Tag Archives: independent singer songwriter

Letting Go / Standing On The Edge

It’s over a month since I last looked for work. I am self-employed and am deliberately letting my money dry up, to face my fears about running out. We’re still only in phase one of the experiment – allowing my bank balance to run to £0… and it’s not a zero yet.

But am I letting go of my fears about money?

Well, a friend played a practical joke on me by putting a fake parking ticket on my van. Despite the fact that the fine would have absorbed around 20% of the money I had left, I was surprised that I had no reaction to the prospect of being fined. When I found out it was a joke, I wasn’t angry either. What strange behaviour! Guess I am changing.

Picking up Chris the hitchhiker made a difference too ( https://symphonyforhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/the-wisdom-of-supertramps/ ). What I didn’t put in my previous post is that 10 minutes before I was due to pull over and drop him off, I said to Chris “Mostly everything I own is in this van. If there’s something you need, ask me for it. If it’s in this van I’ll give it to you”. I surprised myself in saying this, because I knew that I would honour it, even if has asked me for something expensive or important to me. I have so few possessions now that I only keep what’s important to me. But having so little, it occurred to me how much more difficult it might be for Chris to have even less. So whatever he asked for, even if I didn’t immediately have the money to replace it, I had more than him so what did it matter? As it turned out, all he wanted was some food and a tarp.

Just to get it straight, I’m not writing about my virtuous behaviour in order to paint myself in a good light, or be the hero of my own stories. In fact, as a Buddhist, it makes me uncomfortable to mention such things. However, I do believe that it’s important for us in the first world to re-examine the concept of money. Cataloguing my personal quest to face my own fears surrounding money is part of my contribution and therefore I feel the need to be honest about how this changes me and share it.

Out and about in London, with guitar and bike.

Out and about in London, with guitar and bike.

After conceiving the £0 challenge the first thing I did was go on holiday with the intention of running out of money. I went to London, to visit friends whom I hadn’t seen in years. My plan to run out of cash backfired when, being so pleased to see me, my friends wanted to pay for most everything. Even my hosts struggled to accept my contributions towards food, without even knowing about my £0 Challenge.

I struggled to spend money whilst out and about by myself because London is so abundant in food waste. Another way I’ve changed is that I’m developing a new resourcefulness, allowing me to operate with less money. My “wombling” skills have increased. One day I forgot my wallet entirely. Hungry at a food court I decided to eat whatever I found that looked safe and intact. Half an hour later, I actually had to stop because I was full, having found 3 half eaten foil containers of chinese takeaway, a bun (still in it’s wrapper), some chocolate, half a fancy cupcake and drunk an unopened bottle of softdrink. Later, when it got cold I found a jumper sticking out of someone’s bin. I wore it all week and then gave it to a charity shop, feeling good about having rescued something that would have gone to the landfill.

Image

Standing on the edge of some stuff.

The best result of this challenge is that I’ve been forced to come up with a way to make a great music video for free. For years I’ve wanted the money to make a slick music video, but it’s been out of my budget so out of the question. But now, I’ve come up with a great idea for a video for my song “Standing On The Edge”, that isn’t diminished by being low budget – in fact, it works BECAUSE it’s low budget, so anyone with a camera-phone can contribute. Whilst it won’t be “studio quality”, it will be great to watch, get lots of people involved and having fun in the process, and it’s totally free to make. Anyone can be IN my new video – all you have to do is send me some footage, as per the guidelines in this link to the “preview video” I’ve created ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNDwS7wUwE ). 14 people have already contributed!

I’m getting more peaceful and less fearful overall, but not peaceful enough to simply give my remaining money away. Best to let these things happen in their own time. However, something is about to happen that could absorb my remaining money in 1 day. Watch this space…

 

 

 

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Shh… don't let them know I've got NO drive to succeed

(Originally posted to my Facebook account, on Thursday, 21 April 2011 at 11:28)

When it comes to aims in life, we have to start from where we are and build up brick by brick. I have been pondering on the truth of this with regards to music recently.

I have observed that there is a current trend for a major label to back and artist for 2 albums. If the first is successful they will fund a second, but by the time a 3rd is required, a record label can get a much better buzz by funding a new band. The artist can be at best, left to their own devices with the benefit of 2 tours under their belt, or at worst deliberately buried by the record label.

In this industry there is a strange pressure to succeed very quickly, and build up what would be considered a ridiculous curve of profit in a very short space of time, compared to any other business model. Record labels love to pick up 18 year olds and make them international success stories, so there’s a pressure for unsigned/independent artists to compete, and make it nationally/internationally by the age of 25 at least.  They also love to pick people with no history in the industry and turn them into national heros within a few months (X Factor etc).

In reality, for an independent artist, a comfortable curve of development to reach that level of success from ground zero in a stable way is a minimum of 10 years. And it’s becoming my increasing belief that if it were to take even longer, for example, 20 or 50 years, far from calling that a failure, it may be an even more pleasant journey.

In fact, this capitalist concept of success is ultimately damaging. The act of being a musician is just this: Make music. Make music make music…. and the rest will come as a product. A person who loves making music will make music every day for all the days of their lives, and eventually, by cause an effect this will cut out how their life will go. They may be asked to play for others, or teach others, or share music in some other ways. And naturally, since they gravitate towards these suggestions they will accept opportunities as they come. But ultimately, if they are genuinely a musician then they will feel fulfilled when they are making music every day, and this will flow easily. I truly believe that there are ways of doing this without having to struggle, or feel pressure to succeed.

To everyone out there who is struggling for money as a professional musician, here are a couple of ideas that I like.

-I’d rather be a struggling musician than a struggling accountant.

-If I already make music every day, then I it can’t get any better than this.

I am 26. I have recorded and independently released 4 albums and am currently recording a 5th. I play live locally and on short tours up to london. I teach individual guitar lessons, classes at a Music College, and run workshops and Master Classes for groups. I also run a recording studio from home in which I’ve produced 2 Eps, 3 Albums and several Singles besides my own recordings. I gravitate towards performance environments in which my music can flourish. I have no career plans.

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