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12.01.2014
December Blog

Hello my lovelies -

The other day I was sitting with a new acquaintance, who is a business man and a supporter of the arts. He asked me about the state of the music business and where I see the future of it going. 

This is a topic that surfaces nightly for musicians, and one that is discussed amongst writers, singers, and execs of all sorts. As fans I know you all are aware that the business is changing – in fact it is something I have talked about regularly in my blogs with you guys. The fact is the music business is going to be fine - fans are always going to want music, but the record business is in the toilet. The record business has been a dinosaur staring at a comet headed straight to it, and even as the dust settles and strangles the oxygen from the air it has always breathed. The truth is no one has a real plan for what the new model will look like. As with all evolution, it is birthed by experimentation, trial and error and time. There will be no quick answers.

About 10 years ago I began to get the idea that if I wanted to continue in my job I would have to rely less on labels and more on my relationship directly with my music and the folks who listen to it.  Lullaby was my first experiment with a direct indie album and it did really well for me. It allowed me to make an uncommercial record that had no singles and was one I was deeply passionate about and inspired to do. It was a fantastic success. In fact, over time it sold more albums than those on major labels with radio support!

I took several years off to be a mom and continued to tinker with the direct to fan model. In the last year I decided to make an album that was a bookend to my first album, Pieces Of You, the way Harvest and Harvest Moon were for Neil Young. I wanted to see if I could release it independently and found some good and innovative partners to work with to create an entirely new model. The key to making music that is not traditionally commercial is making it for less money so that you can recoup your costs. Being authentic musically, without excess, having a small and lean production budget, and not going to radio keeps things affordable. There are very few people who can depend on record sales any more to recoup the costs of making and promoting a record.

Even with all the might and power and massive radio hits this year, record sales are anything but impressive. Taylor Swift is going to be the only artist with a platinum selling record in 2014 - that’s astounding! This year we hit the lowest selling week in the history of the Nielsen SoundScan with less than 4 million total sales.

So in these changing times I look at my options and must consider what I am willing to do for a record. Here are my goals:  
To be a mom.
To be creative.  
To make a living. 

My job and my profit center have shifted away from music because music no longer makes money. My money doesn’t come as much from music as it does from what I represent and who I am as a person. The idea came to me about 10 years ago as I was watching the chefs on TV and what they were building.  They didn’t make money from cooking on a TV show, or even from the show. They made money by effectively communicating who they were as a chef and creating products that people wanted. 

My music is the authentic sound track of my soul.  My values and my sensibility are put into them just like a chefs are put into their cooking show.  That used to be how a musician made money.  Now it is imperative that musicians learn to adapt to the changing landscape if they want to be empowered and in charge of their career and learn to make money from the larger platform of who they are and what they represent. Diversification of creativity is helpful as well. Luckily for me I really enjoy diversity and the opportunity to do things like acting, poetry, books, music and TV work.

I want to make great music, write books, and not tour too much because it’s hard to tour with a child who is in school. I’m looking at my future and feeling so blessed for the fact that my fans and I have already built a relationship that allows me to blaze a new trail. A trail that I hope will serve as a guide for other artists looking for ways to be in charge of their business.

There must be a new path forward, and I think it has tremendous creative possibilities. 

 

Here is a brief overview of what I am doing creatively: The idea is to use multiple creative outlets to represent a whole human in the media -

I am going to launch my folk record.
Currently, I am writing a memoir about my life that is also a self-help or inspirational book of sorts.
As a part of the overall launch, we are going to create a video for each song that is like a little movie broken down into small videos that tells a larger story when seen in order.

I also have such a passion being in the trenches as a parent so I would love to develop a web series and possibly a daytime talk show that covers some of the topics parents tackle. 
And all of this at the same time! 


Why?  Because in our personal lives professional lives we are often asked to be just one thing. It is as if we have to pick one color of the rainbow to be when in actuality we are all colors of the rainbow.  We are spiritual, we are sexual, we are earnest, and we are sarcastic. We are irreverent at times and deeply committed in other areas. We are parents, partners, children, and everything in between. I have worked hard in my music to never let myself be limited as a human or an artist. I strive to be honest about who I am in my entirety rather than try to fit in to one tidy box. I have been blessed to get to do pop, folk, country, and rock. I have also been blessed to try my hand in film and poetry. Often I am asked which creative outlet I like best and it has always puzzled me. Poetry feels like an arm of my creative self and music feels like a leg - they are both attached to a larger creative body that is a hologram of my soul. So why would I choose? This time I want to try and get a whole body into the zeitgeist, not just one disembodied limb. I want to find the internal permission to be all things that are authentic to me and not pick and choose or be pristine or sterile in the presentation. I want to give everyone permission to be all aspects of themselves as they feel them.  I want to encourage people not to limit who and what you are at any given time.

 As I was speaking to this colleague the other day, you guys continued to appear as the center of conversation. You and the relationship we have had over the years.  I told him how you all helped break my career in the mid 90's by sharing Angel Food (for those of you who are new to my music, I have hundreds of songs that have never been on a record or recorded except by fans at shows. My fans call it “Angel Food” and they share it with other fans who want to know more about my music beyond what is on my albums.) I told him how you call yourselves Every Day Angels, based on the lyrics of my song “I’m Sensitive.”  I told him that we have created a community where we try as best we can to live by certain values we all seem to share. Trying to live an authentic life, learning how to be happy, learning how to let our outer lives in every aspect possible match our deepest internal lives - our yearnings and longing so there is no gap between what we practice and what we preach, finding fulfillment and purpose in our lives, and most importantly being kind to one another and helping our friends on our journey. Life is hard enough all on its own, we are here to support, encourage, laugh, and find camaraderie on our journey. To create our own family - if we did happen to be born into one that meets our needs in a deep and meaningful way. 

 He was shocked when I told him about the thoughtfulness of my fans and the way I have encouraged my fans not to be idol worshipers, but inspired co-creators in life. I told him about the letter I wrote you all in my greatest hits collection, which was about my definition of a fan not being a noun but a verb - an active group who spreads awareness more than it possibly sits and consumes music. I have worked so hard in my life to learn to be happy.  I have fought for my health, my sanity, my happiness with as much courage and grace as I have known how. I have been nothing less than touched and amazed to see you are all on the same journey. 

 

All this got me to thinking about our community and what I can do to help make it better. I had a few thoughts:

-I would like to open up the monthly EDA blog and angel food to everyone - you will no longer have to sign in. Originally we asked folks to sign in to help with my plan to be able to reach out to you directly so I could release music without a label. Now with social media, I don’t actually need your emails to do this - time for change.  You can still give us your info after you read the blog if you want to know about the special offers and free shows I do for the community.

 -I also thought it would be fun to hear from you what you want from this community and to write a mission statement about who and what an Every Day Angel is - beyond simply being a fan of someone’s music.  What do you all need from one another?  Are there any things we want to do as individuals and as a community that embody the spirit we want to lead with?  One of my favorite things you all ever did was give me a book complied of community service and acts of kindness you performed. There doesn’t have to be anything you all actively do, but I thought it might be fun to see if there is a way to put in words the values we all share and the ways we actuate them in living our lives. My other favorite thing you all do is reach out to one another and take care of each other as you give witness to the ups and downs of our fellow EDA's. I love twitter for this, because I used to track what you were all up to by reading long chat group threads, now I can drop in and see how you all interact on Twitter and Face book. It’s very special the way you all yearn to find greater meaning and support in your lives. 

 -I’m also going to open up the commenting on my blogs so that you don’t have to log in. This way you can leave your responses to this homework assignment I have for you all. Here is what I would love your feedback on:

      1)   Who are EDA's

      2) List at least 5 values that you think unify EDA's (I love how different all my fans are - I have hillbillies, club kids, hippies, gays, and red necks all in the same theatre for a show- and the amazing thing is we all have more in common when those lights go down than not. So what is it we share at our core that is the same, despite how we wish to embody it in our lives)

      3) Do we want to have any semi-formal level to being an EDA - a yearly act of random kindness, community service... any other ideas?

      4) What do EDA's need from one another to feel supported?

      5) What do EDA’s need from me to feel supported?

      6) What do I need from EDA's to feel supported?

 

Here are my answers to the above:

       1)   EDA's are a diverse group of people of all ages and lifestyles that are fans of my music and writing. They believe that music can unite and connect like nothing else. They formed a community based on the commonalities we all share as humans that I talk about in my music and writing.

2)   5 values we all share are

        - The pursuit of liberty and happiness

        - We value family and friends

        - We want to do something we love in our lives

        - We believe in the power of music.

        - Authenticity

        - Freedom to be who we are, however we are

        - Trying to embody a generosity of spirit so we can give to our loved ones and our     community in

        - Willingness to live in our hearts as much as our mind

        - We are sensitive and we'd like to stay that way

Anyway- I’d love to hear what your thoughts and ideas of who we are and what we are. It’s actually kind of hard to put words! I look forward to your own thoughts and ideas of who and what we are and what ties us together

 

Happy holidays, my lovelies.... XOXO J


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