Saturday, June 20, 2009

A week in the life of an indie artist - Part One

Part One: A week in the life of an indie artist (aka HERE I COME WORLD). Well. Grab a tea and have a read. Today's blog is separated into 2 parts so that you can come back and read as desired.

Part one of HERE I COME WORLD Brought to you by the gremlins of time.

Hello there my dedicated reader and in most cases, friend.

“Self,” I says, “How is it possible that a whole week can fly by and here it is again, Saturday.”

So, I thought I’d look back at what this last week held for me and share with you what a typical week seems to be like lately: Let’s approach it first from a strictly mathematical time management angle: -

  • 10 – 12 hrs / wk for physical training (ie, strength training, movement work, yoga cardio) – critical for me to be able to perform, as well as live till I’m 130. -
  • 6 – 8 hrs for vocal training and rehearsal / wk-
  • 49 hrs: 7 hrs / night: Sleep – although this totally varies from 4 to 8 -
  • Writing time – I could write all day every day, but his last week, amidst all the other stuff, was able to pull out about 5 song ideas, and finished 1 more, so around 6 hrs -
  • Connecting with Friends and family - this past week there's been a lot more of that. Can't quantify the hours at the moment.
  • Production time that I was directly involved in – about 8 - 10 hrs-
  • Travel time – about 18-20 hrs last week (but there’s a lot I get done on the ferry, such as, this blog – so this overlaps with admin and marketing and lyric rewrites)-
  • Administrative time (Song registration, press list compilations, grants, database admin, graphics, organizing, phoning contacts & tour planning) – about 25 hrs, and I do have some help with this now. (Thank you M, Lala, R and L.)-
  • Other: Food prep, face to face meetings, R&R time, internet surfing and research, hardcopy industry reading, attending MusicBC Seminars – about 25 or so hours. -
  • Health care stuff: Osteopathic / sports massage. / dentist (seen too much of her lately – catching up on about 7 years –so the tooth work is almost done and no more sugar allowed for me). Couple hours. -
Ok, I forgot laundry, showers, toilet time, and meditation and simply thinking… I do indeed get time to do that, and in fact, usually mix all that in with my administrative days - so it's all good.

SO, today, I'll be back in my little studio - working on some new electronica pieces... hoping to find a blend of Imogen Heap perhaps with a sprinkle of Jamiroquoi or maybe a dash of Portoise Head.

MY DREAM is to make you wiggle your jiggle.. or cry. One of the two. No inbetweens. Ok, ok, I do enjoy the happy ballads of love - in fact, I'm quite addicted to writing those. But I also dream of the day where I can hire a 12 piece band (includes a horn section, a string section, world beat percussionist) and do a live-off-the-floor KICK ass session. My dream has always been to make music that makes you wanna move every cell of your body – music that not only makes us think and feel (like the introspective stuff), but stuff that makes us wanna get off our butts and LIVE.

That’s the kind of music I LOVE writing and performing. But when it comes to production, we have been really wanting live musicians to be a part of this – as much as I do LOVE digital, (and I really do love digital work) unfortunately NOTHING , and I mean, NOTHING, can replace the energy of a live performance. But who pays for it? See, an indie artist these days has to be creative in business and figure out ways to stretch their production dollar and pay rent at the same time. Now, of course LOYAL FANS (like you) are what it’s ALL about. Without you guys, we wouldn’t even be able to buy our Mr. Noodles and frozen peas (easy to cook while showering).

I propose that there is such as thing as bridging the needs of corporate fiduciary duty along with the needs of art. Not sure how yet, but am working on that. Silly me, but I have faith that authentic art still has a strong place in our current world. Another blog perhaps. An indie artist CAN make a good living (not rock star perks, but better than showering with Mr. Noodles) and a good living that can pay rent and afford a reasonable quality of life. It’s all about using our creativity towards the business end of things. Learn, research, and know how to approach the business of our industry. One cannot be lazy and apathetic and expect that one will be “discovered”. Only those that really put their all into it, and that also means the business end of things, will and DO succeed. Those that have great fans (such as YOU reading), those artists that recognize they really are the ambassadors for their own music - And those that cultivate and grow their fan base as well as their relationship with industry cats such as media and music directors and music supes – THOSE artists WILL succeed. Get management if you can, but don’t expect the manager to do it all. And as for that major label deal – my strongest recommendation is to let that fantasy go – I’ve found that there’s a LOT of value in remaining indie and unsigned. Yet another blog.

With that said, if one is in the industry expecting to only pursue a $$$ killing, then that person is also in the wrong industry. (Might I suggest water management or commodities?) If money is the ONLY driver, then there is limited chances that that person will have any longevity in their career – mainly because their heart and soul is in the wrong place. I believe this applies to almost every industry.

Frankly, if we took everyone in the world, shook us all up in a little box, and then said to each one “Go and pursue only what you feel you are here to do with the time you have left” – then I get the feeling that the passionate accountants would find themselves in the art of numbers, as much as the passionate lawyers still would be pursuing the art of justice. We all have our purpose(s) here. And those of us that live with purpose make tons of sacrifices that other people would see as sacrifices, but to us, are simply things we do in order to fill the purpose of our lives. And I don’t just mean the “I can’t afford the latest Gucci purse”, I mean real sacrifices that are relatively large, but when compared to our life passion and pursuits, are worth it and relatively small. And back to the business of music.

Well, like any other industry, business is truly about relationships, and most of us who have been doing this for a while can spot an opportunistic ladder climber miles away. And THAT’s not to say that an artist must not be opportunistic to some degree. But I’d prefer to define a positive and honest opportunistic and creative attitude as “SAAVY”. An indie artist must be business savvy as well as talented as well as creative in business and willing to do what it takes (short of a blowjob) to accomplish his or her dreams. And, yes, I’m sad that we can’t all just focus on our art, like we “used” to. But then I also argue, most artists in the past would have had some type of sponsor (the Church, anyone?) and at least now we are more free to pursue exactly the art we want, and not what is forced down our throats. YEAAAAH INDIE! We have freedom like never before, and yes, freedom comes with responsibility and sacrifice.

- R.

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