… Said John Lennon, way back when he was already very famous indeed. I can only assume he wasn’t talking about trying to make headway as a musician at that point.
I wish someone had actually told me though . I once had a crazy notion that you write good songs, add in some great musicians, get them produced by a master craftsman, and people would listen to them. Of course they would.
Except they don’t. It’s really not their fault. I’m struggling to think of a “product” (if I can call it that) as omnipresent as music. Every other person seems to be a singer-songwriter now, and the advent of streaming music has, perversely, made it even more difficult for new artists to break through. “Break through”, now there’s a term. When you start to write and perform as an older artist, its harder, because your natural audience is largely of an age when it is not as receptive to hearing anything new. They know what they like, and they are not as adventurous.
The online world is really no friend to someone who is trying to get their music out there either. For sure, it’s “out there”, but social media algorithms ensure that most people, even your own friends or followers, never actually see your posts. Why? Because they want you to pay to get them seen.
Ironically, the best way to get your music heard is to play live, just like it always has been. Problem is that it’s so difficult, with an ever-diminishing number of live venues and the already mentioned higher supply. It often feels like you have to beg and pester venues to get gigs.
I have just done a couple of gigs supporting Martin Stephenson & the Daintees on their amazing UK tour, playing proper venues, with great sound, and, gratifyingly, getting a great reception.
I’m so grateful to get those opportunities, but they are so rare.
My desire to get my music out has cost me a small fortune (actually a large one to someone of my limited means). I wouldn’t change that for the world, as I am proud of my songs. It would just be nice if more people listened to them.
You may say “perhaps your songs aren’t good enough?”. I often think that myself, yet the response from from the small number of people who do hear them is different. That spurs me on. As well as the brilliant support from Martin Stephenson, another songwriting legend, Dean Friedman, of “Lucky Stars” fame (still writing brilliant songs and touring), had this to say about my songs:
Hi Emma I want to say that I found your songs lovely and engaging – meaningful lyrics, catchy music. Worth listening to. (and feel free to quote me). All the best, and keep doing what you do, Dean
Finally, his week has been hard; I had my treasured Ozark guitar bouzouki stolen, from under my nose the other night, leading to a sequence of events that saw me decide not to stay on in the work contract that had taken me to Reading in the first place- an emotional and financial double whammy you might say. That guitar and I had been on a journey over the last 4 years, and it feels like I have lost a best friend. Still, one door closes…so it has been a case of “where to now”? That’s a question I have had to answer rather too often in my life, but my conclusion is simple- get another guitar, get out and play. If you can’t get gigs, play a street corner, play anywhere that people might hear you. I can’t rely on others, I need to do it myself. It was always like that anyway. Nobody told me that either- I just found out.
Strange days indeed. Most peculiar Mama.