Invisibility….

“Not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your crying and pleading and holding out of hands will make no difference. Therefore, do not go down that path at all. ” Renee Marie Rilke

I spoke recently with a dear friend, a talented guy who has built a remarkable business in addition to feeding his creativity as a singer and songwriter. “I’m digging out of last year!” he chuckled over the phone.  His brightness of spirit helped me remember why I’m here, what I do and how I feel about helping deserving others.  It was a much needed balm for someone who has recently felt invisible.

My search for income has been quiet and contemplative, resulting in very little but the little it has turned over has been business of the most precious kind. My recent work and those I’m working for actually have soul and depth and their art resonates and aligns with important aspects of my own inner compass. I still feel a little gossamer but am shimmering into visibility again after a long six months of having my psyche scattered in the ether.

It helps to know there are others close to my age who have recently become underemployed and are on the hunt for ways to survive over the next decade or so until “retirement” , whatever that is anymore. We’ve become warriors within this new dynamic of work and income. I became a bit obsessed with retirement upon my 50th birthday. This year as I approach 52, I’m not so worried. I’ll never retire. I’ll always be visible in this business where I’ve chosen to make a daily appearance for over 40 years.

No amount of my reaching, crying and holding out of hands will make any difference. What I’m experiencing is a valuable package to add to my backpack of life knowledge. And I’ll traverse down a different path than desperation. For all of us, there is a passion and energy that beckons us rise in the morning and face the day, no matter what it may hold.

The art of mutual respect…

Create Mutual Respect. It doesn’t matter if this is between you and the sound tech, you and the counter clerk at the convenience store or you and LaVonda the Waitress at the IHOP. Mutual Respect for our fellow human beings is essential. What if LaVonda is a rabid music fan and because you’re nice to her at the IHOP and you leave her with a copy of your cd (and a generous tip) she brings 20 of her friends to a show? Mutual respect pays big dividends. And it costs nothing.

What does a booking agent do?

Your booking agent is the conduit between your band desiring to play and actually doing it. A booking agent uses his or her network of talent buyers (club owners, venue owners, festival buyers, etc) to secure paying playing gigs for your band.

A booking agent is only as good as the direction she is given. If it is only possible for you to play occasional shows, be sure your agent knows this, before he spends countless hours of time, effort and energy to secure dates for you that you cannot fulfill.

A booking agent is the most important link in bringing your band to a traveling and touring situation. A good booking agent should have an established network and a great working relationship with most buyers. He should be able to secure paying shows for you with the understanding, since you wanted to be a touring band, that some shows will be for expenses to keep you on tour. She should also have a firm backbone to stand up for you in case of discrepancies or cancelled dates.

If you have a booking agent, heap blessings on that person. Booking bands is not an easy job. Often bands forget to be grateful for having an agent’s knowledge, network , stamina and passion in their corner.

A booking agent is not a travel agent and should not have to work out every little detail of a performance. Basically, a booking agent tells your band where and when to play and how much you will make. The rest (like how you get there, etc) is up to you.

 

A basic publicity campaign

The most basic publicity campaign should include:

*sending posters, flyers, handbills to the venue

*sending demo cds for the talent buyer to give to effective street teamers

*sending posters and flyers to local record stores or lifestyle outlets

*creating an email press release to send to print media and radio and following up to ask about reviews or interviews for your show

*call print media and radio contacts and ask if you can send a physical press kit or EPK or MP3

*exploring radio possibilities – local programming focusing on shows in town

*sending bulletins to your friends at myspace.com or other related sites

*building a community at twitter and facebook and instagram

Your band is a business. Track your contacts with Bandamin.

Here are a few tricks for staying on top of contacts and chaperoning your assignment sheets into shows!

The Bandamin app can help you identify venues, gather contact info and plan tours. Your band is a business. Treat it like one!

Follow up your initial contact. This can be done with an email or a post card. I really like postcards. I have a Moonstruck postcard that I send after making contact with a new person. A post card in this world of electronic mail and text messaging makes an impact. It is also a VISUAL reminder of you, your band and your music. Be sure all information is on your postcard. Keep your message simple.
Hi Jason- enjoyed talking to you on the phone. Your Loving Wife is excited about the possibility of playing in Charleston. Thanks for your time!
Be sure you are logging date and time for each communication with the talent buyer or venue. Use the Bandamin app to track in a snap!
August 08- spoke with Susan at bar/ says she’ll pass message along to buyer.
August 15- spoke with Jason Talentbuyer- sent package -sent Jason email to let him know package was in the mail
August 22- called Jason and left message on his cell phone to check about arrival of package

Be disciplined about your tracking.

Home Alone

Take time  to come home to yourself everyday. ~ Robin Casar Jean

I love the movie Home Alone. I laugh before I even know Marv is going to step on Christmas balls and shove sharp shards into his already damaged feet. I start chuckling at the site of Kevin’s spider crawling on Harry’s chest, while Marv stands over him to kill the spider with a tire iron.  It’s such a simple movie, an easy concept, but one that brings the subject of solitude and self sufficiency to light during the holiday season.

A bit of Solitude during a time when most people are celebrating yuletide with family and friends can be a healing and helpful experience, particularly for music people. Our work is lived in the public eye, and escaping from the van, bus or tour schedule this time of year can be a valuable and precious experience.

Forgo a few family or community events and parties to walk alone in nature. The trees are bare, creating wide vistas of roads, mountains and sky.  If you find yourself in a strange city or town, seek out a place of worship and go inside to sit quietly.  Ponder your year as a singer, songwriter and musician.  Think about successes and things that perhaps didn’t go the way you planned and how to fix what needs some tweaking.

If you’re home with family during the holidays, remember to seek a little quiet time for yourself. It is so important to reset ourselves on a daily basis, to come home to ourselves, no matter where we are.

And if you find yourself Home Alone, face your fears of things that go bump in the night or that big scary heater downstairs.  Learn the art of self efficiency and self care.  In Solitude, many ideas find the quiet soil they need to root and grow.  Being happily alone, no matter the time of year, requires a healthy attitude and a stoic sense of self. Learn to treasure the preciousness of singularity and recognize being Home Alone has beautiful benefits.

The gift of music

This season is built around ancient celebrations of the winter solstice which falls on or about December 21. Before the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire already celebrated December 25 as the birthday of various pagan gods. Most of our symbols of Christmas are of pagan origin. And pagans, of course, are closely tied to the earth, our primary source, our first father and mother and teacher.

Nature makes its way indoors at Christmas as we bring Christmas trees, poinsettias, and holly into our homes. We light fires and burn Yule logs, which is a traditional Scandinavian ritual. In ancient times,  after 5 weeks of darkness, scouts were sent to the mountaintop to look for sunlight. When the light was discovered peeking over the mountain, the scouts would return to their homes to burn a Yule log and spread the joyous news that light had returned to the earth.

The birth of Christ, the enlightenment of Buddha, the numerous sun celebrations of ancient Rome and Ireland, Judas Maccabee’s miracle of eight days of continuous fire without enough oil to sustain the lamp, all symbolize the entrance of light and hope into the world after a time of darkness.

Create your own light this holiday season. Mark the month with your gift of music to others. Sing in the choir, offer your services as a musician to a church or synagogue or non profit organization. Learn a few carols and play at a school for children. Be aware of spreading good cheer as you entertain at holiday parties and functions. Try to remove yourself from the commercial concept of Christmas and focus on bringing the light, love energy and joy of your musical gifts to a weary world. “Look at the faces in the dancehall at the moment the music strikes up,” says Herman Hesse in Steppenwolf, “how eyes sparkle and faces begin to laugh. That is why one makes music.”

The most basic publicity campaign should include:

*sending posters, flyers, handbills to the venue

*sending demo cds for the talent buyer to give to effective street teamers

*sending posters and flyers to local record stores or lifestyle outlets

*creating an email press release to send to print media and radio and following up to ask about reviews or interviews for your show

*call print media and radio contacts and ask if you can send a physical press kit or EPK or MP3

*exploring radio possibilities – local programming focusing on shows in town

*sending bulletins to your friends at myspace.com or other related sites

*building a community at twitter and facebook and instagram

Musicians bring the light

 

The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy. -The Dalai Lama

We’re taught early on that in a sad situation we should feel sad, in a happy one we should be happy. We  should morph our emotions around our surroundings, soaking  up our environment like little sponges.

Nothing “out there” is making you sad or happy or angry or depressed “in here”. The seat of your soul is a place of contentment or hostility and it is of your very own making. Imagine that. You are in control. An attitude adjustment is all it takes to greet the world anew.  If we are happy within ourselves, the world cannot touch us.

Musicians encounter all sorts of environments.  The trick is we are trying to bring light, creativity and positive vibes to sources of low energy. A typical bar is a place where people go to drink, party, meet up and hook up. Often, the musical presentation for the evening is wallpaper to the more fundamental issue of the communal alcohol well and the “possibility party” presented by the opposite sex.

Musicians must play venues. Musicians must present themselves in situation where music is not often the focus. I’ve seen artists totally derailed by this performance dynamic. And then I have seen shinning stars, determined to make the very best of the situation presented.

Attitude is everything. Looking at a performance situation differently, makes the performance situation different. Particularly during the holidays, audiences have their own agenda and it may not include paying attention to the band. Recognize YOU are in control of this situation. Change your attitude about an unresponsive audience and recognize your own mental attitude, even in a place of low energy, can make a huge difference in your happyometer.

Life and Love and Music

“We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is “spiritual” when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life.”- Robert C. Fuller

Musicians live tuned to spirit, but many would not consider themselves practitioners of spirituality. The direct opposite may be the case. Music may have happened in our lives as a rebellious response to society as a whole. It may have been a way to be different from others. Whatever you think made you a musician, to deny the spiritual aspects of your practice is to deny your very essence.

Musicians are thinkers, pondering the great questions of life and love. Within it’s complexity and struggle, musicians discover illumination and, in the greatest testament to spirituality, we don’t keep it to ourselves. Our  inspirations and discoveries manifest as songs. And we share those songs with others, to let them know, that, yes, indeed life is not often fun or kind but we can enjoy it and savor it and be happy regardless. Often we share songs of heartbreak and hurt, assuring our listeners that we, too, have felt the sting of loss and loneliness. Musicians and their songs make it easier to navigate the world, because we allow listeners to understand that they are not alone in their feelings, sorrows, and emotions.

Truly notice your audience next time you perform.  Faces light up, toes tap, dancing starts. It’s innate human spirit to seek illumination and enlightenment and joy with others. Watch your audience respond to your music and tell me you are not doing something entirely holy. Understand your performance from a spiritaul perspective.”