Before I decided to be purely a musician, I did other performing things that actually paid me money! Although there was money involved, the jobs were not glamorous. It's fun to think back on all the crazy things I've done while being a performer. Here's a little glimpse!
I spent a summer performing at Six Flags Over Georgia, where we were basically doing aerobics in 100 degree weather while singing every day. It was probably the sweatiest job I've ever had. I was in 2 shows, a 50's Show and a Beach Show, and we performed on the hour, 8 hours a day. I felt like I was paying my dues with this job!
At one point in my life, I lived in North Dakota for 6 months performing in an outdoor Country Revue. We lived in a town that literally only had a bar and a gas station and the nearest Walmart was a half hour away. Some drunk man even shot his wife in this town while I lived there and I felt like I was in a real life old-western movie. We performed our show every night, rain or shine, and I got to wear awesome patriotic cowgirl attire.
One time, I lived in Amish Country for a few months and performed in an Amish Musical. There was no Walmart in this town either, but there were plenty of horses and buggies! Luckily the Producers let me have electricity where I was staying.
Probably the craziest thing I did was travel the country and perform as a Grandma with a walker. Everyday I would dress up in this jumpsuit with santa hats in my belly as stuffing, and put on this wig. We performed all over the country at student camps with the organization Student Life. Personally, I don't think I've ever looked better.
Part of me wishes my life was crazy like it used to be. Settling down in Nashville has been rewarding, but also challenging. I liked living in random places for months at a time. I think that's why I'm so antsy to get back on the road next year and continue touring. I love exploring and experiencing new places. I can't wait to see where next year takes me...and I hope it takes me somewhere crazy!
People have asked me if I can write songs while touring. I didn't really understand why they asked me that because I assumed you could just write all the time and then perform and I didn't see how there would be any disconnect. However, as I've gotten more busy with my tour schedule this year, I've realized that there really is a disconnect. In 2013, all I did was write songs. I would co-write with people on weeknights and weekends, I would write lyrics during the day at my day job, and felt like I was a writing machine! (Not every song was a good song...but it was still a song!) I only played 2 shows that year, so almost all my energy was dedicated to writing. After my big writing stint, I had plenty of new material to start playing shows with in 2014.
So this past year, I dedicated all my time to performing. I thought I could still keep writing during weeknights, but came to realize that after being my own tour manager, booking agent, publicist, and band leader, I had no creative energy to devote to songwriting. It was really sad! I would try to sit down and write a song...and nothing came out! Words were inexplicably harder to form. I'm no brain expert, but I started realizing that maybe there is a different part of your brain you use when writing songs. It wasn't that I ran out of stuff to say (which is a relief!), I just hadn't used the other side of the brain as much.
Now that my touring has wrapped up for the year, I've been coaxing myself back into writing gear. I spent this past weekend housesitting for someone, and literally did nothing but sit at the piano and write songs all day long. For three days I pounded out new lyrics and melodies, came up with new ideas, and completed 4 new songs. One morning, I couldn't sleep and got up at 3:30am. Instead of laying in bed, praying to fall back asleep, I decided it was time to get up and write more music! That song ended up being called "Coffee at Midnight," for obvious reasons [because I couldn't sleep!].
As an artist, it's easy to feel like you're not "doing anything" if you're not on the road playing, but I've had to give myself a break and realize that if I don't have good songs to play, the touring is irrelevant. So although on paper this time looks "quiet" and less flashy, it's turning out to be very productive. I'm excited to keep writing and creating, and look forward to the time when I can share my new music with you all!
Everybody's talking about Taylor Swift taking her music off of the music streaming service, Spotify. Some people are angry they can't listen to it on their paid service, and some people applaud her efforts for standing up for the value of music. When it comes to music business strategies, I trust Taylor Swift and her team's decisions wholeheartedly. Every move she makes seems to be well thought-out and basically brilliant. While I think her decision to leave Spotify in the dust was a good one for her, I don't think it would necessarily work for the "up-and-coming" artist, such as myself.
The popularity of Spotify, and other streaming services, has made it easier than ever for musicians to get their music out into the world without a record label. However, it still pains me to look at my Spotify royalties. When I see that I'm making $0.0008 per song play, my heart dies a little. But, I knew going in to this whole shebang that I would not make money initially. I knew that I would have to spend a whole lot of money in the beginning to give people a product for free. As an artist, you have to think to yourself, "How will I gain new listeners if I make people buy something that they're not sure they even like yet?" Even young Taylor Swift thought this way, whether she knew it or not. She began getting a large fan base off of the social media platform, Myspace. There, her music was available for free, and because it was free, people would discover her and find that they enjoyed and related to her music. Without Myspace, her music would not have reached as many people in the early stages of her career, which became a crucial springboard for her future. So, I view Spotify like I view Myspace-- an avenue to reach a new audience, and hopefully captivate them and invite them into your music journey.
That's how I discovered new Country artist, Sam Hunt. When I heard murmurings around Nashville that he had been signed to Universal Music Group, long before his recent CD release, I immediately went to Spotify to listen to his music. He had an early EP ready to go and I started becoming aquatinted with his music and style. Now that he just released his full album, here I am, already a fan, because of his Spotify presence!
I'm thankful to have services like Spotify that help me get my music out into the world, and also allow me to discover new artists. I know like all things, Spotify is probably a trend, but, I will also be thankful for the proverbial day when I can take my music off of Spotify. I know that I'll have laid the groundwork for a great family of people that value my music like Taylor Swift has. With that being said, thank you to those of you that have already bought my music. I really appreciate that you took the time to purchase it and add it to your collection. I value you and will keep trying to make the best possible music I can for you.
There are things that come with the territory of being a musician/artist, such as: doing many performances for “exposure” (free), having to sing about your life problems in the form of prose, eating way healthier than you ever wanted to, and…dealing with the comments of people who simply don’t understand what you’re going through. Todays blog will center around these comments. I’m sure these people don’t mean to sound judgmental or rude, but sometimes it comes across that way.
I’ve asked my fellow musicians to help me come up with a comprehensive list of things people have said to us that, well, we wish they would stop saying. So, if you’re a musician, maybe you can commiserate with me and know that we are all going through the same thing. And, if you’re not a musician, maybe this can give you some insight into some of the things we have to deal with on a daily basis.
“How long are you going to try and do this before you get a real job?” I know this is crazy, but I’m actually going to “try” it….FOREVER!
“So, do you have a real job?” I believe your definition of “real” is different than mine.
“What do you MEAN you can’t play that song?!” I know it’s crazy, but my music degree didn’t have a class called, “Every Song Ever Written.”
“What do you MEAN you’ve never heard of [insert really random, obscure musician]” Also, I don’t know every musician that has ever walked the planet. I’m sorry to disappoint.
“So you’re an aspiring artist.” At a certain point, you just wish people would stop saying you’re “aspiring” when you’re actually just “doing!”
“You sound like Justin Bieber” The reason this is not a compliment, besides the Justin Bieber part, is that artists and bands spend years crafting their unique sound and hope to bring something original to the music world. When you tell us we sound like someone else, you’re pretty much crushing all of our hopes and dreams.
“Is your wife cool with you being a musician?” I feel like this is getting into personal, inappropriate territory…and yes, I’m sure she’s OK with it. Musicians are awesome.
“Are you making a living off of only music?” or "How much do you really make?" Somehow talking about money is a faux-pas for every other career, unless you’re addressing a musician.
“So music is your hobby?” Trust me, I could choose a lot less stressful and less challenging “hobbies.”
“You should try out for American Idol, The Voice, X-Factor, America’s Got Talent!” I take it this is the only thing you know about the music business.
“Sing something for me right now!” Is there money in this for me?
“Are you good?” Yes.
“My second cousin once removed foot doctor’s grandson is a big artist and plays 1,000,000 shows per year.” ….Cool…
“[insert any unsolicited advice about the music business from someone not in the music business]”
If you’ve ever said these things, we still love you. I mean, we want you to stop saying them, but we know you probably have a heart of gold and are just trying to help us out. And let’s face it, musicians have been known to be a little insecure and can take things too personally, so we get it. We appreciate you wanting the best for us, and we couldn’t get through this crazy life without the people who support us through the thick and thin.
Sometimes I think I'm crazy. But sometimes, I think I know exactly what I'm doing.