Hudson 2yrs, Caiden 4 yrs

A beautifully tired young mother sits at home tonight. It’s 7:30 P.M., and rather than performing for a crowd, former season 11 American Idol contestant, Britnee Kellogg, just finished reading stories and singing songs to her little ones. Caiden is four, an exhausting boy whose energy is only outpaced by his nearly autistic bright mind. He’s been a blessed handful since birth and was diagnosed this past week with severe ADHD. Two-year-old Hudson merrily jabbers in his captain’s bed, as only two-year-olds do. They giggle under airplane patterned bed sheets. The pilots turn the engines down as they prepare for slumber in their cozy hangar. Heavy lashes fall and the vinyl scrolled walls call them to, “Come Fly With Me.”

Their mother has been up since 5:30 A.M., but can’t be tired. She worked a full day at the local Vancouver, Wash. branch of Regents Bank, spent two precious hours with the boys, but has yet to start her second job. She’s stuck to this regimen since the divorce in 2010. It was then that Kellogg began balancing a full-time job, family, and a dream. She told American Idol about it, “I was married and he held me back from doing what I want to do and this is what I want to do. I pursued his dreams with him, then he decided to go pursue other women . . .” The nationally televised audition was posted online. Most were supportive, but her ex-husband’s friends weren’t silent, and it hurt. 75Honeydip posted, “I know for a fact her ex is the boys’ primary caregiver and they broke up because her ‘career’ was more important. Using a ‘cheating ex’ was the only way she could stand out from the rest. Booo, I hate dramatic small town girls!!” Others, like fellow single mom and Idol judge, Jennifer Lopez, encouraged Kellogg to pursue her dreams as a single mother, “You have to be happy so they [your kids] are happy,” said Lopez, “When you have dreams you make them happen and they’re only better for it.”

Britnee Kellogg Season 11 American Idol Audition

The experience on American Idol gave Kellogg a “fire,” as she calls it in our interview. It served as a musical turning point, fueling her commitment to make her country-music dreams a reality, “This is what I want to do. This is my passion; this is my dream,” says the former contestant. “If I were able to just do music and be a mom, that would be my dream job.” The single mother pursues her dream by adhering to a strict schedule, blocking her hours for work, children, and music. Balancing career, kids, and passions is an enormous challenge for any mother, let alone a single mom. “I personally do not know how she does everything in her life,” said close friend and stay-at-home mother of two, Hayley Frohs, in a phone interview. “The girl has an insane amount of energy. . . I mean, the girl works all day long and then manages to make dinner for her kids, and spend quality time with her kids, puts them to bed, and then goes and works five more hours on stage. It is exhausting.”

The budding music artist is just beginning her journey in the ranks of single mothers who are trying to do it all. According to Fox News Insider, stay-at-home moms are a shrinking minority, and the US Census shows there are 13.7 million single custodial parents in the United States raising 22 million children under the age of 21. Fifty-four percent of these single parents work full-time, and 82.2% of them are working single mothers. Working full-time to provide for her children means less time for Kellogg to be with her boys, and she “hate[s]” it. “It’s hard because I would love to be home with them at least half a day. I would feel more fulfilled.” The single mother shares, “I never wanted to be in this place. I was a stay-at-home mom before all of this happened.” Her current work schedule only allows an hour in the morning with the boys and two in the evenings before their bedtime. Weekends with Caiden and Hudson are sacred and reserved for church and family adventures, like trips to Slappy Cakes and JJ Jump.

Some criticize Britnee Kellogg for pursuing a career in music as a single mom, rather than putting that focus on her children. Many single entertainer moms have trouble maintaining a healthy career and motherhood. One of the most publicized of these is Britney Spears, who is closely followed by the media in and out of drug rehab, during custody hearings, and through child abuse allegations. It’s much harder to find single moms in the entertainment industry who appear to find a balance, like Sheryl Crow, who believes her two adopted sons make her music “better” and, like Kellogg, prays with and tucks her kids into bed before stepping on the stage.

Britnee Kellogg with sons Caiden and Hudson

Despite the challenges of making it in the industry as a single parent, Kellogg regards her country-music goals as a better solution to caring for her children than working in a more traditional field. Her intention is to work under a self-imposed grueling schedule for the next six to twelve months to drive her music career to the next level. She hopes the effort and sacrifice will produce results that can change her life. The goal is to become a full-time music artist with a more flexible schedule, allowing her increased time with the boys. “For me,” explains Kellogg, “if I work really hard for six months to a year and I get to that point, then I think the six months of sacrifice to be able to be home with them while they’re in school is way more worth it than just giving up and working a full-time job and never being able to be with them.”

Some may see Kellogg’s goal as unrealistic, especially when the odds are stacked against her. However, those closest to her see the drive, passion, and commitment she has as both a mother and entertainer, and can’t help but applaud her. “She’s always known what she wanted to do career-wise but didn’t quite know how to do it with little kids,” shared childhood friend Hayley Frohs, “I think some people have kind of discouraged her from taking it to the professional level for singing because they think that she shouldn’t try to do it at that level while having kids. I think the biggest struggle has been feeling guilty about being the kind of mom she wants to be and still doing music, but she’s managed to do it all, so I’m glad she didn’t listen to people.”

Britnee Kellogg, single mother, entertainer

Whether or not Kellogg can live up to the expectation is yet to be seen. Tonight though, she’s doing it as she admonishes bedtime informant Caiden to, “go to bed” during our interview, and we hope to continue seeing her fuel that dream through the season 12 American Idol auditions this summer. The future contestant’s last thoughts before closing our interview were for other mothers with aspirations, “Don’t give up just because other people don’t think you should be doing something,” encourages Kellogg. “If you are passionate about something, then you need to do it, regardless of what people think or what people say. I don’t see anything wrong with being a mom and pursuing your dreams.”

Connect with Britnee Kellogg: Website, Twitter @BritneeKellogg, Facebook, Reverbnation, Youtube, Myspace

By: Marzee Dyer
Video By: Jason Cook
Photos Courtesy: Britnee Kellogg, American Idol

Related Article: Part 1 of “Cloverdayle on Networking in the Music Industry”

Cloverdayle with the Jason Aldean band

Make the most of Industry Networking

Winning a radio-hosted battle of the bands competition to open for Kenny Chesney was a huge opportunity for Cloverdayle.  Not only did they have a radio station promoting them as a new band, but they were also surrounded by big names in the country music business. Artists can make the most of these contacts by being personable, taking the time to learn from those they rub shoulders with, and as Cloverdayle iterated, having real conversations with real people. Additionally, Rachel Hamar suggests acting quickly. “When someone says, ‘Hey, let’s write,’ put it in your calendar while you’re talking about it,” she said explaining that taking care of business when it presents itself is the best way to create a relationship and tie down a commitment.  Whether this is done by immediately adding a contact to her phone with clear description of who that person is, or scheduling a meeting, Rachel Hamar says it is best to take advantage of such moments when they occur, rather than losing the opportunity later.

Don’t Understimate “Smaller” Contacts

Chad Hamar pointed out that industry contacts can come from the most unexpected places. He revealed how one of his music students put him in contact with former Brooks and Dunn band members, the guitarist Terry McBride ended up producing Cloverdayle’s first album, and a friend from junior high led the duo to open for country music artist, Lee Brice. Once key contacts and friendships are made, the Hamars continue to foster them through occasional emails and updates. The two often send out emails to Nashville friends, inviting them to join them at concerts or outings, when they know they’ll be visiting the area. Making the most of even the “smallest” or seemingly ordinary contacts helps drive an artist’s career.

Networking and self-promoting can seem daunting. Once artists build an industry presence, they have to continually build their fan-base and seek out networking opportunities through their contacts. There’s an art to doing so, as bands need to avoid alienating their audience with overly aggressive promotion. “You don’t want to offend people,” says Chad Hamar. To ensure artists maintain a positive relationship with their network, Cloverdayle suggests closely monitoring fan-base numbers and following “your gut.” If numbers drop, an artist will know they are doing something wrong and need to revise their approach.

See what Cloverdayle is up to.

Cloverdayle’s kickstarter project

Related Article: Social Media for Musicians: The best time to Post and Tweet

By Marzee Dyer
Feb. 10. 2012 Interview with Cloverdayle

Some of us go to bed listening to bedtime stories. Music producer, Steve Sundholm was “lullabied” by cutting edge music. Son of Conrad Sundholm, co-founder of Sunn Amps, Steve grew up with access to the some of the greatest sound equipment and recordings in the world. For Sundholm, music is the stuff that dreams are made of. Those dreams turned into a successful career as a music producer working with some of America’s favorite music artists like, Hall & Oates, Green Day and Lil’ Wayne. With a life colored by music and a career built on it, Sundholm provides keen insights for those heading to the studio.

Avoid Music Prejudice

We all grow up in communities that affect our music interests. This can lead to music prejudices. Sundholm confirmed this, sharing a personal experience in our interview. When leaving Portland for LA, Steve Sundholm found these prejudices confining, even detrimental to his career:

“I think there’s too much criticism of different genres and different styles. I didn’t even realize that affected me when I left Portland to go to LA. ‘Rap was awful and pop was stupid,’ and you have all these ingrained preconceived notions. I didn’t realize how being quick to judge another genre would hold me back when I got into the real music business.”

When moving to Los Angeles, Sundholm found that music prejudices were inappropriate. Artists from all genres respect each others’ work. They may not like the final product, but they appreciate varied aspects of each style. “People (in the music business) don’t say bad things about music they wouldn’t necessarily buy. They see the good in it and they respect what’s good about it and they respect that it actually means something to someone else,” said Sundholm. Successful artists learn from each other, employing the best in music to build their individual sound. Artists don’t let music prejudice keep them from making it to the studio.

Leave ego at the door

Studio work is humbling. It takes dedication and compromise from all studio participants to reach a great final product. One of the biggest detriments to this process is artist egotism. According to Steve Sundholm, the hardest thing about working with artists is dealing with ego:

“The better the musician, the more ego. . . . and it’s understandable. It’s like telling a doctor or a lawyer that they’re wrong. They’re so wrapped up in their education and they’ve spent so much money on their education they’d never admit that they’re wrong or that they don’t know something. Musicians are the same way. They’ve practiced and worked, you know, sacrificed hours, untold hours. When a guy like me steps in and asks them to dumb it down back to their first or second year of playing, they have a really hard time with it. It’s kind of a jarring experience because they want to show off what they can do.”

Good artists choose their producers wisely and trust them. They listen to their producers and are humble enough to follow their lead in the studio. Sundholm encourages artists to thoughtfully engage in the process while being respectful of the producer’s expertise. He advises artists to check their egos at the door, avoid negative speech and to never talk back. It’s one thing to be constructive and cooperative; it’s another to bring a bad attitude.

Be Prepared

A huge pet peeve for music producers is working with artists or musicians that are ill prepared for studio time. It’s not only expensive on studio budget, as most studios charge hourly, but it’s also disrespectful to the producers, engineers and others involved. Steve Sundholm suggests musicians tune their instruments, warm up, re-string their guitars, etc., having everything ready for the studio experience. Smart artists save time and money by being prepared and on time to studio sessions.

Reaching out and learning from artists of all genres, keeping ego out of the studio and properly preparing for the studio increase artist success. Practicing these basics help musicians and artists avoid basic industry pitfalls and overcome studio hurdles. The sooner artists learn these concepts, the faster they realize their professional dreams, with or without the lullabies.

Record with Steve Sundholm at Kung Fu Bakery Studios

Related Article: Steve Sundholm Series Part 1, “Music Architect Steve Sundholm on Choosing your Producer”

By Marzee Dyer

Chad and Rachel Hamar of Cloverdayle
Chad and Rachel Hamar have been playing together for fourteen years, but didn’t found their band Cloverdayle until a rare opportunity in 2008. The two, who planned on attending a Kenny Chesney concert, won a battle of the bands competition and opened for Chesney during his 2008 Poets and Pirates Tour. It was their first performance as a country-rock duo. The two used that platform to connect with other industry professionals, which has led them to play with greats like Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean. Networking in any industry improves a career, but it’s essential to survival in the music world. The Hamars have applied this skill and recently shared some insightful tips that helped propel them to where they are now: preparing to produce an album in Nashville with Jason Aldean’s band. This is the first of two blog posts focusing on Cloverdayle’s advice on networking in the music world.

Build A Web Presence

According to Cloverdayle, the first thing any artist needs is a web presence. The easiest way to start this is by using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, or Joomla (note: not all CMSs are equal). The nice thing about using a CMS is that they are search engine friendly and allow artists to create a free and moderately customized site. The next step is to pay a web designer to create a completely unique site.

Key considerations when creating a band website are design and content. Music sites should be artistic without being overly complicated. Navigation should be clean. Analysis of popular band sites suggest artists provide touring schedules and behind-the-scenes content through blog posts and photos, while allowing visitors to listen to music and access song information and lyrics. Discussion Boards are also a key component to allow fans to bond while keeping them engaged in visiting the site on a regular basis. Many CMSs make adding a discussion forum easy by providing discussion forum plugins. However, a discussion board should not be attempted until a strong fan-base is built, as an empty forum will have negative impact on a band image.

Link to Social Media Platforms

Whichever way an artist goes, they need to be sure to use the website as a home base to link to other great platforms. Cloverdayle uses Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Reverbnation. These are essential. Another place to expand your digital audience is through Google+. Daria Musk began using the Google Plus platform to share her music in the Summer of 2011 and now has over 950 thousand people in her circles. Her success has been featured in Billboard Magazine, she’s appeared on TEDtalks and recently performed at the Googleplex. The greater footprint an artist can leave on the internet through networking multiple channels, the greater their chances of being seen and heard.

Build Your Fan-base

Once a web presence is established, it’s time to build a fan-base. Cloverdayle recommends artists begin with personal friends, families and mailing lists. “Relationships are the most important thing,” says Chad Hamar of networking in the industry. He shared that they began by contacting their immediate circles and encouraged close family and friends to share their love of Cloverdayle with their contacts by mouth, email, tweeting, liking and posting. Once these contacts were visible through Cloverdayle’s various platforms, the country duo was able to interact with new fans on a more personal basis to foster those relationships and encourage further fan-base growth. They mainly do this through Twitter, Facebook and at their concerts. In addition to networking through close relationships, Cloverdayle was also sure to collect fan contact information at concerts. Having a fan email list can go a long way in keeping fans engaged with concert updates, contests and other promotional information.

Related Article: Part 2 of “Cloverdayle on Networking in the Music Industry”

By Marzee Dyer
Cloverdayle Interview: Feb 10, 2012
“Steve is the fourth best producer I have ever worked with. . . the other three? One is washed-up, one is retired, and the other is no longer with us.” – Jimmie Haskell, Three-time Grammy-winner and five-time Emmy-winning string arranger and composer.

I sat down with music producer, Steve Sundholm this week, gleaning his studio insights on working in the music industry. He works with some of the biggest names in the industry, like Cee-Lo Green, Carrie Underwood, Ryan Tedder of One Republic, Randy Jackson, even Madonna. Sundholm has spent the past seven years producing in Los Angeles, the last two of them as Chief Engineer of the world renowned Nightbird Studios at the Sunset Marquis. Trading LA for Portland, Ore., Steve Sundholm is now mixing it up at Kung Fu Bakery, a recording studio on thirty sixth and Southeast Division.

Carrie Underwood, Steve Sundholm, Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Craig Durrance, Zac Maloy

From Left to right: Carrie Underwood, Steve Sundholm, Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Craig Durrance, Zac Maloy

Sound has been key in Sundholm’s career, and is the ruling force of any producer’s work. Still, he revealed that while all producers are dedicated to sound, production styles vary as much as albums do. No two producers are alike. This is something artists need to take into consideration when preparing to record. As many musicians know, the producer holds power in the studio, not the artist. If an artist wants to have any control over the production of their album, they need to ensure production quality by finding the right producer. Steve Sundholm provided some key tips to help artists choose the right producer:

Understand your producer’s process

Each producer develops their own creative process. Some mix, engineer, and produce in stages. Others, like Steve Sundholm, do it all at once. There are producers who like to have the entire band record together, while others prefer to record and perfect each instrument independently. Each method has its own pros and cons. Decide how you want to work and find a producer who meets that.

Learn about the producer’s specialty

There are many different types of producers. Sundholm explains that a worthwhile producer is, “great at something and focuses on that.” Some are musicians and specialize in specific instruments, often focusing on those instruments in their recordings. There are producers who, because they aren’t biased towards a particular instrument, are more interested in the overall sound. Some producers are phenomenal arrangers. Others are what Steve Sundholm calls, “Vibey Producers,” producers who don’t necessarily know music, but know when something’s good. “They’re really good at helping creative people relax or saying just the right thing to get something out of them,” said Sundholm. Know what you’re looking for in your final product, and find a producer who specializes in it.

Know their work

Each producer has a different style or sound to their work. The best way to understand this is to sample their recordings. Learn what genres they’ve produced, artists they’ve worked with and so forth. What does their work sound like? Is that the sound you’re looking for? Get to know the product you’re buying into before you invest in studio time.

Artists maintain power in the studio by choosing their producer wisely. They invest in someone whose method, expertise and track record reflects work the artist can trust. Most of all, Sundholm suggests that artists find a  producer who is able to, “find a balance in protecting the artist from themselves and making bad decisions, but at the same time unlock(s) what makes them (the artist) great.” A great producer doesn’t make it about them. They make it about the artist.

Related Article: Steve Sundholm Series Part 2, “Studio Do’s and Don’ts”

By Marzee Dyer
Interview with Steve Sundholm conducted on Feb 8th, 2012
Professionals in the music industry know that social media is essential to self promotion.

Whether trying to network or increase their fan base, musicians must learn how to effectively employ platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The big wigs in the business hire experts in the field to execute their social posturing. While most up and coming success stories can’t afford social media marketers, they can still access the data that even the best promoters rely on.

Vitrue, one of the original and few Facebook “Preferred Developer Consultants” is one of the most innovative social media marketing strategists. Their 2010 Facebook study pinpointed and analyzed the biggest spikes in usage and traffic volume. Analysis and implementation of this data tells marketers when to post to claim the highest traffic and feedback.

Kissmetrics, a business analytics company, led a similar Facebook study in 2011, but also added Twitter to the mix. Rather than focusing on the most effective post times, Kissmetrics measured when posts and tweets are most shared or retweeted. A key point in their study found that nearly 80% of the US population is in the Eastern (48%) and Central (33%) Timezones. This is why Kissmetrics defined shares or tweets by an Eastern Timezone (ET) schedule.

Use expert timing to increase the visibility, feedback and shares of posts and tweets.


  • Get the most views by posting before 3:00p.m. ET, with 3:00p.m. on Wednesdays having the highest traffic.
  • If you’re looking for feedback, post in the morning hours in the first quarter hour (between :00 and :15).
  • To get your comment shared post in the morning as most shares happen at noon ET. Saturday at noon ET produces the most content shares.


  • Engage the highest volume of Click Throughs by tweeting 1 – 4 times per hour.
  • Click Throughs spike at noon and 6:00p.m. ET.
  • Midweek and Weekend tweets have the Highest Click Through Rate(CTR) overall.
  • Get the highest CTR by tweeting on Weds and Saturday just before noon and 6:00p.m. ET.
  • If you want to get retweets, tweet in the afternoon. Most retweets happen at 5:00p.m. ET.

Experts in the industry combine the best in analytics to secure superior results for their clients. If a musician wants to see growth in their social media network they need to understand timing to get the highest visibility and engagement from their posts and tweets. The accessibility to such data (via internet) and social media sites for even the greenest musician makes self promotion on a global scale possible. All it takes is a little internet savvy and know how.



 By Marzee Dyer

Jan. 27th, 2012 – Cloverdayle Concert Review

Courtesy of Cloverdayle

If you weren’t at the Jubitz Ponderosa lounge this past Friday, you missed out on a great performance by Chad and Rachel Hamar of Cloverdayle.

The Oregon native country-rock duo are regularly featured on local radio stations, and have opened for some of the biggest names in Country music, like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum and many more.

Cloverdayle at the Ponderosa Lounge

Cloverdayle at the Ponderosa Lounge 1/27/12 Courtesy Dave Pearson

Ben Rue, former X-factor contestant and Silverton, Oregon native, warmed things up with his solid opening act. Chad then mesmerized the crowd, jumping back and forth while rockin’ the guitar. At one point I laughed when realizing I was mirroring Chad’s movements. The audience was treated to a great mix of familiar country favorites, along with Cloverdayle’s latest works like, the sweet “Sometimes” and the lyrically clever “Return Policy.” Rachel’s vocal control was amazing as she “laddered and folded” through a series of notes with her strong and clear voice.

Their joy in performing was infectious and quickly drew the crowd to the dance floor. A favorite moment happened when Rachel walked into the crowd, encouraging the audience to take the mic in singing 4 Non Blonde’s, “What’s going on.” Though not traditional Country fare, it was a great way to engage with Cloverdayle fans, and they loved it. Cloverdayle treats their fans like family and are quick to lay out the welcome mat. Be sure to stop by at their next “open house.”

Upcoming Cloverdayle Performances:

2/5/12 FULL BAND, ALL AGES and FREE Superbowl halftime show at Southlake!

2/17/12 Farmstead Pub, Molalla, OR, 7:00 – 10:00pm ALL AGES, Acoustic

4/29/11 Dodge City Bar & Grill, Vancouver, WA, 9:30pm-12:30am, Full Band

For more tour dates and info. please visit Cloverdayle’s Official Site.

Follow Cloverdayle:

YoutubeFacebookTwitter @cloverdayle, Reverbnation

by Marzee Dyer

How Musicwirx

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Portland Music Scene

How Music works, Portland, Oregon Music, Musicwirx

We walk with earbuds and drum on our steering wheels. . .

As children we dreamt of going on the 1980’s “Star Search,” or today’s  “American Idol.” Many of us perform in places where we can hide with the masses, but have never taken the big leap into the “real” music scene. We are lovers of music.

This is where we learn about the baby steps of entering the professional world of music. It’s our window to the soul, drive and creativity of our favorite artists. This is how Musicwirx . This site is an avenue to explore the crafting of musical careers through the Portland, Oregon metropolitan music scene. We’ll learn from local and visiting artists, their managers and producers to unlock the secrets of making it.

Portland, Oregon has long been recognized for its vibrant music scene. Indie Music Universe rated Portland’s  Doug Fir Lounge as one of the top Indie music venues in the world. Travel and ranked Portland in the top 20 of America’s best Music Cities, beating out northern rival Seattle, WA.

Music is hot here and over the years has contributed to folk, grunge, the blues, alternative, rock, indie and more. Oregon was birthplace to Everclear, it was here that Courtney Love met Nirivana’s Kurt Cobain, where Paul Revere and the Raiders hail from, and where Modest Mouse relocated to.  With some of the best venues around like the Crystal Ballroom and Arlene Schnitzer concert hall, Portland attracts musicians from all over the nation and even the world.

Join Musicwirx as we look at music through the eyes of those who make it.
by Marzee Dyer