Observations and Music Merchandise


DeathtoStock_NotStock10Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I had the privilege of working the merchandise booth recently for a friend, and I observed some aspects that made me a think a little deeper about the realm of sales and the point of purchase. I wanted to share what I was able to procure from this experience:

  1. Presentation is important. People are drawn to things that look good. That’s just a pretty obvious point to most things in life in general. Attractive people, attractive homes, attractive clothing- you name it. So make it pleasing to the eye. Even small touches like how it’s arranged or the orderliness could go a long way.  So give some thought to placement and the “how” behind it all.
  2. Sales can be low, so make it easy for people to purchase. People seem to be purchasing more online these days, so music merchandise tables are no different. With comments like “oh yeah, I can just buy this online,” there’s a definite sign that the times of purchasing have changed. With the ability to purchase later online, there’s no sense of urgency. I mean, I can worry about this later so no need to whip out cash or card now, right? Another thing to consider is making your price points visible. People who might be willing to give 5 or 25 should all be made to feel welcome. Create a legible sign. Let your sign show that this is the 5 dollar price point, this is the 10, this is the 20 and on to the package deal at 25-30. Oftentimes, people already have their spending limit in their mind. If you had something at their particular price level, they could purchase on the spot. Whether it’s an online store or a brick and mortar, make pricing easy to read and available. There’s nothing more unsettling than not knowing price and having to ask. No one likes to think- If I have to ask, then I must not be able to afford it. That’s isolating and arrogant on the part of the seller. Be proud of your product and be confident enough to know that it’s worth every penny.  
  3. Interaction is imperative. Be friendly and engage with all people who may come your way. Ask people how they are doing and engage them. People may want to chat for a bit. If so, they may linger and purchase something. It is important that you have someone work your merchandise table while you play. If people decide to purchase any merchandise during your set and your table is vacant, they may move on and not come back later in the evening. If your music is strictly online, then make yourself accessible somehow. People sometimes need help, so be around when they need it.  

So, consider the details, because they are important. Don’t minimize the preparation and attention you give to your merchandise and your merchandise table. If you actually take care about the tiny things, the larger things in your career and life may just take of themselves.

Be faithful in the small things 🙂

~lme

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30A Songwriters Fest Spotlight on Caroline Cotter


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I wanted to feature my next 30A Songwriters Fest songwriter, Caroline Cotter. With a voice as sweet as a budding flower and the fabulous content of a travel diary, she’ll pull you close like a warm embrace. Her music transports me to some farm in Connecticut as if were going to pick apples and get maple syrup or across the ocean to another country in Europe.  She’s a lovely storyteller, so you have to listen carefully to her lyrics or you’ll miss a page of the story.  Journey in C is one of my favorites. She sings, has harmony, snaps the whole song and it’s a travel dialogue. You know it’s a good song when you can just listen and there’s not even any instrumentation but the vocals. Love it! You can hear it here.

Her strong love of travel is something that connects me to her story. From her Biography online:  “Music has always been at the heart of Caroline’s life, alongside an insatiable passion for travel and global exploration.  In the past ten years, Caroline has lived in and traveled to 27 countries on five continents. While writing and recording Dreaming as I Do, she spent the last few years working for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Portland, Maine. CIEE provided amazing opportunities for international community and travel, and further inspired Caroline’s songwriting.”

So, please check out her music and drift off into a world of peoples, places and ideas. I think you’ll find it absolutely perfect for daydreaming on a Tuesday afternoon.

~lme

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Simple Love lyrics


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Just thought I would share some lyrics from a song I co-wrote with my friend, Denny Burton, who is back in Canada for the summer.  This song touches on the simplicity that should be at the base of a real relationship.  It’s really very simple and we convolute it.  And ultimately loving someone, despite requiring work, shouldn’t be agonizing.  If people are meant to be in our lives, they will be naturally. Love shouldn’t be forced and shoved like cramming as much you can into a crowded suitcase. Hopefully this song will be gracing listeners with its presence on one of my upcoming recording projects! Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below 🙂

Simple Love

Winter nights were growing cold

Lonely footprints in the snow

Faint light

Comin’ from my room

What once was fire in my soul

Are embers that I hardly hold

And I hope it changes soon

Yeah, I hope it changes soon

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

 

Warmer weather’s blowin in

Chasin out what might have been

there’s time for something new

Love in boxes that I own

I’ve been told they’ll find a home

Don’t try

But I do

Don’t try

But I do

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

 

Oh simple love

Just take your time

I’ll be still

and let you find

Me

here

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

~lme

Songstress Night at the Bluebird!


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Last week I had the pleasure of playing the Bluebird Cafe alongside several other talented female singer, songwriters at Chick Singer Night hosted by Jaclyn Brown.  I played alongside such talented ladies as Sam Hatmaker, Rhetta Jane and Peyton Parker.  It was so nice to be featured along with these ladies at one of the greatest intimate venues in Nashville.  It was great to have my mom in town for the show and then to pull my sister up onstage to sing my final song, Pilgrim, that my brother and I wrote together back in Texas years ago.

After my show, I had a moment to reflect on one aspect of the gig experience that I really enjoy.  It’s the post-show conversations.  Of course the music and the performing and selling merch go into it, but connecting with people is enjoyable to me.  Those conversations with new musician friends, visitors from other states, someone celebrating a birthday, sisters from New York, a couple from Gulf Shores and three gals from Scotland who were traveling around America for several weeks make it worthwhile.  It’s those moments with people that really bring me to a good place as an artist.  Take away the drama and the makeup and the stage and the lights and I really love the opportunities I have to connect with humanity.  I love to see the similarities in the human race as we are bonded through our shared love of music.  Despite the fact that there is a lot of bad out there, I continually meet people who redeem my view of humankind.  I realize there kind souls who want the same things for their families and just want to make a good life for themselves.  Human connection resonates with me just as much as the chords I play on my instruments.  As I begin booking my first tour for this fall, I hope I will make new friends, share stories with those on the road and come back richer from my experiences while sharing music in the great, big, wonderful, frightening, humbling and rad world we live in.

~lme

Who ya doing it for?


bluebirdAs I am hours away from playing my first slot at the famous Bluebird Cafe (which is sold out!!!),  I am going to ask myself, and my musician readers, a really important question.  Who are we doing this for? Why do we make music and when we are performing, where is our head?  I believe when performing and marketing and anything musical, our fans should be kept in mind.  But I want to pose a thought to each performing artist out there.  And I realized this while watching a talented man with just himself and his guitar perform last week.  You have to come to the point as an artist where you don’t wholeheartedly “do what you do” for other people.  While the two girls in front of me rattled on about their lives and people were laughing it up during a contemplative song by the artist, I had this realization.  He was in his zone, living in the moment, because he does it for himself and seemed to exude a genuine love for what he did.  It’s almost as you have to forget what the other people are doing, saying, thinking or that they may not even like what you sing and play.  Deep down, it has to be in you to perform the best that you can whether there are 2 people listening or thousands of screaming fans.

The music should be sewn inside your heart and the will to find joy no matter the setting.  Come to think of it, performing onstage is a lot like life.  Despite the storms, the frustrations, the struggles or what it took to get you there, joy can’t be based on circumstances.  So as we live our lives, may we carry our fire inside, and find joy in the beauty of the gift as opposed to seeking the recognition that may come along with the gift.

Keep giving it your all and putting your heart into it 🙂

~lme

Right where I belong


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Photo Courtesy:  Fall 2014 Issue of NSAI membership magazine

There is something providentially beautiful about turning around, seeing where you’ve been and then looking around you and realizing everything you have been through has led you right here to this place.  Some things are not handed to you on a platter, and in fact, most things aren’t.  You have to work hard to build a reputation anywhere and you have to work hard to achieve the goals you set forth for yourself.  I feel strongly at times that experiences in my work life (and even my personal life) have led me to my path in music.  Here are some highlights that I’ve considered lately…

1.  Having  jobs that were not ideal and multiple jobs at one time kept me grounded.  You have to learn you are really low on the totem pole in the music industry.  You can’t think, act or talk like you are a big shot when you have very minimal accreditations on your music resume.  You learn that acting like some rockstar doesn’t get you far and doesn’t garner respect from those who have put countless hours in.  A good rule of thumb is to let another man’s lips praise you and not your own (Proverbs 27:2).   To earn respect in an industry as old as the music industry, it will take awhile in the community.  So remember- every choice you make will affect who you are and what others think of you.

2.  Working at small businesses and a startup for more than 10 years has taught me how to tackle projects I have never done.  If you want to survive in an ever-changing music industry, you have to be versatile.  You have to learn to do things you’ve never done and you have to teach yourself how to do some of these things.  From setting up an entire sound system to figuring out your best social media campaign approach, you have to be willing to try, learn and possibly fail.  I’ve learned a lot from the entrepreneurs i have surrounded myself with in the past ten years of my life.  There must be an element of bravery to daily walk into the unknown and tell yourself that it’s going to be ok as an entrepreneur.

3.  Finishing college taught me the power and beauty of sticking with something until it was complete.  There were times in college I was so exhausted and wanted to quit.  When I recorded my first EP and worked a 40 hour a week job, I wanted to quit at times too.  But I pushed myself through the exhaustion, kept reaching for the goal and eventually completed a project I could feel really great about.  You don’t learn to do the hard things unless you make yourself do the hard things.  Commitment and a strong work ethic don’t just happen- they must be cultivated in the days when you don’t feel like it and are mentally, physically and emotionally at your breaking point.

4.  Working in so many different types of jobs from food service to education to photography to natural foods to retail has taught me how to work with a plethora of personality types.  In the music industry, you meet a host of different people.  You must interact with people who are different than you and you must learn to respect others and communicate effectively with them.  I’m so thankful to have had the time to hone these interpersonal skills through all of my various interactions from Austin to Nashville and traveling abroad.  Your relationships with others will grow your career roots over time, so don’t minimize the effectiveness of cultivating those relationships.

5.  Moving to nine places of residence and various states within a 10 year time frame has taught me how to build community and quickly make friends.  When you’re a stranger you have to learn to adapt and quickly make friends.  I don’t meet many strangers, so thankfully I was blessed with the ability to connect with others around me.  I’m thankful to have had to sink or swim by building a support system around me.  This has prepared me for building a fan base for my music and connecting to people through my art.  Without past experiences, I would not have have those skills that I now need so much.

I hope that no matter who you are, you are able to look back and see the reasons for your life unfolding as it has.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand at the moment.  But then at times, you turn around, look how far you’ve come and realize there is something pretty spectacular about where you are standing right now.  Feel free to tell me about similar experiences you’ve had in the comments below.

~lme

Recent Happenings


columnsI had the pleasure of playing the annual Southern Festival of Books in downtown Nashville a few weeks ago. It was a great festival put on by Humanities Tennessee that hosts writers, readers, publishers, literacy organizations, booksellers and more. Despite rain that came, I was given moments of reprieve to load and uload my gear, play a nice set, meet vance the great sound guy (who also does sound at the Acme Feed and Seed downtown Nashville) and play some music for some open ears. The banners hanging from the great architecture downtown made the event seem stately, astute and almost as if I had transported back to the Greco-Roman empire.

Closely tied to this, I realized how amazing it is that I live in a place with the opportunity to read, grow and dream. Not many have that opportunity. Not many have parents who taught them to read, explore a library and get lost within the adventure of a book. I’m so thankful to have had an upbringing like that. May the literacy numbers be higher every year as people are taught to read and think for themselves thanks to the hard work of various organizations. Thanks to Humanities Nashville for having me!

~lme

Feel free to say hello and let me know what other festivals around town you love to frequent and hear great live music!

Exciting music news!


pandora

Hi there!  Just wanted to let everyone know who has been so supportive of me that Pandora let me know that you can now hear my music on the channel Leah and the Blackland Ballad! SO COOL!!! There are various other artists including The Vespers, Jessica Campbell and more.  So give it a listen wherever you are!

Also here are some show dates for anyone who would like to come out and hear some live music…

~Southern Festival of Books in downtown Nashville at the corner of Charlotte and 6th at the Music Stage from 3-4 on October 10th.

~Fiber in the Boro in Murfreesboro, TN November 1st in Rutherford County- check it out here

If you or someone you know would be interested in hosting a house show, feel free to shoot me an email at leahemusic@gmail.com.  Or just say hey and let me know where you’d like to hear me play in the form below…

Thanks for a great show at PorchFest!


Wanted to say thanks to PorchFest in the Westhaven area in Franklin for letting me play this past Saturday.  Here are some photos from the event.  It was such a great event to play and meander the neighborhoods to see live music on the porches of homeowners.  I had the opportunity to enjoy musical acts like Boy named Banjo and Alyssa Bonagura.  Everyone should come out to next year’s PorchFest in crowdprofileWesthaven!porch performance

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Here a show, there a show…


 

I’m excited to announphotoce that I’m participating in the 3rd Annual Westhaven Porchfest. Come on down for this free event June 21st for some great music & food trucks. Swing by 1120 Westhaven around 4 pm to hear me play the stage with several other great acts.  Lightning 100 will also be broadcasting with some great bands throughout the afternoon and evening!

 Click the link for the complete schedule. http://www.westhaventn.com/Porchfest_Schedule_and_Map.php