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Posts Tagged ‘gigging’

Seamus Anthony live at Songwriters in the Round, Melbourne

I have now played maybe as many as ten Songwriters in the Round gigs thanks to Liam and all the gang at Melting Pot who are really blossoming into a music promoter force to be reckoned with. I have been blessed by their ongoing support over the last three years and it seems to be a beautiful friendship that looks set to continue as SITR moves on to a different venue.

I am also writing a regular blog for them over at their shiny new music blog.

The above gig took place last September 2011 – there’s been a couple more since then and I am looking forward to the footage from those also as they were pretty special.

How to Clean the Fluff Off Your Brain in 7 Easy Steps

Brains are sticky, and unfortunately this means that as you suffer the inevitable rolls in the dust piles of life, fluff sticks to your brain and starts to build up. This is especially true for creative types. I think that this is because the ideas in our brains are inherently stickier, thus attracting more fluff.

Here’s how to clean that up in 7 easy steps…

…actually, I lied.

I don’t have any easy steps – can’t find them for all the fluff – but here’s a bunch of psychobabble that may or may not relate to the title of this blog post.

Last week, I left off with a discussion I was having with my two business mentors. They had dragged my struggling brain kicking and fighting into reality to have a look at what it was I was actually aiming for, what the nature of the success I craved was. Unfortunately (and predictably) we realised there were some flaws in my thinking, namely domestic paradise lost. Obviously this is only a problem if you have domestic paradise in the first place and wish to keep it. This I do – so how to work around it?

The Problem

My goal was simple: “become a successful musician and tour the world playing awesome gigs”.

All very well, but as my mentors rightly pointed out, unless I was prepared to sacrifice my relationship with my significant other and my children, being on the road for 11 months of the year could present logistical problems.

The Solution

Rely less on the gigs as the main avenue of promotion and income. Build an audience and sell them music recordings and other stuff using new technologies. After all, technology now provides these shiny benefits:

  • low overheads
  • don’t need a record company
  • no distribution problem (only a marketing problem … we’ll get back to that)

Then yes, still do gigs (playing live is my favourite part of being a musician, so not going to give that up ever) but do it in a civilised manner, so that I can still know my children and not have to pay alimony.

Pirates Are Only a Problem on the Actual Ocean

All very well, I hear you say, but isn’t the idea of living off selling recordings now an anachronism in the face of rampant piracy?

I feared the same, so I did some research. Turns out the answer is “No, actually”.

It seems the people being “hurt” (and I use the word loosely) by piracy are the record companies and the major players in show biz – the U2s of this world. They all used to clean up majorly from selling the album format in CD but now, while actual transactions are up, most people buy singles now and this means reduced revenue. And of course, people pirate a lot of copies of the Joshua Tree or whatever now. I don’t really approve, but it isn’t going to last long I don’t think. The establishment is marshalling its forces and will increasingly regulate copyright law with an iron fist, mark my words (unless future history proves me wrong, in which case feel free to gleefully unmark them).

Also media consumption has fragmented, we are no longer tuned into the same few radio stations and TV stations that sell us all the same shit. Instead we pick what we like from a much greater pool of choice and we block out the rest. Big Music hates this because they consequently sell less, but they are all still friggin’ rich so, besides them, who cares?

For the rest of us, New Media is mostly upside. Yes, I think there is a down side – a lack of mass shared pop-cultural experience – but essentially, it’s all good.

What this means for Small Music – i.e. independent musicians – is that there is a much greater chance of earning a decent living selling music recordings. OK so most still won’t, but that’s because most are either crap or lazy or both, but more musicians than ever now make money selling music recordings. You haven’t read this in the mainstream media reports because it doesn’t make as cool a headline as…

“Sir Elton-John Forced to Rent Out Rooms to Cover Flower Costs – Blames Pirates”.

… nevertheless it is apparently true (it must be; the Internet said so).

But What About All This Fluff?

OK so the opportunity is there to sell music recordings. Gatekeepers and distribution are now no excuse, but as I hinted earlier, hopeful musicians now have another problem – ok two problems if you are still concerned about the fluff on your brain – the other being The Marketing Problem. How do you get people to give a toss about your music?

I cannot claim to have the answer to this. Regardless, I will prattle on about it in an authoritative tone in the next post, because the Internet says I can.

 Next Gig: Market Noise! Acoustic Music & Arts Festival – Sunday Dec 11th Brunswick (click link for details) I am on at 3pm-ish

The Universe is Massive and I’m a Professional Bogan

At home resting after a busy few days and watching some good old Saturday night TV, I saw a guy mention on a talk show something about how small we are compared to all the billions of stars and galaxies and whatever – and the question that popped into my mind was – “so if we are all so small and insignificant, why do all the details of my life feel so big to me?”

I don’t really have an answer to that.

boganThen I got to thinking about what I do with my time, and how I tend to go off on tangents and be all over-extended, doing and starting things that aren’t really part of the “plan”. And how I habitually do things that in some way, even if mostly just imagined, put me in a vulnerable position.

Most people, especially those pushing forty like me (Aggh!) play it safe. They don’t put themselves out there, but I do. That’s what it means to be an artist.

I still gig and while on stage I bare my soul both through my music and through the rambling in-between songs, the jokes and the swearing and ranting and stories and Kramer-esque unsubtle honesty that people love. The saying of the things they play it too safe to say. (I don’t mean that as a criticism – safe makes sense.)

I write blogs like this, instead of just keeping my head down.

Then I do things like I did today. Things that barely make any sense, yet I kind of get off on it.

How I Get Off

Hmmm? get off? Sound interesting?

Well it’s nothing sexy, ok? Unless this photo is your particular cup of bourbon.

This is what I did today that to me is the equivalent of being an adrenalin junkie. I drove one hour to a complete stranger’s hens party in the Melbourne inner-suburb of Brunswick and dressed up as a bogan for money, as you do.

For all overseas readers, a bogan is an Australian thing, kind of equivalent to a trailer-trash redneck in the US but quintessentially Aussie. Refer to the photo – taken today. I am the brunette. Gizz a kiss.

I didn’t just randomly rock up to a party uninvited and dressed up as a bogan, although that would be a funny thing to do.

I was hired as part of an act called Bogan Bingo. And the scary thing was I hadn’t done it before and I only had half an hour’s practice before I did the gig, and I didn’t know the guy I did the gig with (I do now, his name is Josh, a consummate professional), and I had to operate a DJ mixer in tandem with a laptop to play music and cue grabs of songs that formed the punchlines to a set of jokes set up by the MC – and there was a very real chance that I could screw everything right up. It was all very nerve wracking…

…and I loved it.

Why?

That’s where I thrive. I actually thrive on uncertainty. A handy skill in an uncertain world.

That’s why I love playing my music on stage – because no matter how many gigs I do or how many times I have played a song before, every gig is a tight-wire act that could conceivably fall apart at any moment. Every gig is different. A brand new, living, breathing organism that will only exist in time for a single tiny window of time before dissolving back into the ether.

I don’t want to jump out of planes. I don’t need to. I have two ways of getting my kicks, my adrenalin rush. Put myself into a new situation (job, a new type of stage performance, a foreign country) or do yet another gig playing my music. That’s where my buzz lies.

A Funny Thing Happened As I Was Walking the Dog  Today

By the way – it’s an interesting story how I scored this ridiculous gig (which is just a laugh for me really, one that happens to pay), I went to the park with my daughter and my dog. And, this summer being what it is, it started to rain. There was only one other guy there, with his dog. He happened to be pretty friendly, and skilled enough at starting conversation that he got around my usual reluctance to engage in small talk (when sober anyway). Kept asking me about what I did, my work. At the time (how quickly things change) the year had not gotten underway with gusto and I was genuinely wondering if my online marketing business was going to survive or if it was time to find something new.

Then I asked what he did. “Bogan Bingo”, he says, with a shrug.

“Oh yeah, I see your van with the logo painted on the side up the road. “Balls On Fire Tour”, right?”

“Yeah, that’s my business”, he says. Goes on to explain it all and how he employs people to run the shows for him; how it’s a gas.

I go home, do some Googling. It looks like a stupid, silly, idiotic thing for a respectable father-figure type such as I to get involved with.

Perfect. Count me in!

I email the man, Darren is his name, enquire if he needs anyone new. He does. Voila. I’m a professional bogan.

Life is weird, the Universe is massive and I’m a professional Bogan.

It’s all about hitting your mid-thirties and not just giving up. Back in the 90s all of us Gen X’ers were going to DO something. Something awesome.

OK it wasn’t dressing up as a bogan, but it wasn’t rotting in a dead-end job and slowly dieing of boredom either…