As musicians and people, we often get caught up in the work. Are we doing enough? Are we working harder than the rest? Booking shows, playing shows, writing songs, recording songs, releasing albums, marketing, promotion, videos etc, etc, etc. I know people that spend every hour of their lives “working hard” to accomplish something and never get out of the same place. On the other hand, I know people that take life as a joke, and good things always fall in their lap. Obviously, hard work wasn’t the answer.
Trusting the process means having faith. I’m not a religious man, but I believe in a higher power that some of us call God. I believe we are all bound together through this “force” and through it, we can accomplish anything. Especially if you’re passionate at what you’re doing.
In the last few years I’ve repeatedly uttered to myself, “If it isn’t fun, I don’t have to do it” As of very recently that changed to “If it isn’t fun, I REFUSE to do it” People have actually made angry remarks at that statement. That’s THEIR issue to work through. Not mine. I don’t say that in judgement just fact. I’ve come to realize that our entire purpose in life is happiness. Period. I often ask myself “why is it that I want the things that I want?” The answer is always “because I’ll feel happier in receiving them.” No matter how big or small. Think about that.
I, like many others, chose music as a profession because it’s supposed to be fun and it’s my passion. I can’t think of a better way to spend my days than on something I’m most passionate about. If you’re working hard and putting time into something, what’s the point if it isn’t fun? Having fun will allow you to relax and trust the process. Besides, if it’s fun, it isn’t work. I don’t need a record label, manager or an agent. I simply write, record and produce my own music. I then distribute and market myself while booking my own shows. I make the recording process fun. The mixing, marketing, booking etc. All fun. It has to be or what’s the point? It took me a long time to realize that.
This summer I had 4 dates booked in Ohio. My plan was to possibly book another date in the area, make it a short road trip then head back home. For the last few years I’ve had the urge to go to Joshua Tree California for some reason. Then I thought “what if I went to Joshua Tree AND played a show while I was out there?” I randomly emailed a few venues in the area and by the next day I heard back from one. The guy asked when I would be out there and I randomly replied “early August. ” He then replied “hit me up in May and I’ll give you a date for early August. I closed my email account and sat there staring at the screen. I thought “ok, now I have to book a tour because I ain’t driving 40 hours for one show” Then I realized “why don’t I extend this Ohio trip and book gigs on the way to Joshua Tree?” I immediately pulled up Google Maps and in the “directions” fields I entered “Put In Bay Ohio to Joshua Tree California.” I then looked at the route on the map and zoomed in on each major city. After making a list of every area I wanted to hit, I began searching on the internet for venues in those areas. I probably sent over 100 emails to venues along the entire route thinking “ok, I’ll give this a shot and see what happens.” It’s now three weeks later and I’ve managed to book enough gigs to get me to Joshua Tree throughout the month of July. The other part of the plan was to get to LA to hang for a bit. Believe it or not, I've never been to the West coast. I’m waiting on a few venues in San Diego and LA to get back to me but either way I’ll be heading there to close out the trip.
I’m deciding what I want to do about the return trip back to the east coast. I don’t want to be on the road for more than a month and I really want to enjoy the scenery. If it’s feasible, Beth will fly and meet me in LA so we can spend some time and drive back together to enjoy the country. I’m thinking perhaps I’ll book a few shows on the way back to cover travel expense but not much more than that.
I decided to take it a step further and send press releases to radio and local TV stations in the areas I'll be playing. I’m also drafting a letter to send to business for potential sponsorship. The sponsorship money will be used for merchandise and promotion. CDs, shirts, hats, stickers, promo cards, a banner, advertising etc. Recording and releasing the music is only part of the process. When that’s done we need to switch to our “business” gears.
Why do I take all of this on myself? For one, I’d be broke if I had to pay other people to do it. Second, if you rely on other people, you’re a slave to their schedule and their way of doing things. I’ve never liked relying on other people for anything. Last, if I had a record label, they’d be taking everything. The record industry is bullshit. It’s a facade. It’s a corporate structure that dictates how old or young we need to be, how we should look, sound, write, what will be trendy etc whilst taking 80-90% of an artists earnings. Where’s the “art” in that? To boot, they’ve literally allowed the theft of music. I’ve witnessed vinyl to tape, CD, mp3, and now streaming. You can now say goodbye to selling music because even Apple will be switching over to their streaming service. When that happens everyone else will be forced to follow suit and there will be no more buying or selling of music. Instead, people will pay their $9 a month or in some cases, nothing, and have unlimited access to millions of songs. Songs that were conceived, written, recorded, produced, honed, agonized over, released and marketed. Blood, sweat and tears throughout the entire process. Whether it be a major label act that has invested millions or the independent guy like me that has invested everything. All of it will now be given away.
When I was a kid I lived by the hope that this huge record deal will land in my lap and I’ll tour the world to become a huge star. Now, none of that matters to me. Not because it won’t happen, or I’m cynical but because my perspective has changed. I’m not saying I don’t want to make tons of money and huge shows around the world, because I do. There’s nothing wrong with making tons of money. My point is that’s not WHY I do this. I do it because I love to. It’s my way of expressing myself and connecting with myself and others. The biggest reward in the world is watching people sing along with my songs or tell me how much a particular lyric moved them, or how much they can relate to a song. That pulls my heart and brings me to tears. That makes it all worth while and it has nothing to do with ego. We don’t write the songs. We receive them. We translate the idea and let it flow through our limbs and voice. We’re a conduit. THAT is what it’s all about! THAT’S why I continue to write, record, release and perform. I love it and I enjoy every second of the process!
Until next time__Anthony