I work in waves. I can write a ton of songs for a few months then nothing. Boom. Blank. I used to freak out that my creativity was lost and gone forever. Now I know that this is just how I work. I have three “phases” of my music process: the touring, the creative and the business. They seem to weave in and out of each other, like astrology stars lining up for a good day in love. When I’m in touring mode or creative mode, I am never really psyched about booking, making phone calls, sending emails. I noticed that when my touring and creative spurts are temporarily over, that is when I kick it into business high-gear.
Conquer fear of writer’s block. Check. Conquer fear of failure when NO bookers call me back and my business spurt is coming to an end (re-entering creative or touring period)… um…… That’s the challenge. For weeks, I am ridiculously motivated and have lists of phone numbers of venues, radio stations, music supervisors, jingle houses, all people I want to work with in some form. I am a lean-mean emailing and phone-calling machine. And then I get bored. I’m done with business for a while, and this feeling usually coordinates itself nicely with my creative side. So I re-enter a writing stage, BUT, more often than not, I left the business stage feeling unsatisfied, and usually unbooked. Major bummer for a touring, gigging, composing musician.
The quick fix? Patience. What? Yes. I’ve heard it a million times: overnight success takes seven years. I’m adding to that: to book any good gig takes three months. As I write this I happen to be in “tour mode”, sitting on my temporary bed in a little mountain-town house, owned by the booker of tonight’s gig, in Switzerland. I have NO desire to think about the next tour I’m going to book, or how I am going to get a commercial gig to pay rent when I return from this tour. One month ago I was in mega business mode but I left for Europe with a few “we’ll see’s” and “let me get back to you’s” and no solid gigs or opportunities. Bummer.
Last night, I was playing a typical Wednesday gig (a high paying, low-satisfying fancy restaurant show) and in between sets, my new Blackberry Tour started showing all kinds of LED love. I had gotten an email confirming a college show for $1100, a date on a CT news channel, and an invitation to go to a Korean Film Festival to perform one of my film scores live… all expenses paid. These were results from efforts I had initiated months ago, during my business phase. And even though I really wanted these results to be immediate so I could move into my creative and touring zones without interruption and logistics, I suddenly had a new energy while I performed for the waitresses last night. (The audience was chewing too loudly to notice me, and the one table that did, well, they took pictures and bought my CDs only because they thought I was Sara Bareilles. No big deal).
I replied to all of my emails, confirming my participation in everything I was offered (that’s a whole other article- say yes to EVERYTHING!). My left hand was on the blackberry, my right hand was making up some nice arpeggios, perfectly appropriate for dinner. Perhaps the touring, creative and business stars aligned themselves perfectly last night. I hope no one noticed.