Cliff Goldmacher

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Twitter @reasonforrhymes

EP 130: Cliff Goldmacher (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 130.

[00:00:06]Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Cliff gold. Marker. Are you ready for this cliff? All right. Cliff is a Grammy. I recognized a number one, hit songwriter, music, producer, audio engineer, and author. After graduating from Stanford, with a degree in political science cliff, instead chose to pursue a career in music.

[00:00:36] His songs have been recorded by Grammy winning and platinum selling artists in Janrus ranging from Americana. Country, pop blues and jazz to classical crossover. And Cliff’s collaborators include Kesha Kebo, Mickey Hart from the grateful dead and Lisa Loeb. His music can be heard on NPRs this American life and in national advertising campaigns, along with multiple songs in the top.

[00:01:02] 40 on the jazz charts. Cliff’s song to you. Come to me, went to number one most recently, cliff song called outside a collaboration with Kevin  was included on Kevin Moe’s Grammy winning album. Oklahoma cliff is an established music educator who teaches workshops for BMI and LinkedIn learning where his song writing courses have been viewed over half a million.

[00:01:27] Times he was also given multiple TEDx presentations on songwriting  cliff lives with his wife, Sarah, a visual artist in Sonoma, California, cliff. That is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us more about yourself? Fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do in the entertainment 

[00:01:51] industry.

[00:01:52]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:01:52] I’d be happy to, and thank you for having me Dane. So 

[00:01:55] Dane Reis: [00:01:55] Thank

[00:01:55] you.

[00:01:56]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:01:56] um, I am a professional songwriter and music producer, which. Kind of go hand in hand and for many, many years, that’s what I did. I moved  to Nashville shortly after graduating from college and, uh, learned the craft of songwriting. And at the same time built up my recording studio experience.

[00:02:12]And, and only in the last couple of years, have I started to make a pivot where I’ve been using my experience that I’ve learned from writing songs to help business teams. Innovate. And so I’ve written a book about that. So I guess I can tack on author to my title, uh, and I’ve just really been enjoying that sort of next transition in my career.

[00:02:34]Dane Reis: [00:02:34] Yeah. Beautiful. And let’s move on to our first section here and cliff, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote you’d like to share with everyone.

[00:02:47]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:02:47] Well, I’m a sucker for a good quote too. And the one that has stuck with me forever, and my mom told this to me years and years ago, the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

[00:02:58]Dane Reis: [00:02:58] Oh, that is so pertinent. So spot on. Can you expand on that a bit on how you’ve worked that into your entire career?

[00:03:06] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:03:06] absolutely. What it means to me is it’s all about how connected all parts of your life and your career are. So I’ve learned over the, over the years that everything that I do in life forms, everything else, the more I work on my song writing, for example, the better I am able to, as I mentioned earlier, you songwriting when working with business teams and the more I’ve had to learn to be patient.

[00:03:30] With my music career is the way that I have learned to be patient in my day to day life. Everything is connected.

[00:03:38]Dane Reis: [00:03:38] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s so true when you really start thinking about it and you start going Oh, right. right. Because I’m thinking about, you know, if I’m performing on stage or if I’m in a show that it’s alright, if I’m. Eating. Well, Well, that inspires me to work out more. If I’m working out more than inspires me to be more motivated to train in, not just going to the gym and lifting or running, but to train in my craft.

[00:04:01] And then it just it’s the snowball effect. Isn’t it.

[00:04:04] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:04:04] Absolutely positively a virtuous cycle, as they say.

[00:04:08]Dane Reis: [00:04:08] indeed. I love that a virtuous cycle very well said, and let’s move on to this next section here. And cliff, of course you are an entertainment professional. I am an entertainment professional, and I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries in existence.

[00:04:32] And you know, you know, as well as I. That in order to create an have yeah. The successful career in this industry, right? Like you’re having now it takes a lot. Of dedication and hard work. And while, yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures.

[00:04:53] We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:05:07]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:05:07] I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s a perfect question, really, because there is no success without failure. That’s just how it works. And, and for me, on a macro sense, I wrote songs for 15 years before a known artist recorded one of my songs. So I essentially. Had a goal that I was trying to achieve from day one and it took me 15 years to achieve that goal.

[00:05:30] So what that essentially meant was that I was forced to make songwriting my journey and not base my opinion of my work on whether it was successful or not. So I really believe that in the, in the grand scheme of things, the reason sometimes success takes the amount of time that it does is because you have to learn.

[00:05:51] The real reason that you’re motivated to do what you do. And for me, it was over that course of 15 years that I realized that that song writing was the light style. For me. It wasn’t about writing songs for anyone successful moment. So that that’s what that 15 years of writing with. No, I think official to show for it taught me.

[00:06:11]Dane Reis: [00:06:11] I love how you said writing songs was a lifestyle for me. It wasn’t just for a, a successful moment or was something that, something to that effect. And that’s so true because I’m thinking back on. All the performances that I’ve done. And those little, those peaks that we have throughout our careers.

[00:06:28]Right. That when they happen is grateful, as you are for those peaks, they are also fleeting, theirs. They are still a moment and they happen and then they go away and then you go, okay, I did it right. It’s amazing. It’s not, it’s not to take away from that, but it’s not the white picket fence that everyone seems to think it is because.

[00:06:50]After that moment has gone. There’s still the work behind that. There’s still everything that you’ve been doing. All those habits you’ve created. And like you said, it’s that journey and the lifestyle of it. That is the fulfillment. It’s not that it’s as cool as it is to have the peak.  they’re just a byproduct and the cherry on top.

[00:07:07]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:07:07] That’s exactly right. And, and to add onto that, one of the things that I’ve noticed is if you make the goal, your only focus, then all of those beautiful little moments that you have along the way get dismissed. So if, if all you ever want, like, if somebody had said to me, cliff, I’ve got great news for you.

[00:07:25] You are going to write a song on a Grammy winning record. And I would say that’s wonderful. And then they say, there’s just one catch. It’s going to take you 30 years. Are you okay with that? So the problem with that, and as if the only goal was, was that ultimate accolade, then every little bit of success along the way would have paled in comparison.

[00:07:43] And I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy them. And instead, very, very, very fortunately I was able to enjoy every little step along the way too. Obviously the big marquee goals that I have been. Really fortunate to, to achieve as well.

[00:07:57]Dane Reis: [00:07:57] yeah, well well said. And I know for a fact in the beginning of my career, especially I’m guilty of that. Of making that, making that, making that end goal and being disappointed and being, you know, you know, get your head down, blinders on going forward. But you do miss some of those wonderful, beautiful moments. Once you look back, you go, wow, what was I thinking?

[00:08:15] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:08:15] Right, right. Right, right.

[00:08:17]Dane Reis: [00:08:17] Yeah. Geez. And let’s move on to a time that I’d like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized. Yes, I am going to be in this entertainment industry for a living, or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in this industry. Tell us about that.

[00:08:43]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:08:43] Well, Well, so for me, it sort of surprised me a little bit. I graduated from college and I had a degree in political science and I thought I would take a little time off and, um, then applied to law school. And as I like to call it rejoined polite society. But, but right after I graduated from school, I took a trip with my family down the West coast and.

[00:09:03] As we were taking that trip and this was right after graduation. I started to imagine my life as a, at the time it was more performer than songwriter. I’d only written a handful of songs. Um, but I started to imagine what it would be like to be a performer. And it just was so. Exciting to me, the thought of it was so compelling and so vivid and real.

[00:09:26] And as a little, uh, confirmation, we stopped at a bar music store in just outside of Santa Barbara. And I was playing around on a keyboard there. And, uh, there was a gentleman who was also in that department and we were chatting, I wasn’t paying very close attention to him and he was asking me questions like, so what do you, what are your goals with your music?

[00:09:46] And. And I was kind of halfway listening, halfway monkeying around on this keyboard. And one of the employees of the music store said, you might want to listen to him a little more closely. He’s one of the beach boys.

[00:09:59]Dane Reis: [00:09:59] What.

[00:10:00] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:10:00] And so. so. He was, he was very gracious and very kind. And he said something to me then that I never forgot, which was, he said, if you are serious about making this your life, you need to remember that it is a business as well as a creative.

[00:10:16]Art form. And I never forgot that. And that was sort of sort of family lore. Everyone in my family remembers that moment that I had talking to one of the beach boys in a music store outside of Santa Barbara and that piece of advice he gave me. So that was my spotlight moment where I realized, okay, I think I can do this.

[00:10:33] I want to try this.

[00:10:35]Dane Reis: [00:10:35] Oh, that is such a cool story. And  he was so right that the business side, the financial side of this business is just as real as the creative side. And the business side is what gives us the longevity gives us the ability to do our art, our creation for our lives and for our careers.

[00:10:55] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:10:55] That’s exactly right. It really is. If you, if you it’s one thing to be talented. And if I’ve learned anything in the years that I lived full time in Nashville, it’s there’s talent and there’s work ethic. And if they’re not both there, if you’re not also thinking about this as a job that you have to do every day, the talent alone is generally not enough to sustain a career.

[00:11:16]Dane Reis: [00:11:16] Yeah, well well said, and let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs if they happen to be a part of it, but what was going on in your life. And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:11:40] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:11:40] So as a musician, as opposed to an actor, I am going to extrapolate and, and think of my book that moment as sort of a career peak, I guess.

[00:11:48]Dane Reis: [00:11:48] for sure. Yeah.

[00:11:49] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:11:49] and for me, it had to have been sitting with my wife, Sarah in the audience at the Grammys and. Hearing my name from the Grammy stage as my collaborator, Kevin, so won the Grammy for album of the year and was gracious enough.

[00:12:04] And this was the biggest moment for me to thank his songwriting collaborators from the stage I watched the entire ceremony and to my recollection, he was the only artist to name his co-writers by name. And it just meant the world to me.

[00:12:21]Dane Reis: [00:12:21] ah, that is so great. And wow. So much validation all in one second. Amazing.

[00:12:29] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:12:29] Yeah, it was wonderful.

[00:12:30]Dane Reis: [00:12:30] And I also love it’s really great that he did also take the time to acknowledge his co-writers acknowledge you because look, it’s crazy when you get on stage and get adrenaline and keeping that focus and, you know, making sure you think all the people you need to think.


[00:12:43]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:12:43] It speaks volumes. It really says a lot about who he is as a person.

[00:12:48] Dane Reis: [00:12:48] it really does. And that also, I think, translates over to. The performance world as well, or the theater world as you will, when you’re going in auditions. Thank everybody. Everyone is giving everything. They’re giving their crafts, their professionalism to you to support you. Everyone’s collaborating.

[00:13:05] Everyone is working together. When you go into rooms and you have an accompanist, thank them. If you go into it, Dan’s called and they happened to have a live pianist playing for. The dance call. Thank them. All those people that speaks volumes about the kind of person you are and the kind of person someone wants to work with.

[00:13:23]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:13:23] The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

[00:13:26]Dane Reis: [00:13:26] There it is again. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And Hey, it’s kind of a weird time. We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:13:47] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:13:47] Wow. Well, this is a multipart question. So I’ll, I’ll start with what I’m working on now. And as I mentioned briefly at the top of the show, I have just completed my first book where I explain in the book, how learning to write songs can improve your ability to innovate. And what I’ve essentially done is taken the skills that song writing develops like lateral thinking and creativity and communication, empathy, and collaboration among others and shown how.

[00:14:16] Those skills through learning to write verses or choruses or perform your songs, or even think about metaphors. All of that informs your ability to innovate. And I have been working with business teams. The book is called the reason for the rhymes, and I’ve been working with business teams and taking them through these processes.

[00:14:36] And it has been truly joyful because for me, I get to sit with people. Who work in an entirely different world than I do the business world, who are conditioned to thinking of themselves as not creative. And I get to show them through these workshops that they are in fact, deeply creative. They’re just not tapping those resources until they think about them through the lens of learning to write songs.

[00:15:01] So that has been taking up the last couple of years of my time. And it has been really, really satisfying.

[00:15:07]Dane Reis: [00:15:07] very cool. Very cool. And what about the entertainment industry?

[00:15:12] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:15:12] Ah, okay. So for about four years, I was on the board of governors for the recording Academy, which is a body that along with the Grammy awards, they, um, they spend their time taking care of our own everybody in the music world. So we spent a lot of our time. Working on fair compensation for songwriters as technology has totally rewritten the rules around how music is disseminated and how royalties are paid up.

[00:15:42] I’m a huge fan of technology. I live and die by it as a matter of fact with my studios, but it needed to evolve so that the creatives are also taken care of in the process. So for me, this evolution in entertainment, specifically in music, The way that the creatives are treated, needs to catch up with all of that evolution.

[00:16:02] So that’s, that’s where I’ve been spending a lot of my time and emotional energy sort of making sure that as the industry moves forward, everybody is taken care of along the way.

[00:16:10]Dane Reis: [00:16:10] Aw, that’s so important. Especially I can imagine with streaming services and things like this, and is revenue a part of that?

[00:16:17] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:16:17] Oh, it is. And it’s, you know, , uh, it’s the wild West out there right now. Everything is being re-imagined and nobody quite knows how it’s going to shake out and slowly, but surely things are sort of falling back into balance, but it’s going to take a minute for

[00:16:32] Dane Reis: [00:16:32] Yeah, but you know, but you know, it’s so encouraging to know that there’s people like you actively working on solutions for these kinds of problems.

[00:16:40] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:16:40] Well, it’s, Well, it’s, it’s important stuff. And thank you for saying that.

[00:16:44]Dane Reis: [00:16:44] Yeah, and it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions.

[00:16:56] I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:17:03] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:17:03] Ready to go.

[00:17:04]Dane Reis: [00:17:04] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry?

[00:17:11] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:17:11] I have to say very fortunately nothing. I had the unconditional support of my family, which was, and is for anyone in entertainment, extremely rare. And I’m so lucky.

[00:17:24]Dane Reis: [00:17:24] ah, beautiful. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:17:31] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:17:31] Don’t squeeze too hard during the process of creating, let it flow and edit later. And that was taught to me by a collaborator of mine many years ago.

[00:17:42]Dane Reis: [00:17:42] So good third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry kind of kind of went pause.

[00:17:55] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:17:55] Right. Right. Translating what I’ve learned in my three decades, as a songwriter, into ways to help people and teams innovate and discover their own creativity.

[00:18:04]Dane Reis: [00:18:04] great. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, maybe a YouTube video or podcast or piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now?

[00:18:18] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:18:18] I just finished reading a wonderful book by George Leonard called mastery, which speaks very clearly to what it means to master whatever skill you are attempting to master and understanding that the journey really is the goal.

[00:18:32]Dane Reis: [00:18:32] Oh, very cool. I have not heard of that book. I will definitely be picking that up. Yeah. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:18:53] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:18:53] So as far as what I would do differently, I would certainly spend the first five or so years of my career enjoying the journey more and stressing less. I don’t know if that’s even possible when you’re young and passionate about what you want to do and don’t know what you’re doing, but I wish I had stressed less than those.

[00:19:10] First five years or so. And as far as what I would do, that’s the same. I would make the decision to be a professional songwriter again, because it’s brought me so much over the years,

[00:19:19]Dane Reis: [00:19:19] ah, that’s beautiful. And you’re right. You know, I don’t know if it’s possible. It’s a good point to stress less, but. I think having awareness of it and hearing people like you, having anyone who’s out there that is entering this industry or aspiring to enter this industry, just listen to that and take that to heart.

[00:19:38] What cliff just said, because that is not to say you’re going to be stress-free, but being conscious of it will help.

[00:19:45] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:19:45] I think so, too.

[00:19:46]Dane Reis: [00:19:46] And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with everyone.

[00:19:57]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:19:57] For me, it’s another quote and the quote is eat the elephant one bite at a time, which essentially means any task, no matter how large. Can be broken down so that it’s not so daunting, right? When it comes to a career in the entertainment industry, it can feel so overwhelming. But if you just wake up every day and take one bite of the elephant, that is your career in entertainment, you’ll be amazed at where you end up.

[00:20:22] When you look back.

[00:20:24]Dane Reis: [00:20:24] , such great advice. And to wrap up this interview, cliff, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:20:38]Cliff Goldmacher: [00:20:38] Well, certainly I would love for people to check out my new book, the reason for the rhymes and to make it super simple. My website is the reason for the

[00:20:49]Dane Reis: [00:20:49] beautiful. And I’m assuming it’s available on Amazon and all the things 

[00:20:53] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:20:53] It is, and I am doing hardback copies that are signed. If you reach out to me directly.

[00:20:59]Dane Reis: [00:20:59] , fantastic.  And cliff, are you also reachable on social media?

[00:21:04] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:21:04] Oh, I am. I have a Twitter account reason for rhymes and an Instagram account of the same name.

[00:21:12]Dane Reis: [00:21:12] beautiful. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Cliff just said into the description of this episode, cliff, thank you so much for being here, taking your time to share your journey. It was an incredible interview, such a pleasure. 

[00:21:31] Cliff Goldmacher: [00:21:31] Likewise, Dane. Thank you. It was a, it was a real joy to be on with you.