I've been telling myself I need to start blogging more. I'm so out of practice and I think I could benefit from this discipline.
As some of you know, for the past couple years I sort of 'dropped off' the public music scene for a little while. Not entirely, but I pulled back. I got married, moved out of Canada, started worship leading, advocating for A21, but more importantly, I needed time to figure out what my next musical step was. What direction musically was I going to head in? I wrote dozens and dozens of songs, spent countless hours scratching my head trying to figure out what I should say in album number two. The answers came slow and painfully, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) the hard part is finally over. "Unveiled" the new album, has been birthed.
As I step forward into raising up the funds for this next project, promoting it, bringing it to the public, I'm remembering all over again all the MANY hats that indie artists need to wear. In today's day and age, a musician does so much more than do the very thing they feel called to do (make music). Often times they need to be their own booking agent, their own web designer, promoter, sound technician, producer, publicist, financial/business advisor... On top of that there are responsibilities they're already doing like putting together their band, writing & arranging the music, putting together show set-lists, developing their skills as musicians etc. And then there's the whole social media world, where artists recognize how important it is to their career that they interact with as many fans/listeners as possible! It's really sometimes more than a full-time job being an artist with only part-time pay. At least it can feel this way in the beginning stages.
It's a great time to be doing music and also a bad time to be doing music. The good news is ANYONE can be a musician. The bad news, is ANYONE can be a musician. You say, "Amy, you said the same thing twice". Yes. Because anyone can be a musician, it means that you don't have to wait around for a label until you start creating and showing the public your music perhaps on YouTube or some other medium. The bad news, is the music market is SOOO saturated, people have WAY too many options these days that chances are, someone will gravitate to ONE of your songs but move on from you to the next artist because they simply want to see what else and who else is out there. We all suffer from an A.D.D. approach to music. Gripping listener's full attention is becoming harder and harder. That's why building "personal relationships" if that's even what we should call it, through social media is so important. Fans no longer will be satisfied with a song, they need the story behind the song, they need the journey, the inside scoop. Blogging, Vlogging, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.. it's where people are. Listeners go there to see your story. I've still not mastered these things, in terms of what to post, what not to post. Did I post too much, too little, too random, unrelated, too much promotion... the war goes on inside the artist's head. And can I say this-- NO artist enjoys being their own promoter. In fact, that may be the worst part.
Secretly every artist has pockets of insecurity. Artists constantly throw their hearts out there, sometimes amongst doves, other times amongst wolves. People like it, people hate it. People wish you had done more of this, less of that. And if you're thinking that artists get complimented all the time so they must feel amazing about themselves, I think most artists will agree with me, every time you share something encouraging it goes A LONG way. We get the best and worst of both worlds. It's never easy sharing the deepest parts of your heart (your songs), with others. My songs are my children, what the world thinks of them matters to me, and yet it also doesn't change how I feel about them.
So this blog goes out to all the independent artists/bands out there. I know there are a lot of you. I'm writing to you because I feel like there have been many times I've needed this encouragement. I want you to take some time to reflect on your life. Your achievements. Your goals. I implore you to continue walking this journey with courage. The world needs artists. It needs beauty, it needs art. Some people think art doesn't matter, hence some schools have cut out the arts from their curriculum. All I can say is this-- nothing tells someone more about culture than the arts. Your voice is important. At the end of the day, I know we all make music because it's what we know to do, and we love it. We don't make music for any other reason. People that do it for fame or money either get what they want or they quit the game early because it's too much work. I know each of us constantly question whether we can continue to make music, for we don't know what the future of the industry holds. People don't even really buy music anymore. And CD's, what are those?! Hah. My answer to you artists is this: the world will always need a new song, an anthem of hope. If not the musicians, who will give it to them?