This morning I wrote my morning pages, and then went for a walk. The usual to-do list floated through my mind.. but I tried to focus on breathing the crisp morning air and feel the sun on my face. I spend too much time at the computer, writing music, writing poetry, surfing the net…. Or at the other keyboard… writing music or helping students. I remind myself that life is more than work. In my Zen book it says be like a tree… just be… not thinking, not defining things, not creating that busyness of mind that takes us away from the now… I confess I find it hard to ‘be’ like that. My mind is always creating plans of action and reminding me of what I haven’t done, should do, am neglecting, didn’t do well, should be better at, etc etc.

How does one find a balance between the persistence required to have a successful creative life – actively doing creative things… and finding solitude and peace… letting go of the outcome. My best friend and I talked about this the other day. We said our job is to put it out there… after that… it’s out of our hands. Our job is to produce it and let it go. And learn from our missteps of course. But also to take joy in the moment, just breathing and walking, reading a good book, having a great cup of coffee in our favourite cafĂ©, waking up in the middle of the night safe and warm.

I forget sometimes to remind myself how lucky I am to have the problem of writer’s block while others struggle to simply survive. I am grateful for my friends, and I am grateful for the emails and notes and posts of those who read this. I marvel at the technology that allows us to reach out and communicate with each other like this.

how I went from A to C with TAXI U

Those who read Music Connection, Music & Musicians, and Recording Magazine, might have noticed an article/ad about me in the September issues. It was a pleasure to speak honestly about my experience with "TAXI U", the mentorship of TAXI and TAXI forum members... that is the foundation for my success in terms of signing music to deals.

When I joined TAXI in 2004, I had no idea how much I didn't know. I knew nothing about producing music. I thought I knew how to write really awesome country songs with excellent lyrics, though! My idea of a good song was based on my education as a classical singer singing music by composers of opera… and my love of folk songs by Carol King, Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, and the Tysons.

I wrote epic folk songs - 6 minute long pieces with abstract lyrics - recorded worktapes on free recording software, and submitted them to TAXI, songwriting contests, and sent them to SAC (the Songwriter’s Association of Canada) for feedback. When I got the critiques, I was so angry. Really angry. What the hell was wrong with these people? Couldn’t they see I wrote outside the box, that my poetic lyrics were gems, that my meandering melodies were interesting to listen to?

I railed against the screeners and feedback givers. I called the industry homogenized. I, along with a co-writing friend, spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars getting demos cut of our infant songs. Big mistake.

When I got the rejections and ‘it’s not good enough yet’ critiques back I’d throw the feedback in a drawer and slam it shut.

But… even then… a couple days later… I’d take that paper out and read it again. I’d look at what they said and I would think, ‘hey, I can fix that.’ So I kept working and reworking on the songs… not really seeing the fact that you can rewrite a bad song a million times but that doesn’t necessarily make it a hit song. But I kept writing, rewriting, and getting feedback… and trying to learn from what I was being told.

It took two trips to LA, to TAXI’s music convention, the Road Rally, for me to really see the light. The answer, for me. It might not be the answer for everyone else. It was when I was sitting with a group of friends from the TAXI forum at Road Rally 2006 that I realized… I was in the presence of composers who were writing marketable music and who had signed that music to deals. They were writing, for the most part, instrumentals for use in film and television.

Now this was not as huge a leap as you might imagine. All the way along, while writing my epic fantasy folk songs, I had also been writing instrumentals. I used Band in Box to score the parts, and downloaded free plug-ins from the net to give them voice. I posted them on Soundclick sometimes. I had dozens of these.

I came home inspired to see if I could take those ideas and make them fly… make them acceptable to the industry. Thus began a journey of months and years to understand how to compose effectively for film and tv, to save up and buy the required computer, the required software, to make these things come alive and be considered marketable.

It was a challenge I was willing to embrace. And the rejections kept coming. But finally I got my first forward from TAXI, and my first deal. I’ve now signed more than 70 tracks to several different music industry entities, but there is much work to do and much more to learn. And many, many more tracks to write. Some will be good, some will need to be re-worked, and some will not fly commercially. But it's all grist for the mill.

taking an old road to renewal

Myself and three others have gotten together, we're meeting weekly, and working through Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". We started by just meeting to talk about our creativity and visions for ourself, then we read the introductory chapters. This week we are reading Week One and making brainstorming stickies of visions or goals we have for ourselves.

I worked through the book a few years ago with a girlfriend, it was an interesting process of self-discovery and awareness growth. I started with the idea that 'I am fairly evolved so why do I need to do this book'. I ended in a place I never expected to be.... with a new vision for my life, and doing things I hadn't done for years, like painting.

Why do it again? My sister and I used to lease horses, and every weekend we would take the same old road down by the same old stream... but week by week, we would see changes around us. The falling leaves creating a carpet, the first buds of spring, wildflowers blooming, a bird we hadn't seen before. If we had our eyes open, seeking the new or the beautiful, then we were often awarded with something magical.

Walking this path, with a book whose message resonates with me so much... I hope will aid me to move in directions old and new.

New awakening

Suddenly it’s June and I wonder where the weeks have gone. I finally tidied my desk and put a few things in due date order, and the rest could go in recycle. Perhaps that’s what I’ve been doing myself, these past months… revamping. I have been lost in my thoughts. I have always spoken about the healing magic that music provided to me, how it assisted me to evolve.

In order to become as a singer, I needed to recognize how I spoke to myself, and how I was programmed. I felt sufficiently advanced in this evolution to be able to share my experiences with others as a teacher/coach. But recently I’ve found a deeply embedded part of my operating system that I hitherto was to a great extent, unaware of. I rediscovered a level of insecurity so profound I found myself collapsing a little under its weight.

This was all triggered by a brief platonic relationship with a gentleman that had some romantic overtones. When we ended it, I literally fell apart. Not over him, not really. But over the deep seated belief that I simply do not have whatever it is that I should have in order to attract and keep a partner. I’m not talking wisdom, or compassion, or respect… I’m talking physical attractiveness. Since I was a child I was judged wanting for how I looked, I was ostracized at school and criticized at home, I developed an eating disorder because of all the diets I was instructed to be on at 13 and 14 and 15. That, together with physical age and the changes that come about because of that… and there you are, sitting alone in your living room watching reruns of Seinfeld. I became aware, in that time of dating, how much reassurance I need from moment to moment, and how much I am willing to give up of myself in order to get it. I thought I had moved on from that place.

But… perhaps it was time that I see this part of me. As I always tell my students, the first step to any change is first, awareness. I am slowly finding my way again.

Be Your Own Guru ;)

Let’s talk about love for a minute. Of course Valentine’s Day is upon us, but I’m not going be discussing romantic love. Rather, a deep and abiding appreciation for the most important person in your life – you.

Recently I’ve been telling my students that when they go home and practice, that they need to be their own ‘good teacher’, and look for what is good in what they are doing, as well as what needs work.

Often the first thing we do while performing an exercise or song is criticize ourselves. We pick out all the things we feel we are not doing right, and we proceed to beat ourselves up in the moment because we aren’t doing them. We make a face. Our body language says we’re frustrated or disappointed. We tell ourselves – and any audience – “this isn’t any good” or “sorry this isn’t working” or “what’s the point?” or “who am I kidding.” Our voice and body then responds to those thoughts, and the voice feels tighter, the breath feels shorter, the throat feels more closed, the heart is less likely to want to express.

Well guess what? That’s EXACTLY how I felt going into social situations for many years! I’d be thinking “I can’t think of anything to say,” and “they’re going to think I’m stupid,” and “why did I EVER say I would come to this thing,” and (worst of all), “they are going to think I am BORING.” And guess what happened? Since all I could think about was how boring I was and how awkward I felt, I looked and sounded awkward, like I didn’t want to be there, like I didn’t want to be talking to whoever I was talking to. Bet that helped them feel good about talking to me, huh?

But I don’t blame myself for feeling that way. I want to be my own good teacher so I can look at that and say… ‘well, wait a minute. I did have friends. I did have great conversations. I read the newspaper and books, and discussed new trends in science or shared stories I thought were interesting. I was a good cook, and people appreciated my meals or my potluck dish. Yes, I often felt awkward and shy. That’s okay. I’ve got the awareness now to see how I was thinking then, how my own thoughts and fears created that dynamic. And I can work to be more conscious of how I talk to myself in social situations.’

Another thing I talk about with my students is confidence. People will often tell a shy singer, ‘well, just get up there and be confident, then you’ll be okay.’ But a shy person doesn’t know HOW to ‘be’ confident. They can’t just turn on the ‘confidence’ switch. They may understand the concept, but they can’t see how they will ever, ever do it.

I remember working with this wonderful vocal coach (Bliss Johnston) who had been assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and who had worked with all kinds of big names, including Pavarotti, Domingo and others. I was very nervous, even though she was very modest, sweet and encouraging. I was absolutely terrified with all my extraordinary teachers, and she was no exception. I was standing next to the grand piano, looking at her, after singing something. Bliss said to me, “Vikki, you must sing from a calm centre.” I heard what she said. I understood what she meant. But having a ‘calm centre’ seemed totally impossible to me. I’d never had one and I couldn’t imagine getting one, not ever. Never. Can’t be done.

But I own a calm centre now. That calm centre gives me confidence. It tells me, ‘whatever happens, you can handle it. You’ll figure it out.’ How did I get it?

I’ll tell you. When I started singing lessons, I had no idea I was going to learn how to live in a more conscious way. But slowly, over time, I learned that I had to observe my thoughts in the moment, while I was singing. I learned that one cannot erase negative thoughts, but one can replace them with more effective thoughts. So day by day, as I practiced my singing, I observed how I talked to myself. I practiced thinking specific, positive thoughts that instantly transformed into positive action. When I was able to think effectively, I felt and sounded better. Hmmm.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, calls our negative thoughts ‘blurts.’ She says we should listen for them, and write them down. I think that’s a good exercise. Follow that up answering them back, or replacing them with new thoughts. Every time the voice in my head tells me, "you're SO lazy," I start listing off all the things I did today (taught my students, went to the bank, got groceries, updated my weekly schedule, worked on that new song, wrote my blog).

I remember going to my very first ‘tweet-up’ (a meet-up of local twitterers) last year. I’d been invited a couple of times, but felt my usual reluctance in going to a social event, especially when I didn’t know anyone. The first time I went, it was a bit awkward, I didn’t know what to say, I felt a little out of place. But I went back again, and sure enough, there I was chatting with other people and really enjoying myself. Pretty soon I was the one making someone new feel comfortable. Hmmmm.

In all my shy years, when I was at a social event, I can’t remember ever thinking about what I could do for someone else. In fact, I imagined that everyone else felt perfectly comfortable, that they knew what to say, and how to be. I was the odd one, I figured. The Alien. The one who bushed uncomfortably if anyone spoke to her. The one who sat in a corner next to the potted plant, nursing a drink with a smile pasted on her face, wishing someone would talk to her but equally terrified that someone might talk to her. Cause then she’d have to make conversation.

Now I actually enjoy talking to people! They are interesting. They are vibrant. They are just like me, but not like me. I am alright when they are with me. If I can’t think of anything to say, I ask them something about themselves. If I stumble over my words, they’ll understand. If I express an opinion that differs from theirs, that’s okay. Variety is the spice of life. If I notice myself telling myself I’m boring, I replace that thought with something else. If I notice myself feeling nervous, I acknowledge it, and breathe. If I reach the end of my coping strength, then I gracefully leave, knowing I need some space to regroup. And that’s okay. As my own best friend, I need to support myself in whatever I am doing, and acknowledge when it is time to rest, or when I’ve had enough.

Singing taught me to be aware. To observe my thoughts. Singing taught me I could change how I thought, and therefore change the results.

I still have old programming and ways of thinking that I struggle with. That’s my journey, and likely always will be, to grow in further awareness and try to move beyond the deeply embedded ways in which I look at myself. Yet I am grateful for the consciousness that allows me to see the many steps I have taken in the right direction, while acknowledging much of the path is still in front of me. I strive to treat myself with respect and love.

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FAWMing – this month I’m participating in “February is Album Writing Month” – a personal songwriting challenge to write at least 14 songs in 28 days []. I’m posting my worktapes and rough sketches on my website as I work, you can check them out @

practicing practicing

Am I special? Of course I am. I’m unique. But I’m human. I often tell a student, “If I can do it, you can do it. Because there’s no difference between you and me. The secret is to do the work.”

One of the writers I read is “Copyblogger” and today his email was particularly attention grabbing because he was asking something really important. He was asking… do you do more than read? He was saying, if you read an article and then start thinking about twittering or balancing your budget or getting your website organized, and you start – that’s great. But he pointed out that most of us do not follow through. A couple of weeks go by and there are no tweets, we've not organized the receipts, our website has nothing new to offer.

The reason I am having success now as a composer is that I’ve followed through. It’s been a long uphill climb, it’s taken years of effort in understanding, in practice, in trying. I was telling someone yesterday, that yes, I landed two deals in two weeks… but inbox is littered with rejections as well. Perhaps the music didn’t fit the bill, perhaps the music needs work, perhaps I have more to learn, and more skill to gain. So even if I sign that contract today, I still have to work at creating more music that I am proud to call my own, and still try to learn new skills even though it seems impossible that I will ever ‘get’ it, and I also have to earn enough money to pay my rent, hydro and internet hosting at the same time.

I talk to my students about practice. Not just practicing singing, which is of course valuable. But more importantly, practicing practicing. Because it’s our daily walk on the path, it’s our daily filling in the form, it’s our sitting down and planning the week, sorting out where we will put our energy and when. With lots of time left over to sit and dream.

How will you begin. How will you stay the course, in spite of doubts and all the curve balls that come your way? Will you still be on that path a few weeks from now?

Being prepared pays off! Recently, because I was working through Ariel Hyatt’s book (Music Success in Nine Weeks), I revamped my film/tv website, added my newly developed ‘pitch statement’, made sure my samples were up to date, and had some composer friends check it over. Today I got an email from a music library I signed with a couple months ago… they wanted a bio and information on what kind of music I write… because there is an opportunity coming up for Canadian composers. I was able, within minutes, to send them my newly minted bio and a link to my site. They've forwarded my information to the person handling the opp. I’m SO GLAD I was ready!

taking stock

Money. Yeah. Well, they are having a marathon of this Canadian show called “Til Debt to Us Part.” Gail Vaz-Oxlade helps couples who are overspending and deep in debt to sort themselves out. I like this show a lot. I’ve watched it before and made budgets etc., but today something clicked and I realized… if I want to pay my debt off in 3 years, then I need to take the total I owe, and divide it by 36 months, and get “X”. Then, I need to make minimum payments on everything. Then, I need to take that “X” amount and use it to pay down something.

This is a huge realization to me. I have been trying to pay things down, but I put a little bit extra on everything every month. I try not to use credit but some business expenses have to go on the cards – and I need to pay those off right away.

She said something else on a show that resonated with me. She said, when you call to check the balance on your credit card, you likely aren’t calling to see how much you need to pay off. You’re calling to see how much money you can spend. Guilty as charged.

It’s funny how I’ve been thinking about this and I plan a budget every month but never really thought about simply dividing my debt by 36 months and then making that my extra payment. Things will be tight if I do that… but I know I will feel so much better when I can get this debt off my plate. It’s left over from the time I thought ‘oh, I’ll pay this later when I have more money.’ Well, guess what, you don’t have the money later cause you’ve already spent it. Duh.

As mentioned before in this blog, I’ve been working my way through Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks.”

I’m still a little stuck on Chapter 8 (Creating a Continuing Program) though. Somewhat. As a composer, I have to think differently about marketing myself. I need a short, to-the-point bio. I asked composer friends to check out the text on my film/tv site and give me their feedback on how I’ve set it up. I took their suggestions and made some adjustments, I think it reads well now. This past week I contacted a music library to ask for permission to submit, but included my website address in my signature. They liked what they heard and offered me a deal. Whoop!

Over the past few days, several more people have signed up for my newsletter, and I continue to enjoy interaction with those who comment on my blog.

Branching out beyond blogging or a monthly newsletter? I try to think what I have to offer, how I can help. What I have that’s special, I think, is my experience as a mentor to aspiring singers, and what I’ve learned from my own journey as a shy person, and as a evolving artist. I want to write more about these things. I might try writing an ebook. I have the skills to do that. I worked for a life coach a while ago, and assisted her in designing an ebook.

Still, Ariel should be proud of me. She discusses ‘Traditional PR’ in Chapter 9. This weekend I wrote and submitted a press release to local newspaper regarding participating in FAWM (February is Album Writing Month/write 14 songs in 28 days). Beyond that, I thought the information about publicity in this chapter was very thorough. I liked her advice to be patient and persevere, and remember to follow-up! It says that in the Indie Bible too – don’t just send your CD to radio stations, but follow-up in a timely manner. At the same time, be gracious and understand that people on the other end are busy trying to do their jobs. I will return to this chapter again when I have an event to publicize – like the visual art show I’ll be part of at the end of August.

At the end of “Music Success in Nine Weeks,” Ariel lists 20 critical web sites for musicians. I’ve signed up for several. She also has included a ‘dictionary’ of terms for musicians, new words we need to know, like “blogosphere”. This blog is part of that universe.

Since you read my blog… I wonder, what information could I put in an ebook that would be fun or inspiring to read about? What obstacles do you face in pursuing your vision? (Do you have a vision?)

I continue to write tracks for FAWM []. With this latest deal, I have run out of unsigned tracks, so writing 14 songs (or more) songs in 28 days came at just the right time to boot me in the arse and get me going to create more!

What have you been up to?

3 down, 11 to go

Ah, well I think I should mention that it’s February. I love February, cause February means “FAWM”. And what is FAWM? FAWM is “February is Album Writing Month” which sounds very spooky and scary. It’s not really writing an “album” (although some do), it’s writing ‘an album’s worth’ of songs. Fourteen to be precise. Fourteen songs in 28 days is the goal.

The first time I tried this, I think I managed about two songs in the month, lol. The next year, I wrote about 6 or 7, and then I felt… there’s no way I can write anything else. And then I managed to get to 11. And then I thought, very seriously, there’s nothing left. No ideas, no thoughts, nothing. Hopeless. But somehow I got to the end of the month and had 15 song ideas or instruments sketched out and posted on my FAWM page. If it hadn’t been for the challenge, I never would have tried to push against that block.

Not everything I write is earth shatteringly good either. And that’s kinda the point. A whole boatload of creative types collectively join in the madness known as FAWM and write songs about all manner of things. I find that community to be tremendously inspiring and fun. I go to look at what other people are coming up with, and I marvel at their unique perspective, their individual turn of phrase, the creative way they use voice, instrument, odd sounds, effects, etc when recording their worktapes.

As I go to bed today, Feb 3rd, I’ve completed two spooky instrumentals and one song. I have the lyrics and melody for another that I’ll record tomorrow. It’s funny cause before Feb 1st I felt very uninspired and wasn’t sure how I would fair as the month began. What changed? Maybe just jumping in the deep end with everyone else made it feel like fun. Or maybe I just pushed through that ‘no ideas’ block again. Thanks FAWM.

If you want to join in:

And my first track is here:

You can't move forward without falling down ;)

If you read my blog now & then you know I’ve been reading Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks.” I began to do this because she was running a blogging contest, and who wouldn’t want to win some help with publicity. Although I’d still like to come in first, I’ve found working through the book is valuable in and of itself. I did go through it in a dilatory sort of way a dozen months ago, made some notes, made a few changes. But anything that required a more thorough application of elbow grease was pushed aside.

Now I'm working through it again, I find I am more focused in my goals. I have made some changes. I am writing my newsletter again, I am exploring ways to made my blog more visible on-line, I’ve found more communities to participate in. I’ve been more proactive in thinking about who I am, what I do, and what I want to say about it.

I am often asked for advice on how to be more successful in the music industry. I guess people look at me as someone who has a secret, or who knows the right people, or who was born under the right star. Ha. Nothing could be further from the truth. I spent the better part of my life going in circles, digging deep ruts, walking backwards, falling flat on my face. But somehow I found a way.

The first truth that I’ve come to know is that any change that you desire is, in most cases, possible. Achievable. Dreams can come true, goals can be reached, visions can be actualized. The second truth I’ve come to know is that getting from where you are to where you want to be ain’t easy. That’s why many of us talk about writing songs, or books, or getting out the art supplies, etc. Talk.

Cause in order to get where you want to go… you have to know where you are. You have pinpoint your location on a map so you can see which route to take. I tell my students, that means… accepting. Accepting where you are. 'I am here. I have no skills, I have no idea, I have no money. I do have, this burning desire, I do have, these good friends, I do have, a mind. I can read books (from the library). I can look things up on line (in the library). I can borrow resources, I can ask people who are doing it how they got where they are. I can find mentors, people who will support me with feedback and advice.'

Most of all, you can find the time to put in the time. If you want to write, that means you have to write. It costs next to nothing to write. You can write on cheap paper you bought at the dollar store, you can write on you computer. If you want to draw then you buy a sketch book and pencils and you fill up both sides of the paper on every page til the book is full. If you want to sing then you get up every day and sing scales and songs.

I'd start, and then stop. I stumbled, I fell, I got lost, I screwed up, but somehow I found a way forward.

Slowly, over time, I have evolved. I thought this ‘transcendance’ was impossible for me. I felt, I didn’t have ‘it’. I felt useless, unworthy, hopeless, lazy. Why bother. Who was I kidding. Just wash dishes for a living, collect your pay, read a few books, dream a few dreams, til it’s over. Don’t rock the boat, don’t give yourself airs, do the ‘right’ and ‘prescribed’ thing. Don’t colour outside the lines.

Screw that.

So today I’m a fully fledged creative. I get up every day and do music, not dishes (lol). I don’t clean motel rooms for a living (don’t clean my bedroom either). I’m a self-educated person. I write, I sing, I paint, I compose, I blog. I went from being so terrified that I literally stammered when saying ‘how are you’ to being able to speak to a ballroom full of people, sing opera on stage, and chat with people at music conferences, tweet-ups, open mic nights, and more. Ask me how I did that, I will try to answer. Ask me how you can do that, I will try to answer. But I suspect you already know: figure out where you are, figure out where you want to be, and set out to do what you need to do, learn what you need to learn, practice what you need to practice, to take baby steps towards your dream.

So, how does a shy singer learn to sing without shyness? How does one foster confidence when your knees are so weak from fear you can't stand up?

By starting where you are, not denying, not judging, but accepting. 'I am so shy, I’m terrified to even walk into a voice studio, never mind open my mouth. But with the right teacher, maybe I’ll figure out how to do that. I have to. Even if I crawl in cause I can't stand up. I have to. Cause I don’t want to spend another day not singing.'

FREE DOWNLOAD: I have a newsletter I send out once a month, that talks about what I’m up to, what I’ve been thinking about, what music I’m writing, what projects I’m engaged in, what’s popped up that I find interesting, informative or inspiring. It’s an extension of my blog that comes direct to your email box. And, if you sign up, you get a free download of one of my most popular songs. Here’s the link:
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Creative Connections

I hope this is interesting reading. I’m blogging about ‘Social Networking’ as I blog my way through Ariel Hyatt’s book. I’m really glad I signed up to do this as I feel just the act of reading the book and thinking of ways to use the information has been helpful, and it’s prompted me to take action. And IMO, anything that makes us 'do' instead of 'talking about doing' is worth it.

In Chapter 4 of “Music Success in Nine Weeks” Ariel suggests researching 50 blogs that might be interested in reviewing your music. Since I’m not really, at the moment, pitching myself as an artist with music to be reviewed, I put that aside. But it did make think about how I could broaden my internet presence. So I tried to be creative in my approach.

I looked for blogs on shyness, read several, and I added a couple to my blogroll. I sent notes to the authors to let them know I’d visited, and was impressed enough with their information and philosophy to include them on my resource list.

I also rewrote some older blog posts, then set-up an account, and submitted two articles to, @ So far one has been accepted and published.

I had added my blog to when I first read Ariel’s book, but I wasn’t keeping up to date. I revisited my account and updated my information. I added the widget to my blog as well.

I’ve been on twitter for some time now, and I’m active in the local twitter community. I attend “tweet-ups” once or twice a month, local tweeps have attended some of my gigs, and I was pleased to participate as a performer in a ‘twestival’ fund-raising event last fall. I also noticed that I’m now on 116 lists on twitter, mostly as a blogger.

I have a flickr account and had uploaded some pix to it earlier last year, but hadn’t posted anything new recently. I took a picture of a drawing I did and uploaded it to my account @ and then posted the link to twitter and facebook.

I applied to to be on the site.

I added my blog to and posted a widget on my blog to keep track of visits.

On to Chapter 5, then. Ariel says we need to think of ourselves as a commodity. I think that’s hard for many of us. We don’t want to be ‘marketing’ or ‘selling’. Yet we have these things we spend time, money and energy to create that we would like people to be interested in. Our music, our gigs, our books, our creative mentoring sessions, our voice lessons, etc. Ariel talks about creating relationships with fans, which is what I try to do. I’ve been blogging and sending out (occasional) newsletters for quite a while, and I have yet to ask anyone to buy anything. I might share where I’m playing or what I’m working on, or what I’ve learned. I haven’t been very good at keeping up with the newsletter distribution, I’ve focused almost exclusively on blogging. I have resolved to send out a newsletter once a month, just chatting about my journey, about what I’ve recently published in my blog.

Now, if you sign up for my fan list on reverbnation, you receive a free download of my song, “Wilted Heart”. And that means you’ll get the occasional newsletter from me. I had some nice emails back from several people after I sent out the January newsletter. I like that.

*To get your own copy of Ariel's book: "Music Success in Nine Weeks"

*Want to be on my newsletter list? Add yourself here! Add me.

*Learn more about me and my story @:

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What I've gained from Social Networking

One of the best things I did over the past four or five years was find mentors in marketing. I’d come across someone in my travels, and I’d check out the resources they offered. Like Bob Baker and his ‘Guerrilla Marketing for Song Writers, Musicians and Bands’. Like Debra Russell and her ‘Artist’s Edge’. Like Ariel Hyatt and ‘CyberPR’. When I find someone like this, I sign up for their newsletter.

I find good mentors provide a lot of free information in their newsletters, podcasts, seminars, etc. I make it a point to gather as much intel as I can from what they are telling me. I’d do things as simple as… look at the bottom of Bob’s newsletter, where he provides links to where he can be found on-line. One day I saw ‘twitter’ listed there. I clicked on it, saw his twitter page… and signed up for twitter myself. I had no idea what twitter would do for me, but I figured, if Bob’s on twitter, I need to be on twitter. When I look at Ariel’s information and she says she’s on ‘Flickr’, then I go to flickr and sign up. What’s interesting as well, is that I am likely just the sort of person they write those newsletters for, because not only do I follow their advice… but I also, when I want to have more resources, purchase products and/or services from each of them. They are demonstrating good marketing to me… and I’m buying it, lol.

This week I continued to work through Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks". I read chapter 3 (optimizing your website) and chapter 4 (musicians web 2.0 guide). I have two different websites, one for myself as an artist, and one for myself as a composer, and the market for each site is naturally quite different. Ariel has some really good suggestions on what to do and what not to do with your website, and how to manage contact with your fans.

I transferred my artist fan list to Reverbnation in 2009, after hearing Ariel speak at a songwriting event. I’d known I needed to do it for a while but I’d avoided doing it cause I knew it would be a pain. I had a list of some email addresses in Excel on my computer, I had others listed on-line in an old newsletter server that I’d used, and I had others coming in on my hostbaby email sign up. I had to amalgamate all 3 lists and make sure that no-one was being duplicated. Then I had to send out a note to everyone and ask them to sign up with my new list manager, Reverbnation. Some did, some didn’t. So I lost a few. But it’s done now and working better. (By the way, IMO Reverbnation is one of the best sites around for indie musicians. I use it to host my fanlist, to send out my newsletter, to facilitate free downloads, to create ‘tunepaks’, to post my shows, etc. It’s great at tracking your stats, and it provides widgets you can put on your blog, etc. I’m really glad I heard about it.)

I started writing this blog ages ago… not sure if anyone would care to read it. I just wanted to share my process. In my mind, this is an extension of my teaching role. When I work with my students, I talk to them about my past, what I’ve learned, what I’m working on, how I’m working on it, what I’ve experienced, what I think about. There’s a million voice teachers out there, the one thing that I have that’s different from anyone else, is me and my story. So I marry good healthy vocal technique with the idea that we can grow beyond our programming if we are willing to take a conscious journey and explore our own potential. I am the shy singer, who grew beyond her shyness, by striving to free her voice. Singing was the catalyst for my emancipation.

In addition to blogging, I participate in several songwriting forums. I’ve learned so much from being part of a greater community of musicians, artists, composers and writers. I’ve reviewed other people’s work, I’ve had feedback on my own, I’ve soaked up information on the music industry, been warned about scams and sharks, and heard about upcoming events. I still participate now with the goal of networking with others and also to pass along what I have learned. What’s really neat is that over time I have developed relationships with quite a few talented, interesting and creative musician-types. I love it when I get to see some of them live and in person when I attend songwriting events or conferences -- or local "tweet-ups". Yes, it takes time to maintain this level of networking, but it has brought to much to my life. I have a huge ‘tribe’ of friends who love what I love, and we support each other in the journey. That’s what ‘web 2.0’ means to me. Interacting with these friends, meeting new ones, sharing what I know, feeling grateful for those who give so generously of their time & expertise to help me in what I’m doing.

I posted this on Facebook today: “I have a list of promises to myself on my fridge, and at the bottom in big letters I have: "I PROMISE MYSELF I WILL NEVER GIVE UP". On my bulletin board over my computer I have my 2010 goals posted... and I've written to the side, in felt pen, "Live the Dream"... it's easy to get bogged down in the day to day 'who am I kidding' struggle. Sometimes I have to step back and look at the big picture. See how far I've come, how much I've learned, and how my slow, sometimes faltering steps have brought me here, to this place of musical living. Then I am grateful, and resolve to perservere.”

Who am I when I am?

Oh boy, what a struggle. Yep, I’m talking about Chapter Two of Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks” It’s a tough one. It’s called ‘Your Perfect Pitch’, and it’s about figuring out who you are as an artist or writer or whatever, and putting it into a few succinct words. I’ve done this very successfully as a voice teacher (long to sing, but too shy to try?). I can get my head around what I might say about my vocal music (Enya meets Loreena McKennitt crossed with Bjork). But when it comes to my instrumental tracks, I felt stymied.

I wear more than one hat in this creative world of mine. I dabble in a lot of things. I teach singing, I write songs, I write music for film and television. I’m also a visual artist, and I like to write as well. I plan to record an album this year, so I’ll need to work on marketing for that. I pitch music to music libraries and music publishers. I attend music conferences, I have websites, business cards, I meet other artists, composers, songwriters, etc. Refining a phrase that describes who I am as a composer makes sense to me. But I just couldn’t figure out what that might be.

Finally I got the idea that I’d go and see what some TAXI screeners said about my work. I looked up my submission history and made a note of words that they’d used to describe the impressions they had of my tracks. I did some searching through an on-line thesaurus, and made a list of words I thought might be a fit. I also looked up the details of listings I’d been forwarded to, searching for composer names that might have been included in the specifics. Then I went and listened to some of the composers.

I came up with these phrases:

Vikki Flawith: Innovative compositions for film & television. Modern orchestral, ambient world, quirky electronica. Avant garde inventor meets domesticated cat. Thomas Newman crossed with Tiny Tim. Colourful, inventive, unique.

I choose Thomas Newman because I write orchestral mixed with contemporary percussion and synths/sounds. I choose Tiny Tim because he’s funny (strange?), and that describes the avant-garde and often quirky part of what I do. It’s like “serious” meets “oddly engaging” = Vikki Flawith. Lol

I had to go to and fill in the forms within the allotted time.

I ended up with: “My name is Vikki Flawith and I am a composer specializing in film and television. I write modern orchestral, ambient world, & quirky electronica. I'm like Thomas Newman crossed with Tiny Tim. Contact me if you're seeking innovative music for video, film, commercials, or tv shows.”

I also had to email that to Ariel – let you know what she said!