It is only fitting that the last chapter in our SAC blog challenge would cover “the real world” of marketing, networking and publicity do’s and don’ts, as I consider this to be both my greatest strength and weakness. Unfortunately I did not have Ariel’s book to refer to almost fifteen years ago when I decided to take the leap into becoming a professional recording artist and handle my publicity.
With a wing and a prayer, I did my best with what I could source out . I’ve since learned that anything to do with MNP (marketing, networking, publicity) is vastly time-consuming with no guarantee of any outcome, that can be quite daunting even for the most seasoned professional. However, thanks to lady luck I have had lots of very cool things happen over the years from my zealous efforts, along with assistance from various hired publicists resulting in features, on CTV, CBC, Georgia Straight and other press, appearances on several Vancouver TV shows, Shaw’s “The Travel Guys”, radio shows, and the most exciting of all, a heady, live appearance on ET Canada with the lovely Erin Cebula. When I include newspaper articles, quotes and pictures from these experiences, it all adds up, but in reality, they are but a small representation of the flip side of the coin of massive dead ends, rejections and countless disappointments. But that’s what comes from sticking one’s neck out. I am grateful for all those stepping stone experiences and the many relationships I have had the pleasure to foster . Publicity is great and we all need it, but what matters most is one’s music .
Some of the aspects I didn’t do so well on?…. was I did not have a specific marketing plan nor knew enough about how to execute and follow-up on what I did do. Therefore I had no idea how to effectively manage or direct my (very expensive) publicists. Talk about throwing money to the wind.
By the way, a good publicist is not necessarily a good music publicist. The music industry has its own distinct language, and requires an experienced professional that speaks that language fluently. It’s like the difference between Quebec and Paris French, yes, publicists can cross over, but they will not necessarily “get” all the nuances of your given demographic or genre. This is simply because they don’t have the network of connections in the music industry that you are paying to help leverage you into. Maybe that seems obvious to you, but I had to learn this the hard way. So, I had unrealistic expectations because I essentially did not understand the critical difference between ”publicity” and “promotion” . Also I did not use the many choice publicity moments and media relationships that came my way, to their fullest advantage, as I did not have a clear sense then, as I do now, of a continuum. The continuum funnel was last weeks chapter and I see now that it is really the bread and butter of any musician’s livelihood~ including mine.
To make music, I need a supportive audience who will listen, willingly pay to come to gigs and buy CD’s and my merchandise. It is a vital, reciprocal, essential relationship that I treasure. It fuels me on every level and makes what I do possible. Singing to myself in a mirror is only good for practice. I literally need my fans, to sing and connect with and share my musical stories, to have my art feel complete. Talk about a gift. This, along with my daughter and family is my passion and my life. Yet, as I live in this modern tech world that can also be a very fickle, demanding one when it comes to ones professional persona, MNP deserves much attention, care and thought and most of all, follow-up and through.
The biggest challenge in current time , is learning to use and integrate the newer fast paced avenues of Twitter, FB fan page, blogs, podcasts, texting etc into an effective cohesive campaign that dovetails with traditional Radio, Internet Radio, TV, and Press. I’ve made some inroads these past weeks but have much more to develop. In the past, I also see now that without defining what I really wanted to achieve in my career, my process resulted in more miss than hit. I spread myself so thin on every level, at whatever cost, doing far too much, for far too long on my own steam, without an extended network of support, that I became scattered and I burnt out. Not once, but two times. After my second CD’s sales fell between the cracks in terms of what I had hoped it would do, I became very discouraged, went into a depression and for a few years, virtually retreated from all radar, gigs and any attention. As I recovered and reflected, I began to research, write new songs, take private lessons and online study with Berklee music, and then take this Challenge. As you can plainly see, I decided to give it another go.
In some respects I am starting from scratch again as I write a new bio, and create my third press kit and all the other connecting support materials required. I am also launching a new website for the new CD and so on and I will hire another publicist if I can find one that will do what I need this time. If not, then I will happily do it myself but will hire an assistant to help and see what happens. My rich, varied experiences so far have taught me that even with a plan, MNP is still a long shot, but essential. Along with the concrete instructions of Ariel Hyatt’s great marketing book and my recent Berklee music marketing class, I feel optimistic about the potential of my new CD process. Most importantly, as I am now older, possibly wiser, and more realistic, I have nothing to lose any more and everything to gain.
What do I want? It’s pretty basic really. I want to sing and share my music with you and your friends, and my friends. I want to perform in cool places, locally and abroad, as much as I can, with full to sell out crowds – to cover all expenses and make a good living . So… here I am with a whole new viewpoint, some new tools, with a marketing and continuum plan. The future looks promising indeed. Want to hear more about the ride? Please join my newsletter http://christiegracemusic.com/news-sign-up.php
So folks, this is my last ( and longest! ) blog specifically about the SAC Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge that should be renamed “SAC Media Boot Camp!” However, it is only the beginning of my adventures, bi weekly blog, monthly newsletter and who knows what. So I hope you will stay tuned!
I have sooo enjoyed the comprehensive, intense experience over these past few months. Man, it tested me to my max. So much so I came close to dropping out a couple of times, but I am very pleased I hung in because among many things, I discovered that I really enjoy writing blogs. Who knew? Mind you I will need to learn to be more concise!
What a great way this has been to kick off 2012 and beat the winter blues. Through this steep learning curve I have made many wonderful musical friends across our nation that I look forward to cross paths with at some of our gigs and when I go on my cross country tour! So thank you SAC, Ariel Hyatt, Dave Kool and Lily for providing the container and navigation for this, and all the participants. I wish you every success in your endeavors. Here’s to all of us! : Tom, Joe, Shelly, Ross, Lucy, Rory, Dan, Lyle, Karyn, Kim, Adri-Anne, Ansley, Kat, Kristine, Kenya, Nicole, Andy, Jinral, Kathryn, Lindsay, Maddy, Dervla, Heather, Tucker, Jessica, Stephen, Sarah, Sue, Sioux, Debra, Cheryl, Tracy, Lindsay, Mauricio, Mao, Fenulla, and Don.
It has been a pleasure,
Happy Spring Break!
Our talented group! Lindsay May http://blogs.theprovince.com/2012/03/06/lindsay-may-shimmer-lindsaymay-com/ Mao, http://www.maoplanet.com/home.cfm Fenulla http://www.fenulla.com/ Maddy Rodriguez http://www.maddyrodriguez.com/Tracy Mills http://www.mowbrayandmills.com/Sue Newberry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FmKFtfbDI0&feature=player_embedded Lily C. http://www.lilyc.com/l/Home.html Sarah Calvert http://www.sarahcalvert.ca/Lucy Leblanc http://lucyleblanc.tumblr.com/ Kathyrn Berry Sauageau http://radiostar.supernova.com/KathrynBERRY/blog/8215/The-Blog-Challenge-Week-7-The-NewsletterDervla Trainor https://www.facebook.com/dervla.trainor Kimi Lyn Smith http://sneakyhooks.com/2012/03/sac-social-media-challenge-week-8-creating-a-continuum-program/Shelly Dubois http://www.shelly-dubois.com/Heather Hill http://music.cbc.ca/#/bands/Heather-Hill Ross Douglas http://www.rossdouglas.com/Aynsleys Saxe http://aynsleysaxe.wordpress.com/ Kat Leonard http://wp.me/p29Jb2-2N Dan http://wp.me/p27tHb-2H Tucker: http://www.songstuckerwrote.com/songstuckerwrote/2012/3/4/tucker-isnt-continuum-plan-a-star-trek-episode.html Adri-Anne http://adriannesoundslike.tumblr.com/ Debra Alexander: http://wordmavenmusic.wordpress.com/Sioux Berry: http://siouxberry.wordpress.com/Tom Shea: http://www.trioarjento.com/Karyn Ellis: http://karynellis.com/Jessica Spezial http://www.jessicaspeziale.com/ and Joe Wiseman http://smokinjoewiseman.wordpress.com/Kristine St. Pierre http://www.kristinestpierre.com/fr_home.cfm
You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own way and you know what you know,
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go
When I was a child, thanks to my Dad, I had a monthly subscription to receive Dr. Seuss books and all the children’s classics. Little did I know I would draw from it forty years later in my blog on Ariel Hyatt’s Week 8: Creating a Continuum. This weeks foray has been a practical roll up your sleeves, music business marketing “funnel” model on creating a long-term financial stream of income through creative, strategic planning. Lots to consider. We also took a look at the current popular mode for fund-raising: fan funding or crowd funding like Pledge Music, Kickstarter. I have experience in crowd funding as I raised partial funds quite successfully with my fans for my first two CD’ s. It is the most meaningful avenue to raise funds I know, and is a vital part of my current CD process too. I have been deeply touched and fortified by the many kind folks that have given me their financial support to “keep singing”. Join http://christiegracemusic.com/crowd.php if you want to be part of this ongoing journey with me.
I think the universal challenge for any artist, at whatever level he or she may be, is to consistently generate a steady income with one’s art, while also keeping one’s passion burning. How this unfolds in each one’s life is as unique as one’s thumbprint. What feels right to one may feel like prostituting oneself to another. So finding one’s sweet spot of how to think outside the box while still maintaining one’s artistic integrity is uppermost. Not pride so much, but I think one’s dignity has to be honored.
Most of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants and enjoy the unpredictable nature of the unknown, yet I also get weary of the stress this can cause. In the past, I have never let lack of cash flow stop me from doing anything I felt was important, thus I have taken many financial risks in my life with mixed results. I’ve become less impulsive and more pragmatic now before making any big financial commitments. I abhor the stereotype of a “struggling artist” but I must be honest, it is a path with many bends so I think a little strategic funneling of new income ideas is most worthwhile.
I am also finding the more I live within my means, without whining, the happier I am, because accumulating more debt is a endless black hole that slowly drains away one’s self esteem. And who needs that? We artists already have enough esteem issues with our perfectionist tendencies and hypersensitive natures. Yet let’s face it- few on this planet except perhaps the Dalai Lama, ever feel “good enough”. Perhaps that’s why we are all so driven and could use a dose of my CEO girlfriend’s blunt “get over it” remedy. We all know the source of true wealth is not what you have, but who you are. So, the primary strategy perhaps before doing anything else is to learn to be at home in one’s imperfect perfection, as I think this can make all the difference in one’s emotional, physical and musical bank account.
So, with all this in mind I also feel a powerful framework for anyone is to create a personal life map. It helps line one’s arrow to a chosen target while also making it easier to handle the inevitable unexpected happenings of life. There are many ways to do this but I learned a particular approach at a healing workshop at Esalen, CA with Susan Anderson that I like. Flexibility in its design is key. Interesting to note: Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel just under five years and in less than five years Shakespeare wrote “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth” and five other immortal plays. So… I decided to give it a go. If this appeals to you, first you create your own imaginary dream house with no budget and no limits. Design it fully and move in. Then, you define where you want to be in your life five years (or two) from now. Imagine your self fully living that life in your beautiful, safe house. Then trace your steps backwards. Record the actions you took to change and create your desired life-to the present. This becomes both your safe refuge when the going gets rough and your long-term visionary context. It is completely fluid, and adjustable depending on how you feel . This simple imaginary practice has diffused discouragement bouts and stifling situations while giving me a subtle yet tangible sense that all is unfolding exactly as it should. Susan’s intense workshop was the springboard for my new songs that are on my new CD, which are some of my most brave to date. And now thanks to Ariel’s suggestions, I am making new adjustments to this plan, by adding aspects of the continuum model as well. They are creative experiments I will add to slowly create some new streams of income. If you are curious or have ideas to share, do join my monthly newsletter http://christiegracemusic.com/news-sign-up.php
I am really glad I have taken the steps this past 8 weeks to learn more new tools and give myself the room to carve new pathways. Will they work? Well, I’ll never know unless I do it, and regardless of what happens, I am all the better for the experience.
Thanks for reading.
Stay tuned for the last installment in a few days.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs
I think a lot about time. I think about how precious time is and how much I still waste in petty ways. I can’t turn back the clock or stop it, but I can control how I manage and respect it to make the most of whatever time I have.
In a way each person is a walking metronome tuned to their own eternal timekeeper. For example, when I move easily with time, it feels like a green light drive through town. When I resist, or lose track it feels like it did just before Christmas when Buster’s towed my car. Lately our family saying “timing is everything” has become a personal reminder to get “it right” in my life, in my music and in my relationships.
“For every minute spent in organizing an hour is earned”
Having released two Independant CD projects, I understand what it takes to encompass large, long-term projects while also juggling family life and my day job jewelry business. That’s why I began writing songs for my new CD two years ago as I work with the power of intention and daily lists. I also understand what it means to take on far too much, split focus and lose momentum. Overall I can be quite organized in the things I like, but not so much in the things I do not. For instance, last fall while attempting to put together a marketing plan for FACTOR, I hit a wall and the deadline passed. Instead of beating myself up I realized the timing was off and I needed new organizational tools. Then I received an email to join the SAC (Songwriter’s Association of Canada) 9 week Social Media Challenge with a wonderful opportunity to learn new organizational approaches with a group of fellow musicians. Perfect timing! So I ordered Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in 9 Weeks” and plunged into Chapter 1 on “Setting Goals” that included a feel good 5 sentence daily self pat on the back of positive things similar to the “Happiness Project” my daughter turned me onto.
After an inspiring live chat forum with Ariel and the other participants, I immediately threw myself into a frenzied state of maniacal organization over the following days that led to a nasty headache. My brain felt like it was bursting. I could not figure out how to integrate my tasks into an organized plan. I hit another wall. Fortunately, I had my first online Skype singing lesson from Nashville, which helped clear my mind along with a nap. Refreshed, I literally stepped back from all my notes and visualized what I needed to do. Slowly I began transferring my extensive “think big” notes to “post its” on my blank wall . It slowly came together in a way that made sense to me. I stood grinning at my wall of possibilities like a cheshire cat. I tangibly felt the tension in my neck and jaw gradually release and saw the lights turn green. Then I realized I needed a hard copy too. So I fumbled with an excel spreadsheet and methodically transferred my notes to a 12 page chart complete with dates and deadlines. 9 hours later… there it was. My master plan! What a thrill! Ok some computer wiz could have done it in much less time, but who cares? It’s my plan and my learning process. It’s been quite a week. I figured out how to load this new blog, wrote a 12-page framework (to be refined) for my 1 year Master Plan and I defined my 5 immediate goals with dates. Which of course, include crafting my marketing plan to create a well-planned cd release that is low on stress and high on fun. Which I hope you’ll come to by the way. So this is my kickoff to who knows what, yet one thing is very clear. No matter what happens, I will do my best to make the most of time.