Be your best boss!

Dear Indie Girl,

The other day, James told me to be a good boss to myself.  Quite a concept.  Everyone’s had or at least knows someone who has a bad boss.  Too strict, not strict enough, too friendly, not likable in the least…

So when you’re your own boss, be the kind of boss you want.  Be a good boss to yourself.

Recently I found this productivity schedule by Storyline.  If you’ve ever read Blue Like Jazz or Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, you should check out his new brand Storyline.  It’s a new twist on a mentor program.  You can order the Storyline workbook exclusively on Amazon.com and work through it to find areas in your life that may be holding you back from your full potential.  I love stuff like this, so of course, I ordered it and started working on it right away.  But I just found a FREE product they offer called The Storyline Productivity Schedule which is a day planner on steroids.  It’s AWESOME!  It not only helps organize your life, but helps you keep working efficiently and helps train you to keep these good habits.

This is my first step toward being my best boss.

love,

Kelsey

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My “calling” is for me!

Dear Indie Girl,

This week was filled with revelations.  Truly.

While talking to James about shows recently, I realized that I love performing, but I’ve started to hate playing shows.  Confusing, I know.  It’s mostly because we’re constantly playing shows for the wrong audience in venues that don’t care about us or our music.  So, we’re not getting paid, we’re not making fans, and we’re not selling our merch.  This kinda makes my “calling” to music like donating a kidney.

Then James said something about how I need to be doing what’s good for me too… and it hit me… My calling is for ME TOO!  Most of my life I’ve known that I am called to be writing and performing music.  But lately I’ve been treating it like it’s only for other people to enjoy, and it doesn’t matter if I enjoy it or not.  But it does!  My calling is for your good and for my good too!  Your calling is for my good and for your good too!  So we should go after our callings in a way that brings joy to our lives. More on this in upcoming blogs.

Enjoy your calling.

love,

Kelsey

You sound like…

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Dear Indie Girl, 

The above comic is brought to you by Mr. James Pray, my beloved husband/ artist in residence.  I was telling him about a kid I met who’s in a band.  When I asked this kid what his band sounded like he was so worried about being original that he refused to list any influences at all.  He wouldn’t even tell me what his favorite bands were!  So that’s where the comic came from.

This is a common struggle among Indie bands.  I’ve felt a lot of pressure from my fellow artists who don’t play cover songs as a rule because they might sound too much like so and so, or don’t list influences because they want to remain completely original.  There are also those bands that come up with a completely obscure genre of music to shy away from being grouped in with everyone else.  I’ve had friends tell me to change the name of a song or change a line because it too clearly referenced another artist that they know I’m influenced by.  See, the thing is, I want to let my influences show so long as there’s no copyright infringement and it’s done as a tasteful shout out to those who’ve gone before me.  I see this as honoring their legacy.  Those artists have influenced me and I want to pass that on.  

Because if we tried to strip down and peel back all the pieces of our work that were influenced by someone else’s band or sound, there’d be nothing left.  Just an empty paper sack.  Sometimes in the pursuit of being completely original, I fear we risk anonymity.   

People who have never heard you play need to make some kind of connection with your music in order to come to a show or go to your website and download your album.  A good example of this recognition thing is The Crane Wives.  They’re a local Grand Rapids, MI band with a HUGE following.  They got a lot of recognition because they’re not only great performers and have really solid music, but also they named their band after a Decemberists song.  The Decemberists got ahold of their album, took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook.  Then all the Decemberists fans went crazy over The Crane Wives.  Talk about a blatant musical reference.  These guys listed their main influence in their band name.  And it paid off.

If you don’t have a “sounds like” pitch ready for everyday conversation, it would be like going to a job interview and handing in a resume or application without references.  “I didn’t want to list the other places I’ve worked because I didn’t want you to think I am only capable of doing one job.”  No one would hire you.  In the same way, if you’re not ready with a 15 second pitch to explain your sound, not many people will book your band or buy your album (except your mom).  

For example, when people ask me what my band sounds like, I typically answer, “We’re an Indie-folk-pop band and we sound a bit like Ingrid Michaelson and Brandi Carlile.”  BAM.  That was actually like a 6 second pitch.  You should also be ready to list one or two big venues you’ve played at or bands you’ve opened for.  

Bottom line, there is truly nothing new under the sun.  Anything original is really just a Frankenstein’s monster of various influences.  And that’s okay.  Being an artist is really just making the old … new. This surprises people in the most pleasant way.  If you’re nervous about people thinking you’re too much like one band or another, then you should know, you sound like them for a reason. Probably because you only listen to them and bands like them.  Maybe it’s time to vary your influences.  Listen to something completely different.  What comes out is directly influenced by what you put in. The only way you’d have to worry about being a real copy cat is if you were a 100% cover band.  But hey, cover bands can make a lot of money having fun playing everyone’s favorite songs from way back when!  

Here’s to doing what we love, 

Kelsey

New Year Resolutions and Goals

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Dear Indie Girl, 

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?  I’ve got a bunch of them.  Well… they’re more like goals for the New Year.  I feel like you can only have 1 or 2 New Years Resolutions, but you can have innumerable goals…  

Here’s my Resolution: Read more than I watch TV.  I watch about 5-10 hours of TV a week.  And that’s conservative.  We don’t even have Cable TV.  That’s all Netflix and Hulu.  So that means to achieve this resolution I will need to be reading 10-15ish hours a week. Roughly 2 hours a day of reading.  wow.  Or I need to cut back on my TV watching.  We’ll see which one works better.  When I write it out in numbers, I’m now realizing how much time I’m spending (wasting) watching TV- that’s a lot of time!  I can never complain that I don’t have enough time to do extra things again.  That’s like the equivalent of another part time job!  

Here are some other goals I’m making for 2014.

1. Develop my youtube channel- start a Video Blog!

2. Tour outside of Michigan!

3. Co-write!

4. Build fan base and venue network!

5. Save up for next recording 2015!

Happy New Year!

Kelsey

Six figure musician

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Dear Indie Girl,

Today I’ve just got a short note as we’ve got family staying at our house this weekend and I am currently sipping stale coffee and watching my 6 month old nephew.

Last week I signed up for David Hooper’s email list and got a free download of his ebook, “Six Figure Musician”.  I sat down to read it today, and can’t stop highlighting!  That’s when you know it’s a good read!  If you’re looking for some guidance in the Indie Music industry, this is gold!  Free gold!  Check it out and share it with all that you know! http://www.musicianbook.com

Ebb and Flow

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Dear Indie Girl, 

Have you ever noticed that life can be very cyclical?  And not just in the feminine way.

I mean, like spurts of motivation and inspiration pouring out of you for weeks and weeks at a time.  You get up early, you write for hours, you keep the house clean, you go to bed on time, and you eat right.  Then, it’s like your psyche trips over something, and one night you decide to stay up later.  Then the next morning, you sleep through your alarm.  Then, you don’t make the time for your writing, and the dishes pile up, and you turn around and it’s been like a month since you’ve cleaned your office and you can’t see the couch because of all the junk piled up on it.  And this well oiled machine that was working so smoothly and being so productive is now coughing out fumes.  And you think… what happened?  

I go through this particular cycle every couple of months or so… okay, every couple of weeks would be more accurate.  I don’t understand it.  Is it my creative tendencies that lead to inconsistent behavior?  Am I maybe slightly manic depressive?  

I also tend to be a guilt ridden type of person.  So, when this happens, I always beat myself up for not staying “on track” and keeping my routine.  But, life doesn’t stick to a routine.  Life is always growing and changing and adapting to new seasons.  Life is a cycle, I guess.  

Maybe I’ve got this wrong.  Maybe I don’t need to feel guilty for riding the wave of life.  Maybe the key is just to do what you can with what you’ve got, and with wherever you’re at in the ebb and flow of life.  

Yeah, I’m going with that.  

Love, 

Kelsey

 

Buffalo, buffalo

Dear Indie Girl,

This week I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to do some creative co-writing.  I say it’s creative co-writing, because my co-writer doesn’t know about it.  Sneaky…

A friend of mine is on a very long tour with her band, The Rough & Tumble.  I’ve had the pleasure of tagging along.  Well… at least I feel like I’m tagging along because every couple of days I get another postcard from another place and I get to read a little blurb about their trip.  Postcards are like a vintage concept now days, I can’t remember the last time I got one from someone other than my mom.  I love it!

Anyway, I’m writing a lot about traveling lately and the concept of home, so I decided to take her postcards and turn them into a song.  I’ve done this before actually, with a letter from the same person, and it turned out so well!  So I thought I’d try it again.  The results are not in yet, since their trip is not over yet, and I’m still getting postcards every other day or so, but I’ll be sure to share it with you when it’s all done!  I’ll give you a hint:

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Until next week!

Kelsey