Friday, October 18, 2013

Being A Musician

It's been a while since I've written a blog.  Probably too long.

Sometimes, being a musician is hard.  Frustrating, even.  Discouraging, too.

Let me explain, and please understand, what I am going to say in this blog isn't me being boastful or thinking I'm something better than I am, etc., it's just me being honest.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved music.  I believe God gave me this gift to use to bring Him Glory, and I do my best to do just that.  I have been writing songs since I was around 17, but have been playing various keyboard and woodwind instruments since I was 4 years old.  Didn't really enjoy the woodwinds as much, but keyboard....I love it.

I got my first keyboard for a high school graduation present.  I still remember it.  I got to pick it out myself.  You have to remember, when I graduated from High School, dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth, so this $600 keyboard was quite expensive when you account for inflation rates now.   That $600 was more likely like a $1200 keyboard now.  And the thing was a Casio and had mini keys on it.  But it had some really cool sounds.   You was made in 1986, and the sounds were really popular back then.  Even had a GREAT electric piano type sound for the technology that was available at that time.

I learned how to sequence on that keyboard, and that is what inspired me to start writing my own music.  Granted, my first 10 or so songs were REALLY cheesy, and I can't even tell you how they went any longer.  Just know they were cheesy, k?

Anyway, all my life people have sought me out to play keyboards for them.  Various local bands, wedding gigs, parties, churches, etc.  I can't recall a time since I was 20 that I haven't been in at least one band, a church pianist, or was working on a solo project of my own.  It's safe to say that I have at least 25 years of on stage experience.  People have always told me things like, "You are the best keyboard player in town" or "I love the textures you come up with when you play" or "I love the way you play the organ."  Yes, one of my dreams is to play a REAL B3 rather than a synthesized one, but I can make a synth B3 sound pretty darn good.  I especially love to do the "growl" as people have come to call it.

Anyway, as you likely know, I have a indie music label called Midiboy Music.  I have no aspirations of becoming a signed musician or a public label at all.  Believe it or not, Indie music is kind of where it's at now, especially now that musicians are coming to realize that being signed isn't "all that."  The labels take most of the money that the musician could make on their own.  On my label, I have two projects.  My electronic rock project, Midiboy, which is the flagship project, if you will, and one:nine, which is more of a piano based light rock style, though there are a few slightly rockier songs on there as well.

I've submitted my songs (from both projects) to various radio stations, and they aren't interested.  It's never "their format" yet when I listen to those stations, I hear songs that are practically the same style as the one I submitted, but ... they have a major label backing them.

I have ALWAYS broke even on the cost of my music.  My last two projects were fully funded via Kickstarter, which was amazing to me.  The last Midiboy project is available on just about every American music site that sells downloadable music, and the current one:nine project is available online both as digital AND physical and includes a full length DVD as well.  Not just in America, but Internationally as well.

So why is this frustrating?  Because I have always broke even.  My sales just aren't there.  Now if I were on a major label, they'd drop me if that were the case.  Since I'm on my own label, I don't think I'm going to drop me any time soon (though to be honest, I have often thought about it).

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT in this for the money.  At all.  I'm always willing to let people have a copy of my album that simply can't afford it.  But, if I were to be honest, and I'm trying to be as transparent as possible here, I would like to make some money on this so that I can fund more projects and even upgrade my gear.  But it's more than that as well...I just want to share my music and have people enjoy it.  Not just my friends and family, but people I don't know.

It has always been a dream of mine to play my original songs in front of an audience that SINGS ALONG with the songs because the songs mean something to them, and they love the song.  And not just my family that may be sitting front.  The people next to them that I've never seen cool would it be if they too were singing along?  Again, I'm not saying this because I am boasting or wanting glory at all.   I just think it would be amazing...but also very encouraging to me, knowing that other people might be impacted and inspired by what I believe God has given me the talent to write.

I know I'm not the best vocalist in the world.  I understand that I will never be an "American Idol" and that's OK.  I never want to be.  But as my friend Naomi said about my vocals, "He's certainly better than 'that Creed guy'."  hahaha.  Not sure I agree, I love Scott Stapp's voice, but hey, I'll take it!  My vocals have come a LONG way over the years, and I honestly do believe I do pretty well there, too.  I can pick out harmonies without even trying, and I have expanded my range quite a bit as well.  Several songs on the new album have up to 5 and 6 distinct vocal parts, and one song has 9 parts and sounds like a choir complete with soprano all the way to bass vocals.  All me.

Again, I'm not trying to brag, just saying what is there.

Before you read on, understand one thing.  What I am about to say isn't meant to slam any of my "fans" or discount what they think of my music.  Without the fans that I have (few as they may be), I don't think the last 4 albums would have ever happened.  Especially fans like my wife and girls, and Naomi Hanvey (who I consider to be like a daughter to me as well).  Fans like Hope, Sara, Gary, Leanna, Chris. Jennifer, Kassidy, Chadd and Kevin (my Kickstarter supporters).  Without fans like these, the "one:nine" project definitely wouldn't have happened.

I guess there is one thing I need to keep in mind...technically, I write for an Audience Of One.  Yes, that has become a "cliche" among Christian artists to say this, but it is true.  I should really only care about what He thinks of my music.  But it is certainly nice to know that other people would like my music well.  Outside of the current fan base of people that I know.

Anyway, I guess that's enough of this "rant" for now.  Thanks for reading.  Hopefully this didn't come off the wrong way.