the Life of a small “a” big “I” Indie artist.

Many of us aspire to be artists or songwriters of note... maybe not famous, but well-respected, working... well, I've been taking tiny baby steps towards that goal for awhile... but I'm finding out just what it means to say... for an Indie artist... it's DIY all the way.

A few days in the Life of a small “a” big “I” Indie artist.

The CD that we worked to put together over 8 months finally was complete at the end of April. Writing & recording, artwork, mastering, duplication, done. Hurrah!

-oh. Send 5 CDs to CD baby with a bank draft. Encompassed trip to bank and post office.

-oh. Send 5 CDs to CanTunes. Encompassed trip to post office.

-Ya, buy expensive padded envelopes, nice stationery for press kits

-okay, write one sheets, track list… on hold til get CD Baby web address for CD sales

-yes, get promo photo done, run off copies

-go through Indie Bible, select appropriate reviewers, radio stations, radio hosts…

-find the list of radio shows, reviewers & hosts I’d been making over the last 8 months, too

-look up each radio station on the net and get the name of the current music director

-write individually addressed cover letters to each MD at each radio station, each host of a radio show, each reviewer… try to be clever, fun, short, sassy… suggest a track that their listeners might particularly like

-address each envelope, to / from

-CD Baby is set-up! Hurrah!

-put album address on one sheets and track list, run off

-sign each letter, stuff each envelope…. laboriously remove expensive shrink wrapping from CD before putting it in envelope – note to self—always get 100 unwrapped CDs for promo purposes

-trip to post office, weigh a promo pack… spend $70 on postage

- put postage on envelopes

-make three trips to the mail box

oh yeah... update CD Baby page with bios, track lists, credits

-oh yeah… CD Baby is set-up…. now I have to update all the websites with the address… I hope I remember all the passwords. Upload a jpg of the cover to my server so I can link to it.

-my folk trio is starting to get bookings. Hurrah. Oh. Now I have to update all the websites with upcoming gigs. Oh. Now we move from rehearsing once a week to three times a week. We got an opp to sing in a Christmas concert series. Oh, they want a press kit. Now we need a bio, a demo, a song list, a promo photo. Recording time? We want to do more originals. Spend time arranging two songs for the next rehearsal. Make a list of places to call for potential bookings. Make the calls, make the bookings.

-look at that, I had another sign up for my ezine, The Shy Singer’. Oh. I haven’t put an issue out for awhile. Too busy. I should do that. Before I do that, though, I should revamp my website. Spend weekend revamping website. Looks good. Haven’t got newsletter done yet.

-fan mail. Yes, I get fan mail. Not a lot, but usually two or three emails a week, PM’s through various boards, messages on MySpace. All need to be answered. Set aside an hour at least once a week to answer.

-The Collaborators – the collabs are my internet band. It’s a group of 6 talented songwriters & musicians. We take turns producing each other’s work. I love them because they always give their best to every project. Because they work on my songs, I work on theirs. They are a top priority for me. I often mix / produce as well – that means downloading tracks, lining them up, mixing them in, rendering audio, uploading the updated version of the song. Plus singing, adding piano, synth, etc.

- I have 18 students. Each week I schedule their lessons, prepare for the sessions, choose music, answer their emails and calls, give them my full attention when we’re one-on-one. Not to mention keeping the ‘studio’ tidy.

-my co-writer, Michael Kavanagh. Mike is my songwriting partner. We meet at least once a week to brainstorm and write together. We talk business & marketing, throw ideas at each other. We are now working on a second country-folk CD and we’re talking about a Christmas CD too.

-my virtual client(s) – I have one steady client for whom I work as a ‘virtual assistant’. I edit/design & distribute two ezines a month for her, perform other administrative tasks, and meet with her once a week for an hour, by phone. At the moment we are working on writing an ebook – I set aside an hour each morning for the task of writing.

-my finances. Money drips in from various sources. I have to figure out what needs paying, when I’ll have the money to pay it, get to the bank, etc.

-my collaborators… I love the fact that I have the opportunity to work with talented lyricists, musicians and songwriters from all over the world. I probably have about 20 projects on the go, in various stages of completion. Some just require vocals, most require me to write music, record tracks, mix/produce. Each song probably takes, as the crow flies 3 to 7 days to produce. I rarely have the time anymore to work on one song on a consistent basis. I get an hour here or there. They are very patient with me… and I appreciate that very much...I hope I’m worth waiting for ;)

-my coaching & vocal practice – yes, I’m still coaching after 16 years of training. I need to sing at least an hour a day.

-my guitar lessons – I’d almost given up on playing the guitar due to the effects of carpal tunnel. However, my new guitar fits me much better… but I have to learn to play with a pick… and I also want to be as ergonomic as possible in playing. I should be practicing every day.

-my solo album… I really want to put together an ambient pop album… I’ve got the lyrics and sometimes even some music…. but it all needs to be developed – record tracks, etc.

-my songwriting boards… I belong to 5 songwriting boards which I try to visit at least a couple of times a week. I used to critique several songs a day…. I think I’m down to one or two a week, if I can.

-my blogs – my blogs are important… I like writing, it helps me sort out my thoughts & feel less scattered. I like sharing my journey, and I appreciate the messages and comments I get from my readers.

-my computer. memory is full. I picked up an external hard drive. I have to find the time to clean up my drives & back them up. I’m talking with my album producer about his building me a hard drive for my audio work.

-somewhere in there I need to do mundane things like buy groceries, cook, do laundry, tidy the house, pay bills…. and keep up with my family & friends… and go for a walk everyday… and sleep. Note to self: sleep is good.

Exploring the voice to find freedom from fear

I did this World Talk Radio show a while back, with Dr. Shoshana Bennett, talking about how singing helped me overcome my shyness.

I post it here because it's my philosophy that it's the creative process (of singing, of songwriting) that can heal & nurture & inspire... and that "voice" is not just the sound we make, but how we talk to ourselves, and how we 'speak' through our writing.

Let me know what you think :)

singing in the rain

...I'm just sittin here surfin' the web and watchin that old movie, 'Singin in the Rain'. I had an outdoor gig this mornin' and I thought we might end up singin in the rain cause there were some pretty gray lookin clouds in the overcast sky and a cool breeze blowin. But it didn't rain and our sets were well received. It was the first pro gig for my folk trio (Easy).

Haven't felt too inspired musically this week - goin' thru one of my 'incubating' periods, I think :lol: But, I did send out two armfuls of promo packs to radio stations for the new album ( ), and rehearsed 3 times with the trio in prep for the gig. Had lunch with my mom yesterday, had coffee with a client earilier in the week.... after the gig today, went out for coffee with a couple of songwriting pals. I also spent some time writing/designing my newsletter for distribution (comin soon - sign up on my profile page), and redesigning my teaching website ( ).... plus the usual teachin'.

I love these old movies, there's so much energy and excitement around puttin' on a show, and you get the feelin' that anything is possible, that everything will turn out okay in the end, that love at first sight can last a whole life long.

Sometimes I think that love has become such a commodity in our society that we've lost our innate knowledge of what it really is. Movies & magazines & tv shows trumpet on about romance and love but the vision that they project to us is superficial.

We fall madly in love and madly out of love. I know, I've done it, I've watched my friends do it -- it's like all or nothing.

To me love is like art - a process. We deny process, the fact that good things like love and artistry and success take daily waterings and steady little steps in the right direction.

And think the truth is.... at least, generally speaking, for woman... the truth is we give ourselves up to love and lose ourselves in the process. We're like Julia Roberts in 'Runaway Bride', who didn't know what kind of eggs she liked.... because she liked whatever her finance liked. Because she didn't know how to hang on to who she was while hanging on to someone else.

I guess my point is, it's an old cliche, but we really do have to know & like ourselves first. Not only who we are, but what we dream for ourselves.

Years ago, I gave up my dreams for a relationship (again). I wasn't asked to do that, not directly, but I did. I did because I wanted to be 'good'. I wanted to be the good girlfriend, the good finance, the good wife. And while I was busy being good... I slowly lost myself. When I finally left that relationship and came home.... I felt like I had to put myself back together, brick by brick.

So now, when folks are kind enough to comment on my blogs, my music, my teaching, my small successes --- it means so much to me because I am finally here, again. Doing what inspires & interests & challenges me. Doing and being who I am, imperfect, human, night-owl-grumpy-in-the-morning, so-lucky-to-have-great-friends, be living my creative musical life, and even luckier to have some fans who seem, unaccountably, to like what I do.

I'm glad to finally be Me!

flying dreams

Most of the time I dream and only fleetingly grasp at the meaning of the pictures, which fade quickly, although I have often woken up inspired or with an answer to something I've been struggling with.

But I have had dreams so powerful that I can still see the images of those dreams in my mind right now. Once, when I was a child, I was dreaming of the Disney cartoon, 'Dumbo' - the little elephant with the huge ears that everyone laughs at... of course, in my dream, I was the baby, embarrassed and ashamed and hurt by the malicious laughter of the others.... until one day, I spread my ears and flew.

The sensation in my dream was absolutely unreal. I could feel the wind rippling over my skin, my whole body vibrating with joy... soaring through the sky, looking down at the earth.

I woke up. I was lying in my bed in the fetal position - on my side with my hands wrapped around my pillow - and it took me a little while to understand I had been dreaming. I must have been only 5 or 6 at the time.

I still remember how it felt to fly.

It's interesting, cause, in a lot of ways, my life has resembled that dream. I was, for a very long time, teased and put down for being different. But my being different eventually made me stronger... and now and then, I soar.

Just two days ago, I was feeling down. It was one of those days where you feel like all your efforts are futile and maybe it's time to get a real job and who am I kidding anyway. Inside, I was feeling like that little, odd, sad baby of my dream so long ago.

Then someone sent me a lovely note about how they had felt inspired by something I wrote in my blog. Someone else wrote me a note to say how much they enjoyed my folky CD. Someone else took the time to give me some much needed information. One of my students generously drove me around to do errands (I hurt my ankle and can't walk or drive) and refused to take any money for gas or for her time. Another student gave me a hug at the end of a wonderfully moving lesson where we were both close to tears because of the beauty of the sound that he was releasing.

I can't tell you how meaningful those things are to me. Making those kinds of connections with people - deep, inner connections - in a world that seems to have lost its capacity for serenity and peace - makes it all worthwhile.

home grown, folks

I'm always talking about process. Life is a journey, I say. Now and then I also confess, "oh, yes, I'm the great procrastinator'. I'm really very good at not doing today what I could do tomorrow. So it's rather a surprise to wake up and find I've actually released a CD. It's a gentle little disk, and when I look at it I can see my journey reflected back at me, warts & all. When it catches the light, the path in front of me is illuminated... and I know the final, title track is the sun rising, showing me the path in front of me, and my steps into an unknown landscape become more confident.

I hope there's coffee where I'm going, :lol: