Doubts Even Here

I love doing what I do. Well, obviously, or I wouldn’t do it. I also do a day-job which I (mostly) enjoy, which is a massive bonus. But, in reality, my main, unabiding love is for music, both as a producer and as a listener. In being a truly independent musician, I feel like I’m part of a club….a community of musicians who, mainly, are not concerned with being ‘cool’, who don’t feel the need to pander to media tastes. People who do what they do because they love it too and they just want to get their music to the widest audience possible.

‘Making a living’ from making music, for me, is immaterial….. I see the purchase of my music, not necessarily as financial gain, but as the ultimate compliment. But there are many musicians who make the plunge (bravely, in my view) and try to make music their only source of income. This is not easy. The ‘general public’ (whoever they are!) assume that musicians make a bundle; they don’t. But that’s been documented by other, more knowledgeable musicians, elsewhere.

Such is the mentality of the creative individual, there are moments of doubt. Even when things seem to be going well. I’m at a similar juncture now. Last night I had a track played on BBC Radio; I’ve also got two recent live sessions on Dandelion Radio under my belt. In both cases, I hadn’t solicited for airplay….the DJs just sought out my music and wanted to play it. That’s incredibly flattering. I’ve just released a new album, something which I care about and the response from listeners has been great and, yes, incredibly flattering. I have 14,000 unique listeners on Last.fm and people seem to be searching and seeking out my music. This is incredible as far as I’m concerned……ten years ago when I was making music with a few friends as Sal Boca, I would never have dreamed that I’d be getting that kind of exposure. No matter how much music we make, no matter how ‘good’ it may be; we never have an instant right to get our music heard. It’s a privilege. (Incidentally, those listening figures did not come out of nowhere; as I don’t do gigs, the way I felt was best to get people interested in my music was to make my music free to download….and lots of it. This was at a time when Last.fm was fairly new and popular, so it was a mixture of my hard work and pure luck to be using the platform when it was expanding. My advice to any musicians would be to find a platform which you can focus your promotional efforts on and then be generous with your music. Don’t always follow the dollar!)

Anyway, what am I whingeing about? Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all. I’m just trying to get my head around where I’ll go next and then worrying about whether I can actually go anywhere! It’s not necessarily about what music I’ll make, that always sorts itself out over time. It’s more about format and method. After I released ‘The Hobbyist’ and had recorded ‘Crash St’, I started wondering if it was worth doing CDs and merchandise. Then I realised these were just ways to focus on making money and, as I’ve said, that’s not what I’m about. But I really want to get my music heard by more people. I want the next album to be a statement; I want to try to make it extraordinary, not just musically, but in it’s presentation too. Trouble is…I don’t know how.

These are my worries this Sunday morning.

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