The Music Industry never has and never will stand still. Its a game of snakes and ladders. One minute you are at the top and everyone loves you and with the next roll of the dice, you are sliding down the snake again. Darn it…I didn’t see that coming ! At which point there is only one thing to do, shake yourself off and get right back on the treadmill. Well, no actually, better still, kick the treadmill over and try a new approach.
The first thing I wrote in my diary for this year was a promise to myself to take more risks….’If not now, when?' And ‘Giving up is not an option’!
Creating a successful song, is not an exact science, it’s messy, we get rejected, pushed around, or even worse “ ignored”. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves; basically there isn’t time and anyway, that’s all part of the game!
One of the most influential books I’ve ever read was written in the 1930’ s and it was by Francis Shovel Shin. It was called ‘The Game of Life and How to Play It' In one sentence it’s about not taking life personally and to just play another card. As a creative junkie, I’d say that staying alert in the ‘game’ is essential. Who holds the ‘power’ in any given situation?
The Song is the currency of the Music Industry; a commodity that is bought and sold. For those whose passion is songwriting there is often a conflict between the pure art form and commercial success. Finding the balance between creativity and earning a living is a delicate business and it’s not for the faint hearted.
But knowledge of how the business side operates is extremely important if you actually want to make it part of your chosen career path as opposed to just a hobby.
That’s why Dr. Jacqui Norton and I will be touring HMPs during the Summer as part of our Arts Council funded project The Lyrics,The Music and The Money!
Our new 6x30 minute TV series about the Music Industry, with a focus on the business side. (I know mentioned we were writing it in an earlier blog) It was produced and presented by myself and Jacqui with Alex Wiley on camera and sound and its just launched this month broadcast by People Plus and Wayout TV, an in-cell educational TV service for HMPs.
It will be shown via two channels in 77 prisons across England and Wales as a scheduled program with a potential audience of 58,000 residents followed by a summer ‘tour’ of some of the prisons which will be delivered as a full day workshop with Q&A sessions.
As Jacqui said ‘There are some great initiatives that support music as an art form, but this TV series is a world first in prison to offer advice and knowledge about the ‘business’ itself and the importance of copyright.'
The series, is also supported by a workbook that includes, questions, puzzles, important tips, reading list, and websites of industry organisations. On successful completion of the course HMP residents will receive a certificate of recognition.
And I should mention we had enthusiastic input from the guests on our program too with industry talent such as Dr Jon Stewart from the band Sleeper, producer David Smart (alias Dr Duce), producer/songwriter Pete Woodroffe, plus Mike Lindup Level 42, and Nyah Smith . As part of the A&R and Artist Development section of the program they listened to the music and tracks from HMP residents and offered advice on how to take their music to ‘the next level’.
And in case anyone feels uncomfortable about mixing with those behind bars, it should be pointed out that there have been many industry professionals, past and present that have served time: Sir Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Mark Morrison, Pete Doherty, Steve Earle, Lauren Hill and James Brown to name just a few. And there are currently 81,000+ prisoners in the UK.
Basically, our motto is to 'Educate, Mentor and Inspire' and if we can do that through music and let someone know that the songs they write have value, then hopefully they will feel valued too, and realize they can contribute through their creativity to a community beyond the wall.