Lines in the Sand- follow up

Dear Indie Girl, 

I want to clarify some thoughts from my last letter. 

Although I described the catalyst for this revelation in my life as that one bar in Ann Arbor, on that one night when my dad came to watch me play… the sum of my frustration with playing at bars, clubs, and venues like these does not stem from this one event.  It had been building up over a period of time, and continued to build up after that conversation with my dad on the drive home.  And the post was really talking about all of these events as a whole experience, not this one gig in Ann Arbor.  

So, I’m going to share a bit more of myself and my background to maybe shed some light and make my intentions for such a strong declaration more transparent. 

Many of you already know that I started writing and singing professionally in a duet with my sister, Aubree, when I was about 15 years old.  We wrote Christian music, played for local churches and had a manager.  If you don’t know, a concert at a church is a VERY different experience than a gig at a bar/club.  One is an Event, the other is more or less background music.  I fell in love with performing while playing regularly for church audiences who were attentive, and interactive.  We didn’t have social media to fuel our interaction with fans, it was all live shows, and some of those fans have followed my career through various changing seasons, and continued their gracious support.

The letter I posted earlier this week, was really me expressing some birthing pains, if you will, for the next phase in my career.  I’ve been feeling the tug on my heart to get back to my roots. After College, I felt the need to prove that I wasn’t just another CCM artist who fell into Christian music because it was expected or because it was all I knew.  I wanted to explore my options and find other kinds of venues and audiences to perform for. And I did.  And it made me a better writer, a better performer, and I think a more well rounded musician and person. It also, just about, burned me out.  It’s time to go home.

 

The venues we’re lining up for the coming months are mostly churches, listening rooms, colleges and conferences around Michigan.  I’ve also joined forces with Be Loud Promotions recently, a grass roots Christian PR/booking company based out of Muskegon and we’re in the process of booking a “Ladies Night Out” tour featuring myself and Katy Kinard for churches near Tennessee and then a follow up tour around the Midwest.  I’m really excited about the changes we’re making and I feel more and more confident that it fits our music best!  

I want to be clear that this move is not about naming some venues as bad, and others as good, but it’s about me trying to figure out where my audience is.  For the past few years I’ve played just about wherever I was invited to sing, with few exceptions, mostly because I didn’t have a clear understanding of who my audience was and where to find them.  This is about finding those places where my fans already are and building my career there. I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported my music through the years and has followed the Rising Tide wherever we go, even if you can’t be there in person, your support is always appreciated! 

Love to you all,

Kelsey 

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Drawing lines in the sand

Dear Indie Girl, 

This weekend I had a perfectly pleasant gig at Ecclesia church in Muskegon, MI.  I met new people who were excited to become fans, buy CDs and invited me back to sing in the future (I mean quickly wanted to set down a date). This seems like like such a boring update maybe, but to me, it’s a huge victory.

About a year ago I played a gig at a bar in Ann Arbor and I brought my dad along with me.  I’ve played lots of bar gigs, and they’ve never been my favorite, but I put up with it… after all, it’s part of the job, right?  

While playing song after song and pouring my heart out to a crowd of people talking over me (who were actually watching a football game and yelling at the ref) with my dad sitting at the booth in the back of the bar, I got this strange feeling of shame.  Like I was giving away something precious, and my Father, who has always encouraged me to write and perform my music, was witnessing this reality for the first time.  That night on the drive home, he encouraged me that I deserved to be treated better at my shows.  That I deserved shows where people would listen because I had something important to share.

Nothing against this bar in particular or any other bar for that matter.  I just hate, no, loath playing at them (coffee houses aren’t much better).  Why?  No one is listening.  No one buys anything or signs the email list.  And most often, I don’t get paid.  I might as well be playing songs in my living room at home… where I also am not building a fan base or making any money, but the bathroom is clean, it doesn’t smell like beer, and the only guy that hits on me is the one I’m married to.  

I’ve learned in the last year that any show I play must do one of two things.  1. Build a fan base.  Get the word out to new people who will sign the email list, follow us online, and tell their friends about us.  Without fans, I have no career.  2. Pay me actual money (like that stuff that buys gas for my car and keeps loan sharks away).  This is not a hobby any more.  It’s fine that it started that way.  But now I have a degree in music, and I have bills to pay (largely because of that degree), and money is essential to do this.  I also have to eat, and pay for gas and travel expenses.  And I need to save up for future expenses like recording more albums, and buying more merchandise to sell… without paid gigs, this is impossible.  Now, I do have a day job teaching music lessons, but honestly, what’s wrong with asking for money to do what I’m skilled and trained to do?

Because of this, I’ve decided, unless the above requirements are met, to stop playing at bars and coffee houses.  

Sometimes we just have to draw lines in the sand.

love,

Kelsey