Gigs Per Year, Here’s How.

Hello, who are you?

8-Ball-Aitken-3-by-Carolyne-Morris--1024x836I am 8 Ball Aitken. I play slide-guitar and original blues, roots, and swamp-country music. I write a lot of songs and I often play homemade cookie tin guitars with 3-strings.

How did you get good at this music biz thingy?

I started my dream by playing and living in a tobacco shed in North Queensland, Australia. I now live in Nashville, USA. I have averaged 200+ gigs a year for quite a while. I make original music, I tour almost non-stop and I promote what I do online.

What’s your mission in life?

To take my music to as many interesting places as possible. To interact with inspiring people. I really want to write better songs each time I put pen to paper and to enjoy each day being the best and only 8 Ball Aitken possible.

Main Interview

What’s the secret to your success?

I try to be fan focused. If I can make the people who support my gigs and music releases happy, then I am providing value my VIPs.

When talking about independently released and toured music, I consider that being able to make a living doing what you love is success. The more musicians out there making a living and having fun the better.

If you want to polish hubcaps for a living, go and be the best hubcap polisher around. If music is your dream, don’t hit the snooze button.

How would you sum up your promotional mindset?

I am digital and video focused at the moment. I try to excite people with fun posts and videos through social media. I then try to get them to connect with my mailing list and interact online.

What’s been the biggest struggle in your music career so far?

Time. I am always so busy touring, gigging and planning what is going to happen next.

Most of us call up venues and get ignored but you guys have tons of gigs. How do you keep a consistent flow of shows?

I go where I am wanted, and I book a long way out. I excite people and deliver a live gig that makes people want to call their friends and say — ‘Check out 8 Ball Aitken’. When your fans are calling venues for you, and Facebooking festivals and agents, then venues will approach you instead of the other way around.

What do you do on a weekly basis to spread the word about your music?

I always try to meet new people so I am expanding my networks. I spend as much time as I can connecting with other musicians and songwriters in Nashville before I have to head back out on the road.

How do you nurture your current fan-base?

I give my fan-base first access to my content. I try to entertain them. I email out enough to keep in contact, and share relevant news but hopefully not too much that fans would get bored and want to unsubscribe.

Is it possible to survive financially as a kickass independent musician? if so how?

Plenty of people do. Many fail and many prosper. It probably comes down the quality of the music and merchandise. In my experience, it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a career as an independent musician. I have made my fans one by one on the road for years.

Where can we follow what you’re up to and get your best music and videos?

Joining my mailing list on is the best way.
I interact daily on —
My full range of videos are on —

Massive Cheers and Stage Diving, Time For An Encore?

If I gave you a time-machine and you could go back to the start and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

Really learn to write and play your instrument and never compromise your mission.

Can you throw out a cool action step for anyone who read all the way to the end. Something little or big that they can do to make progress in music today…

Get your best song that you have now and go make a video clip for it. Be creative and if you can’t find a good video camera to use, use you mobile phone. Then find out where music like yours is being played, rally your friends and go play a gig there. Have fun and good luck.

Next, check out the interview I did with 8Ball’s manager

Finally, watch and enjoy “Outback Booty Call”

How To Make A Killer 3D Band Logo Step by Step

This is a post by my friend the amazing Trev Fury who happens to be the best guitar teaching graphic artist I know.

If you love this free video please sign up on his website here and support his teaching because I happen to know that he’s cooking up a whole lot of other cool stuff behind the scenes.

In this video, Trev walks you through the process of doing a killer looking 3D chrome text band logo that you probably never thought you could ever do on your own – completely for free!

You’ll need a few things, of course. One thing is the software. Kinda important. In this case, we’re using a program called Blender, which is open-source (meaning FREE). You can get the program here:

Next, you’ll need the chrome texture.…

And finally, you’ll need a world reflection map. Meaning, you’ll need a world to reflect in the chrome. There are countless places to get these, but here’s the one Trev used in this video:…

(download the large one for a clearer reflection)

In the video, Trev shows you how to find these things, download them and put them to work.

This is the first in a series of tutorial videos Trev is working on. So be sure to subscribe to this channel so that you get to see the rest of them as they are uploaded.

And don’t forget to visit his site and join the mailing list for 7 FREE SHRED GUITAR LESSONS (coming very soon).

Thanks for watching. If you have any questions, or even just to say ‘thanks for the kick-ass info!’, leave a comment below.

How Fine Art Led To Hacking The Art Of Fine Songwriting.

Hey Guys,

So this weekend me and Wifey decided to take a trip into central London and catch an art exhibition from one of those old french painters called Manet.

songwriting-hackedThe thing that stuck in my mind the most was how he got so good by spending 6 years *COPYING* legendary paintings at the Louvre.

This is something called “Modelling” and it works great for songwriting as well.

Which is why I’m so excited to introduce you to my new friend Anthony Ceseri who is obsessed with working out what makes a hit song and then passing on his research to proactive musicians like us.

I’ve been reading his killer free songwriting book in which he analyzes several hits so you can use their approaches in your own music adding a little secret sauce to what you’re writing.

This is powerful stuff, so go here and grab it now:

It will allow you to leapfrog a lot of the learning curve by taking inspiration directly from what has already proven itself popular.

In fact I believe we’re the first generation of songwriters to really be able to take advantage of this kind of research by leveraging massive archives like Spotify, sorting music in one click by what fans respond to the most.

There is no time like the present to get started.

Anyway this is an amazing freebie and Anthony is one of the good guys so I think you’re going to love it.

Talk soon,


P.S It took Neil Diamond roughly one hour to write Sweet Caroline and changed his life (and his bank account forever)…he recently had one of the most expensive divorces of all time and had to give his ex wife $150 million which was HALF of his fortune.

On a side note he said “she was worth every penny” but I mainly tell you that because it means he’s generated $300 million with his amazing tunes.


So if you got a spare hour today have a flick through Anthony’s book, and then see what you can come up with.

I’d love to hear any new tunes you come up with follow these ideas.