RIDGEFIELD, CT — When Javier Colon, the grand prize winner on the first season of NBC’s The Voice, brings his current tour to Infinity Hall in Hartford this weekend, he’ll be joined onstage by a local musician. There’s not a lot unusual about that: Go downtown on any Saturday afternoon and swing a softball bat over your head twice and you’re likely to knock out half a dozen talented musicians, Ridgefield’s that kind of artsy place. The extraordinary bit here is that the musician is also the song’s writer, and despite sharing the limelight with Colon, he has no burning desire to “be discovered” and break into the music business Big Time.
Jimmy R. Landry has been there, and done that, several times.
Landry, age 50, began his career as a touring musician out of Maine. His first New York band, Hidden Persuaders evolved into alt-rock darling Splender while he was still in his 20s. Although Landry had left the band before their Billboard-charting success, he carved out a career at Elektra Records, working in radio promotion, marketing and finally artists and repertoire. He later signed a recording contract with EMI/Priority/Capitol with his globally touring band, the Wine Field, who shared the stage with Maroon 5, LFO, American Hi-Fi and Howie Day, among others. In 2006, he again returned to work, joining Capitol Records as an A&R representative/ staff producer/ songwriter/ mixer, focusing on artist development.
Landry is now global director of marketing for a major musical instrument manufacturer, with a wife and 10-year-old son in Ridgefield. Most days he is working 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., “strategically planning, building and delivering marketing plans and assets for my employer,” according to his resume.
Rock-and-roll, however, never forgets.
“It’s not like I’m trying to be famous,” Landry said. “I’m just putting stuff out there almost because it’s in my DNA.”
The siren’s call of his genetics has led him to create a home studio the rival of many professional spaces in Manhattan, and a catalog of tracks spanning all media. Under the professional name Audiostrike, Landry has had songwriting/ production success on everything from the shows “Dawson’s Creek” and “Party of Five,” to Pokémon DVDs to tracks with artists Rooster (Sony/BMG), Dilana (Rock Star Super Nova) and Comic Book Heroes (Disney Top 30 artist charts and NASCAR). He has recently begun writing songs on behalf of CoffeeRing Entertainment and Veritas Motion Pictures.
The Landry song that Colon — and many others online — have fallen in love with is “For The Soldiers Who Miss The Holidays.” The singer-songwriter says he wrote and produced the paean to the Christmastime sacrifices of service men and women “in waves,” over the course of “many, many nights between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 o’clock in the morning, grinding.”
Landry told Patch he was inspired by a mother he heard calling into a radio station. She lamented to the DJ that the military could not tell whether or not her son was going to be coming home for the holidays.
“Creating a song like this is especially time-consuming because every instrument must be recorded separately, often requiring entirely different set-ups of equipment,” Landry said. There is no chance he can save time by getting all the musicians in the studio at once and nailing it on the first take, as he plays all the instruments himself.
The cost of the recording studio tools has dropped significantly since Landry’s Splender days, of course, and the internet has made song marketing and distribution doable by just one person. The problem, for other middle-aged musicians looking to feed their muses, is that they are invariably that “one person.” Even younger musicians who want to make it must not only “create awesome songs but manage their profile on a daily basis,” Landry said. “I don’t know how they do it.”
However they do it, they’re likely not getting rich in the process. Monetizing music has become trivial for artists — just by filling out some e-forms they can get stream-play on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music and other services, according to Landry, and accountant-bots will track every click. But unless the song gets placed on a playlist by one of the platforms, the payout is pennies. The situation improves if a song is licensed for a TV show or movie, but the real money comes from playing live.
Landry, a professional marketer with over 30 years in the music industry, knows he could squeeze out some more simoleons if he poured some time into self-promotion, but says it would not be worth the effort. For him, now, it’s about “creating something that people will like, enjoy, and gravitate toward.”
“Find the balance, and keep your expectations in line,” Landry said. “If you’re 20 years old and you have all the time in the world, and you don’t have a lot of responsibilities, you can really hit it hard, but you don’t want to lose focus of what you have going on around you, either.”
The Ridgefield singer-songwriter has nine more songs “pretty much written and in the pipeline,” but he says he’ll release them on his own schedule. But the husband, father and successful businessman won’t tell you what that schedule is.
“There’s plenty of times I missed personal deadlines where I wanted to have a track done, but what’s going on around you is more important, and you have to keep that in mind.”
Landry and Javier Colon will be performing “For The Soldiers Who Miss The Holidays” on Saturday at Infinity Hall in Hartford. You can hear the song online here.
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