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On Being the Opening Act

Because I’m going to be the opening act in April for someone I have long admired, I decided to do a thorough investigation of what it means to be the opening act. I have opened for friends, in the past, and occasionally for people whose name and music I didn’t know, but it was small venues, or other lesser-known  acts, and so there was not much pressure. But this time it will be a veteran, whose name is very well known, and I want to get it right. (I’ll give you more details at the end of this.)

So first, a definition. This is straight from Wikipedia:

“The opening act’s performance serves to “warm up” the audience, making it appropriately excited and enthusiastic for the headliner. An opening act, warm-up act, or supporting act is an entertainment act (musical, comedic, or otherwise), that performs at a concert before the featured act, or “headliner”. Rarely, an opening act may perform again at the end of the event, or perform with the featured act after both have had a set to themselves.”

OK. Well, there’s no one in the audience whose enthusiasm for the headliner could be greater than my own, so that will be easy. I will probably mention a few times how grateful I am for the opportunity, for a wide variety of reasons. Not the least of these is that I get to play for his audience, and potentially, add them to my audience. Not only fans, but press, and booking contacts could be amongst the people for whom I will have the opportunity to play.

However, I’m aware there are some risks here, and I know there are some rules for avoiding them. I checked online (Because that’s what one does these days), and here’s what I found.

  1. Co-Promote

There may not be a formal arrangement for you to roll up your sleeves and help promote the show, but get on board and do what you can. Announce the show on your website, social networking sites and via your mailing list. Be sure to include info about the headliners in the promotion you do to your existing fans.

Contacting the local press and radio may also be helpful, but consider checking with the show promoter before you do that. They may have plans for reaching out to the local media, and you don’t want to step on their toes and confuse the message. Generally speaking, the larger the show, the larger promotion machine behind it, so do check before making the media calls.

  1. Watch The Clock

When the headlining musicians, their management, agent or the show promoter asks you to be somewhere at a certain time, be there. Yes, even if you know if absolutely everyone else involved in the show is going to be late and you’re going to be spending a lot of time standing around waiting. If something happens that is going to delay you – getting lost on the way to venue, flat tire, forgotten instrument, etc, etc, etc. – call someone and let them know. Even if they treat you like you’re giving them T.M.I., better to err on the side of being thorough and showing that you respect your scheduled set, than to bank on the fact that everyone will be cool with you rolling in when you can.

  1. Accept The Sound-check

In most cases, sound-check starts with the headliners and finishes with the first opening act. The reason for that is partially a practical one – the first opener will take the stage first, of course, so when they sound-check last, the stage is set up with their gear so the show is ready to start.

However, the reason is also partially hierarchy. Allowing the headliners to get the first crack at sound-check means they can kind of take their time and sound-check until they feel good about their set. Sometimes, this means the headliners end up taking up ALL the sound-check time – or most of it – and that of course means the opening act gets little or no time to check their own sound and get comfortable with the stage/acoustics.

For an opener, that can cause some serious stress, but your best bet is to grin and bear it rather than kicking up a fuss. Sure, it would be great if the headliners made sure everyone got a pop at a sound-check, but it IS their show and their prerogative to take the time.

  1. Discuss Merch

Before you assume that you’ll be setting up a merch table the night of the show, discuss it with whoever booked you for the gig. Sometimes, headliners (or their reps) frown on support bands selling their merch because any money thrown your way is money not spent on the headliners’ merch. That may rub the wrong way – especially if the headliners are making big bucks for the show while you’re getting a pittance – but you’re kind of bound to the rules set by the people who invited you to play the show. Have a discussion about this before the night of the show.

  1. Respect The Set Length

Even if it feels like the audience is eating it up and you’re having a great time on stage, wrap up your set when you’re supposed to. When you run over, you take time away from the headliners. It’s important that they get their full set – or if they don’t, that it is not your fault. Remember, the headliners are who the audience is REALLY there to see, so just be glad you made some new fans and promise them a longer set in the future.

  1. Stay for The Show

Unless there is a valid reason why you have to play and dash – you’ve got a plane to catch, a 14 hour drive home, an illness or something along those lines – don’t skip out before the headliners play their set. Yes, even if they are not your favorite band, stick around and watch them play.

  1. Say Thank You

Say a quick “thank you” to everyone who helped you land this opportunity and everyone who helped the show run smoothly. From the headliners and their reps to the venue manager and sound engineer, a quick “thank you” goes a long way.

 

So here’s the scoop: In April. I will open for Michael Martin Murphey at a concert at the LBJ Ranch. The concert is a fundraiser for the LBJ Museum of San Marcos Permanent Endowment Fund and includes a barbecue. I was honored to be asked to do this, in no small part because, back when you used to need a written copy of your song in order to register a copyright with the Library of Congress, I used to transcribe Mr. Murphey’s songs. I did the transcriptions for his first album, and several times had to start songs over because I forgot what I was supposed to be doing and just sat there listening and enjoying. So I’m excited to be part of one of his shows, and I may even get to sing harmony on a few of those songs. Keeping my fingers crossed about that. Details will show up on my website and social media outlets in the near future.

And for your entertainment, here is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s take on all this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Song Competitions

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Let me admit, right here at the beginning, that I have a certain amount of ambivalence where artistic competitions are concerned, so we can get that out of the way.  Nevertheless, there they are, and here I am, so I’m going to try and be as open-minded as I can.

Also, I’m going to limit myself to the songwriting competitions I have encountered or know by reputation, as opposed to all the contests out there. That should eliminate the ones that are simply scams for someone to use songwriters’ dreams against them. It may eliminate some perfectly honorable ones as well. If so, I apologize for the inconvenience.

We can start with the ones that are part of a music festival, just another activity on the weekend’s Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.44.45 PM agenda. Kerrville Folk Festival, here in Kerrville, TX, looms large among these, Founded by Rod Kennedy and currently presided over by Dalis Allen, NewFolk  is one of the oldest continuous contests. Also in Texas, in Richardson, is the Wildflower Festival which includes another song competition. Though not as old, it is much respected in its own right.  Telluride Troubador is another venerable competition, which along with the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival occur in Lyons, CO during the summer months. Tucson Folk Festival takes place in Tucson, AZ in May, Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at the  Sisters Folk Festival occurs each summer in Oregon, Woody Guthrie, Calgary Folk FestivalGreat River Folk FestivalCT Folk Grassy Hill Songwriting Competition, South Florida folk Festival, Susanne Milsaps Memorial Songwriter Showcase at the Inter-Mountain Acoustic Music Association Festival,  Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist Showcase, which is not technically a competition, but they do poll the audience to see whom they would like to return.

Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.52.53 PMOf the competitions that are not connected to a festival, but are still songwriting competitions, as opposed to Battles of the Bands, there are several. The BW Stevenson Contest at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, The Rose Garden Cafe songwriting contest in Massachusetts, Susquehanna Folk Music Society in Maryland,  and Songwriters Serenade in central Texas to name a few.

There are lots of songwriters associations that run contests as well: Austin Songwriters Group, West Coast Songwriters Association, Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, and a host of others.

And then there are the giant national and even international competitions. John Lennon Song Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.42.21 PMContest, which is now so big it is run in stages, International Songwriting Competition, Billboard Song Contest, Great American Songwriting ContestNSAI Competition, USA Songwriting Competition, Unisong International Songwriting Competition, Eurovision Song Contest and the UK Songwriting Contest.

And finally, we have the contests that are part of the “Reality TV” world. American Idol,  America’s Got Talent (which has its counter-part in many other countries), The Voice.

Most of these contests cost between $25 – $35 to enter per song, or sometimes per 2 songs. Kerrville costs $25 for a two-song entry, John Lennon is $30 per song. A few of the contests are free to enter, but a caveat goes with the free-entry ones: Read the fine print before you sign. Most festivals require a performance component (which means the writers have to get themselves to the festival — though they usually get in free) in order to choose winners, but Songwriters groups usually don’t.

Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.49 PMWinning a song contest where you are performing can be life-changing, or have no effect whatever on your career. Exposure at a folk festival is no small thing.  It can make booking gigs a lot easier, if you do a good job onstage. The opposite is also true. If you are not up to the occasion, it can harm your standing in the community. I even went so far as to hire an acting coach before one competition, and it really did help. And , of course, practicing can never hurt you. If you are “In it to win it”, then of course, you want to bring your “A” game. just like you would to any gig (Right?). Dress and behave professionally, don’t drink and drive, and be friendly to your audience. Be careful with introductions, ie. not too long. For one thing, there is someone running things with a schedule in mind.

On the other hand, just being part of the contest can do the same, even if you don’t win the contest. You would have displayed your great songs in the best possible light, and there are so many people in the audience — and onstage with you doing the same — that will be interested in your music. I’ve lost count of the number of times when someone walked up afterwards to tell me how much they appreciated my songs, even when I didn’t win the contest. Be friendly when that happens. Fans are important, even if you’re disappointed in the outcome of the competition. And I have witnessed a group of songwriters who all participated in a song competition one year who are now friends for life.

For those contests where the writer doesn’t have to perform, the important thing is to give the Screen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.42.35 PMjudges a good recording of the song. Notice I didn’t say fully-produced or anything like it. The simpler, the better is what I’ve heard from many judges. But clear sound, and a short simple (instrumental) introduction, if any, are essential. So is leaving out the lengthy guitar solo. Again, put your best professional foot forward. This is also true for the big, national or international contests.

As for the TV contests, they have been, for the most part. about singing ability and “star quality” rather than about songwriting. Grammy winner,  Sam Smith has stated that he thinks they are actually bad for songwriters, though he himself has performed his own song on one of them. He says he wants to be judged on the basis of the song, not just on his voice. I myself have never been tempted by them, though I know two people who have. One described her experience as “demeaning”, and the other, I believe, was somewhat successful. She is, however, an excellent singer, and the show was The Voice.

There is a new show being promoted that would feature songs and songwriters. It would be titled “Songland”. Adam Levine, of Maroon5 and The Voice, and Dave Stewart, Grammy-winning songwriter, are involved, and here’s what the blog, Saving Country Music has to say about it:

The show wants to feature “everyday people” and their compelling back stories as they try to pitch songs that eventually could become huge hits. Also involved in the show would be big-time producers and artists as a song goes through the pitch process.

So perhaps this would be a better TV vehicle for songwriters interested in TV exposure.

Speaking of exposure, it’s time for a word about winning and losing. I’ve won a few prizes and I have also been totally ignored, so I know that they both carry an emotional impact. Winning can be a wonderful shot in the arm for a performer’s ability to book gigs in prestigious venues — though that does wear off. Losing can be a discouraging disappointment, no matter how many friends and fans you make in the process. A good thing to remember is that winning a contest is not the reason you wrote the song. Also,  judging songs, or any other art form, is a very subjective thing, affected by all sorts of extraneous factors. Don’t take it personally, and you’ll survive to write another day.

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Streaming music, Spotify and a bit of Taylor Swift

Screen shot 2014-11-21 at 6.56.00 PMIt was the announcement from CNN that first got my attention really. I was listening to them talk about it on the CDBaby DIY Musicians Podcast (and if you are an Indie musician, you should be listening to this too! Find it on iTunes or go subscribe at http://cdbabypodcast.com/) while I was running one morning Here’s a quote from the actual story:

“Interviews with college-age music fans suggest that more and more are choosing to stream music instead of downloading it. After all, why pay for music when you can summon almost any song you want, at any time, for free?”

The CNN article points out that music streaming sites such as Pandora and Spotify are becoming increasingly popular  — mainly because of the price-tag, but each service offers its own particular advantage over outright ownership of music. In fact, the whole idea of what “ownership” means is changing.

My reaction to all that was, basically, “uh-oh”. Because not that long ago, I was listening to these same people discussing the fact that David Lowry, of the band Cracker, had posted his statement of royalties from Pandora, and it was pretty shockingly small, given the number of plays. He also posted his statements from satellite (Sirius) and terrestrial radio stations.

The Pandora payout lost the comparison by a huge margin. Here’s a look at the statements he posted:

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So , if these streaming services are becoming popular to the point where they are displacing buying the CDs, or even the single songs, the average independent songwriter is about to experience a significant drop in income (I say it that way, because one of the things I learned while researching this post was that independent songwriters are paid at a different rate than corporate entities by the streaming services.)

Up until recently, while it wasn’t easy to make one’s living from music, it was possible, for some more than others, I’ll admit. The best way to monetize your music, as it ever was, and maybe ever will be, is by live appearances. And selling ones own music at those live appearances. Despite the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands of marketing strategies out there that claim to have “the answer” to how to market music, the truth is, few have been able to do it without at least playing live locally.

To put it in the words of a recent post on the streaming situation by one of the more successful songwriters in Austin, TX, Raina Rose:

“The 20th century was the only time in the history of music where some musicians got very well paid for their work.”

 She follows that with: “Those days are over”

Ms. Rose’s post was prompted by the commotion caused by Taylor Swift’s announcement a week or so ago about how she was pulling all her music, including her newly-released album, “1989”from Spotify, one of the lowest paying of the bunch. Taylor Swift had this to say about her decision:

“All I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment,” Swift told Yahoo.“I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.”

And she added, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In this decision, she was joined by Nigel Godrich, of Cracker (and some others). Said Mr. Godrich:

“We’re off of Spotify. Can’t do that no more, man. Small, meaningless rebellion. The reason is that new artists get paid f**k-all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work. Plus, people are scared to speak up or not take part, as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don’t play ball. Meanwhile, millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all. If you have a massive catalogue—a major label, for example—then you’re quids in. It’s money for old rope. But making new recorded music needs funding. Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musicians and skilled technicians. These things cost money. Pink Floyd’s catalogue has already generated billions of dollars for someone (not necessarily the band), so putting it on a streaming site makes total sense. But if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973, I doubt very much if “Dark Side” would have been made. It would just be too expensive.

“However, Spotify needs the new artists to be on the system to guarantee new subscribers and lock down the “new landscape.” This is how they figure they’ll make money in the future. But the model pays pittance to the new artist right now, an inconvenient fact which will keep surfacing.”

British pop singer, Ed Sheeran, has said that he sees the services more as a discovery mechanism, which would certainly be true of Pandora, which doesn’t let the user choose which music they will listen to.

Russ Mitchell of the LA Times agrees, saying:

“His argument falls in line with recent data from audience measurement service Nielsen that showed that those who pay for streaming services are about twice as likely to buy a CD or download an album than those who freeload on advertising-supported outlets.”

However, on Spotify, the user can create their own playlists, excluding any music that user is not familiar with. Discovery falls by the wayside. And also, on Spotify, there are two tiers, a premium tier with certain advantages having to do with quantity and, I believe, quality of streaming, and a free tier. Which is what the CNN article was talking about when they asked “Why pay, if you can get it for free?”

I try not to be cynical. I’ve been trying all my life. But I couldn’t help but notice how many “column inches” were being devoted to Taylor Swift and her decision. Part of me wanted to agree with her. But part of me was also thinking “Wow! She certainly generated a LOT of public attention!” (I know. Shame on me.)

But then I saw this yesterday from Billy Bragg:

What a shame that Taylor Swift’s principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play. On pulling her music from Spotify recently, she made a big issue of the fact that the majority of the streaming service’s users listen to her tracks for nothing rather than signing up to the subscription service.

 “These worthy sentiments have been somewhat undermined by Swift making her new album and back catalogue available on Google’s new Music Key streaming service…..which also offers listeners a free service alongside a premium subscription tier.

 “If Ms Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from You Tube, not cozying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, You Tube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.

Google is going after Spotify and Taylor Swift has just chosen sides. That’s her prerogative as a savvy businesswoman – but please don’t try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers.”

 And I thought that was being cynical! In fairness, I must mention the following, from a different article:

“However, a statement released by Swift’s spokesperson to NME reveals that Swift has not joined forces with the new initiative. It reads: “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service.”

Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of our continuing saga …..

All of which brings me back to that disturbing conversation on the CDBaby podcast about how more people were streaming than buying music. To my (sort of) relief the CNN article ended with this:

“The music fan never ceases to surprise me. If you told me five years ago there would be a boom in the sale of vinyl records I would have laughed. But people are buying them, and I think there are some people that will continue to buy music [and not just stream it].”

And thank goodness, people have still been buying my own CDs – though, for the most part, I have to be there to sell them … at live shows.

 

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So what is “Americana” anyway?

Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 2.56.37 PM From Wikipedia: “Americana is an amalgam of roots music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences.”

Says it all, right? Well … no, actually.

How about this from the Americana Music Association?

Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw.”

Not much better.

The word “Americana” already existed in the lexicon, before its introduction into popular music styles. According to The Atlantic,

“Before it became a term for a musical genre, “Americana” was slang for the comforting, middle-class ephemera at your average antique store — things like needle-pointed pillows, Civil War daguerreotypes, and engraved silverware sets. In the 1990s, radio programmers coined a new, related usage: “Americana” became a nickname for the weather-beaten, rural-sounding music that bands like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo were making. It was warm, twangy stuff, full of finger-plucked guitars and gnarled voices like tires on a dirt road. If you can imagine an Americana song as a bottle of beer (easy enough), you’ll probably taste a hint of salt from the lead singer’s tears mixed in.Screen shot 2014-10-11 at 2.57.12 PM

But the genre defines itself by its progenitors more than its present. Any Americana artist working today ought to know his Woody Guthrie, his Carter Family, his Willie Nelson, his Blind Willie McTell.”

While this is all true, the assumption here is that there is a limit to what may be termed Americana. Despite the fact that there are many genres that were generated first in America, besides blues, country, rocknroll, and Indie-everything. I’ll grant that European-style art music is not Americana. Likewise, what is now termed World Music is not Americana (though some has been adapted into the Americana music of late.) But let’s consider jazz, a unique American form, or even the Great American Songbook.

A lot of the songs in the Great American Songbook were born at the same time as those needle-point pillows and engraved silverware sets. If you google the term, you find out “The Great American Songbook is a term used to denote the canon of the most important and most influential American popular songs of the 20th century – principally from Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film.” It includes songs like Stardust, Over the Rainbow and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

Frankly, I think the major difference between “Americana” and other popular American music styles is mentioned in the article above. It is based on rural-sounding music.

That lets out anything done by Tin Pan Alley. I remember noticing the rural connection when I was living in Greenwich Village in the late 60s, so I was always delighted to find anyone amongst those musicians that loved “city music” the way I did. Unfortunately, it also lets out anything that doesn’t fit the White Male Southeastern (born in or admiring of) idea of the way things should be. And The Great American Songbook is but one example of what is left out of a supposedly all-encompassing American music, as implied by the name.

The other operative idea behind Americana is that it is Male (capital M not an accident).

I know that there are some female performers who designate themselves as Americana. Lucinda Williams, Terri Hendrix, Susan Gibson and, very likely, Emmylou are on that list. However, they are few and far between. This is not their fault, but I’m beginning to think maybe women should just group themselves in a style that is all their own. Just for awhile. Until the guys catch up.

There is a new form stirring in country music, as exemplified by Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson, Kacey Musgrave and Ashley Munroe. More properly, this is Alt. Country, as it has a distinct rock flavor, but it could also be termed country-rock music by uppity women (color doesn’t seem to be an issue, although so far, all the stars of this genre are white. Uppity women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. A generation ago, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading would have been good candidates for this genre).

According to the New York Times’ Jon Caramanica:

[The music] “couched tough-talk rural feminism in music that paid deep respect to country music tradition. [They] understood that making changes is easier when you slip in the door unnoticed.”

And the country stage has been far more accepting of these women than the Americana stage. And if you check the showcase listings for the 2014 Americana Conference just passed, the overwhelming majority of performers are Male, with a sprinkling of female acts here and there. None of them were any of the women listed above.

This same rural, male segment of the musical scene has been separated out many before in our cultural history. I’m thinking that the problem I’m having here is the name. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around “Americana” that does not include so much of American music. Do you think it’s too late for them to call it something else?

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UPDATE:

From (of all places) the Wall Street Journal:

“And it can hurt the Americana movement: If it permits itself to be defined primarily by retro-minded country and twangy folk, Americana runs the risk of appearing as a subset of country. Given that contemporary country album sales are flagging, one can imagine executives on Music Row swooping in and signing some Americana artists in an attempt to rebrand modern country as music of integrity.”

and

“Here, at this year’s awards event, there was ample evidence that members of the Americana community are aware that minimizing the natural diversity within American roots music is a sorry way to go. The show opened with a version of Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover,” popularized by Bo Diddley; later in the program, during a tribute to the music of Mississippi, Ms. Wilson sang Dixon’s “I Want to Be Loved.” Flaco Jiménez, the Mexican-American accordionist, was presented a Lifetime Achievement award by occasional collaborator Ry Cooder, who performed with the house band. Taj Mahal, who embodies all that Americana can be, revived “Statesboro Blues,” a Blind Willie McTell tune he released in 1968. “Now that’s Americana!” shouted Mr. Lauderdale, the affable master of ceremonies, as Taj Mahal was greeted with a standing ovation.”

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On Getting Reviewed

Of course, if you never got a bad review, you won’t have the least idea of what this post is about. And how wonderful for you!

But most of those of an artistic bent who have ventured into the public arena, know perfectly well what a bad review feels like. Devastating, not to put too fine a point on it.

For example, early in my recording efforts, I read a review of one of my albums that began with “First of all, you should know that I hate this kind of music, but…..” and the reviewer went on to inadvertently reveal that he hadn’t listened to more than the first track. My music is very eclectic, a fact which marketers apparently hate, and my fans appear to love. So his detailed description applied only to the first track, and not to the rest, a clear sign that he’d based his review on one track. Be that as it may, it was still shocking and painful to read. Especially since it was my first foray into the public arena. (Fortunately, others liked the album better.)

More recently, a reviewer attacked the production on an album, describing it as “crying out” for more simple treatment. The word “tedious” came up. Ouch.

With any luck, after one recovers from that initial pained surprise, one learns from the legitimate points. Hopefully. And picks up the pen/brush/instrument and lives to write/paint/play another day. And it must be said that most reviewers try to publish well-thought-out, constructive criticism, not mean-spirited one-liners. But because of that, it can feel especially painful when their opinion of your work doesn’t include glowing praise.

OK. But how about when glowing praise is  included?  How about when the reviewer loves every word/stroke/note? How does one respond to that?

“Hah! I knew I was right!” doesn’t really seem appropriate, does it.

I know, of course, to post the good reviews where others can see them. After all, this is a business too, and I want to encourage people to take a chance on my music. But as far as what it does or doesn’t do for me as an artist, that’s kind of a mixed bag.

That being the case, I found a couple of quotes that I have hanging where I can see them easily in my work-space:

“Success is nothing more than going from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

and

“Think of yourself as a sieve when it comes to the opinions of others. You’re going to hear wonderful things about yourself. You’re going to hear horrible things. Because you are a sieve, they’re all going to pass through. Do not believe the positive any more than you believe the negative. All feedback falls through the sieve. The only opinion that should matter to you is your own. That is the only opinion that should be solid enough that it doesn’t pass through the sieve.” – (no attribution, I’m afraid. If you know who said this or wrote it, please comment below.)

Both of these quotes speak to the point of not letting “failure” or “horrible things” derail you from your artistic efforts, and that, I think, is a good point to take to heart. (I have a musician friend who is a perfect illustration of that idea. When he started out, people used to wince at his music and smile behind their hands. Now he is an international household name.) But I also believe there is another point to keep in your heart. Don’t let the “successes” and the “good things” derail you either. Smile. Say thank you. Move on. With undiminished enthusiasm.

PS:  Here is one of the reviews for my latest CD.

“Beautifully arranged and sober orchestrated self-penned songs are forming the basics of Jan Seides’ newest record ‘Siren Song’. Her soft and relaxing lovely voice is the so-called ‘cherry on the pie’. She should not keep us waiting for another six years to hear her compositions on a new album.” – www.rootstime.be

If you’d like to hear the music, please go to http://janseides.com/music. There, you’ll find samples and instructions for purchasing. 🙂