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Re: making money off your music

Ted I parallel some of  your thoughts and some from the others.  Particularly enjoyed Kris's CD/mouse coaster comment (grins).

Despite the bleakness of the artistic pursuit I've always had it in my focus and though most of the time not, I've had the good fortune to make a little money from time to time with my music but largely as with many of you particularly now with the focus on 'freer' experimental music it's I do it 'because it's there' to quote a previous influence.

I graduated in 1977 with a BA in music as it was my dream to study and major in it though at the time didn't choose to teach and hung on to my loftier hopes/dreams which led to day jobs more than not.  My post college years (20/30's) were plagued by low confidence in my music publicly yet the love of it stayed steady.

Ironically my confidence grew with my timeliness of meeting my to be wife and relocating to New York City in 1991 though the relocation took some out of me and it wasn't till my son was a few months old and I was home with the flu that a major bolt hit me.  I was reading an interview with Pat Metheny and he was talking about arriving a point of no longer doing some of the early gigs where he had to do everything from toting his gear and playing in hellholes to where he is then at present.  It was the look back at a career I admired early on.  Something from that though reached me and internally I felt a voice screaming intensely that demanded to be heard.

In 1996 I started officially gigging in NYC and chasing just about any live opportunity that found me.  I was at the time steeped in @15 years in solo acoustic guitar in the style of my main influence Michael Hedges. Several good things happened in that period that had some positive parallels.  My confidence grew for the most part, through the help of a therapist who had another influence on me I went from dealing with performance anxiety that had plagued me to totally loving the performance experience. 

I got my name out locally and through encouragement from a friend who was a Taylor clinician at the time I began to try to get endorsement with the hope of pursuing the clinician trail which was the one thing I thought might bring income from music.  After getting a string endorse with GHS I tapped in to a contact at Sam Ash stores that led me to doing clinics in their stores nationally between 2001-06 however despite all I tried I never got beyond product and did them on my own dime throughout all of them.  I had some close calls with Godin/Seagull and better with Larrivee re getting some backing but in the end nothing and as the millenium moved on it seemed that the retail clinician was not a desirable thing to the stores anymore though I did have a lot of fun and really enjoyed this form of teaching in a sense.  My fav stores were those in southern CA that I got to play on several trips to winter NAMM seeking the illusive 'guitar' endorse.

Another thing that happened in that period and probably the best thing at least from visibility and commercial side was I had the good fortune to get in the Mel Bay family and got a book deal in 2001 that led to the publishing of a book CD I authored on DADGAD.  This finally saw ink in January 2008.  In addition to that I got a piece in an anthology and currently have a second book deal in the works though this one will be released as a 'print on demand' which is due to economy MB's main way of publishing these days.  My DADGAD book I had the good fortune to get in the time of an official 'run' meaning the print up a 1,000 copies.  The residual was 10% of ever copy sold which to date of the 1,000 run has been @400 copies.  Additionally the anthology has brought a few dollars though it's essentially for one piece.

In 2006 after feeling that I wanted something more musically beyond where I had gone as a solo acoustic guy, feeling as Peter Sellers said in the last film where he played a gardener, 'the garden needs a rest' meaning I felt the whole solo acoustic scene was tapped and that honestly though very artful it had become sort of boring and an exercise of arrogance by some and a contest.  I was really interested in exploring the use of more technology in music as well as a quest to play 'free'.  Both led me on a browse which led to Loopers-Delight.

Through the community I met a guy named Daryl Shawn who was particularly interesting from random bio browse as he was working with cassette tapes doing some crazy stuff with endless loops and he was living in southern Mexico which was intriguing to me.  We struck up dialog via email and he introduced me to something called NinJam and honestly this was the most significant thing in my music development since getting the major spark years ago from discovering the late Michael Hedges and the aforementioned interview with Metheny.

Ninjam led me to comfort in playing 'free' something I can't express enough thanks for as well as branching out in instruments and so many global friendships including really all of you that I know through LD.  It gave me the opportunity to remotely perform live at the first Y2k festival in 2006 after just learning of it's existence about a week before becoming part of it.

I've probably taken too much of the stage for this thread but that's my story.  As the years have begun to eat their tails I've come to accept more and more that I do this because I do this and the idea of income from it though appreciated when it happens will never prevent me from doing it.  The therapist I alluded to earlier had his office during that time in the residence on the edge of the west Village here in NYC, that Charles Ives used to live.  As I talked of my desires to one day get away from the day gig and have support from the muse he used to remind me that Charles sold insurance to pay his way for all of his adult life if memory serves me yet he clearly stayed with his 'art' and that's where I think I am today.  I do juggle this with a family, a day job, cost of life in NY but I do juggle it and I guess in the end that's what it's about as there have many we all know who as Rick said, have let go of the muse.

I look forward to seeing those of you who are coming to Y2K, can't wait.


On Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 10:48 AM, tEd ® KiLLiAn <tedkillian@charter.net> wrote:
Well, it's awfully nice to be paid.

I never turn down money and always say "thank you" when I get it.

And, it would be doubly wonderful to be paid for exactly the the art one wanted to do (whatever that is).

But there is a slight problem that I find often occurs when mixing commerce and art.

You get stuck doing what other people want and will pay for (eventually) whether it's what you personally want to do or not.

That is, unless you are the recipient of the triple bonus prize of evolution and good fortune - finding yourself so talented and artistically in-tune with a large (enough), ready and willing-to-pay audience (or other patronage) that will buy absolutely anything you do, and the thing that you most crave to do is exactly what they crave most to have you do - a match made in heaven or hell (I don't know which).

Otherwise, lots of us seem to be out of luck (at least that sort of luck).

I don't make much money with my music.

But, I never really planned (or plan) to.

I work (a day job) to live . . . and to buy time and resources to make art.

I make art (the art I want) in order to be happy and satisfied while living life.

When I am occasionally not happy and satisfied with living life, it is usually because there is an imbalance somewhere.

The funny thing is, that imbalance never ever seems to have anything to do with whether or not I've been paid for my art.

If there is some magic scheme or whatever to take the "day job" out of the equation and make more time for my art, or family, or whatever that would be super swell.

But, I am really not much into playing lotteries - be they state-run or genetic/evolutionary.

I figure I've already been dealt whatever cards I'm going to get to play in this game, and I might as well make the best of it.

Just some thoughts.

From Brooklyn To Glindran, a new World/Free Jazz recording by Jim Goodin & Peter Thörn.  Proceeds
from the sale of this CD will benefit JDRF International.  jimgoodinpeterthorn.bandcamp.com.