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Archive of ‘Goals’ category

Nothing Happens Until Something Moves

You’ve made the plan. You know what you want and have a good idea of how you might go about starting to get it. It’s all there – all you’ve got to do is make the call, spend the money, have the difficult conversation.

Often this is the point where the detailed plan gets put aside for a little bit, maybe for too long. If you leave it long enough then the plan becomes redundant. A part of you, the part that likes the safety of dreaming and planning, likes that tactic, because it just gets to enjoy creating a vision all over again without having to do the difficult work. That’s why “vision quest” type books and workshops sell so well, because they allow us to justify procrastinating indefinitely.

I remember once asking someone how they went at a motivational seminar they had just attended. “Awesome!” came the reply, “I felt a real shift!”

“Shifts” are nice – and important (I enjoy a good shift as much as the next guy) but Einstein was right – nothing happens until something moves.

Next Gig: Feb 17th – Melting Pot CD Launch (I am featured on their 1st compilation CD), 7pm, Seraphim (formerly Vibe On Smith), 123 Smith St Fitzroy, Melbourne

A Bear of Very Fluffy Brain

Yesterday I sat in meeting with my two business mentors and realised that despite what I like to tell myself to the contrary, I am a fluffy-brained creative type, not a hard-nose businessman.

Both of these guys are very successful businessmen but in a grounded low-ego kind of way. When I say successful I mean they run multi-million dollar businesses and buy yachts and that kind of thing, but they aren’t, as the poms would say, “flash gits’. Consequently, I respect them.

I was actually with them to discuss business in the context of my day-job but talk soon turned to my music career aspirations, ridiculous as they may be.

My two hard-boiled businessmen friends genially began tearing my thinking apart with the conversational equivalent of pick-axes. With a knowing twinkle in my eye, I confidently leaned back on my chair only to discover that my Magic Difficult Scenario Escape Portal was on the blink yet again.

Bugger.

I scrambled for Plan B, realised I didn’t have one, landed on my back foot and began stuttering and hemming and hawing as they asked me brutal questions like “What do you actually want?” and “How much will you need to turnover each month to achieve that?”

Direct questions like this about specifics tend to leave me flabbergasted. I can see so many potential outcomes that I may or may not be cool with, that to choose one and start making up figures to support it just seems like an exercise in hypothetical nonsense.

And so I would start to answer with statements like “well, I want to build my music brand in a sustainable and profitable-“  only to get cut off with cries of “Waffle!”. The question was repeated:

“What do you actually want?”

I hemmed and hawed and came up with something apparently just as waffly and shoot-to-the-ground-worthy. This lasted a couple of rounds until eventually, in desperation, I threw up my hands up and said: “Look – I just want to tour the world playing music to large crowds of people who totally dig my vibe and I want to get paid enough money never to have to worry about money”.

“OK,” came the reply, “Now we are getting somewhere.”

“Do you want a band to tour with you?”

“Yes, in a perfect world … of course I am prepared to compromise-“

“No, don’t think like that. Focus on what you really want.”

“OK then, yes, I want a band to tour with me.”

And then the maths started. Of course, being a Bear of Very Fluffy Brain, I have no idea what all those numbers they ran through were or meant, but suffice to say they were large and would take a lot of work to achieve. However, I am actually quite cool with that; one thing I have learned (at least) over the years is the skill of remaining unflappable in the face of large numbers. A couple of arduous years in advertising sales eventually cured me of that.

So for a moment I thought, “OK, let’s do this…” and was starting to feel less like a Bear of Fluff and more like the cigar-chomping music-mogul of my delusions.

But then the curve ball…

“Are you prepared to pay the price to make the kind of venture we have just described a reality?”

“Err…” I succinctly replied.

“Are you prepared to hardly ever be home, to always be on the road and to never see your wife and children? This will probably lead to stress and potentially the breakdown of the family unit. Are you willing to risk paying that price?”

“Err…” I reaffirmed.

“Or do you think there might be another way to go about it, a way that doesn’t require you to wind up divorced and with children you barely know?”

By this time, having run out of “Errs”, I defaulted to my other Ninja Conversation trick: complete silence. This is a useful skill that even Bears of Very Fuzzy Brains can (and definitely should) learn – that if you don’t know what to think or say, just say nothing. You look less stupid that way … but you must remember not to gape like a fish out of water – that ruins the effect.

The truth is I have been living with the dream of regularly playing music before large crowds since I was 12 or 13. I even got to do it for a while, before my twenty-something immaturity comprehensively destroyed a Good Thing, at which point I reverted to dreaming and playing in front of small crowds, which is fun but not quite the real thing. (Kind of, dare I say it, like self-gratification as opposed to actually bonking the object of your torrid desires.)

To be continued

 

New band – Zuiiza

Yes that’s right – the new band is called Zuiiza – an odd name for a bunch of odd fellows.

Zuiiza is a totally obscure Japanese Zen word I found which means to be off duty (literally: to sit as one pleases) except we decided to pronounce it differently than you are supposed to. It’s apparently really pronounced “zoo-ee-zah” but we say it “Zoo-zah” and we keep making up various fictitious definitions for it, so in short, it’s pretty much a made up word 😉

Click here to check out Zuiiza and have a listen to some work-in-progress music.

Are You Suffering From ‘Trapped Musician Syndrome’?

Just listening today to Seth Godin’s “Tribes”, in which the man states the facts that A) all the tools are at your disposal and B) the only reason you (we) don’t kick giant arse is because of Fear.

But I believe many musicians, sometimes myself included, don’t recognise this. We name excuses but ignore that back of these lie fear.

News Flash: Musician’s Worst Nightmare Comes True – Life Happens

Many musicians want to become musicians to avoid reality. In the end though, reality has a habit of catching up to all of us.

For example, one sunny day you may wake up to find that you have suddenly morphed into a parent and are faced with a very real requirement from society – not to mention your little angel – to be RESPONSIBLE (Gasp! The Horror!).

Suddenly you simply cannot work 3 days a week in cafe for beer and rent money, using the rest of your time to jam and record.

Suddenly you just can’t get up and go on an underfunded tour of coastal cafes to build a following, knowing that you’ll get home hundreds of dollars poorer, not richer.

Suddenly you can’t sleep in until noon, jam all arvo, then go out and network with other bands? Why? Because little diddums gets you up at 6:30am, needs breakfast, entertaining, lunch, a nap, more entertaining, dinner, a bath, a night time routine so they’ll actually got to bed nicely (hopefully). Meanwhile someone also has to bring in some dosh to pay for those meals, those pyjamas, that hot water. And then you’ll need to go to bed before midnight because sure as the sun will rise, that kid’s gonna wake up with it.

HOWEVER!

This DOES NOT mean that you are trapped! It does not mean that you have no recourse!

You Are Not Trapped – You Are Just Letting Fear Fuck With You

There are still many options – it just means you have to be organised. It means you have to be creative and (if you’ll forgive the cliche) think outside of the box. There are many ways and means for you to get out there and make your music.

For example …

Worldwide music distribution – from the couch!

There is so much more to the internet for musicians than Facebook and Myspace.

For example, I recently set this online music distribution point up while I was sitting on the couch at night while watching TV and resting after a busy day playing Dad.

Here is a list of just a few other places I found – in five minutes of searching – to distribute your music online:

http://www.tuneshout.com/
http://www.muzic.com/
http://bandzoogle.com
http://bandcamp.com
http://www.musojam.com/content/index.php
http://www.whotune.com
http://www.unsigned.com/
http://www.broadjam.com

Now I don’t know much about most of these sites yet, but given that this is a minute sample, it is obvious that there are very few excuses for not getting your tunes out there.

Of course, just getting people downloading your free Mp3s isn’t going to solve all of your problems, but it is just one way to help you:

A) Get Satisfaction

Since setting up Seamus.bandcamp.com the other day, just under 300 hundred people have listened to my music there (or via embedded music players placed on other web pages, like this:

which bandcamp makes easy to do). And many of those people also downloaded the album. I didn’t make a penny but Jeez it feels better than looking a box of CDs growing dusty under the bed – huh?

B) Start Making Progress

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” and other corny – but true – cliches.

I know now that if I had spent the last 15 years slowly getting one thing at a time done, step by step, I’d be a wealthy man by now, but instead I was always looking for the short cut. Unfortunately, I know now, THERE IS NO SHORT CUT. Not one that you can deliberately take anyway.

This doesn’t mean you can’t work smart instead of hard but nevertheless, you’ll need to work and it will always take more time than you want it to.

Take the long way, it’s the only way available.

Ok – enough jibber jabber for now. My point is that we all have the chance to shine our light – no matter what the circumstances of our lives.

Back soon with more on this topic.
Click here to listen and/or download my music FREE (or pay what you feel).

Back in Black

Hey thanks all for the comments on this post. I am glad that post has ‘struck a chord’ (arf arf) with musos and writers alike. Since I wrote it in early May, it has been the single most popular post that this humble blog has ever hosted (nearly 3000 people have landed on this post with a bounce rate of 67% and an average time-on-page of about one minute 30 seconds – which means that a fair percentage would have bothered to read it).

I haven’t actually written a post since then, which is because writing it marked the end of a phase for me, as I had sort of ticked off the to-do list a big one which was to get out there and play gigs again.

I did so for a few months and that was ace but then I realised that:

A) winter had come and I was cold and

B) this meant I needed it to be a pretty good gig for me to go driving half way across the state at just-after-kids-bedtime on a Tuesday night and

C) I really needed to update my recorded product because the stuff I have is nonrepresentational of my (far more upbeat and humorous) current set/act.

D) I also run a business and it has been going through a major restructure so had to focus on that big time or else it was going to be normal job huntin’ time for me (no thanks).

This was, in truth, probably the major factor in my short hiatus from making music.

But now I am a little more stable in terms of self-employment again and looking forward to the having some extra cash to go do a new recording and getting out to do some gigs again. I have a couple of minor gigs, both music and stand up comedy (which I am seriously inexperienced at) coming up in August and hopefully this will segue into a busy Spring.

Also have had some fresh encouragement in that fairly major publisher is interested in reading a couple of chapters of a book I am working on so that is exciting, see how it goes…

Hoping to find time again to devote to my creative-side because putting it on the shelf for a few months – while necessary for the (financial) well-being of my family – had the unfortunate side-effect of intensifying my usual bout of winter blues to the point where I was probably as depressed and anxious as I have ever felt there for a while. It was no fun but I have always struggled with a roller-coaster slide down and back up out of depression on a semi-regular basis and it (thank God) always passes.

Bushfires, Stand Up Comedy and Making Your Own Luck

Well this last week or two have been bloody hectic and challenging to say the least. For starters the deadly bushfires have been raging here in Victoria, Australia and seeing as me and my little family live about 40Ks from the action, and are ourselves in an extreme bush fire danger zone (we basically live in a suburb that is also a forest), it has been playing on our minds to say the least. It’s not just that we are feeling cautious for our own safety but our hearts have also been moved by the tragedies our less fortunate fellow Victorians have been going through.

The Monday after the worst fires had started was a weird day in Melbourne, and I was not sure what to do with myself. We’d given money but it felt like we should get in the car and go help, but when we called around a couple of organisations to ask if they needed help they told us that all they really needed was money. This left me with little choice but to go to work as per usual. 

Now according to my public goals challenge for 2009, I am supposed to be working on three things, and I have to say I have been doing so but to varying degrees of application. Namely, I have been working on the music goal extensively, the speaking French goal sporadically and the losing weight goal abysmally!

BUT the year is young!

In the last two weeks I have lined up some more gigs for myself and have also been working very hard at improving my act by building on the humourous spoken word element of the show. Namely, in order to really get my head around making the bits between songs as entertaining as the songs themselves, I have started moonlighting in the foolhardy realm of … stand up comedy … that’s right my friends, call me insane but last night I did my first 5 minute stand up comedy routine in front of a pretty damn hefty crowd at the Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, Melbourne. I think I am going to write about this experience separately and in more detail so I will leave it at that for now but for to say that it was a freakin’ trip my friends, a freakin weird and wacky trip.

Meanwhile, in a classic case of what is probably the closest I get to woo-woo Law of Attraction type beliefs, traditionally called creating your own luck*, I got a call the other day from a guy about doing a pretty cool sounding gig this Friday night, once again in Fitzroy. This chap, who’s name (I kid you not) is Ziggy, invited me to an “artists in the round” gig which is apparently a thing where three singer songwriters sit in a semi-circle (a triangle?) and take turns to play songs. The opportunity for exposure to new audiences and a bit of fun abounds so I am really looking forward to this gig this Friday 20th at Vibe on Smith, 123 Smith St, Fitzroy. The really cool thing is that Peter my old musical comrade and best mate, will be in town that night so he doesn’t know it yet but I am going to pull him up on stage with me for a guest spot. You can see a Youtube video of me and him gigging together here.

After that I have a belated CD launch for the Dogs May Bark disc which is at the Brunswick Hotel on Saturday 7th March. This is going to be an awesome night, but I will write more about this soon. 

So yeah, really gung-ho about the music but need to apply myself a little harder to the French lessons and the weight watching. Not that I haven’t been doing anything about them, just not enough. I will report back soon, oh ye breathless masses and ye will be able to sleepeth at night for knowing all about my progress on these vital fronts! 

*The reason I say this, about making your own luck, is because I got the call about the gig when a bloke I met recently recommended me to somebody else. What happened was a few weeks ago I drove all the way into town (a 45 minute drive minimum) to do a fifteen minute gig. This was hard to do, as in it seemed a bit of a big effort to drive all that way just to play three songs and also I went alone and this is never easy (I get nervous and fidgety out-and-about on my own and tend to avoid it) BUT I want to get my music happening again so bad I did it. What happened was the night was fantastic, well worth the drive, the people who ran it were lovely, and they helped me to get the “real” gig I got at the Empress Hotel happening (well they told me who to ring) and then this bloke calls me because the organisers of the initial 15 minute (open mic) gig passed my name on. This is what I (and others) call making your own luck and frankly, I don’t reckon ANY amount of Law of Attraction style New Age Twaddle makes up for the “luck” that ACTION and HARD WORK and BALLS brings you. 

 

Are you an old sad-case wanna-be?

I was watching the movie Juno last (yes I mostly spend Friday nights at home watching vids with the wife these days, 9 month old child to look after and all) and the character played by Jason Bateman struck a nerve. He is a married suburban musician about mid-thirties who is frustrated about his career having stalled and consequently can’t commit to having a child and, as his on-screen wife puts it, “growing up”.

Suddenly I had a moment, like “fuck, I am like THAT guy? Am I an old sad-case who still thinks he’s gonna be the next Kurt Cobain?”

Then I relaxed, because the answer is no. My style of music has changed to one that would still suit me when I am an old man and I am in fact totally happy with where we live, our little family life and our modest day-to-day concerns, things like “can we get the baby to sleep through the night if we feed her up before bed” and “just which day IS bin day anyway?”. It’s true that I do miss gigging but I have my CD ready to go out and get gigs again and so very soon I will be back on that horse. And it is true that I often fantasize about getting out on stage in front of huge crowds again like I got to when I was like twenty four (11 years ago!) and that I would happily accept a level of recognition again and in fact do actively court it. BUT it is also true that I am pretty happy with just taking every moment as it comes, and as long as I am free to express myself myself through music and words, without being trapped in some hellish 9-to-5 job all week, then I am cool with however it all turns out. In fact sometimes I think about what it must be like to be like one of my heroes like Nick Cave and I think “Jeez, all those airplanes, all that rushing about, bummer.”

So I am getting my music out there again, doing one thing every day, but sometimes the things I do are pretty small, and truth is if I desperately wanted out of my situation I would be doing a whole lot more than one little thing every day. But I don’t want out of my situation, I am the kind of content that makes teenage kids puke, and that’s cool. I did my time being a wastoid rebel on the run (from myself). Now I just wanna enjoy life and my family, and play some music too.

But if you are unhappy with your life, if you are a stuck-in-a-rut suburban musician who feels like a rat in a cage, then for fuck’s sake – don’t take it out on the people in your life, it’s not their fault that you have an itch. Get up off the couch and go for it. Fact is: if you have even just SOME talent and a LOT of drive, then you can do it. Plenty do. It can be hard, but it is do-able if you keep it real and work like a dog at it.

And your wife/husband/partner/kids will respect you all the more for it too. They may knock you down when you TALK about it, but that’s just a mixture of their own limiting beliefs reflected onto you plus genuine concern for your mental well-being. If you actually go out and start DOING it, they will soon change their tune and probably get behind you and help. If they don’t then they may be the wrong partner for you – the kids you gotta keep though ok?
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Don’t Take Sundays Off

Wanting success in the music world is, at least from the conventional way of looking at the world, a big ask. And big asks require big commitments. So this is why I am no longer taking Sundays completely off from work. I AM still taking them off from my ‘day job’ but not from doing one thing every day to get my music out there.

Today’s thing was to deal with the big old pain in the arse that setting up my printer to work properly was. It took me bloody ages to get the blighter working again, and I probably taught my little girl a colourful new word or two, but I got there in the end (after yawning my way through countless forum threads until I figured why it wouldn’t print properly).

But then once that was done I was able to start printing off my CD covers, which means I am on track to have those discs ready for the (breathlessly waiting 😉 world to line up and carry on like my CD is the new iPhone or something*.

Geez, I am really stringing some Irish grammar together tonight.

Irrational expectations aside, I drew a tarot card for my new album, you know, how will it go and I got the Ten of Pentacles. “This is the card you want to see if you are wondering how your latest enterprise will turn out. Wealth and affluence are yours.”

Blimey, that’s friggin’ good 🙂

Meh. Time to watch a DVD and munch on chocolate biscuits (ah, domestic bliss).

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Laying the Foundations for Music Success by Making It Easy for People to Get Into Your Music

Let’s get one thing clear, I’m a musician. The blogging thing is just a tool to promote the music, and this is not primarily a blog about blogging; God knows we don’t need any more of those.

However, as it happens, I do enjoy blogging so that’s great. Personally, I reckon it beats the hell out of wandering the streets at 2am sticking posters up in the freezing cold only to find them ripped down again a day later, but that’s just me. I guess I did that enough back in the 90s, back when ‘they’ used to leave them up for a while. These days the Gentrification Nazis have them pulled down every morning at dawn by poor sods in fluorescent safety-jackets who couldn’t pay their (outrageous rip-off) parking fines…. sorry, went off on a tangent … where was I?

Oh yeah … So blogging is not making music, nor is it as much fun. It’s just not the buzz that gigging is. And, after a break for a couple of years to refresh (and father a baby!), I am keen as mustard to get out and start gigging again.

So what I am doing with this blog is laying the foundations to capitalise on every gig, to make it easy for whoever happens to be in a bar when I set up in the corner and start bawling out my tunes to find me online afterwards, and to listen to (or even buy!) my tunes.

You see I spent years playing gigs in bars, to some success initially but then to less and less. I don’t mean musical success, that was never an issue. What I’m talking about is marketing my music rather than just enjoying gigging for the hell of it (which I did). Truth is that by the late ’90s, once I had moved from Adelaide to Melbourne, I just did gigs and then went home. Or to some girl’s house if I was lucky. But I did nothing to capitalise on whatever favourable attention I won in the pubs and clubs that I gigged in. Some people enjoyed what I did every night for sure, but I had no idea who they were or how to contact them again.

And look – at the time I didn’t care, I was going through a, “like, totally zen” phase and just wanted to hang loose like I hadn’t ever done when I was in Reckoning which was pretty much my entire post-high school life.

Then ten years went past in the blink of an eye.

Whoops!

I had a lot of fun in those ten years but the old music career “break” was starting to look pretty permanent 🙂

But now, call me a sad case, but I want back in again, I miss gigging and jammin’ and all of that. But these days my time is precious (Wife, Baby, Extended Family, Career, Friends, House to Maintain). So what I am doing with this blog is making sure that this time around I do things properly. When people see and hear me in a bar, they will be able to buy my disc straight away if they want. But if they aren’t quite convinced I will make it easy for people to find me on the web.

So you hear me at a gig, go home with one of my tunes stuck in your head, you Google my name, Voila! Then you land on this blog and there will be an big thing saying “buy my tunes Now” and also “listen to my tunes now for free” (for the cheapskates). And whatever gigs are coming up will be easy to find. And you can subscribe to the email list and I’ll let you know what’s new.

And further to this, I am giving this blog a “point”. Rather than just being a blog that exists for no other reason than the fact that I have an enormous ego (fact) I have made it into a kind of “how to get your music shit happening – by example” blog. (Note: if you look through the archives, you will see that it was only relatively recently that I decided to focus the blog in this way. In that time I have already seen traffic increase by about 400%. Why? It’s called the “what’s in it for me?” factor.)

And so that means learning how to do all this online marketing guff better. So Steve is showing me how. I spent the couple of hours I could spare over the last two days signing up for every stupid social media/bookmarking site under the sun. Not my idea of bliss but you gotta do what you gotta do.

One other thing I gotta do is work out how to make a template for posting so it ends with a “subscribe to the blog or mailing list” link at the bottom, as recommended by Copyblogger. Meanwhile, why don’t you scroll up the top of the page and subscribe right now?

I’d better go and get on with it.

What do you gotta do today to get your music shit happening?

There’s Plenty of Time

Sometimes when I am looking at a massive To Do List I get overwhelmed, especially when most of it is about everything BUT making music.

But it’s ok. I have a special place that I go to that helps me to deal. A happy place in my mind 🙂

In my mind, I go back to a Saturday about 6 months ago when I was in at the LivingNow office in the city (LivingNow is the magazine that I work for). I was doing some extra work, nobody else was there. The sun was shining and I decided to go eat a sandwich on the little balcony off the second floor. The sun was hitting it nicely and by the time I finished eating I was as warm as toast.

You know how sunshine makes you fell happy? Well I was soon feeling very contented indeed. I got to thinking about making music and about how I had wasted so much time in my life so far; how I should have done One Thing Every Day instead of nothing much most days. But, for once, I didn’t think about it in a disappointed-with-myself-way but rather, in a “Hey! Whatever! A) it doesn’t matter and B) I’ve still got plenty of time!” kind of way.

I thought to myself: “I am 34. If it takes me 15 years from today to reach a level with my music making that satisfies me, then that’s fine! That’s 15 years spent having fun doing what I love!”

So that’s my goal since that day, to be a successful musician by the time I turn 50. Thankfully, the cantankerous, grizzly old zen-bear music I write and play these days will only get better and suit me more the older I get, like Johnny Cash or Nick Cave or something, so that helps!

And whenever I get impatient or overwhelmed, I just remember that day in the sun and that I still have 15 years (and more!) … and that it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Because it doesn’t matter, you know. Not that much anyway …

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