Taking It To The Next Level
2015 is going to be a big year in a lot of different ways, all related to music. I'll be traveling to Memphis in January to compete in the International Blues Challenge, an amazing opportunity to introduce myself to a new audience and forge new friendships and connections in the industry. Spring/Summer tour will kick off a return engagement at the Florida Folk Festival and lead me to gigs both new and familiar. Then, I'll be heading back to the west coast for a major fall tour that will include no less than six states that I've never performed in before. Somewhere before all that goes down, I'll release five albums, publish four new books and produce dozens of new episodes of "Dulcimerica", sharing some of the emerging skills that I've been working so hard to present. It's already shaping up to be an epic year and 2014 isn't even close to being over yet.
In the past couple of years, as I appear in larger venues and receive more notice, it's come up on more than one occasion that I should be seeking some kind of representation. Up to this point, I've been booking my own shows, making the contacts, following through (when I remember to) and being blessed by the persistent and inventive souls who reach out and invite me to some of the coolest gigs I've ever had the pleasure of attending. More than once, someone has mentioned something to me about the Folk Alliance, which is the largest gathering of folkies in the country, sort of like SXSW is to popular music (not saying that folk music isn't popular, but you know what I mean.) If you're a touring artist looking to get noticed by the people who book the big festivals and represent the hot folk acts, this is where you want to be. Kind of like Nashville, but nowhere near the place.
So, I decided to be proactive, for once, and throw my hat into that ring. I joined up as a member and submitted to be a showcase artist for the conference and camp in February. If I'm accepted, and I think there's a good chance that I might be, then I'll travel to Kansas City, Missouri and prepare to network my eyeballs out in the hopes of snagging some representation or maybe even a record contract.
Believe it or not, I've never been quite good at the business side of music; I like to pick and I like to write. The act of selling myself hardcore is not something that comes naturally and there are better people than I who are really good at doing this sort of thing. The great gigs I've lucked into thus far have been graciously dropped into my lap and I'm very grateful for them. And in order to keep that kind of momentum going, the promo machine can never stop. It has to run night and day, seven days a week. I'm my only employee, with the internet as my intern and it's a mixed bag of success, but I do it because exposure equals gigs and gigs equals money and money equals a living wage. I enjoy living. And I'm really not very good at anything besides making music, so I'm heaping all of my eggs into this particular basket. Of course, the amount of time that I spend swimming through admin through social media and sending off electronic press kits to festival organizers could be spent sitting down with one of my instruments and, you know, getting better at playing them, or writing new material and challenging myself to learn new skills. Doing it all takes sheer force of will, especially for someone absolutely riddled with ADHD and prone to distractions.
With solid representation, I could spend more time pushing the limits and less time burning the candle at both ends (though I've been known to love a little wax dripping, it does hurt after too much of it.)
It's been quite the journey to get to this point. It wasn't that long ago that I was clearing rooms and waiting for the phone to ring, but I had to fight like the dickens to get here and this is no time to ease off of the gas pedal; so I'm swinging for the fences in 2015.
I appreciate every single one of you that has joined me for this journey. At the very core of it all is simply a desire to make music and share that music with others, whether it be on stage or in the classroom. I hope that you get as much out of it as I do and, perhaps one of these days, you'll find yourself in the very same situation.
It sounds squirrely, but I wish that for you. It's a good problem to have, needing a staff to help you with your career. And if you've got the gumption and the passion for it, then saddle up, me buckos. Let's go for a wild ride into the sunset together.