New Music Coming Soon!!

New Music Coming Soon!!

Starting Over...

I'm writing this on February 2nd, 2015, but for me, it is not Groundhog Day, at least not in the Bill Murray definition.  It is not business-as-usual, or a continuation of doing the same actions over and over again.

Today is the day that I start my music career over again from scratch.  From today, I'm going to pretend that the last 20 years didn't happen.  I have no fan base.  No prior history of shows, recordings, or producing efforts.

Of course, I know that I can't negate everything that's happened in the past.  I can't really forget being part of those bands, or all those shows I played, or releasing my first solo CD in 2010.  All that stuff happened – I get it.  

But I don't want to hold on to those things anymore.  I don't want to feel like I'm clinging to who I was, or beating a dead horse.  I have to let them go and move on.

None of those things matter now.  I'm starting over.

My music career, if nothing else, has been continually characterized by its sporadic nature.  It has moved in fits and starts, sometimes climbing quickly, only to slide back down the mountain and sit idle for lengths of time.  It's a history of swinging for the fences, interspersed with sitting on the bench.

My last trip to the plate ended in early 2013.  After three years of unsuccessfully attempting to promote my debut solo CD, Not My Day, online, and without a band or local fan base, I stopped playing music for a while, ostensibly to try to figure out a new strategy. 

What actually happened was a spiral into depression and obesity, which combined to kill all my hope, motivation, and energy for music.  Dust settled on my guitars and other gear, plans were never executed, recordings remained half-finished or worse, and my websites were left fallow.

The main problem was that I was no longer able to see any way forward.  Each of the major avenues of advancing my music career seemed cut off to me by a group of interlocking no-win scenarios.  The live music industry, radio programmers, music press, and the record labels are all dominated by gatekeepers presenting a problem similar to that faced by young, inexperienced job seekers:  "You can't get the job you want without experience, but you can't get experience without a job."

In the record industry, this is expressed as "you can't sell anything without an audience, and you can't get an audience without sales."  In radio it's "you can't get airplay without an audience, and you can't get an audience without airplay." In the live music industry, it's "you can't get a gig without an audience, and you can't build an audience without playing gigs."  And in the press, it's "you can't get press coverage unless you're famous, and you can't get famous without the press."

Without some mitigating factor, like being a super-hot girl, being part of some rare and fashionable subculture, or having some amazing backstory, getting out of these no-win loops seemed almost impossible for someone like me, who is just a straight, white, average-looking male who just makes good music.  Though not the first time, this became the instant when I most seriously considered retirement.

But a little crack in the walls that windowless, door-less room started to appear.  Losing weight (almost 40 lbs. as of this writing) gave me more energy.  That made me more active and happier generally, and with a little momentum came a little clarity.

As I considered the state of the current music industry, and how our obsession with "making it" over "making a living" has hamstrung so many of our careers into simply the equivalent of playing the lottery... As I considered the avenues of exposure that don't require permission from a gatekeeper... As I read the works of marketing and current thought gurus like Tim Ferriss ("The Four-Hour Work Week"), Seth Godin ("Tribes"), Kevin Kelly ("1,000 True Fans"), and Chris Anderson ("The Long Tail")... As I pondered the lessons of the unlikely careers of The Grateful Dead and KISS, two bands whom I don't like musically, but whom I respect for their business-savvy... And as I internalized the notion that the best way to get approval, especially from gatekeepers, is to not need it, I began to see a way forward.

All it took was that crack, and I knew the way out of the trap of choosing between stardom and obscurity, which each necessitate giving up power to others' approval.  I could see a third way.  I had a place to start.

I'll get more into the details of all this, both the theory and the experience of putting it into practice, as I go along in this blog.  That will be its primary purpose.

For now, know this: I can't not make music; I don't have a choice.  That's how I know that I'm a "musician" and not a "regular dude who happens to also play guitar".

But for the first time in a long time, that fact no longer feels like a burden, and feels again like a calling.

So now, I'm going back to the starting line.

Ready... Steady... Go!