I’ll be honest with you. The internet is such a gift and a curse for me. The benefit is it has lowered the cost of entry into the music industry (for me). The curse is that it lowered the cost of entry into the music industry (for all these other cats. lol). I also feel at times it makes connections so much more impersonal. I’d like to consider myself an analog kind of guy trying to fit into a digital age. However, some of the benefits of the internet far outweigh the costs and making a connection on the internet is great when you can actually meet in person.
My email service provider Mad Mimi not only helps me stay in contact with all the people I meet on the internet and my travels, but they also support me and my music specifically. An employee there, Susan, sends me the occasional message of encouragement. If you guys only knew what that meant to a starving artist to receive letters of encouragement perhaps you’d send more (and here I am fishing for words of encouragement/compliments).
Anyways, let me get to the point before I completely bird walk off topic. While I was on tour playing in Chicago Susan came out to the show and I had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband Nick. Nick has a podcast called the Mothpod and he invited me and A. Biggs on the pod to discuss music among other things. If the internet produced more in person meetings like this, then I would personally hug Al Gore for inventing it. Here is the Progress Report / USM interview podcast, if you would like to listen.
P.S. Thanks Susan for the great Mad Mimi customer service!
You can check out the podcast by clicking here!
Just getting back to my uncle’s place in Minneapolis after a drive from Fargo, ND. We left the venue at midnight and started driving but had the coldest nights sleep ever halfway along the route at a rest stop. It’s nice to finally be back in some heat and by my laptop. I still have a little energy before I pass out as Biggs made the drive and I got to sleep most of the way. As I was entering the names from last night into my email list provider (I use mad mimi) I thought I might make a post of some things that have been invaluable to me on this trip.
1) Email Sign Up Sheet
The homie A. Biggs hooked this up. Don’t get me wrong. A blank sheet of paper works fine but in this day and age appearance does help. However, look is a small part of the equation here. You don’t wanna be that guy that just lets this clipboard sit on your merch table. Use your email list as an opportunity to go out and meet the people that came to a show. Everyone that signs up for this list gets an exclusive track sent to them as soon as I can enter it in my computer (usually about a day). That way, they don’t forget me in this society of short-term memories. In places where the crowd isn’t as big (which is more places than I’d like to admit – lol), this list will help us build up a market as we can stay in contact with the people that did come to the show.
2) Square Card Reader
That little white square that plugs into the headphone jack of my iPhone allows me to take credit card purchases. If you’ve been out in the last 10 years, you might have noticed that less and less people are carrying cash on them. For many tours “i just got plastic” was an excuse, I couldn’t get around. Now with that little card reader I can now accept plastic. It’s not as if my merch sales have increased drastically, but they have increased and thanks to square! If you are an artist and have a smart phone and do not have this app, I really don’t know what you’re doing with yourself.
3) Drive and Determination and Heart
There is really a million ways to say this last tip before I go to bed. The fact of the matter is this is the number one thing I can say to anybody. It is also the thing that many people say they have and fall short of the mark when push comes to shove. There is really no way to measure it in absolutes but the rough moments in life will show if you have it or not.
I’m am on the road as a relatively unknown act. There are many places where the crowd isn’t big, and there are also places where people might not be feeling hip hop period. The life of a starving artist has me playing in many bars where music is not their number one priority. However, it will never change the way I play my set. It will be high energy. I will interact with the crowd and get them involved. All i need is one comment like the one above from Vince and the drive was worth it. Although I am getting paid for my services and product more and more that is far from the number one priority at this stage in the game for me. I want your attention and if you like what you’re paying attention to then hopefully you will support me in one way or another. I largely have Dante LaSalle to thank for being able to incorporate tip #3 in my repertoire. It has been him setting the example and I payed close attention. I write things like this on some each one teach one type ish. I must say I do wish more people followed the example.
On a lighter note touring is one of the most enlightening things an artist can do. You get to meet a ton of people from different areas and see how they digest the culture. You meet a lot of artists and see how they express themselves through the medium. If you’re smart you take it all in and perhaps add a few more tips to your repertoire through conversation or observation. Don’t think it’s enough to get on stage and play your song.