Throughout my 10+ years of being a musician, I have come across many opportunities. Some, I excelled in and some I failed, but what has stuck out to me as a lesson is perseverance. There have been countless times where I have been presented with a phenomenal opportunity, I did my best and allowed it to live its life – but I never followed up. I never continued this opportunity for myself once the shelf life had ended.
An example of this: When I was 14/15 I won the ECMA Battle of the Bands in Halifax, NS. From this I won a free photography session (never did it, don’t even remember the photographers name), 10 hours of free studio time at Codapop Studios (ended up using it 5-6 years later for my band, The 7th Mystic), I was featured in a newspaper article in The Chronicle Herald by Stephen Cooke (which spoke highly of me), as well as I was given the title of ECMA Battle of the Bands winner. This was the first time the ECMA’s ever did this, and this was not something the ECMA’s ever did again. This made me the primary title holder.
What did I do with these new found opportunities and credentials? Nothing. What could I have done with these newly-won credentials? I could have immediately gone into the studio and recorded an EP, I could have then used the photography session for album art & promotional materials, I could have then used my contact with Stephen Cooke for promo in The Chronicle Herald in relation to my EP release (which I actually did years later with my band), and I could have stuck with the title of ECMA Battle of the Bands winner for notoriety and recognition in the Halifax music scene as it was a great accomplishment that could have gained me respect. Unfortunately, clout is a thing in the industry. I guess it’s not always unfortunate, but sometimes it can be hard to break into the industry due to the lack of respect or interest you may get because you are “just starting out”. This only creates fire in your gut though (at least it should). So, with that – it’s truly a positive thing if you make it so.
I will give myself a small amount of understanding in saying that at that time in my music life (wont even call it career yet, hah), I was just teaching myself what promotion even was. I was playing bar gigs that I may have gotten myself, or from my mother showing everyone my music and them asking me to perform at their events. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge at that time in relation to marketing myself — so when I won these prizes, I didn’t understand what to even do with them. Of course, I understood what it meant to go into the studio and record, but I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do after that. Which in turn, I allowed myself to become fearful and didn’t want to waste the studio time.
Though I’m giving myself a small bit of lenient room due to my age and lack of knowledge of the Music Industry at that time – I still use this experience as a reference point in my career to this day. My career would probably look a lot different right now had I utilized the tools I had been given from the ECMA’s. I don’t look back on it in a negative light by any means, but it is definitely an eye opener to really riding the wave, which is a huge part of surviving in this industry.
So, what now? At this time, I am currently executing my five year plan. This is something I have touched on before, but again – never followed through with. This is something I was taught in Music Arts college by Craig Mercer with the utmost importance attached to the topic. This is something that has been drilled into my head for the last 6 years, yet it’s not something I’ve ever implemented or completed for myself, until now.
A five year plan is SO important for artists because it includes these main keys to success:
- Goal Setting (both short term and long term)
- Manifestation (where and how you want to see yourself in the future, near or far)
- Following Through (there is no other way to make it. we’ve gotta follow through)
In a musicians career, these three keys are the almighty. Yes, there are so many other sides and aspects of the Music Industry which you need to educate yourself on as well, but with these three keys – you’re on your way.
What does a five year plan look like? Well, for me – I’ve started with where I’m at right now. I am a 22 year old Soul and Rnb Singer/Songwriter who has been writing, gigging, touring (small tour), promoting, event planning/booking, social media, ect. for over 10 years (a lot more to learn and way more experience to go, but my current experience is still relevant and at a good level). My current short term goal is to find a producer that I actually enjoy working with and create my debut solo EP, finally. I have been waiting a long time to get solo material out but have been struggling to find the right people to work with.
From there, I will move on to of course promo materials, ect. for the EP and a 1 year marketing plan, but I don’t want to get too much into detail on that as I obviously don’t want to give anything away.
The goal after this is to land an opening slot on a Canada-wide tour with an artist on the come up. This is a great way to gain fans and of course, phenomenal experience. This is how a lot of musicians begin their careers, and being on stage/touring is something I love to do, so its a huge part of the plan for me.
From there – I don’t want to share too much more detail at the moment as I am currently still in the works of completing it, but you get the idea. Once you’ve created your 1-3 year goals, that is when manifestation comes into play. Where do you see yourself in five years and WHY? How do you see yourself attaining these goals? A five year plan isn’t just a list of things with five bullet points – it’s a damn novel (jokes, but not jokes) of the next five years of your flourishing career. Make it count.
This a question we can NEVER stop asking ourselves as artists. WHY? What makes you stand out from the rest, what about your craft is unique, ect. You can be the most talented musician on your end of the street, but if you have no reasoning as to why you are doing this, it’s probably not going to last too long. Who knows, you may be the 1% of people that get famous for their talent only, it’s not impossible… but it’s unlikely, as well as it creates an air of pointlessness in your career. This can be hard for some artists as the whole reason why we do what we do in the first place is because we love it, it is who we are… BUT most artists have more of a goal than just getting famous (and they 100% should!). Many artists want to change the world, want to sustain a life living only off of music without fame, they want to use their voice to make a political difference, ect. The list goes on and on, as it should.. and this will create a more rewarding career for you – as well as create a drive like no other. We can all admit that there is a piece of this career that is solely for ourselves. The gratification of having a crowd of 1000+ people scream for you and love you – who doesn’t love that? But it is what we choose to do with that love, that is when we will truly excel. The best part of having something is giving it away.
Today I am writing to express this important topic to myself, but also to anyone who may need to hear it. This industry is based upon RELEVANCE. If you are irrelevant, you are just that – irrelevant. The only person who can change that is YOU. YOU are the one in control of your career. Of course, gaining a fan base is the one of the only ways to sustain a working career in the Industry (unless you are a session musician, ect.) – so if you have no fans, I don’t know what to tell you… (other than to keep setting goals!). But for the most part, if you are already an established artist (no matter the level of establishment, you are a gigging musician/a musician who posts lots of content online, ect.) and want to get things moving, a five year plan is my recommendation to you because it has helped me immensely.
Never hesitate to reach out to me with questions, and of course- if you have experience in any of this, I want to hear about it. I am constantly on the look out for growth and new experiences/lessons.
With much love,
Recently I have lost my job (don’t worry, I’ve already got a new job that is WAY BETTER AND WAY MORE EXCITING AND RELEVANT TO MY ACTUAL LIFE!!) and it has presented me with the opportunity to take this next month become more active online. My Instagram is always poppin’, but sometimes I forget that people really like to hear me sing. After all, that is the main reason why people follow me, right?
Within the last few weeks I’ve posted two Christmas songs, but today I thought I’d change it up and cover one of the greatest songs that Miley has ever come out with. Of course, Mark Ronson is my dream to work with – so all respects given, I had to do this song. This is not something I’d normally sing so it was extremely enjoyable to explore new elements of my voice while recording this song.
As for the actual meaning of the song, Miley mentioned on Jimmy Fallon that she wanted to have a political drive to this song, an actual purpose. It definitely runs deep in this song, as well as in the music video. Once hearing this, my connection grew even stronger for the song.
It’s true. The lyric below reflects the beauty of the writing:
This world can hurt you
It cuts you deep and leaves a scar
Things fall apart, but nothing breaks like a heart.
Words like these, so simple yet so meaningful – truly powerful. This is why it was important for me to cover this song. Previously, covers were really not something I enjoyed to do. Of course singing any music is fun – but for some reason I had closed myself off and felt like I should just stick to my own original music. I then came to a realization that the cool thing about covering others songs is putting your own perspective on it, which not only allows you to feel the meaning of the song in your own shoes, but it also allows you to expand your talents as an artist which should always be taken as a gift and an opportunity.
As for the rest of my life/music career – as I advised you above, I lost my job last Monday and at first, I was extremely devastated. It was the first job that I had held for more than a year other than Music (artist life) and I was extremely comfortable in the position, though I did hate it. Every day was a depressing day. The only thing that made it remotely enjoyable were the friends I made during my time there. When I first got fired I cried for about 10-15 minutes to my mom on the phone and then I said hold up, wait. What the hell am I crying for? I’ve wanted to leave this job since I’ve started this job and never had the courage to do so as I was so set in my ways. I got so comfortable that I was even allowing the job to harm my music career. I would come home every day and not even want to bother writing a song, ect. due to the fact that I was so worn out from talking to rude people all day (call centre job). I truly allowed this job to weigh me down for over a year!! What the hell!!!!!!! So – within 12 hours, I had an interview for another position, of which I thought was just another crappy call centre job… turns out its FAR FROM IT!! I successfully was hired and will be starting January 7th. I can’t say much about the actual position, but lets just say I’ll be working for a social media giant and I am BEYOND blessed. Not only is music my entire world, but social media is a strong passion and interest of mine – so to go to work every day and work in this field, it blows my mind. I am so grateful. Not only will I enjoy the job in and of itself, but I will be able to apply tools from the job into my own social media campaigns/music career. I got so lucky!! I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason. This last week has been proof of that.
So with that – what can you expect from me in the coming weeks/months? Well, I am not resting until I finally get an EP out this year. It has been a gruelling process of back and forth with producers, A&R reps, session players, Engineers and more. I have been offered some deals that truly just don’t make sense, and I’ve been offered deals that make sense but not for right now, most likely for in the future. It can become very frustrating. I have even tried to produce my own music so I can just release an EP without having to work with anyone… but the sound I want just isn’t coming through. I will keep at it, but I really want to be in the studio with someone who knows what they are doing. I have it all planned out, I just need to find someone who I can trust and doesn’t just want my money. The industry is an amazing place, but its also a rough place. It’s all a game and if you don’t play it right, you can go thousands of dollars in the hole. That is something I refuse to let happen to myself. I am too smart for that.
At this time, I will continue to write music — visit my family for Christmas — write out my five year plan and begin executing it. This is my current short term goal. Something that is way more attainable.
I don’t want to tell you all that I’ll be releasing my EP within the coming months, because if you’ve been following me – I’ve been saying that for two years and we still don’t have an EP. There have been so many ups and downs both in life and in my career, I just don’t want to release something that doesn’t mean anything to me. It is so important for me to be in love with my debut project. I can’t just throw something together and put it out just for the sake of having material out there. I wont allow it.
With that, I thank you all for sticking with me. The EP will happen oh, so soon – I just need the right people in my circle. I am on my way to this as we speak. I can happily say that I am finally in a place where I know which direction to turn.
I hope you have a wonderful Holiday filled with love, family & GREAT FOOD!! ❤
With summer finally here and Honey Jam auditions around the corner, I thought I ought to write a blog giving thanks to the organization that helped me gain my footing in Ontario when I first moved here.
I officially moved here a year ago and I was completely distraught. I had left my band, my friends, my family, everything was gone. It was just me, my guitar and the massive province that is Ontario. Compared to Nova Scotia, Ontario was definitely no small feat and I felt like I had made a big mistake. My band was finally starting to get recognition in Halifax and I left all of it to move here, where no one had a sweet clue who I was. I became depressed, very quickly. I’ll be honest. I was not doing well. I didn’t get a job for an entire month, it was not looking good. I couldn’t believe that I was here, I actually did it. It had been a dream of mine to move to Ontario since I was 10 years old, but why did it seem so awful when it finally happened? I had gotten here on the skin of my teeth, yet I wasn’t grateful. I was angry. I was so angry that I made the relationships worse with my bandmates back in Halifax. They continued to do their music with others and I continued to get more and more angry… losing them even more than I already had. I was truly a mess and on a downward spiral.
Then, one day I was laying in my bed being my ole depressed self… when Honey Jam liked one of my photos on Instagram. I thought it was just one of those spam accounts, but upon looking into it I realized that it was totally valid, as well as I remembered that Reeny Smith (artist from NS) had been a part of it last year.
This was the beginning. I went into Toronto for the auditions and was the 4th person in line. I got there so early that I even went across the street to busk and made about $40 while waiting for auditions to begin. I was so nervous, I couldn’t believe how nervous I was. I’ve been doing this performing thing for a long time… so getting on stage to sing is actually more comfortable to me than interacting with people at a face-to-face level. But this was different. I hadn’t done any type of competition in years (since The Next Star LOL)… so this truly was a feeling that I had forgotten. My number is called and I’m actually shaking, it kind of felt nice to feel that nervousness again. I play my tune that I wrote about leaving my band “Just to Have You With Me”. I get 60 seconds to make an impression and of course, my guitar that I had just rented wont come through the sound system. So, we end up putting it to a mic which totally made me more nervous because I like to move when I play – either way – I got through the song and felt like I did a shit job. I left the audition thinking that there was no way this was going to happen for me.
Time went on and it was definitely in the back of my mind, but I truly thought I bombed the audition. At this point I had finally gotten a job and while sitting in my training class at work, I get a call from a Toronto number. I lean down under my desk and answer the call from Ebonnie Rowe. She advises me that I am one of the selected artists for the 2017 Honey Jam Showcase! I immediately ran out of the training class and called about 10 people in my family to tell them. I felt like I was finally doing something again, something that actually meant something to me.
Throughout the next 3 months, I am in and out of Toronto attending workshops, speaking sessions, visiting the google/youtube offices. I was spending time doing things that I actually wanted to do. It was amazing. Throughout the entire experience, I was also making friends who I am still in contact with today.
I may not be a part of the Showcase this year as an Artist, but I am putting as many volunteer hours as I can into Honey Jam because it gave me the chance to feel comfortable within myself as an artist, it lit a fire under my ass, it also allowed me to realize that you don’t need to constantly be competing with other artists. You need to be a team and work together to lift each other up.
I am writing this blog today in hopes of inspiring other female artists under 25 to audition for this years HONEY JAM SHOWCASE!! Head to HONEYJAM.COM to apply! If you aren’t within Ontario, don’t worry! You can send your application in online with a video! APPLY HERE!
I hope to see you around this year for all of the amazing Honey Jam events!
With that, here are some highlights from last year:
I don’t think we have to worry about there being no Sunshine as spring/summer is quickly approaching which means festival season is ON THE GO!!
I will be performing @ In The Soil Festival in Downtown St. Catharines on April 28th at The Warehouse Concert Hall with RHYME RUNNERS & JACK SHITT. I actually just discovered the artists I will be playing this show with and I am BEYOND excited as I’ve never played a show with Hip Hop artists before. This is the most amazing match and I know this show is going to be killer. Please head HERE for more info on the show.
I will also be playing @ STONE SOUP STOCK Presented by the 50th Niagara Folk Arts Festival on May 4th in downtown St. Catharines! I had the honour and pleasure of coordinating the music for this event and it’s going to be a true PARTY of local music featuring Theatre Crisp, J.I.N, Limestone Chorus, Katey Gatta & The Midnight Sons!
The last few months have been an interesting time for me. I have been caught in the middle of so many personal life questions that it was easy to find myself distraught. Coming from a life of constant music and devotion to my band, to what felt like a complete restart in Ontario was hard for me. It still can be challenging, but I have accepted this new challenge at this point and it only becomes more and more exciting.
I have taken a small break from gigging the last few months because I really wanted to focus on planning and properly executing my next moves. It has taken me a while to realize what exactly it was that I wanted to do next, and how to really mean it. Of course, my EP is something that is at the forefront, but I need more knowledge and wisdom in my life. I need to create opportunities for myself to play a role, to network, to help others like I hoped for people to help me when I was practicing my ass off and applying for festivals.
As some of you may know, I took on the role of Social Media Coordinator for The Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival in November. This was a huge excitement for me because I’ve never had the experience of being part of an actual board. I’ve shadowed festival producers before, but never was I an integral part of an event such as this. I worked on this for a few months, but the Festival President, the Festival Administrator and I soon came to realize that Social Media wasn’t exactly my strength. Though I’ve been doing great at my own social media for years, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know when it came to promoting something that I hadn’t nipped away on for years. Of course, I was always willing to learn and did my best – but the passion just wasn’t there, and they recognized where my passion truly belonged, and did something about it.
The position for Music Coordinator happened to open up a few weeks ago, and though I was tempted to apply for it, I didn’t want to commit to another huge task and not be able to execute it properly. Luckily enough, a new, intelligent woman came onto the board as Web designer, but she had more talents. She has gone to school and has real experience with social media and promotions, along with web design. It seemed as if the universe had heard my prayers, and I have now been offered the position as Music Coordinator for the 2018 Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival. I am so honoured and I feel blessed. This is a position that I’ve always wanted, and it begins now.
I now have the opportunity to directly work with the musicians that I will be able to bring into the festival this year. I am so excited to hear all of the amazing submissions, and I look forward to meeting all of the artists who will be a part of our event.
This is the position I have always been meant for. My entire music career so far, I’ve dreamed of creating and hosting a festival. This is the first step in gaining knowledge and experience in how to do so. Being behind the scenes in this way gives me a new perspective on my career, and allows me to realize yet again how important it is to have yourself in every corner possible so that when the time comes, you can do it all. You’ve got every skill and every talent in your field, and you will be the person people call on to make moves happen, as well as you will be able to call on yourself to make your own moves happen. That is what you want to be, a Boss.
I will also be helping to create one of the Friday night events for the 2018 Niagara Folk Arts Festival in St. Catharines. An amazing woman named Rhiannon who is also on the board with me for the Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival works with the Arts & Multiculturalism Organization in St. Catharines and has gracefully invited me to assist her in creating an amazing Friday night for their 50th Folk Art Festival. The Festival will run from May 3rd-27th and I will also be performing on the selected Friday evening. More details to come soon.
It is all coming together for me now. I am starting to realize that I absolutely do have the assist in creating amazing festivals and other events. The more experience I gain, the more knowledge I will have and right now, that is my main goal.
Along with that exciting news, I also have a gig coming up this week at one of Niagara Regions best venues, Warehouse. I will be opening the show for local St. Catharines bands J.I.N and Strange Love. Both bands have a beautiful sound and I am grateful to be in such a beautiful venue with musicians who just simply love what they do, and are good at it too. The venue owner Erik is also a great guy in the Niagara Music scene who I can tell has a great mind and I look forward to learning from him. To all my bands coming from out of town, Warehouse is the venue you want to play.
I also want to put a huge shout out out there to Deanna from In the Soil Arts Festival here in St. Catharines. I applied for this festival months ago, but I had no idea that I had been accepted to play. Deanna has been messaging me since December 13th. Yes folks – that is almost 3 full months that have gone by that I have not replied to her messages. For some reason, I hadn’t received a single one of the three messages she had sent me asking for my confirmation to play. She sent me a final fourth message from a different email and I finally received it last Thursday. I was so honoured that someone had put that much effort in to have me play in their festival. I have never experienced that before, and it humbled me. It also made me realize the kind of Music Coordinator I will be when I really believe in the talent of an artist. To me, her reaching out in such a manner goes further than the original acceptance to the festival. At this point, I feel like there are people who have never even met me, who have never seen me perform live that see something special in me that they know they would like to experience and bring into their event. It is the biggest honour to be sought after, and I think that this is a great start.
I am grateful for where I’m at right now. Looking back a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself in this position. Every day I still miss my band more than words can describe, but if I fill my time with positive things and helping others in the Music Industry, along with myself – I know that someday the pain of not being with my band wont be so strong anymore, and I’ll truly know that I’ve done the right thing in focusing on myself first.