Friday, September 18, 2015

Nashville adventures, Americana Music Association conference 2015.

Don Henley at the Ryman. This one's for my dad.
It's been a week. Some sad family things that I'm not going to write about on the blog (believe it or not, I don't actually tell you everything that is going on in my life). Some happy family things. Some things that have compelled me to be contemplative and keep to myself. It's not particularly good timing, but then when is it ever?

I'm down in Nashville for the first time in so many years. Five maybe? I can't recall. I used to come down here once a week, do session work, write songs with people, play utility man in bands, go to Loser's at 2pm and find accordion work. Nashville (and 90% of the people here) seems to have had its teeth whitened a few times since then, and I barely recognize the place. Buildings and storefronts have come and gone since the 2007 era (remember that season of Nashville Star when I was a semi-finalist? Ha ha, I had forgotten too! Hey, lookie at that list, Kacey Musgraves was a semi-finalist too that year.).

But Noshville still has challah french toast, and it's still worth the 175 mile drive from my house.
Challah french toast, a Kindle, a blank notebook. Solo time.
The Americana Music Association conference has also changed quite a bit since the days when I was a regular delegate. The enthusiasm is still there, but the music has enjoyed such mainstream success that the conference seems huge now.

I'm not one to roll my eyes at anyone or anything who has success. But popularity, combined with difficulty in flipping on the extrovert switch (I swear, I used to be able to just take that deep breath and introduce myself to strangers), has made this year's conference somewhat uncomfortable for me.

Part of me feels irrelevant. Part of me feels like I've been doing it right all along. Like, the panels are about self-releasing and how you don't need labels anymore, which is, um, what I've been saying for a hundred years? Because labels rarely do any of the work for you any more, so then why would you share the profits? Especially in an time when there ARE no profits? So unless you have a trust fund, or you're living with your girlfriend rent-free, then you kind of need to pay the bills.

Anyway, it's funny when I go to a panel that suggests doing things that aren't related to music in order to stay engaged with your audience. "Start a blog! Post pictures of your pets or breakfast on Instagram!"

I still haven't been able to answer the question I came down here with, however, which is: how does an indie artist do a self-release in 2015? I knew how to do it in 2008. I knew how to do it with small EPs designed only for small tours in Europe. But I'm working on a full-length recording that I hope to finish very, very soon. What do I do with it? Specifically, what are the steps? Do I bother hiring radio promoters? I had tons of "adds" on the last album, but none of those adds translated into sales. Do I just hire a booking agent and tour like crazy? That means hiring a tour nanny because no way can I leave my kiddo for long periods of time.

Anyway, I start babbling about the music industry on my blog, and that means my loyal blog readers flip over to their Pinterest pages ... so I shall stop here.

Houndmouth at the Ryman. 
Keb Mo at the Ryman. With Lucille, BB King's guitar.
I went to a lot of AMA UK events because I am obsessed with the UK. As you know. But this is an American band, the Wild Ponies. How do I get on the AMA UK roster???? I loved seeing this band because it was the only time at the conference I saw an unestablished woman artist who was over thirty performing. She was awesome.

A panel at the AMA conference. Singer Amy Black, on the right, offers excellent advice.  

Buffy St. Marie singing "Universal Soldier" at the Ryman.

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