Following the “full steam ahead” motto for 2Q, it feels like so far things have gotten off to a great start! From my main goal list, besides all the general maintenance stuff, I’ve found that most of the effort to be put into daily life revolves around goal categories A (health) and B (music) so I expect these are the goals I’ll be posting about most often during 2Q.
I’m going to summarise my progress so far under the headings of my ideal outcomes for music over the next three months:
- Have all my existing/reworked songs (and some new material as well) learnt, perfected, and roughly recorded for the websites. I did get two recorded (both guitar & vocals) but I had a cold and one of them hasn’t come out well for some reason, so although I’ve edited it, I haven’t uploaded it. I am sticking to the rule of thumb that I’m not going to put out music that I’m not proud of, even if it means letting the thread of interest on the various sites fall temporarily. If something doesn’t come out right I probably just need to spend more time with it. I’ve got a short-list of songs to focus on for the next few weeks and hope they’ll all find their way through the perfection/recording process without too many hitches. Sometimes a new song will jump in there because it’s fresh and on my mind and that’s good too! I’ve got 9 songs I definitely want to get done and another six possibles, plus anything out of the new lot so plenty to work on!
- Come up with another 8–10 song ideas for the album: I had three new ideas in week one! One was based on a chorus I wrote earlier and is completely finished, just needs rehearsing, the other two are just ideas but one should be quite easy to finish. At a rough count-up I had about 9 songs already written so that’s 10 now without about 5 ideas in progress.
- Get 50 songs to gig–ready level: I have decided I’m not going to be putting up recordings of covers yet and that I’ll focus more on my own songs so writing and recording of those still has to take priority, but I still have plenty of time to practice other songs. Each week I keep a list in my phone of things I hear that I think might be worth trying and then whenever I have time at the computer I find the lyrics and print everything off, so I have a growing song-bank of things to try. I try out a handful each week and last week think I found 3 that are definitely worth sticking with, and I’ve been researching and practicing with youtube as well as on guitar. I also did a couple of raw recordings of songs that felt “ready” and will try to do a kind of mini-recorded gig-session each week so I can listen to those later and see where I need to improve.
- I haven’t looked into the studio/practice room things yet.
Then there are the trio of basic must-do things to do with taking a professional approach:
- Technical: I’ve been working a bit on strumming patterns with videos for inspiration – there is are SO MANY ways to play a guitar! It’s quite inspiring to hear all the different things other people can do but I have a long way to go. I guess the techniques are fundamental to your overall style so while I don’t expect to master everything, I don’t want to back myself into a corner because of my limited ability. Vocally, I’ve identified that I need more air! Which means working on my breathing as well as keeping up my range exercises.
- Confidence: It’s funny how this completely intangible and largely immeasurable element is basically the key to everything! Earlier in the year I identified that my practice time is not just technical practice time, it’s hours spent investing in visualising being that performer I dream of being, and that is so right. The more I practice, the more I feel like this could become a reality. At the beginning of this year (and always previously) there was such a big gap between my normal outside/professional persona and this idea I have about being a singer instead, and I wouldn’t have expected anyone in my non-music life to believe that I was serious about doing this. Nowadays, I feel much closer to being able to say, you know what? I am going to be good at this. You might not believe me, you might think it’s completely out of character, but I’m going to get up there and perform and hold your attention and I will be good. And now I finally get what people say about how no-one can give you self-confidence if you don’t have it yourself – no-one is going to tell me I’m good if I don’t already exhibit that confidence, mostly because it just comes out of the blue and their first question is Really?! And I have to be able to answer that question with a resounding YES, I am a musician first and foremost.
- Online Presence: This is something I need to be building and much of it links into the ideas above about confidence and identifying as a musician. One thing that came out of the recent round of hacking was that I lost my FB page, for which I’d had a separate account login. Last weekend I took the plunge and set up a new page associated to my real FB account – I still don’t want to make too much noise about it on my personal FB because there are colleagues there who are linked to other colleagues at work and I want to keep it a bit quiet there for a bit longer if possible. But it’s been really great having my own music page and being able to switch between the two – it makes it much more real and interchangeable somehow. Weird psychological consequences of FB! I often find I’m spending more time on that side than on the personal side – there have been some comments and likes and, in addition to all that, the first thing I did when I made the page was “liked” a load of my role models and influences, so my news feed on that side is full of pro singers and famous people going about their superstar lifestyles, touring, recording, making videos, etc. – and basically giving me a whole load of ideas about the kind of life I want. I guess that functions in a Visionboard kind of way.
In terms of sites in general, I had a couple of breakthroughs this week with TwitMusic – very handy – and got a lot more interest on my RN page. RN is a site where you are ranked on your genre and location in relation to other (mostly unsigned) artists and there’s a lot of community there as well as a motivating benchmark to help track your presence – it pulls in most of your activity from other sites to give an idea of how much “buzz” you’re getting around the net in general. This week I broke through to the top 50 for London for my genre and the top 140-ish nationally – it would be a great marker to improve those ratings. It’s also a great place to hear other artists and new music. So thanks to the setup I did last weekend (FB, TM and just being around a bit more) I’ve had new activity every day – “likes”, fans, messages, followers and plays – not massive numbers but bits here and there – which makes me feel like I’m gradually getting somewhere. I would like to build up enough of a following that when the new album comes out I’ll be pretty sure there will be people wanting to get it! Which also reminds me that I would like to get it out before Christmas if possible which means getting the recording done in 3Q basically. The other great thing I found was that someone I went to school with might be able to do the editing/mastering for it which would be great – I’d far rather have someone I know involved and have that personal touch/connection on the technical side.
This is all a long way of saying that gradually things are coming together! But I am going to have to kick it up a gear to get
- My breathing and guitar techniques up to scratch
- The other 8 songs (plus up to another 6!) perfected & recorded
- Another 9 songs written
- All the new songs perfected in style and technique ready to record!
…in the next 12 weeks!