Day 61: Interstate Tour 2018
I had Skype lessons in the morning and then got back to the business of video wrangling. It was going to be a good long time before reliable access to WiFi, and the bandwidth here at Winton Woods Campground in Cincinnati is flowing like a firehose, so I'm taking advantage of it by doubling down efforts on getting all of the 18 hours of video shot at the Evart 3-Day Intensive edited, rendered, uploaded and posted.
This is a project that is a bit more involved than I thought it would be. But I'm justifying the extra work by considering it an investment in new content. The stuff I teach via Dulcimerica is presented for a general audience and tightly composed, whereas my live sessions often take related trails and paths that connect the subject with other aspects of music theory. That, plus the interplay with the students, is what makes the dynamic flow of a workshop situation so rich in yielding deep truths that can be used to build up a really solid comprehension of all things music.
So, capturing it with multiple cameras is a visual resource for the students in those sessions, but it's also a two-hour workshop for those encountering it in video form for the first time. With 18 hours of footage shot, I'm going to fill my production schedule with it and make it really work.
I'll comb through each skill level's video and collect the essence of the 3-phase instruction arc that I employed throughout the week, then create a Dulcimerica episode out of it for each skill level (which would fill three of the five slots that I need to produce through the end of August.)
Plus, I'll mention that all 18 hours are available to patrons through my Patreon, which may be just the kind of resource that will convince someone to subscribe. Especially knowing that there will be a lot more in-depth instruction available in the near future.
Right now, the drive has been to focus on developing Patreon and then really pitching it to my workshops, folks who come to my vending booth, my mailing list, etc. Anywhere but social media, actually, because those kinds of direct pitches are easily dismissed as spam or just simply get annoying.
What I've done is just focused my content-creation on Patreon as a home-base. Mostly everything originates from there and then I share it, via Buffer, to social media. That way, people can actually get a sense of what Patreon is all about, and I also don't create free content for Facebook, which has got its own strange set of problems. I don't think it's any longer the social network but rather A social network in a teeming forest of options.
So, I'm not shy about saying "just $5 a month gets you great value" - because you're not giving a hand-out to a starving artist. You're paying $5 per month to subscribe to a service that allows you to stream and download everything I've ever created and everything that I create each week. I know it's a bargain and it seems too good to be true, but this ain't MoviePass. I've been a Patreon Creator since 2014 and, according to their own statistics, and those of independent analytic data trust Graphtreon, I've got a fairly decent ranking based on number of patrons and amount of monthly pledges.
Thanks to my patrons, who all rock!
This is the future for independent artists. No, actually, it's the now, but many people don't realize that it's going to be the future. Terrestrial radio is no longer as influential, or as necessary, as it was due to satellite, internet and streaming cloud-based companies like Spotify. Many businesses are going to a subscription-based system and more people are consuming their media digitally, lessening the need for physical product and making it easier than ever to produce your own content and release it online or distribute it via flash drives.
It's so very Star Trek, and in its own way, sort of romantic if you take some of the high-tech flash and sizzle out of it. The arts have always been about communication and connection, within our tribes and outside of our boundaries. The chips and proms, discs and devices that hold our art in all of its digital forms are just containers for the electronic illusions that we crave every day.
Where it connects with us, through our senses and through our spirits, is where the magic happens. It has to come out of its box to reach you at some point.
With Patreon, it's just a web site with a searchable tag section, a community area for patron posts and one link that takes you to The Vault, which is where all of my creations are stored. Each file has a chat section where you can ask questions and this unlimited access goes to ALL of my patrons at every level.
Some of my friends, mentors and favorites are on Patreon and I'm a patron of theirs.
All of this contributes into a nice, steady income for artists, and that helps in many ways on many levels. With the game always changing in the marketplace, it's nice to think that you can count on some stability as we navigate the always-surprising world together. I'm very grateful for my patrons and, they'll tell you, I work my ass off for them, creating new content and being available for them as they craft their own creative journeys.
Teaching's the best thing that ever happened to me. Seriously. It just validates so much of the effort, especially when those success stories become visible.
Speaking of creative journeys and success stories, my gig tonight was at Mallard Cove Senior Living in Cinti, where Vickey Sasser, had taught a group of residents that called themselves 'The Mallard Flock". Vickey is a friend, patron and organizer of an annual event with workshops, concert, potluck and a session with the children's group. This year, she asked if I would play an additional show, as another patron, Kelly Johnson, lived there at Mallard Cove.
Well, it was a blast. They have a little theater on the third floor with a karaoke machine, big screen and room for about 50 residents. It was packed for the Mallard Flock to play four songs (the group has only been playing mountain dulcimer for 6 months) and then I came up there and literally hit 'em with everything I got.
You can come to a place with a preconceived notion in your head about what kind of show you're going to do, and you can also wait until you're about to play your first song, get a sense of the audience and then take them in that general direction. There are lots of factors to consider including what region are you in, what's the median age, do they look happy or is there a challenge being issued? What's the venue, what's the history of the venue, what's being served, if anything?
My repertoire is multi-generational, it's always been like that - I just like good tunes. I've played for seniors and children, teens, tweens and twentysomethings. Cowboys, bikers, golfers, fireman, black people, white people, hispanics and polynesians. I've played schools and pools, pubs and clubs, backyards and stockyards, fairs and timeshares, tractor pulls and festivals, house concerts and folk centers and I've got a tune or two for everybody. Every performance is an opportunity to sing together, laugh together, cry together and hope together.
It was a good night. And I just about fell off my chair as, while I was soloing during "The Flip Side", a voice off to stage left said, "yeah, put some STANK on it!"
Dinner was at El Rancho Grande afterwards and it was nice to get in a little earlier this time and have a good night. Tomorrow would be our annual workshop, concert and potluck with The Buckeye Strings, with a Disney theme, no less. There's gonna be Grey Stuff on the menu!