I feel like I’m almost ready to shift this to an actual music-related blog on my actual music site – but I guess it still helps to have somewhere secret to hide out and plot my overtaking of the world!
My musical life of late has been characterised by a burgeoning – of ideas, of opportunities, and of confidence. The thing I fear about starting a blog is the same fear I had about setting up the social networking sites: that I would run out of material to sustain them. It hasn’t worked out like that though – the more I do, the more ideas I have and the more I’m encouraged to do. I feel like I’m really building something, not just an online presence but also an image and in some ways a brand, gradually pulling together and exploring all the things I can do and all the things that make me uniquely me. To a certain extent I’m just putting out there things that I’ve already been able to do, but at least half of confidence is substance, and whenever I get a little bit wobbly I go back to work on the practical, the technicalities – to improve my singing, to write more songs, to learn and improve. And then I get caught on a wave of things I can do again and things move forward a little further.
My ultimate outcomes for this process are:
1) To be able to own my musical identity and have it be my primary one. I’m still a little dodgy on talking about it but I’m definitely getting there. I think the turning points for this are (a) being able to just sit and play/sing beautifully and convincingly something cool/heartfelt/appropriate to whatever situation as requested. That sounds simple but represents a helluvalottaworkthankyouverymuch! And (b) to have a body of work out there that I can send people to and know they will find something that, whether they like it or not, is good quality. At the moment that means the website, which means continuing to find better and better ways to package (ie record) my material, and sticking with the rule that I only post stuff I’m 100% proud of. I’ve been knocking the quality of a lot of the stuff I’ve home-recorded in the past, but have found that by learning more, I can get much better quality recordings out of the gear I already have. And although I’m hoping to get the album done professionally (because there’s only so much one person can know and I am too busy to know it all!) I’m actually really grateful to have this home set-up so that I can record different versions of things whenever I’m ready. The album is just a snapshot in time (and hopefully a reflection of my best work) but the songs continue to evolve and develop and it’s lovely to have the flexibility and capability to narrate that.
2) To have an album I am 100% proud of and is representative of my style (or one of my styles) and ability and a sample of what you would get in a live setting. This is album number three and the processes involved in this are (a) writing songs of quality that I am emotionally invested in, which cover my range of styles adequately – and giving myself plenty of options to choose from (b)training myself to the point where I can play everything live, perfectly (c) researching and ensuring that the recording itself is the highest quality it can be (d) investing in proper mastering, finishing and publishing so the package is completely perfect. This is like the advanced version of point 1(b) – having a body of work to refer people to, that I’m proud of and represents me. This is my main product as well as a major cornerstone of my identity as a musician.
3) To be gigging regularly and have this as part of my regular life. With my job, evening and weekend gigs would fit in more than perfectly, but at the moment my lifestyle is prohibiting this (early mornings, home life, trying to control my eating and prioritising other things) so that shift will gradually have to happen. I do think though that fundamentally, although I am more comfortable playing and recording at home, part of the life-blood and passion of music as a vocation has to come from playing life and playing with and for others. Again, it comes down to identity. I can’t identify as an acoustic musician if I don’t ever play live.
4) To be earning as much from gigging and record sales as I earn from my day-job. This is the biggy and the thing I think will take the longest to achieve, and it’s also the final cap-stone on my musical identity. To earn a living as something else means I’ve not only invested my time and skill in it but that it’s recognised by others – that therefore is what I am. Or what I will be, eventually! I still feel and identify as a musician without this but this would be the final confirming point at which, when meeting people new and asked what I did for a living, I could say “I’m a singer-songwriter” and the day-job would be a foot-note that followed long afterwards!
I am not expecting to achieve all of these this year but I do want to do points 1 and 2 and hopefully score/have the guts to do my first gig. Next year I will focus on building up a regular/paid gigging schedule and increasing my income, as well as working on a 4th album for release. I don’t expect I’ll as much as break even on the album costs this year but I would like to see a little bit starting to dribble in regularly between online sales and the little bits I get from website affiliation etc. So in summary ROCK the socks of parts 1 and 2 and make baby steps towards 3 and 4.