Singer Songwriter Blogger Guitarist Content Creator
I am so relieved it’s December, which is not usually a statement I utter. November was such a whirlwind of awesome (see below) and other stuff (flat tires, moving, broken laptop) that surviving it was a feat. Things will calm down in December, though there is plenty to do.
Susan is mixing her live album right now and that comes out in February. I am so excited for it – it sounds amazing and plotting how to promote these things is always a good time. Here we are listening to mixes whilst driving. Road tested, you would say.
Dan is mixing my EP…we might have a close to final mix on one song, more to follow. I’m glad my part is done for the time being. Artwork is on deck next…I’ve collected a Pinterest board of ideas for Emily to look at and I imagine we’ll start that this month sometime.
I got to go home to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving and we ate a lot of kolaches and pie like the Czechs we are.
Happy holiday season, everyone!
Whew. I have to admit, I’m gonna sleep a lot tonight. It’s been a whirlwind of adventure these past two weeks, with recording the new album, the Kickstarter, playing Rice Festival, and a bonus encounter with a hero of mine all wrapped into these past few days. I need a nap, but a satisfied, happy one.
In no order:
Yep! We did it! 133% of goal which blows my mind. I was checking email on Friday morning, a day before the campaign ended, and got this email that a very awesome backer had rounded me out to $10,000 – a number I couldn’t fathom when I started the campaign. My friend Heidi caught me exclaiming about the perfectly round number. We eventually got up to $10,227…I am so excited to put that money to work! We have another studio day this week…who knows what craziness will ensue.
Susan’s set the night before was also magic…it was fun to watch people watch her play, if that makes sense. So good.
If you read this blog at all you know I love Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” was the first song I learned to play on guitar when I was 11…that was 19 years ago. She’s inspired my writing and my guitar playing and my work ethic ever since. I’ve seen her about 12 times in concert, but never had the chance to meet her until Wednesday at the Paramount Theater in Austin. My friend Heidi knows people (named “MCC”) and we got backstage. When Heidi told me this was going to happen about 1.5 hours beforehand, I had three goals:
- speak whole words
- do not babble
- radiate gratitude
I think I did all those things. MCC was as gracious as I had imagined she would be, and we got this photo that is my new favorite possession. Amazing.
We also saw Mary Chapin and Shawn Colvin at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands the next night and I could watch her guitar playing from super close! Great seats, and a super kick in the pants for inspiration.
To top it all off Susan and her band played a great show at Gruene Hall today and I got to get up and play a little. Super grateful for all these folks.
And now…a 10 hour nap.
What a week! Dan and I spent 2 more days in the studio. There was lots of singing from me, a bass part by Eric Holden, all manner of fun things from Dan, and then Susan came in and sang a really cool part on a tune called “Middle of My Chest.” She even added a “doot doot doot” line that totally works. What a blast.
I’m listening to an unmixed version of that very song that Dan sent over right now, and this might sound weird coming from the writer of the songs, but I am so impressed with the trajectory of this album. It’s different. It is folk, pop, rootsy, rock, electronic. All of those components are on the album thus far and all of them speak to various facets of my musical passions. Dan is really outdoing himself on producing these songs, and I am lucky because he knows me so well and he gets the vision of what I want to do with them.
What do I want to do with these songs? This is where I gratefully acknowledge that my Kickstarter is 111% funded right now. AMAZING. Dan gets paid for his hard work, Emily gets paid for her (what I am sure will be amazing) artwork, copies will be printed, all that goodness.
Since we’re OVER-FUNDED, however, it’s giving me new goals. Since I could not be more thrilled with the sound of this album…I can say with complete confidence I think some of our larger goals can actually do something here. One of the discussions Dan and I had before starting was placements…meaning I want these tunes to be in TV shows and movies. Grey’s Anatomy has kind of been our go-to example because they pick a lot of folkies and songwriters, but overall it’s making Dan angle his production to that type of sound. It’s a little more pop, it’s got some edge. It’s still 100% me, but these songs have things to do so we’re dressing them up nicely.
One of the things I’d love to do with the overage money is get a membership to TAXI, which is how a lot of placements happen in this business. I’ve not done it before and now is the time with these new songs.
I’d also love to investigate a publicist for some promotion. These songs can be on the radio, and getting reviews and write-ups would also help this whole operation be a success. TAXI is $300 for a year’s membership and while I have not found a publicist yet, campaigns can be $1000 up to well, a lot of thousands depending on length and the publicist. A stretch goal on Kickstarter would be $9200 to cover those things and KS fees. And REAL stretch goal would be $10,000 because that’s a great number.
I’m putting this out there because if you’re on the fence of not pre-ordering and just waiting to get the album when it comes out, having this pre-order money will take these songs a long ways to finding a bigger place in the world. I have never been so dang confident about something that has come out of my mouth.
Here’s the link to the Kickstarter. Pre-order for as little as 5 bucks, tell your friends, be a part of what I hope is a long, successful journey for these songs!
Kids. I am not even kidding. We are having such an amazing time making this EP. If you all like it 1/8 as much as we have loved making it, you will dig it. I think you will.
Right now, as I type, Dan is playing some killer electric guitar on the fastest, rockingest, most uptempo song on the album. And it’s got some different electronic sounds happening on it, too…as Dan just told me, “This is when Folk meets Gaga.” He’s pretty right.
I cannot express how thrilled I am (but watch me try to express it) about the direction of this EP. It’s got my acoustic guitar on it, which is the backbone of everything I do. It’s strong on electric guitar sounds, which is what I grew up on and love. Then there’s this love for pop music I have been shy about expressing but have had for about 4-5 years now. We are throwing all these things in and it sounds like meeeeeeee! Phew. Onward.
Get in on the Kickstarter here – there’s still time! I’m doing special sneak peeks for backers and of course you get this thing the first possible chance when it’s done!
I wrote this a few months ago…wondering about the success of my Kickstarter and of social media in general. It’s hard to ask people to buy your stuff, maybe especially when you’re an artist. Then there’s the weird idealistic/totally self-limiting persona of the “starving artist.” Like you can’t make a living and be relevant and “of the people.” I don’t buy it. And where is this music industry going? The commodity is not vinyl or CD or even mp3 anymore. It’s streams, Youtube views. Things that don’t immediately transfer to money. Something higher must be the commodity. What do artists offer? What do consumers get from artists, what is it worth?
“Now is not the time to ask when I’ll get a real career.” I have been asked by well-meaning people I grew up with when I might “settle” and get a “JOB job.” Also, when I graduated with my History degree, someone asked me if I would like fries with that, so I guess I have always been on the perceived track of “Huh?”
Truth is there are lots of ways to make money in music, and I have found a couple. I pay rent. I don’t ask my mom for money (all the time, hi Mom). I have found some and I see countless others. Music, art, and entertainment are massive economies in this country. There need not be starvation. Are they JOBS? Yes. You gotta clock in and probably work harder than a lot of other job types, and even then it’s not guaranteed. You have to schmooze. You have to have 10,000 hours in at whatever you want to do. You have to be professional. You have to be steadfast in your vision (and know what your vision is). It’s a lot. But it’s not unfruitful, and lots of working musicians and music business folk pay their rent and buy their lattes every day.
What is the fans’ role in all of this? A little recognition that a Spotify stream does not totally make up the difference in the decline of the physical album is step one, but really…the fans’ role is to pick those artists that live and breathe something beyond a download. It’s not charity, it should never be charity. The music should be great. If it touches your life on a daily basis, join the community. Help the artist’s community get bigger. Go to shows. Share links. All that stuff.
I am used to making my living with about 4 jobs. People joke, but I see the uncertainty of corporate jobs and lack of longterm, fulltime work in a lot of industries, and I am grateful I know how to make it piece together. Maybe in the future people will be asking musicians for advice on how to work in the new economy…I don’t see that as being very far-fetched at this juncture.
Anyway, food for thought. Hug a musician today, just not while they’re playing.
As you can see below, WE MADE IT! 102% funded as of this writing, with 11 days to go. Still time for pre-orders, indeed. I am so relieved…and so grateful to this community that is larger than I thought it was. You all are champs.
Dan and I had a GREAT time in the studio this past weekend. There are in-depth updates for the Kickstarter Backers (a perk, if you will), but here are a few shots.
We have 2 songs in the works – we don’t know if they’re done yet, but they have grown a lot in the last 4 days. The other 3 are on deck for next weekend and beyond.
52% as of this typing! $4,065! I am so grateful to all the early adopters. We are one week in and I feel optimistic. I go into the studio next week and usually I am nervous to start recording, but this time I’m just anxious to get in there and start doing it. Dan and I have done this twice before so we know how it goes. This level of comfort bodes well for coming up with creatively cool stuff.
Heather told me about Kicktraq.com, where you can track your progress. There’s another 48% to go, but…we can do this! Tell your friends! Everyone gets a copy of the album if they back it! That’s a win. Here’s the link.
Note 1: Day 3 of my Kickstarter for my next record and WOW. I am humbled and frankly dumbfounded by the generosity that has been shown. I kind of figured I’d be pre-selling a lot of $5 downloads (which is awesome) and threw in the house concert option as an “It’ll round out the list” thought. AND PEOPLE ARE PURCHASING HOUSE CONCERTS. And ceramic pigs. And eBooks. And Trilogies. Mind blown. So excited! Get you some.
Anyway, Susan’s album will be out in February and I am so excited to help get things ready. It’s a good time for new stuff.
It feels good to get that out because I had a heck of a time wrapping my brain around it. Kickstarter is a wonderful resource for musicians. Basically, for an indie artist (i.e. not backed by major label money), the typical way of making a record is paying up front for everything, either out of pocket or putting things on lots of credit cards. The producer needs to get paid, the mixer, the mastering engineer, the graphic artist for the artwork, the company who prints the physical CDs…all of those people need to be paid. The artist would then hope and pray their sales after the release would make up for the cost and then some.
It’s a model that works but…it’s stressful. Along came Kickstarter and shifted the paradigm. Now artists can ask their community for support before the album is made, so that the expense is not so mind-blowing up front. There’s also the awesome component of bonuses for backers, so the artist can customize packages and offer really unique stuff as a thank you. Yay!
So I’ll say upfront, I was so nervous about making my own video talking about the project. I have made lots of funny and clever things in the past, many of them with Susan Gibson or Elizabeth Wills, or just because I was messing around. Whatever it was, the pressure of attaching it to a piece of art I was working on, or the fact that I grew up Midwestern and Midwesterners are sometimes (SOME OF US) bad about asking for help (but we will ALWAYS bring something to the potluck)…I was having a heck of a time with my video. I mulled it over for MONTHS. I did a draft and I sent it around to a few trusted people (THANK YOU Amy, Anna, Susan, and Heather!). The feedback came back…”Hey, you can do better.” AUGH.
At which point I reverted to 6th grader fist clenching defiance and yelled (to no one except my Lady Gaga poster) “I DON’T WANNA!” But I knew they were right. I could do better, and I needed help. (Thank you Heather…she’s done it before so she’s a Kickstarter pro and also tells me what’s what).
I went over to Susan’s house, mostly to whine and eat brownies, and Susan is awesome and offered to help (she also provided aforementioned brownies). We made a date to meet the next day and do the video. And we did, and it made such a difference to have a friend to help.
So here I am, asking that if you dig the music or the blog or the videos or all of it…pre-order this new album. It’s gonna rawk, and I want you to be in on it. I really appreciate it! Be a backer here!
I have to say first of all, my post title made me think of that 4 Non-Blondes song What’s Up, which for YEARS I thought was called “What’s Going On?” because that’s kind of the hook. But no, it’s called What’s Up? Anyway…
Firstly I want to say a big thanks to Brian Thompson over at The DIY Daily Podcast for using my song Resurrection Buzz all week long in his show. I can’t think of a cooler thing to be associated with because his podcast is full of inspiration and thoughtfulness. Check it out. Here’s the September 24th episode:
The other big thing is…I am about to launch the Kickstarter project for MY NEW EP which I START RECORDING NEXT MONTH OH GOOD GRIEF. I am simultaneously excited and really scared, because Kickstarters are those things where it’s ALL OR NOTHING (in all caps like that) and what if I don’t pick the right amount to ask for or maybe people won’t pay attention or…all of the things that freak me out in the middle of the night when I’m hugging my body pillow and practicing breathing exercises.
And then really, as my friends have been telling me…positive thinking rules the world, and I am fortunate to know a lot of nice, supportive people. What I do know is the songs on deck for EP 3 are the best I have ever written. Put that on a Times Square billboard and light it up, because I can stand behind that. Dan’s studio is full of amazing gear and we have some really cool people in mind to play on it, so…it’s going to rock. It will rock. So will the Kickstarter. Get ready.