OWTK Kindie Music News

Are You Kindie or Just Kidding Yourself?

Now that I have your attention, let’s get started.

Kindie or Not Shanti Play Date

Play Date on stage at the Kidchella Music Fest, Philly

You first question after reading the title of this post may be, “Who the hell do you think you are?” Fair enough. Let me introduce myself. My name is Dave and I host and produce The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl. It’s a weekly two-hour kids music show streaming every Saturday morning (duh) on WAWL in Chattanooga, TN. I also post a podcast of the show available here or on iTunes. I’ve been doing this show for nearly ten years (February ’06) and I’ve heard a lot of kindie in that time, and most I’m happy to have experienced. I say most because there are some acts that should really consider the question that is the title of this piece.

Kindie or Not The Not-Its

The Not-Its! posing for a photo in Seattle

So let’s jump into it with five simple questions all kindie acts should be asking themselves before they start writing, recording and performing music for kids and their families, questions that, admittedly, may not have the easiest answers: Who, What, When, Where, & Why.


Who is your audience? Easy, kids.

Not so fast.

If that was your first answer just go ahead and leave. No, come back. You are right… mostly. “Kids” is part of the answer but certainly not the entirety of the answer. Let’s go further. The kids in your audience, are they pre-schoolers? Six to eight year olds? Pre-Tween? Older? You probably can’t have the rug rats and the big kids, too. Someone will get left behind. Or leave. And don’t forget about the people buying the CDs, downloading the songs, and paying for the concert tickets — it helps if the grown-ups respect and enjoy your music too.

“As the genre enters adolescence, the few dollars that do exist in this scene may be harder to obtain.”

Who is your competition? Again, not an easy answer. If your music is geared toward ages six and up, you have a huge world of pop music to compete with. You know who they are. But you also have other kindie acts competing. “But Dave! We’re a tight community. A family.” True, kindie bands have an intimate relationship like no other genre. But that competition inside kindie is growing. As the genre enters adolescence, the few dollars that do exist in this scene may be harder to obtain.

Kindie or Not Shine and the Moonbeams

Shawana Kemp of Shine and the Moonbeams on stage with Dave Loftin’s kindie music doppelganger.


What are you singing about? This is always a tricky subject. Writing for kids can be tougher than you think. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. It’s not too different from writing for grown-ups. I enjoy stories in a song sometimes. I enjoy songs about happiness, anger, loss, regret. Guess what? Kids have these emotions and feelings too. They’re human and they can handle a lot more than we tend to give them credit for. And going a little further on the subject of content, unless you’re using music to teach a class let’s leave the mundane lessons and task teaching out of the tune. Would you listen to a song about how to drive a car? Exactly.

“Unless you’re using music to teach a class let’s leave the mundane lessons and task teaching out of the tune”

What style of music are you playing? Rock? Country? Folk? Rap? If you said yes to all of these, you’re doing it wrong. When I start putting together my playlist, there are bands I immediately know where they’ll fit in the show because they have defined themselves through the style of music they perform. If you’re one those who answered yes to the question above, guess what? You may get lost in the shuffle. Forgotten. Very few can pull off the grab bag genre album (see: The Pop Ups Outside Voices). In the words of The Avett Brothers, “decide what to be and go be it.”

Kindie or Not Okee Dokee Brothers

The Okee Dokee Brothers live at the Philly Art Museum


So how in the world are going to incorporate the “When” into this piece? Well, when should you become a kindie act? For most, the switch from grown-up to kindie music starts when they become parents. Maybe they have nieces and nephews. Whatever brought you here, just get out there and do it. If you love performing music and singing to kids (and EVERYTHING that entails) then go for it.

Kindie or Not Sugar Free Allstars

Chris ‘Boom’ Wiser of the Sugar Free Allstars preaching the good word of kindie funk


This one can greatly influence how you answer the above questions. Where are you taking your music? Do you only want to perform shows? Do you only want to blend your music into an educational setting or a movement class? Do you want to tour, hit the festival circuit, or just get your music on Sirius XM Kids Place Live, terrestrial radio shows and podcasts like mine? If you want the latter, this brings up a different “audience”. What works in a classroom may not work on radio. Actually, it usually doesn’t. Not all music is right for every avenue.

“Remember, just because your music isn’t getting any airtime or blog love doesn’t necessarily mean it sucks.”

And not all DJs and podcasters have the same taste. Yes, our taste does influence what we play so do your homework by finding out which song(s) on your album(s) may resonate with which DJs, reviewers, podcasters. A blogger, radio DJ or Kids Place Live program director might not love your whole record, but they may just go crazy for that one song, and that could be a hit with their specific audience. Remember, just because your music isn’t getting any airtime or blog love doesn’t necessarily mean it sucks. It may be perfect for a classroom, chore time, or the best aid for nap time.

Lucky and Alisha

Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis ring in the new year at LEGOLAND (2014).


This is a completely personal question and one that no one can answer for you. Why are you doing this? Are you hoping to get a piece of the kindie golden calf? Most of you know that the music industry as a whole can be a heartless beast that will put you on a pedestal one day and push you off the next. And yes, the world of kindie is becoming a lot more competitive.

On a personal note, I ask this question sometimes. As in, “Why the hell did they try to make a kindie album?” Ten years after I first started collecting music for the show, the ratio of good to bad music has stayed pretty much the same. However, that’s not very comforting since there are SO many more kindie acts than there were in 2005.

Danny The Not-Its Big Air in Philly

Danny of The Not-Its! gets big air in Philly

In closing I offer you a proverbial grain of salt. These are my opinions. Take comfort in them knowing that I have listened to a lot (A LOT) of kindie music over the years. Every year I think it can’t get better and then a new batch of CDs hits my mailbox and I’m blown away all over again. Most of you are making great music. Remember that. Most of you.

If I’m at KindieComm 2016 (which I am making every effort to attend) feel free to corner me and voice your opinion. Just a head’s up, though. I will bring Jeff Bogle for backup.

by Dave Loftin
Dave Loftin Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl

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