Something weird happened, guys. If you’re reading this, you may be a proud owner of a JPO 2016 campaign t-shirt, pictured here.


It all started with a flippant Facebook post to promote a real gig:


Followed by like…a lot of people saying, “YEAH!” and “We want the t-shirt!”

Which led to me looking for a fast t-shirt designer site online to make a mock up of my campaign slogan on a shirt, which led me to, where I found out you can sell shirts without having to print them yourself OR ship them yourself. Glory!

I thought I’d sell a few, so I decided to gather celebrity endorsements.

Turns out I have a great group of supporters (and I knew it, but I didn’t know it applied to my political career as well as my artistic life).  The campaign ended, and we sold 61 shirts!  Holy!  And not all of those were to my mother (as far as I know, she accounts for 1 sale, hi mom).

What does this all mean?  I’m not sure, other than THANK YOU, YOU BRILLIANT PEOPLE.  Also it might mean no one really wants to vote for any of the 8739920 real Presidential candidates.  It might mean that a slacker COULD really be President if they tried (hehehheh).  It might mean communities are awesome things to have and keep around and share your humor with, because what else are we gonna do to survive this election cycle?

The best part for me was making terrible photoshops of the shirt design on my obvious cabinet choices.



Also, if you are an entrepreneur in ANYTHING (music, art, widgets, existing) – you could gather your folks together and make a shirt.  And you can sell it.  And your tribe can all identify each other with their cool shirts.

Now, to plan the convention.  I’m thinking Duluth or Sacramento.

I’ve had this idea for several years now (because that’s my rule with a tattoo) and I finally had it come to fruition. I like seeing my New Mexico state outline and Zia sun on my arm when I play guitar, and so I thought…why not add a little more of home to the mix? The thing you think about when you think about New Mexico is adobe and blue sky. We’re really good at that. I wanted to have a little bit transferred to my arm, so even when I’m walking around big scary Los Angeles, I know where I come from.

I knew the color work had to be stunning to pull this off, since we’re dealing with two main colors and one is similar to my skin tone. After hunting for months, I finally found Zulu. Interestingly, he is based in L.A. but is moving his business to Austin, so he spends a lot of time here now. His portfolio is amazing, and I knew he was The Dude. (Also, his life story is fascinating…read this NPR article about him!)

I took my friend Katie along for moral support and documentation, and it took about 2.5 hours from start to finish.

The outline and placement test:

Zulu used a few photos I had taken but adapted the buildings into something that doesn’t exist in real life, so I didn’t get an actual landmark tattooed on my arm.

The finished work:

The artist and the recipient!

Hey folks! I have been working on this project for…um…a while. It’s hard to press “launch” on a thing sometimes. I wrote this book because oftentimes on the road people will ask, “I like what you do for Susan Gibson…how do you do it?” It would take a LOT of explaining, like a whole lot. Like’s a book’s worth. So here we go!

BUY THE EBOOK HERE. (That’s called direct marketing).

“Money & Heart” – named after my folk-rap – covers a lot of topics. The importance of a great online presence for artists, booking, touring, social media, handling it all while STILL being an artist, publicity, and whatever else came out of my head. I intend for it to be a good guide for the beginner and a great check in for people who have been doing the musician thing a while.

Check it out
or send it to your musician friends and loved ones. It’s discounted right now, because I like discounts. Eventually I will like full-priced things, so um…get on it. (Direct marketing again!).

Thanks to Susan Gibson for listening to the drafts in the van for the last year and for helping me launch it, and to Carrie Ann and my mom for proofreading it with their smart eyes.

Wheeeeeeeeeeew! Long time no see, beloved blog. It’s almost time for SXSW so the blogging is about to get real. Some of my favorite posts are the recaps of all the random stuff I get to see and do at this giant conference. So glad to be here for these events…it’s a unique opportunity when the world comes to your town once a year.

So yes – things that are happening. I thought I’d line out some exciting projects just to put them out into the world because I am trying to be better about that. Collaboration and opportunity does not happen if you do not announce your plans.

This time last year it was Mindy Kaling talking about everything at SXSW.

SXSW: That starts Friday with Interactive which is (ssshhhh don’t tell the Music) my favorite part. So many ideas and concepts and futuristic things are flying around it’s hard not to get excited and inspired. I’ve been picking out my schedule, but as my friend and fellow SXSW attendee Chad told me a couple of years ago, flexibility and spontaneity are key. Who knows what I’ll wander in on at the Convention Center. I think I’m focusing on a lot of film/TV stuff this year because face it: TV is KILLING IT in terms of fan acquisition and retention thanks to social media. Lessons to be learned.

Los Angeles: If you saw my Oprah Interview below, you know a little. I am heading to L.A. next month for my first time to meet, greet, network, play, and get a feel for the industry that exists there and dominates. Songwriting is fun. Getting those songs into the hands of people who can do great things with them…sounds super fun. I feel like a freshman on the first day of high school, but I’ll get the hang of it. My friend Toni Koch and her organization The Talent Tree are being a huge help in introducing me to all things Los Angeles. We’re gonna have us a time! (Anyone know anybody I should meet out there? I would like to meet them!)

SusanG: my hardcore love grows. Aside from gigging like a badass, Susan is doing a BUNCH of kids workshops this summer for the Real Life Real Music Camps, and she is also doing a songwriting workshop for adults in New Braunfels on April 17-18. This will be amazingly fun and a chance to stew in creativity for 2 days. Do it.

Social Thinkery: is humming along. I am thrilled to announce that the newest Thinkery client is Dana Cooper, who will be launching a crowd-funding campaign shortly for his new album (the awesomely titled Building a Human Being). There are a few new partnerships in the pipeline as well, and Howlin’ Dog Records is about to release 2-Bit Palmino’s stunning new CD and I am excited to work on that.

Cheers to a busy Spring…hope to see in one or more of these corners of the earth soon!

Let me explain. I’m deep in a year-long program with Rubicon Artist Development called Rubicon Gold. It’s for folks like me who want to keep focused on our musical goals and “next level” it. It’s self-paced and guided by my producer and great friend Daniel Barrett. There’s reading, check-ins, goal setting, vision and values assessment, and lots of positive encouragement.

It’s actually changed the entire action plan for my music in the past five months…or at least helped me embrace it. I’ve always been fascinated with commercial music and music business, and I unabashedly love popular music, and now I want to write it. I want to meet people who write it, write with them, write it alone, get cuts, chart things, see my name in the “songwriter” slot of the Grammy nominations, have my songs in the background of your favorite TV shows. Working with Gold and Dan has helped me work this out, and now I’m starting to take steps to do this. I have a trip planned to Los Angeles in April and while I feel a little bit like a freshman on the first day of class, I already have a few things lined up to make this trip a good one, and it’s just the start.

You may also recall that I have blogged about Dan’s book before – The Remembering Process. Dan taught this to me years ago – and I recommend you get the book. The jist is a technique beyond positive visualization to make proactive change happen in your life. Instead of thinking about the future, you actually REMEMBER the outcome you want as if it already happened. It works and it’s FUN.

Dan challenged us Gold program folks to make a video about how the year is working out for us, so I decided to apply The Remembering Process and post my interview with Oprah after my success as a popular songwriter in the year 2025. I know, I haven’t aged a day and neither has O. (She said I can call her “O”). Here it is…as you can see, I’ve had some good stuff happen.

Check out Rubicon Gold here, and Daniel Barrett here!

Pomplamoose on tour. Taylor Swift and Spotify. Grammy nominations. If you’re a music industry news junkie, you’ve read about all of this in the past couple of weeks. If you’re not, just know that a lot of people have spent a lot of internet time debating music and money and art and commerce…like always.

I wrote this folk rap last year, and I am finding out the topics I wrote about are still looming and perhaps even more in the limelight.

The first part of this song is about playing open mics in college, playing my first real paid gig in front of the check out line of the natural foods store with my friend Ben. We had to play for 4 hours while people bought organic beets. It made us hearty.

The second part launches into those questions most musicians have…how to create a community and network of fans, how to grow that community, whether the very thing we think is the product nowadays is really the product at all. Is it the job of the artist to make the populace respect and pay for art? To cultivate a culture of money in exchange for music, art, prose, whatever?

Or is it the job of the artist to adapt to the overwhelming and all-consuming tide of technology and consumerism that dictates how entertainment is delivered as quickly and as easily as possible? That means accepting that music will never really be purchased as a “thing” again, simply accessed from the cloud. How does that affect value? Does it undermine the work behind it or open up the artist to millions more potential fans? What is the next income-producing mechanism for musicians if it is not music sales or, as Pomplamoose seems to point out, large scale live shows?

I don’t have the answers. I’d like to sit on a soap box and say music is inherently valuable and should be paid for, but I stream Orange Is the New Black without wondering how the producers and actors get paid off each stream from my $8 a month, and I get sucked into internet web series that are sponsored by large corporations with the understanding that I am being sold something as I am being entertained. Does it bug me much? No. Did it bug me that Lady Gaga’s show at SXSW was sponsored by Doritos? Mildly, but I got over it because I had a good time (thanks, chip people). More people will buy nacho flavored chips this year than pay to download a song. It’s real life.

The last part of the song is about how “artists gonna art”, basically. Some will always be after the dollar. Some earn it, some think they SHOULD be earning it. Some will make and create and not ever worry about it. Each of these groups will have people who are successes and non-starters. The world will keep spinning and there will always be new art and entertainment to consume.

Is there money where there’s heart? I can see it…my answer is yes. Maybe just not how we all think it should happen.

Daniel Barrett and Mark Hallman

EP 3 is almost done and in my hands. I spent a super enjoyable day at Congress House Studio in Austin with Mark Hallman and Dan last week. Mark is a super producer himself, and known as one of the best mastering studios around amen. It was neat to see the process. Mastering takes all the tracks and puts their sounds in context with each other – so one song is not louder than another and you’re not turning your stereo up for the soft ones and down for the louder songs. EQ, gain, and compression are adjusted so everything sounds good as a whole project.

Artwork is almost done…I’ll post that soon!

Whelp, this will be fun! My friend Bill Small asked if I would go in on this wonderful project with him and I yelled “YAAAASSSSSSS!!!” and then more politely responded “Why yes, I’d love to, thank you for asking.” What are we doing?

Well, you can watch Bill’s very well narrated info video here, but I’ll keep chattering about this webinar anyway.

Note: webinar = seminar+the interwebs!

You all know what I do. Between working with Susan for six (6!!!) years on booking and touring and social media and promotion, and working with Dan at Rubicon Recording on music and business and social media, and working with myself on blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and Vining and SXSWing and ALL THE THINGS…I have some thoughts about how to do the DIY musician thing. A couple thousand, anyway.

Bill, aside from being a great songwriter, performer, producer, and member of the Mighty Mystiqueros, is also the founder of Creative Artist Coaching. He’s spent years helping people, especially artists, break down a lot of barriers that keep them from doing their thing. I know a thing or two about barriers…writer’s block, fear of success, fear of failure, lack of motivation, feeling stuck…these things seem to be rampant amongst musicians who are small business owners (which, if you are a DIY Musician…you are!)

We’ve joined forces on this webinar and we’ll be taking questions about all of these topics and more on Google Hangouts from 1 – 2 PM Central on Monday, March 31st. Stop in, ask a question or 8, and listen to us chat about whatever comes up.

Registration link is here – that will give you all the info on how to log in on the 31st.

See you there!

Here’s where I stand on the home decorating front…I like things to look good. I even have a fairly good aesthetic eye. I like clean lines, and I like having things around me that remind me of good times and people. I also like looking at things that inspire me.

However, while I have part of this design gene in me, I lack a few key parts like “ability to execute” and “follow through.” This is where, thankfully, my friend Katie Lessley comes in. She has ability and follow through in spades, and she genuinely LIKES making things look good. Her house looks great, and thankfully she took a field trip to my apartment this weekend. I moved into my current place in November, and the former tenant had left a lot of nails and things in the walls, so I kind of just makeshift decorated by hanging things up on existing nails. I know, but I was busy.

There were also a few light fixtures added by the previous tenant that probably made sense when she lived here but now were just kind of lighting…nothing. Enter Katie.

First she hung some of my art on the big empty wall in the living room. Two of my college roommates painted those. (Note those awesome neon world map pillows…Katie made those, too!)

Then we made a music wall with some of my favorite things all clustered together, and she put up a guitar hanger! This is epic! I can hang my guitar on the wall! (Simple things excite me).

Then she took two Georgia O’Keeffe prints and a print by Bill Binger from Taos which is a painting OF O’Keeffe, and she made a collection and moved an IKEA light from the living room over to this. It kind of looks like a gallery. I am so impressed.

We hung some curtains, puttied some holes, and all around made this apartment much more liveable and “me.” Thank you, K-Le!

Did I mention Katie is a member of The Homeslippers and a fabulous singer-songwriter? Check her out here.

As mentioned in Ask Jana below, Mary Chapin Carpenter has a new album out. I have not missed getting a physical copy of any of her albums, and I don’t plan to stop until they cease making CDs altogether. I stopped by Waterloo Records this week to pick one up.

I’ll admit, I had to think before I shopped. A lot of places don’t sell CDs anymore, and many big box stores only carry the Top 20 or whatever…but Austin is home to one of the best independent record stores in the country so…phew.

It’s a beautiful record. A great way to start the year.