Music Streaming: A Dialogue.

Music Streaming: A Dialogue.

I have an inquiry that I’d like to open up for discussion because it’s something I struggle to understand. I know that I am privy to an extreme bias on the subject matter, so I hope that my inquiry will stir a constructive dialogue around the topic that might bring clarity or insight that I haven’t considered. 

I have made a living in the music industry for the last 8 years. That’s something I’m really proud of, because it’s something that I’ve wanted since the day I chose to embark on this career path. A sustainable business doing soothing that I love. 

I just released an album in Feb 2020. And a single accompanied by a video in January. The last time I released music was nearly 7 years ago. 

When I released my album 7 years ago, I did so with all the business-know-how, and music industry knowledge that I had at that time (yes, that was a solid zero). I received tremendous support from my family, community, and a humble network of supporters and fans. My success was modest from a numbers perspective. In hindsight I actually should’ve bragged myself up a bit more. I had an independently released single that broke top 50 on Canadian Country radio (might’ve even broke top 40, but my memory fails me) – which as an independent, female artist – I now understand is quite an accomplishment. (Huge thank you to The Bull 92.9 in Saskatoon because they were hugely impactful on that number.) Alas, at that time – if my single wasn’t top 10, it wasn’t worth my time mentioning where it actually landed. (I was rolling those big dreams y’all). 

Now, enter the year 2020 (pre-pandemic of course). I have a plethora of knowledge, training, experience, and know-how under my belt. I have strategy, confidence, an understanding of who I am as an artist (that’s a huge deal btw) and I released this project. 

*Please also take time to note that when I released my previous album, streaming was not yet a thing.*

I did not release this song to radio – so I can’t give comparable charting on that front. But the video was viewed over 15,000 times. The single was pre-ordered and purchased so much that I stayed at number one on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart for 3 days, and stayed in the top 10 for over a week. 

This is of course all thanks to my community, family and inner-network of supports stayed incredibly strong over the years, and even flourished to a broader range. (Yay us!)

I’m not telling you all this so you’ll high five me and give me a cookie (but also I wouldn’t say no ‘kay so don’t rule it out.) – I want to give you context for what I’m about to offer. 

With my first release, I had about 60 people at my album release show. And sold a CD to each and every person there. Some even bought two! 

With my second release, I held 3 shows, two of which were sold out, to an approximate total of 250 people. I sold about 30 CDs total. 

I get it, technology is advancing, CDs are becoming irrelevant. I knew that going in. All good. 

I was however, really impressed by the difference in the backend numbers on my online sales… 

That first album. That one that like… what, maybe 100-200 people purchased online? I probably made… $800-1000 in online sales from that album. (This was of course a time when people were paying approx $1 per song – and also over the duration of a year or so). 

Cut to now. I charted on iTunes with this single (this did not happen before, and the algorithm has not shifted dramatically from that point to this) – I did not have a video with 16k hits… 

I currently have $52 sitting in my online account from the online sales of my music for the first quarter of this year.

This is incredible to me. I knew that there would be impact adjusting to streaming – but this drastic of a difference came as a bit of a blow. Especially considering the broader reach I’ve been able to achieve with this release.

So enter, my topic of discussion. Where I would like you to weigh in… 

In all other forms of subscriptions, streaming services etc in other industries (ex: Netflix, Audible, Amazon Prime, Crave etc) – each of these there is a monthly charge that allows you unlimited access to the content on the platform. The difference I have noted between these services – and music services… is that you don’t pay Netflix a one-month fee and receive access to ALL movies, TV programs, and documentaries. There’s limitations.

If a brand new movie comes out – it’s exclusively released to theatres where you pay a premium to see it. If you don’t wanna pay, you wait. No biggie. It’s the way it’s always been done. You also might not find the movie you want to watch at all – whether is a licensing issue or whatever else prevents Netflix from having classics like Wayne’s World and The Princess Bride (bastards…).

My audible subscription gets me ONE book a month. Beyond that it offers me a discount for other books that I pay additionally for. 

If I want to watch a Disney movie… I have to subscribe to Disney AND Netflix. I want to watch HBO – no problem, I have to get a Crave subscription. [How many subscriptions do I have now?]

So, this is what I can’t figure out. Why is it that we get to have unlimited access to ALL music, ALL the time, with no limitations, exclusivity, or premiums… for one monthly payment? Why did music get the short end of the financial stick as technology has advanced? 

I love that we have this immediate availability of content. I love that my music can be accessed by someone in Okotoks and just as easily someone in Malaysia, Miami, and Australia… that’s amazing! But also kinda, what’s the point if I’m not able to recoup any of the financial investment I made in creating that work. Not to mention the tremendous investment of energy, love, and time.

What if when an album was released initially, it was released at a cost – you actually had to pay a bit up front to enjoy it immediately – or you could opt to wait until a later date to listen to it as a part of your streaming. 

T Swift drops her latest album: you can download the whole album immediately, listen as much as you want for the low price of $10 (in addition to your monthly subscription fee) – or opt to wait two months, and eventually it’s included in your streaming package. 

Sure, a lot of people would opt to include it in the streaming cost – but the fans wouldn’t. Fans want to hear the album NOW. And come on. You can’t afford a measly $10 for an album? It’s less than a movie ticket. And you don’t put the movie on repeat in your car 30 times over. 

Help me understand this peeps. Help me to get why it’s acceptable for music to be essentially free while we pay for all other forms of entertainment. 

This COVID epidemic has wounded my industry peers dramatically. Because they can’t. Play. Live.

This is now the only way we survive as full-time artists. We rely on the income drawn from live shows, ticket sales, merch sales. We rely on events and large gathers of people. And with the way music subscriptions are operating – we can’t fall back on income created by sales of our work. 

I’m scared for my friends guys. And my industry. I believe and always have believed in the ability to sustain a thriving economy in music; though these days it’s looking a little bleak. I think this is something that needs to be readdressed. There’s another solution available here. There has to be. 

In the mean time. Please consider helping out musicians, artists, and people that are making a living in this business. Buy their merch, donate to their GoFundMe accounts, buy a CD even if it’s just for the cover art, or consider donating to Unison Benevolent Fund

There will be a tremendous amount of economic impact felt in all industries; and with us,  being considered a ‘non-essential’ doesn’t help our cause. Which is unfortunate … because we are so essential. How many days have you gone without listening to music? How many times have you turned on your favourite album to lift the spirit of your 4th day in isolation at home?

We do need music. There is tremendous value in it. We need to treat it that way. 

Baby Brain.

Baby Brain.

You’ve heard the term ‘baby brain’ or ‘pregnancy brain’ right? I had too but I also refused to believe that it was real. I thought it was some creative excuse for fatigue-related forgetfulness, or even just a development of apathy for things that seemed to matter before and perhaps seem less important now. Hey man, no judgement and all – but don’t just make up a term for this thing that’s not real and try to trick the rest of us. Cool? Okay. 

I am incredibly vain about my intellect and prefer to keep it as sharp as possible. I like to think I’m smart – and am simultaneously incredibly insecure that I’m not smart. My pre-preganancy self would often make mindful decisions to keep my brain functioning optimally – including frequently making the choice to avoid drinking or the use of marijuana because of the lame-brain hangover effect. I noticed these substances notably dampening my cognitive process so much the next day that the loss of productivity became a huge deterrent for me. 

But here I am now… this grey fog has taken residence where my brain once was, and has dimmed my ability to process. Baby Brain. It’s incredibly real, and very humbling. In one week I didn’t show up for 3 different appointments – get this guys – because I FORGOT. I didn’t show up to a yoga class. That I TEACH. Because I FORGOT. Wut. 

I didn’t even realize that this was a reason you don’t show up to something. Slept in? It happens. Traffic? Sure. Family emergency? Of course. But just straight up don’t remember you’re supposed to be somewhere? Never. 

What’s that you say? Put it in your calendar? Well I would – but I keep FORGETTING to do that. And if I am lucky enough to put it in there. I’ll forget to check the damn calendar. It’s a fascinating development. 

Gotta tell you though. As mortified as I have been not showing up for these various appointments – there are some perks to my newly acquired state of dullness. 

I could swear I worry less. Actually, I know I worry less, probably because I forget half my problems. I can’t keep a running tally of everything that’s going on at all times… which would usually cause me more anxiety – but my brain also can’t keep up with caring either right now. So I just don’t. Being stupid is SO GREAT.

I had no idea this was what I was missing out on. Here I’m all worried about how my lack of brain function would impact my work, goals, and ambitions… but no, this is rad. The other day I even forgot to eat until my guts were attacking me from the inside. 

WAIT. WHAT. So you’re saying that this brain shift means I could care less, worry less, AND be really skinny because I also forget to eat. I love this. 

Being dumber is FUN. Why have I spent so much effort trying to educate and enlighten myself when NOT knowing is the most relaxed I’ve felt in years. I can just leave all the things that need to be done up to these other people with their shiny, sparkly brains. They’ve got it covered. 

So yeah. The point of my sitting down to write this morning was actually to tell you all about some other aspects and shifts that have occurred in my pregnancy – but I forgot that, that’s what I was gunna write about… so whatevs. 

In the mean time. #BabyBrainFTW

COVID 19 – IMO

COVID 19 – IMO

It’s tricky right? 

The whole pandemic around this virus. I know, you don’t want to see this right now. You’ve been inundated with a plethora of social media posts, opinions, memes, and countless articles and videos. Why another?

It’s incredibly difficult to sort ourselves out amongst all the noise.

I hope that we use this as an opportunity. One that requires us to reflect on our daily practices, to work at bettering our efficacy in communication, to ask questions, and more meaningful questions… to take time away from screens, take a breath, and consider what is meaningful and important.

I find it fascinating that this has occurred at the point in my life that it has. If I weren’t inviting an immune-compromised newborn into my home in a month’s time I probably wouldn’t sweat too much about it at all. I was really lucky to be raised in a home where we were discouraged from buying into mass panic, and rather take things one day at a time observe as it unfolds and respond as necessary. Remember Y2K? People ran around being batty about that too, and our home just wasn’t about the hype.

I don’t want to be in fear about this virus. I want to be aware, educated, and I’ve definitely appreciated the reminder to commit to a better and more thorough hand washing routine. But I’m not sure that the fear is acting in service of any of us.

Fear is the reason that there are violent exchanges in grocery stores over packages of toilet paper. Fear is the reason for the spread of misinformation, and lack of critical thinking and common sense.

We’re inundated with information, conspiracy theories, facts, statistics, data and inconclusive, misrepresented, or illusive interpretations of that data. I hope that we’re taking the time to step back. Turn off the TV, the Facebook feed, the endless news articles… this amount of information is impossible to effectively grasp without a proper amount of mental rest and reflection.

Each one of us needs time to allow our brain an opportunity to digest the extensive amount of information we’re accumulating. Time to think critically, rationally, and find an appropriate opinion, reaction, and plan. I feel that so many of us are operating in this purely reactionary state which is leading us to make impulsive and occasionally irrational decisions.

I truly believe that we’re going to walk out of this relatively unscathed, especially due to the cautious procedures being taken by so many businesses and industries. Many of whom are taking incredible financial losses in effort to assure our health and wellness as a population. So when we come out of this, are you going to be proud of your behaviour and choices? Will you have been someone that helped, and made a positive impact? Or at the bare minimum, someone that did not cause injury, or create a lack of resources to someone beside you. We all want to prioritize the health of our family and household – but no one of our lives is less important than the rest. It’s entirely possible for us to look beyond ourselves, even in a periods of crisis. Honestly, especially in periods of crisis. 

I hope that those that have acquired a surplus of resources – including but not limited to toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products – are opening their cupboards and sharing with those that run out. There’s a real part of me that wants to believe that the people that have made it such a priority to accumulate surplus of resources are distributing these generously to people that are in greater risk circumstances: elderly, those with pre-existing respiratory illness, pregnant women, those with newborn babies, the immune compromised, and/or schools and nursing homes. 

Please consider the positive impact you could create at this time by investing in local businesses, restaurants, venues, and performers; this event is incredibly impactful on an economic level and I know how much these people would appreciate your support and patronage at this time.

We need to unite. Maybe not in-person for a little while (ha) … but this every-man-for-himself mentality is incredibly destructive, and counter-productive. Look out for someone next to you. If we all do that, we’ll all be taken care of. 

Stay safe peeps. And wash your hands. 

#SpreadKindness #NotCorona 

It’s TWINS!

It’s TWINS!

Well… according to some it would appear that way.

Maybe it’s some sort of thing you’re just supposed to experience at some point during pregnancy… like a weird rite of passage. For someone to say something insensitive, undermining, or inconsiderate. 

I actually thought I was going to get through this pregnancy relatively unscathed by the outside world – I thought that maybe because I chose to experience such tremendous self-inflicted mental and emotional hardship that it would somehow fulfill this weird self-esteem deterioration quota and no one would say dumb, hurtful things to pregnant-me. 

Alas, no. 

While in New York City with my mum, we stopped to grab a snack – an unplanned stop that was inspired entirely by my need to pee. When we got up from our brief meal, an elderly woman looked at me rather expressionless and said: “Twins?” 

I smiled awkwardly: “No.” I hoped she’d back-pedal or perhaps show some sign of sheepishness because this type of question is much like asking a woman if she’s pregnant and finding out she’s not. Sort of a social faux-pas, right? I put too much faith in this particular stranger. 

“Are you sure?” 

My smile tightened – “I’m sure, yes.” I’m now picking up my pace and hoping this exchange will end – ah, but not before she gets one final comment in there: “I think it’s twins.” 

Cool. Thank you lady. I now feel like a million bucks. 

This part of pregnancy has been tough for me. The whole weight thing. I have never weighed this much my entire life. And I’ve been mentally trying to balance this whole concept: weight is okay because you’re pregnant… but also, don’t gain too much because that’s an unhealthy pregnancy… It’s kind of been a trip. I’ve had periods of eating really well, really healthy foods – and I’ve had other periods where I’ve been sustained entirely on pizza pops, burgers, cheese, and bagels. 

I’ve struggled with my body image a lot. I have had a lot of flare ups from my eating disorder days. I have a hard time looking at photos of myself. I have this very noisy mind-goblin that’s done a great job of making sure I notice the people around me that are carrying their babies and their weight tremendously more gracefully than I. 

I really don’t want be crowding my brain with this type of bullshit because I believe that my mind is a space of limitless potential, and it does such a disservice to invest any amount of its power into this. My mental real estate is of great value, and I won’t be letting the slums take over the neighbourhood. 

I started feeling a lot physically better in my pregnancy approaching the 6th month mark. I also started to level out emotionally. I started to be able to catch some of the waves and patterns, anticipate more challenging days and manage them with greater ease. It was at this point I decided I also wanted to consciously change my attitude towards this experience. I didn’t want to have a crappy pregnancy. I didn’t want to be someone that ‘hated being pregnant’. 

I see pregnancy as an opportunity, and a gift – regardless of the challenges it’s brought into my head (and my ability to fit pants). It doesn’t escape me that what is happening within me right now is really phenomenal. To have your body facilitate the process of creating an actual living, breathing, human life – from a few tiny cells. It’s remarkable, truly. 

I wanted to be able to be present with this experience, and create joy in it. I still had these last few months to do so! 

And I feel that I’ve done a pretty good job since I decided to change my own mind about the whole thing. I’ve become better at laughing at my cumbersome and awkward moments, rolling with the rolls (badum tsss), and even embracing the vastness that has become my rear end.

But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard some days. And unfortunately it still hurts when someone, who probably intends no harm, comments on my size with a complete absence of awareness and just so happens to trigger my dormant insecurity. Disturbing the fragile peace that I’ve created. 

After my interaction with this woman (and a an afternoon of obsessively assessing my body in every reflective surface I saw) I sent texts to a couple close friends because I needed support outside myself to help regain my stability. They offered incredible, wise words of encouragement and love; and helped me to patch up these emotional owies and rebuild my self-esteem. 

It made me think – that maybe these challenges that shake us, that deeply affect our self-esteem and inner sense of value and worthiness… maybe it’s in these moments of vulnerability and fragility that we’re forced into the care of our surrounding networks. Maybe that’s the point. 

I’ve been wildly independent for my whole life. I have always liked to be alone. I have travelled more often by myself than I ever have with a companion. Until only recently, I have operated an entire career as my own manager, booking agent, book keeper, marketer (etc). All the sports I played in High School were solo-type sports (track & field). I can suck at reaching out. I can suck at relying on a network.

I have been repeatedly humbled during this pregnancy by needing help… and maybe it’s all a part of laying the groundwork for when this baby actually arrives. I’ll need to open myself up to ask for more help than ever before.

So, thanks lady. For making me feel temporarily like garbage so that I could practice reaching out, and letting myself be supported, loved, and encouraged by the amazing people I have close to me. 

Dear Pregnant Me.

Dear Pregnant Me.

The following is a letter I wrote myself about 5 years ago. I came across it recently when I was sorting through the Notes app on my phone. I keep an absurd amount of notes at any given time – song and blog ideas, quotes, lists, reminders… a little bit of everything. And I suppose I felt the desire one day to contemplate what my future pregnant self might need to hear. It was really cool to read… almost a time capsule of sorts.

It wasn’t something I intended to be for public viewing so it’s written a bit carelessly; It pains me not to edit it… but I won’t. I’d like it to remain as authentic as possible. I found reading this to be such a comfort, and it made me smile. It’s also inspired me to write another letter to my future self – to new-mum-me. Perhaps there will be something comforting, familiar, and warm in reading my own advice and opinions for the mother version of myself.

Written sometime in 2015…

Dear Pregnant Me,

Firstly, congratulations. I’m not sure if you’re excited or your scared… or both! But either way, congrats are in order. 

Being that this is a letter from your younger, less-wise, less-knowledgable (and probably less-tactful self) I’ll ask in advance for your good humour whilst reading my letter. 

I am proud of you for this commitment. I know that it’s something you’ve struggled with on and off for years and that you’ve wound up here is amazing and admirable. 

I am nervous for you… I’m nervous about how we will react to a changing body, about what changes will occur – physically, mentally, hormonally… 

I am scared about how this will change our life. About unfinished business and travel. I’m scared that I haven’t accomplished enough. I’m scared I won’t be a good example. I’m scared that I am bringing a child into a world that has so many scary things. So I hope that you are braver than me. Well, I KNOW that you are braver than me. 

I am fascinated and totally psyched about this tiny human wiggling around in there. And poking it periodically. As a body/anatomy nerd – this will be the opportunity of a lifetime. 

I am mourning for you the loss of wine, sushi and a full-on yoga practice for a duration of time. 

I have never doubted your ability to meet this challenge face on and do a great job. I think you will do a great job as a parent. You will have some shitty days as all do, but I think you have gained a lot of knowledge – and hopefully even more at this point. Patience will be your lifeline and your greatest friend… please tell me you’re more patient than I – because we will NEED to be! 

Here’s my advice for this pregnancy… (as an unmarried, childless person that really knows nothing) 

  • nap as often as you want to. Seriously. Like every day. I mean it. 
  • Eat sensibly. 
  • Meditate. Can you try to work this in regularly? (I’m *still* trying to get into a groove right now. Maybe I’ll have this figured out for you by then) 
  • practice yoga (modify where you need to… but don’t leave the mat behind) 
  • exercise sensibly
  • take care of you… do things for yourself, be selfish, spend your time exactly the way you want to – let no one tell you differently. 
  • Keep close friends close. 

I am concerned about you post-partum.I am nervous about your reaction to your physical body as you have a bit of a rough past with your self image… I am scared about unfinished business and how it could play into this. So please, please be mindful – and take the extra care that’s needed for your mental health. Be patient with yourself. Take time and continue to do what you need to support yourself. Also, don’t read into that new-mom stuff too much. EVERYone has an opinion these days and that judgey crap does nothing good for the soul. People raised babies perfectly well before Facebook and Pinterest. I fully believe it’s possible to continue to do so without it. 

Love always,
Me

In Gratitude.

In Gratitude.

Thank you. Thank you for saying no, so that I could learn I was facing the wrong direction. Thank you for hurting me. I’m now resilient, brave, and fierce. Thank you for your cruelty. The wounds that your words created helped me to understand the importance of compassion. Thank you for disapproving of me. I now look within myself to know what feels right and wrong. Thank you for judging me. You helped me to understand that my own opinion of myself is the most important for me to live authentically and with joy. Thank you for doubting me. It helped me to understand that my belief in myself is crucial. Thank you for denying me opportunity. I learned that my opportunities are in different places. Thank you for not paying me enough. I know now that my worth is not, and never was, negotiable. Thank you for your abuse. I didn’t know how strong I was until you. Thank you for underestimating me. It forced me to keep rising. Thank you. Thank you for helping me see the person I am. What I am truly capable of. What I didn’t know I could be. If I had only ever received support, love, grace, patience, compassion … I wouldn’t have known my true capacity. For a muscle to be strong and healthy, it must both release and contract. It’s a combination of opposing forces that create true strength. Thank you for being the other side. Thank you for being what I never wanted, but I’ve always needed. Thank you for playing a role in what has made me, the me I am right now.