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The Ramblings of an Independent Artist
Hi Christina,

This isn't an email to ask for advice, I just wanted to respond to your latest rambling (May 2000) for the Muses Muse.

It sounds like you've been working your ass off and feeling like it's getting you nowhere. Well I thought I'd drop you a line with some ideas to hopefully make you feel better.

I think you might be suffering from "what-the-f**cks-sake-do-I-have-to-do-to-get-you-people-to-see-what-I'm-doing?" syndrome, which is completely understandable after all the hard work, vision, and sacrifices to get this far. So I thought I'd write to let you know that people do care about what you're doing, and to offer some ideas. Hopefully it will help you to take a breath and reassess what isn't working.

1. Music is your life - it can't be separated from your day-to-day existence - so make sure the things you are doing with your music actually work for you. i.e.. customise your life. Nobody can say you have to do it a certain way. Look at the people who become successful from being eccentrically different and determined to do it their way. Maybe you don't need to chase every lead. 7 months is a hell of a long time when you're chasing your tail...but when everything in your life becomes pleasurable because you're doing what you love...then 7 months sounds like just a beginning.

So start bringing back some of those little pleasures into your life. Don't let your music become an obsession. Just let it become a natural part of who you are.

2. Appreciate what you've already achieved. You've actually done an incredible amount of things and received a lot of notice. That's a real achievement. OK, so maybe the money isn't flowing back to you yet, and maybe you've still got a lot of CDs in boxes...but remember to focus on the things that are working. It will make you much more fun to be around too...because otherwise there will always be the next hurdle, the next problem, the next stage that you want to get to. If you don't take time to appreciate it all, then your life will seem like hell.

3. Remember that everything builds on everything else. Each visit to your website is adding to the overall effect (even if you don't see the results until 2 years down the track). It took 6 months for me to find out who the artist was that sang a song I liked on my car radio. I was surprised to hear it was New Zealander, Bic Runga (I thought it was an American artist). It took about another 6 months for me to get around to buying her album. And I'm a singer songwriter who actually likes to keep up with what is happening musically! Remember people's lives get in the way of buying your album or coming to your gigs. But one day it will happen.

4. Start planning your next project (as much as the thought makes you want to scream in sheer frustration...or to curl up and die). You love creating great, inspiring, life transforming keep doing it. Your soul will love you for it! I'm a fan of Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, and love the story of how they spent every last cent they had on releasing an album called "Buckingham Nicks" which they put all their energy and love into creating. And it bombed. Their record label dropped them. They picked up the pieces and began work on their next album. Stevie wrote "Rhiannon" and they had some other great songs they were working on. Then a big break came with an invite to join Fleetwood Mac. But I think they would have happened anyway because the songs they were writing at the time were winners. That next project let them develop their vision even further.

You're an excellent songwriter and you've obviously still got a lot of songs in you yet. So let them out! Develop your vision further! Surprise yourself with the amazing songs you haven't written yet! And then start recording a new album (or performing them to an audience) when you feel ready.

5. Look at how long it takes for bands to get noticed. In New Zealand we're used to the concept of working independently for 5 to 8 years before a major wants us. You may need to bring out a few more independent albums before you join forces with a major (or decide you're making so much money you don't need a major!). I'm not saying it will take this long...just that you'll make yourself very unhappy if you want immediate results.

Last word: By the way I love what you're doing with your music and website. I've listened to some of the samples and think you've got a lot to offer. The time and effort I put into this email hopefully lets you see that people out there do care. Remember to relish these little pauses as you go. All the best.

Hope this helps.

-- Deb

p.s. It's winter here in New Zealand. I live in a little bach (holiday house) on the shore of Lake Rotoiti, 25 minutes from a town, and 3 and a half hours from the major music scene. I can look out the window and see the lake which is spitting distance (if you're good at spitting!) My labrador puppy loves it here. Jumps into the freezing water and larks around. And loves chasing the black swans that glide past. Been here four weeks now (a big move to relocate to my partner's new job) and enjoying(?!) the somewhat harrowing challenge of being a singer songwriter from such a remote place. (OK, so I'm one of those eccentric people who are determined to do the impossible in their own fashion!)

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