With fear and trepidation I am jumping off the cliff. The cliff represents the safety of all my self-doubts about my ability to “make it” in a music career. The cliff represents all of the reasons why I haven’t done this before and why I now can’t do anything else. “Jump and the net will appear” so the saying goes. I guess I believe it, but I won’t really prove I believe it unless I jump. “Faith without works is dead” so a guy named James wrote.
My cliff, to hopefully make a long story short: I am in my 50’s. I have always wanted to make music my career. But due to my pragmatic nature, I went back to college in my early 20’s and got a “real job”, a career in computer programming. While I made a comfortable living, I still did music on the side. I got very involved in contemporary Christian worship music in the 90’s and I even got around a dozen songs published. One of those, “Draw Me Close (to You)” has done very, very well, has been sung around the world by millions, has been on a few hundred recordings, and is now considered a worship “classic”. I am not making this stuff up. I have been SO blessed by this success.
Okay, so I guess story not so short. There’s more… Flash forward to early turn ‘o’ the century, I recorded a piano instrumental entitled “Draw Me Close” which starts out with an instrumental version of “Draw Me Close”. (Shameless exploitation of the success of my hit song or just being a smart business person? You decide.) I had some early success with sales of the CD—I have sold out my first batch of 1,000. But sales the last few years have been a trickle. I hear testimonial after testimonial about how people love the CD, how they have found it very soothing, it has been used it for relaxation, prayer, yoga, massage, therapy with special needs kids, etc. And I totally want to do another one. But without proper promotion, I am hesitant to put the money in. It needs to sell, and I’ll tell you why.
Okay, I need to come clean and admit that this is not a short story, sorry for the false advertising. Once the fingies get a flyin’ a yarn I can’t be denyin’. (I won’t try to set that to music, although I wonder if that rhyme scheme has ever been applied.) Flash forward to 2009/10, not only do I want to do music full time, but I really have no choice. My computer career, which I wanted so desperately the last couple of years to be done with is officially over. I have a hand injury and long sessions of typing away at a computer makes it worse. Paradoxically, working at my craft, playing piano, does not aggravate the hand so much, although when I overdo it, it still hurts. In any case, when the hand starts hurting I have to rest it, sometimes days a time.
You may ask me, “Hey Kelly, does it hurt to blog?” Why yes, my imaginary friend, it does. I even purchased some voice recognition software called Dragon Speak (Oh where did they come up with that name?) I have done a couple of blog posts via the dictation method and received the feedback that these posts were very matter-of-fact and devoid of the usual subtle humor I lace my blog posts with. I mentioned this to my massage therapist—we have become quite chatty—and she postulated that speaking comes from the analytical left side of the brain while writing comes from the artistic right side, and therefore my dictated posts are bound to be more dry. (Do you like the word “postulated”; perhaps I can work that into a song.)
Oh no, I am embarrassed over how long this post is getting—I suppose I should get over myself. (Where did that expression come from? Probably from the same people who came up with “beside myself”: Team Figure O’ Speech).
So facing the music of needing to do full time what I have always wanted to do full time, I am trying to pull out all the stops, putting all my irons in the fire. (This metaphor stew is getting fun–I am on roll.) First I needed to figure out what my “stops” and “irons” are. To aid me in this quest, I attended the ASCAP Music Expo in April and I learned all sort of cool stuff about the music business. One of the sessions I attended was about how to leverage social media to move forward in your career. This workshop was moderated by a lady named Ariel Hyatt who runs a PR firm which uses the internet to further their client’s careers. She is regarded as an expert in this field.
Ariel wrote this book called “Music Success in Nine Weeks”. It is a step by step guide to kick your music career in the butt. I like to think of it as 12-step program for artists who are fearful of the business side of their music, except of course there are only nine steps. I imagine getting up in front a group of other people in my condition and saying “Hi, my name is Kelly, and I’m a really-petrified-about-the-music-business-aholic.” This without the bad coffee and cigarettes, of course.
As silly as this sounds, Ariel has created such an environment with the “Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge”. For those of us who are partaking in this endeavor, we have committed to working through the steps of the book in literally nine weeks, blogging about it as we go. This is a competition. At the end of this program the winner will receive a complimentary three-month publicity package from Ariel’s PR firm. The criteria for judging is based on who has come the furthest in their business development–at least I think that is what they’re judging it on. I am secretly hoping that they will also judge it, in part, based on clever blog posts that purport to be short, but ramble on uncontrollably with plenty of euphemisms and parenthetical remarks. (Like this one: “Purport to be short” would be a great title for a song, don’t you think?)
So, here I am jumping off the cliff and participating in this challenge. I consider my fellow partakers as my support group, cohort, and competition all wrapped up in one. Should I call them “frenemies”? Nahh! I’ll call them friends on the journey. I’ll read their blog posts, hopefully they’ll read mine. Perhaps through Skype we can all sing “Kum-by-a” together, cyber-hugging each other with laughter and tears, smoking virtual cigarettes and drinking virtual bad coffee.