A couple of years ago, several of the Mompreneurs from the MopreneursOnline forum here, met in Chicago for a weekend. That gathering took all of our online friendships to a whole new level. Along with some awesome business tips, the main thing I took away from that event was building relationships, and realizing how important those relationships are. I feel like I made many friendships for life through that one gathering.
A couple of weekends ago, I attended the ASCAP I Create Music Expo/convention. It was fantastic! Lots of panels on different areas of music, ie., production, songwriting, writing for film/tv, recording equipment, etc. It was really informative. But the key thought that kept coming up and was impressed upon us was building relationships with other people.
I witnessed it first-hand at the conference. I made sure I reached out and got to know people – and we all approached each other from a “relationship” perspective. I noticed I tended to gravitate toward people that were happy, laughing and having a genuinely positive attitude, and steered clear of people that were either so full of themselves or who were just plain negative. I left the weekend feeling like I made lots of new friends, future collaborators, and co-writers.
This week, I attended a dinner with several of my composer friends. The event featured a panel of music supervisors and we were able to listen and learn, as well as meet and dine with several publishers, music attorneys, and others in our industry. This wasn’t a “Music Biz 101 class”, by any means. It was about really getting into the nuts and bolts of what is taking place in the music industry.
I am attending another function in a couple of weeks, and am seeing the panelists beginning to overlap from different functions. My perception of this “one, huge, lumped together, impenetrable industry” is quickly shifting to an industry made up of unique, creative individuals – all brought together by our common passion for music. (And yes, there will always be the sharks and the shirts, but that’s another blog post.)
I am learning that it is well worth attending conventions and events that have to do with my area of work (music) and I STRONGLY suggest that if you are able to attend a convention or event that has to do with your business, that you go. It is GREAT to get off the stage, or out from behind the computer, or out of the recording studio, and meet people face to face, have lunch, and make new friends. From here on out, I’ll be attending these events regularly and viewing them as a necessity, rather than a luxury. And I may even invite a new friend to come along with me.
Have I mentioned how happy I am living back in Los Angeles? If not, let me just say it…I am sooooo flippin’ happy living in LA!
There. I said it. And I know it won’t be the last time.
I have been on such a “happiness high” – especially in the last two days – that today I actually feel “hungover.” I am exhausted from all the happy. And it keeps coming.
Who would have ever known that back in November, selling our 3800 sq. ft. house, selling most of our belongings, leaving Omaha, moving back to Los Angeles, downsizing to one car and a 1100 sq. ft., 2 bedroom apartment, and writing music full time would turn out to be the best thing we could have ever done? I am delirious!
There really is something to be said for following our hearts and pursuing our passions. I just never knew that letting go of all the safety nets could be so exhilarating. And freeing.
I’ve been pulling some all nighters, (well, nearly all nighters) writing music with the intent of getting them placed in film, television and ads. I am having to learn lots of new things, like how to record the music on new equipment, how to play instruments “virtually” on a keyboard, learning to play new “live” instruments, and how to create – without the help of the people I am so dependent upon, like my sweet brother Gene, who is still in Omaha, and “Omaha Tom” who owns the studio we would use to record at in Omaha. But in doing so, it feels so good to know that I finished a song yesterday, where I played all the live and virtual instruments, wrote the music/lyrics, recorded all the vocals – lead and background, female AND male (I can sing pretty low if I have to ). I even did all the whistling. (My mom said, “I didn’t know you could whistle!”) And I even got to include my hubby and son on the hand claps, finger snaps, and thigh slaps, so it is becoming a family project. I also have a new, extremely talented engineering/writing partner who loves music as much as I do, who brings absolute magic to the final product, which is an art in itself.
So, when the song was submitted, with only seconds to spare before the deadline, my palms were sweaty, my feet were clammy, and we got it done. And I gotta admit, it turned out really fun! And I felt, well, really proud.
Will this be the song that gets used for this particular commercial? It’s out of my hands at this point, but WOW, did it ever feel good accomplishing what I set out to do and creating a song that didn’t exist 3 days earlier. And I will continue to do this because this is my true passion.
I feel more empowered than ever before, and I feel so ALIVE!! I am following my heart – completely. And I am soo happy being back in L.A. There – I said it again.
Yes, Christina messed up the words. Jeez – give her a flippin’ break. Take it from someone who has sung plenty of National Anthems in front of crowds up to 80,000 + people – singing the National Anthem, at the Super Bowl no less, and trying to time it with a fly-by ain’t easy.
What is going through our heads? “Smile. Get the right words. Oh man, the wind just blew dirt in my throat, don’t choke! My heels are digging into the ground, and I’m sinking! Note to self: Next year no heels. Which verse am I on? Emotion, Cher – help them feel the words, and relive the story. Wow. This is a lot of people. Smile. Whew – I’m on the right ver – Crap! My shirt just blew off my shoulder – hope my bra strap isn’t showing. Pronounced “per-i-lous” Not “per-o-lis”. Do I have the right hand on the right side over my heart? Or left hand. No. Heart is on the left side. Smile. Smile! My Spanx aren’t on right. Timing. Don’t speed up. Smile. You’re not smiling. Where are those jets? Did they forget? Where is Mom sitting? Make eye contact with the crowds. Ok – we’re over the hump, and still no jets. Stretch that out, s-t-r-e-t-c-h on “freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, and the hoooooooooooooooooooome” – big pregnant pause, hope Gene is with me here, still no jets… “of the” Gene , really big pause, hold on – Jets? Jets? Where are the j – yaaaay here come the jets! “Braaaaaaaaaaaavvvvvvve.” Smile, wave, keep smiling, cameras are still on, rolling, rolling, and cut.
Exhale and exit.
Rewind to the year 2007, the year Stardust was released, the year hubby’s freelance work started to dry up, and life for me in Omaha was turning a little…well, wacky…
Hi. It’s me, Cher – back to the present, and back in full swing, after a couple of rocky, odd years.
I really believe that we all have a purpose for being on this planet. And without getting all metaphysical on you, let’s just say that I believe we all have an “inner voice” that speaks to us, and if we allow ourselves to listen, we can choose to follow it or choose to ignore it. My inner voice has been screaming at me for as far back as I can remember, leading and guiding me, but after high school I didn’t know how to appease it. I didn’t know where to go, musically. Music is such a wide – and tough – arena, but creating music is my one true passion. As a teen in the Midwest, nobody in my circles seemed to know where to go with a musical kid. My high school counselor advised me to “teach music” or “go into social work.” My Mom told me that a degree in music would get me nowhere, and that I should study Engineering (the civil, electrical, petroleum kind of engineering), so I “would have something to fall back on.” Or go into Nursing.
My brother, Gene, and I sang at over 600 weddings. We sang in clubs. We wrote songs. I went out on the road and sang with a band for a year. Gene went to college and joined the swing choir. I studied Engineering. Gene studied Business. We sang in more clubs. We wrote more songs. I got engaged to a really wonderful guy, and tried to just “fit in” and “be normal.” But I was always restless. And after putting down a non-refundable deposit at the reception hall, that inner voice just reached out, grabbed me by the throat and slapped me upside the head, letting me know me I’m not following the path I am meant to follow.
I never became an engineer.
After selling all my belongings, and at the suggestion of a friend who played in a country band, I moved to Tennessee. Gene followed suit, and we began making our living in music “wearing many hats” as singer/songwriters, publishers, composers, roving artists, performing artists, arrangers, “marketeers”, choir directors, all the while honing our songwriting skills…all because there is nothing else we could ever be happy doing. We were dirt poor, but we were happy. We lived in Nashville, on the road, out of vans and in hotels, then finally, after I married hubby Ben, we all settled in L.A. Ben and I had our boy, Benjamin. Being on the road with a baby in tow, however, wasn’t what we wanted our new family life to be about, so when the opportunity for Ben to “work from home” presented itself, we returned to Omaha where our son would have a sense of roots. The day we moved out of L.A., I felt a small part of me die, but I buried it. For the good of my family.
Back in Omaha, we recorded, released and marketed Stardust, we wrote and arranged a lot of new music, wrote and sang jingles, performed for several high-profile events that didn’t pay a dime, sang at house concerts, and recorded more music. To make ends meet, Gene and I took on two extra jobs, directing music at a church and at a high school, and although we loved the people we were getting to know in the choirs, it wasn’t filling my spirit. Ben’s freelance work had all but disappeared (a sign of what was to come in the economy), so Ben started commuting from LA to Omaha on a weekly basis, switching from The Simpsons to Family Guy and then back to The Simpsons. I was essentially a single parent, and our lives had become utter chaos.
One night, I was soaking in the bathtub reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I suddenly and uncontrollably burst into tears. I realized that the inner voice that, in the past, had guided me in pursuit of my purpose had all but gone silent. In my pursuit of making a comfortable, “normal” home for my family in Omaha, I had lost my way. I had become “comfortably numb.” (Thank you Pink Floyd.) I cried all night.
The next night, I allowed myself to listen. To be still, be quiet, and really listen for my inner voice. It was still there – and it was forcing me to remember what I had set out to do when I first left Omaha all those years before. It actually hurt to remember. But it became easier, as I began to imagine the possibility of moving back to L.A. I became restless again but I was really torn. I loved Omaha. My family, my house, my friends, my neighbors and my huge backyard – all in Omaha. I didn’t want to move to all the traffic, the pollution, the lousy L.A. school system. But I couldn’t stay. I hadn’t signed up for single parenting, my son was unhappy at his school, and there weren’t any animation studios opening up anytime soon in Omaha. And it was becoming clear that staying in Omaha directing choirs, or singing cover tunes in a church or a bar was a musical and spiritual compromise.
Thankfully, it all came to a screeching halt in November when we sold the house. There was no turning back. In December, Ben, Benjamin and I relocated to Los Angeles.
Fast forward to last night. I’m in a room with a dozen or more composers and songwriters for film and television, together for an evening of pizza, wine, face to face sharing, talking industry, talking shop and I realize we are all swimming together happily in the same aquarium. This is what I have been missing. The relationships, the camaraderie, the stories, the laughing, the interaction with like-minded people in the same field. Being in a city energized by creative people who make their living being who they were put on this earth to be. Being in a place where the value of music, and the composer, and songwriter is a given. Where it is understood that Music is a legitimate, serious business to serious musicians.
It is February 5, 2011. I am now back on track, moving steadily forward, on my journey as a singer/songwriter and composer for film and television. I’m a newbie to the field, and I will keep you posted on our progress. And for the first time in my life, I am not restless.
Regrets? Naaa. But I’ve learned a few life lessons.
What do I know for sure? Never Again will we sing for 80,000 people and “be fine” with not getting paid. And Never Again will I allow a high school principal to equate the value of what I do as a composer to that of a temp who sharpens pencils, without firmly decking her squarely across the jaw.
“We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.” Well put, Mr. O’Shaugnessy.
Ever feel like you are walking on the tightrope in the circus? I do – pretty much every day. Ever wonder how they keep from falling? Every time they step out, they walk that fine line. I have several buddies in the entertainment biz who have told me the secret is simply this – finding a good sense of balance …and a great safety net, but that’s a different blog entry
I wish there were a clear cut daily schedule for everyone or a one-size-fits-all set of rules, when it comes to achieving balance. But there isn’t – what works best for one person, won’t work at all for the next. So it is up to us as individuals to know ourselves well, and to figure out what works best – for you, for your family, for your business, for your sanity. In my line of work as a musician, and for any entrepreneur, if we don’t literally schedule in some business time, some family time, and some “me” time, it isn’t going to happen and we will be drained in one area or another. By nature, most entrepreneurs are driven, creative people, who love what we do and know that we need to work our tooshies off to survive as entrepreneurs. But as Mompreneurs, we also have to figure family and ‘down time for me’ into the mix, which means a whole lot of giving and taking and balancing.
For me at least, finding time for the work part is easy. And hopefully, we take care of our families by nature, scheduling in the school plays, baseball games, swimming lessons, play time, because we are good Moms. It’s the taking-time-for-me part I have the hardest time with.
Ever wonder why on a plane if you ever need to use the oxygen masks you are instructed to put it on yourself first? It took me a long while to understand that if we don’t breathe in the oxygen first, we can’t function and help anyone else. Aha! So I have permission to take that time for me and to re-charge the “me” battery. A good massage… going for a walk…taking a nice hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of cabernet… they all work. But I will be the first to confess I am the last one who schedules in that me time. Perfect example – I have a membership to Massage Envy. At last count, I had 18 pre-paid massages waiting for me, and I have yet to put them on my calendar.
I am writing this entry after having just returned from a week and a half vacation with my sweet hubby, child and family. I am well rested, and I wonder, ‘why don’t I do this more often?’ to which I answer, ‘well the trip has been on the calendar for several months.’ Yes, I’m so ready to get back to work. But maybe before I dive back in, I’ll call Massage Envy and get some me time scheduled on the calendar.
Years ago, I would never have been able to pronounce the title, “Los Peces en el Rio” let alone sing a whole song by that name – in Spanish! Yet, we just did, thanks to the help of Tina (Banina), Diana (Ariss), Erica A., Vicki P. and all my “kids” in Paramount, CA. The song is coming out on a LONG overdue “Winter Sampler” which is going straight to digital (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) We couldn’t have done this without some of the most talented musicians around, and also new technology that has leveled the playing fields in the music industry.
We just finished up recording 3 songs – we were shooting for 4, but ran out of time. The sampler will still be a 4-pack though, and will include “Ave Maria”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, “Los Peces en el Rio” and our previously released Christmas single, “I am a Carpenter.” The cool thing is that because of the way digital sales work, a person can buy a single or the whole sampler (brings me back to the days of 45′s and 33′s – yes, I was alive way back then ) and even be able to listen to a portion of the songs before buying them! Halleluiah!!! Gone are the days of buying a whole flippin’ CD, having heard one good song on the radio, then bringing home the CD, poppin’ it in the stereo and the rest of the album stinks. It’s about time! The music industry is in such a flux, and it is a great opportunity for all musicians to take creative control of their work and produce the best music possible!
Next year, once we are done recording more Christmas songs, if we do release a physical CD, it will all be based on demand, and limited runs. So let us know if the demand is there, cuz we’re listening. In the meantime, fire up those iPods – and get ready to sing along – in Spanish, Latin and English.
Been a long time since I rock and rolled… boy do I have music on the brain! We are back in the studio recording some Christmas tunes for the year – I have so much to tell you about! But, it will be in small doses, because I’m trying to stay on a schedule today, and it’s a busy one.
Just to let you know, I come alive when we record – I walk into that studio and feel like I am home again. We were in the studio several times this year singing on jingles and helping with other music projects, but when it is our own project, it just means so much more to me. You know what I mean – it is what we feel as Mompreneurs, having our own products and services – these come from our brains and our hearts, they are our “babies” in a sense. SO I take extra care and pride in this work and it just fills my spirit!
I’ll be documenting the whole recording process, blogging and posting videos, so you can follow along and feel like you are in the studio with us. I’ll also be blogging about the music biz in general, so feel free to ask questions – not that I will know all of the answers, but I’ll do my best to answer or point you in the right direction.
Sooo good to be back!!!