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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A Comman Case of the Shoulds


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Photo Credit: DeathtoStock Photos

We spend a considerable amount of mental time and energy in the world of the “shoulds.” I should have been farther by now. I should be married. I should look like him or her. I should not still be struggling with this. This should not bother me. I should have gotten so much more accomplished today.  I should, I should, I should…. let’s breathe. And consider a few things about the should thoughts that tend to float into our minds or rather attack our minds…

  1.  You are where you are today. And that’s ok. One powerful thing a therapist once told me was- “you’re exactly where you need to be.” There’s purpose in that. There’s power in the process, in learning how to gradually grow. There’s beauty in realizing how vulnerable and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. No matter what the struggle, no matter how deep, no matter the pain, or how big that heap….. every mountain can be conquered step by step if you keep moving forward.
  2. How much of the “shoulds” are actually imposed perceptions by others OR supposedly imposed perceptions by others? Begin to ask yourself questions when a should pops up suddenly. Do you honestly want the things others want for you? Do you have the same worldview as them? Do you care about the same things they do? How much should their opinion affect you like the ankle weight they are? What if we began to challenge what others decided for our lives and decided to consider what was truly best, healthy and balanced for ourselves.
  3. Let the “should” only be used as a short emotional spurt of inspiration to spur you onto greater accomplishments. Want to conquer a goal and say I “Should” be here in my career? Then turn that statement quickly into a “how could I accomplish that” or “how might I find that purpose or enjoyment in another area of my life if I can’t be there today?” Then begin to map out small steps for improvement in that area. Even the tiniest incremental changes are STILL CHANGE 🙂

All in all, the “should” statements and thoughts focus on what we lack in our being. What if we were less harsh to ourselves and encouraging of the growth, gifts and goodness we did see in ourselves. Lovingkindness should be directed not only to others, but also to ourselves. And THAT is a “should” statement I think we can all get behind.

~lme

Open scars


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Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I burned myself recently on the heating element of my oven…. yes, cooking accidents are my forte.  And that burn was a doozy.  And as I’ve watched it heal recently, I began to think about it.  I thought about how I hadn’t covered it with a bandaid, and I hadn’t even really doctored it.  I just kept it clean and watched the skin began to re-construct the layers that had been melted.

And then I thought about what a perfect metaphor and reminder it was of scars in general and the struggles we endure in this life.  And I thought…. What if we didn’t hide our scars?  So what if I wasn’t able to keep my left index finger from scarring.  A blemish- the horror of horrors! What if each time I saw it, I was reminded of that painful memory?  And what if I didn’t try to cover it up, make it heal prettier or sugar coat what really happened to that piece of skin? Why not leave the scars and the stories on myself of all the things I’ve experienced or lived through in this short life on earth.

And just like letting my skin scar, I thought a little more.  What if we were more open about our blemishes, struggles, failures and imperfections.  I know we claim pretty openly to be imperfect, but do we really believe that and own it?  Or do we still feel we are trying to reach some unattainable goal the world or culture has set for us? In a world fixated on perfections, fancy creams, liposuction, tanning beds, hair dyes and spanks, it’s rather hard to want to accept and be ok with the shortcomings, blemishes and limitations we all deep down realize we have.  And to that I say- stop it right now, self and world.  I’m human, and I struggle.  I know others have had their share of struggles too.  But what if it was ok.  Ok to not uphold some image of feminine fabulousness. Ok to be not ok at times.  Ok to not always know what the future holds.  Ok to show your imperfections to others.  Ok to not try to cover up every little so-called flaw on your face.  God loves this mess.  He blessed me and many others with creativity, time, talent and heart that wants to find joy in the world around me.  So it’s time I, and you, stopped listening to the voices of negativity that try to tell us to cover up things that aren’t perfectly perfect.  Accept the imperfections, work on the things you can and be really thankful for God’s grace as he fills in the broken pieces of your vessel 🙂

~leah

 

Touring in Tulsa


 

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I recently returned from such an incredible first tour in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.  I wanted to detail a little about our travels for that weekend of shows.  I would love to give a shout-out to the absolute greatest Airbnb hosts out in Tulsa.  If you’re ever in Tulsa, check out staying with Heather and her sweet family.  They were so supportive and kind to us.  Check out their listing here.

Our first day we set out West and drove through the Arkansas country.  Nikia Burns, my talented violinist, my best friend and jack-of-all-trades, Kayla Bogs made a fabulous team.   We arrived in town on a Thursday evening and got to catch the tail end of Jared Tyler’s show.  He recently played on the John Moreland album, so that’s pretty cool!  He also co-owns a violin shop in town called

Bright and early on Friday morning, we had the pleasure of playing Lakes Country 102.1 with Lou, Blake and Faith.  They were so welcoming, and we enjoyed playing live.  To hear the entire broadcast, visit this link.  It was fun to play on live radio for the first time- you really have to be able to think on your feet.  Hopefully they enjoyed the Paradise donuts we picked up on the way for them 🙂

We spent Friday in Tahlequah visiting the Cherokee Prison Museum, a local coffee shop and a music studio.  We invited people around town to our show for Saturday night at the Branch.  It was a great experience to actually meet people in the area and feel like we got a little taste of the local culture.  We especially loved the fabulous silver and turquoise rings we drooled over at the Cherokee gift shop later that day.  We headed back to Tulsa that evening to get ready for our gig at the Campbell Hotel in downtown Tulsa.  This is such a neat hotel, and they have recently renovated it and invite people from the community on a certain Saturday of the month.  A new friend, Scott Ayecock, from Folk Salad Radio, came out to hear us play live.  It was great meeting him and his wife and chatting about music.

Saturday was a great field trip day.  We had brunch at Dilly Diner downtown Tulsa which was so yum!  After that, we headed to the Woodie Guthrie Center which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Tulsa.  It was a great place for some pre-gig inspiration as we walked through the exhibit, read inspiring quotes and learned a little about the man behind the music.  After this, we headed to our sweet friends house, the Jarrett’s, to get ready for our gig that evening in Tahlequah.

On Saturday evening, despite the rain, we had the pleasure of playing at the Branch in Tahlequah.  It was a nice restaurant and some old friends as well as new-found friends from Tahlequah came out to hear us play.  It was so great to have the support from them.

The people were the nicest souls ever and Tulsa was so receptive to music and opened their hearts to us.  They were super generous and hospitable, and I feel so blessed to have spent my first tour dates in Oklahoma.  Thanks Oklahoma for all you did to make us feel welcome!

~lme

The start of some 30A Songwriters Fest reviews


View More: http://jackieo.pass.us/annalise

Hello all,

I’ve been asked to play the well-known 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida in January 2016. It’s so exciting!  So with 8-9 weeks before the festival begins, I’d like to do a review each week on some fellow 30A Songwriters that will be playing at the Festival this year!  Today’s review is Annalise Emerick, a talented songwriter who has made a name and niche for herself in the music scene.  With a voice as soft and sweet as honey and songwriting that calms the soul, Annalise Emerick has found her sound.  She has taken care to document the world around her, allowing outsiders some insight into the mind of a whimsical wanderer.

From her bio on her site, the inspiration for her music is evident. “Eternally a free spirit with an insatiable wanderlust, Emerick comes by it honestly. ‘We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I feel like my life on the road was kind of inevitable,’ she laughs. ‘I’m always exploring the notion of home musically, emotionally, and geographically.’ The singer claims a scattering of cities as her muse, growing up in the rich musical heritage of both Seattle and Austin before eventually making her way to Nashville to attend Belmont University. In Music City she honed her craft, but it was several charmed summers as a camp counselor in Maine and New Hampshire that inspired her relocate to Boston and start her musical career…..Now, three years after the release of her first EP, fresh off of a first place win in the New England Songwriter’s Competition and a relocation back to Nashville, Emerick returns with Field Notes, a folk-inspired, markedly more mature turn for the singer that demonstrates just how much her endless days on the road and years of hard work have fostered her growth as an artist and performer.

Annalise and I share a bio fact that we have both lived in Austin.  We’ve never met, but I bet we would get along in the music world.  I’m flattered to get to play in the same songwriter lineup as Annalise.  I wish her the best as she performs and perhaps I’ll run into her around the 30A stretch.  Enjoy all of her music here!

I’ll leave you with some lyrics from her song, Born this Way, a country-esque tune with ragtime vibes in it:

Nothing comes easy

To a travelin girl

And I’ll fight my way

Through a desert storm

But that’s how I like it

And that’s how it will stay

Because I was born

This way

 

Happy listening friends 🙂

~leah marie

 

Watch out World… Tour dates Booked!!


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Photo Courtesy: DeathtoStock

Hey guys,

Just wanted to share a few tour dates I’ve got booked for December!  While booking shows in creative and unconventional music venues, there’s a prevailing theme of the lodging spaces as performance spaces on this run of shows. I’ll be hitting the following venues December 10th- 12th out in Oklahoma!

December 10th- Chapparal Bed and Breakfast in Watonga, Oklahoma, time TBA

December 11th- Campbell Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma from 6- 8 pm

December 12th- The Branch in Tahlequah, Oklahoma from 8-10 pm

Please feel free to check out the links to these sites, and if you happen to be in or live in the Tulsa area, come out to listen and say hey!  If you have any great places we should eat or things we should know while in Tulsa, please feel free to hit us up in the contact form below! And thanks so much for your support in my touring endeavors 🙂  And also, a special thanks to Sarah Malone, who works for Nashville Yelp, for recent images she created!

~leah marie

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Having a little faith… and Commitment


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Photo Courtesy: Death to Stock Photos

There is a connection between commitment to your faith and pursuing a career passion, in both your daily walk and your artistic journey. You can’t be a tried and true artist without having a little grit in your soul. There’s this sheer persistence beneath it all to prevail no matter what the chaos around you looks like at the time. Being an active and forward moving musician is teaching me commitment and sifting out the go getters from the half-tryers. Commitment is a skill that is earned and learned over time. Just as relationships aren’t cultivated in a short time, so a craft is not completed quickly.  In a generation that has everything right now or needed it yesterday, it’s worthwhile to realize that I’m learning the beauty in the struggle throughout the process.  Artists grapple with doubt, worry, fear and the “I’m not good enough” thoughts that constantly float in our heads. But we don’t let that stop us. We take the charge seriously to “neglect not the gift that is within us.”  Here are some thoughts on how working as an artist is similar to having faith and commitment spiritually:

  1.  You don’t always have a clear cut view of the story that will unfold. Unlike lawyers, doctors or teachers who know the model for success and follow it, artists do not have that same luxury. We are forced to brave a dark forest of unknown trials and winding paths that are each specific to our own careers. We don’t have a model for success because everyone’s model is different, even ones with similar backgrounds, managers, hometowns and more. In the same way your faith begins in a small way (a measure of it), it is grown and cultivated, tested through storm and has to be proven at times. How much do you care about it and how much are you willing to sacrifice for it? Those questions can never be answered until faced with more difficult choices.
  2.  You keep at it in the midst of the unknown. If your faith or your art are such an integral part of you, you practice them even when no one gives you any recognition. Artists understand the feeling of discouragement readily as we continue to hear more no’s than yes’s at times. Despite all of the rejection we face, there’s something eternally optimistic about us. Deep down, we don’t really believe the option of giving up but rather we choose to just keep on moving. Just because we’re at the bottom, doesn’t mean we give up.   
  3. The naysayers are often waiting in the wings and ready to whisper negativity and threats in your ears. There are those who will test your faith spiritually and as an artist. They will say things can’t be done, you should just quit and really what’s the purpose of even trying. They will try to drag you down to their level. They will also tell you all of the reasons it would NEVER work. Don’t listen to them. If you believe in what you are doing, keep at it. And remember, if you don’t want to live their life, then why should they get to determine yours?

So remember that it takes faith and commitment. Your spiritual walk and your artistic walk are not easy roads. And as Tom Petty said,

“Some say life, may beat you down, break your heart, steal your crown.  Learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings, coming down, is the hardest thing…”

Look to the light-

~lme

Poetry for your Thursday


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Photo Courtesy:  Maria Ellen Photography

Little succulents and the glow

I wrapped my fingers round it

And choked the magic out

All because of hurried pace

In the here and now

 

The light that shone

Lost some of its glow

When I spent my days

Crafting for show

 

Fragile, worn and unaware

Nothing grows right overnight

And with these feet, I try to walk

Upon the path that’s most bathed in light

 

I expected my return

to unfold without much labor

And I have given more than I should

to those who did not return the favor

 

Love is lost on those who grip

with nothing underneath

Words hold weight

Even if you use them too freely.

~lme

Spoiler alert: No such thing as a “big break.”


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Just like a breaking of a tree branch, artists have come to believe in this so-called concept of the big break.  Spoiler alert:  There is no such thing as a big break.  Need a tissue?  Tis true.  We musicians have been warped into thinking this mentality about the “big break” from shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent.  We expect it to happen fast without all the uphill battles, sores upon our feet and weariness for the dream.  I think it’s time we stopped looking for our “big break,” and started looking for ways to work at our craft or spend our time more effectively as music business owners.  Why on earth have we spent so much time thinking that one door would solve our problems?  For the same reason people think that marriage will be the holy grail of perfection in their lives.  We need to start viewing things as new challenges and new opportunities to work and use our talents.

Another aspect of the “big break” is this.  It amazes me that “new bands” are seen by people and no one really knows the behind the scenes.  They think- wow this band just catapulted into stardom.  No, no, actually they didn’t.  Every huge band you know and love did not begin that way, and there is SO MUCH more that has gone into what people thought was their “big break.” Musicians sometimes are in multiple failed projects before settling into a really great one.  Years of sleeping on couches or working terrible jobs to fund their touring endeavors are never seen by the public.  Then there are the countless hours of doubt, worrying whether people like the music and even asking why they’re doing it in the first place.  The public never knows what goes behind the seemingly easy “big break” that actually isn’t big, but it is a break.

You know what the real big break is?  It’s a breaking of these things: Your pride (playing for an audience of 2), Your bad attitude (giving excuses for why you couldn’t or didn’t do something), Your unwillingness to work (willing to drive for a gig and lug your gear in the heat or rain or ice to play) and Your desire to take the easy option of giving up (and believe me, you’re gonna wanna give up).  The big break is breaking off all of those pieces of yourself as you continually reach farther and higher and push yourself to new goals and new heights.  Sure- an incredible opportunity may come your way, but without utilizing that and keeping the momentum from that, it won’t do you a bit of good.  The big break is not just a moment, a person or a venue you’ll play.  It’s a culmination of many moments, meeting many people and playing countless shows all around that begin to shape you, shave the laziness off of you and the bad attitudes that won’t help you work for your goals.  It’s being broken and vulnerable and real that is the honest “big break” for an artist.  Once you have let go of that one pill fixes all mentality in this cut throat music industry, you’ll begin to view things in a healthier way, pick up the tools in your toolset and get to work carving your own niche in the business.  Until then, you’re just a hotshot that wants others to notice how amazing you are, living for the fame and glory.  Let’s get up, get moving and get over ourselves.  There’s enough ego out there without more.  What do you guys think about the “big break” mentality?  Let me know in the comment section below 🙂

~lme

Pandoland 2015 was amazing!!


pandolandLast week, I attended my first entrepreneur conference in Nashville called Pandoland 2015 and got to hear fabulous speakers including Andy Sparks of Mattermark, Marc Ruxin of TastemakerX, Bijan Sabet, General Partner at Spark Capital, James Freeman, Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox and many others.  It was great to be in a room for several days with such movers and shakers, people who have ventured into the unknown, learned many lessons and have come out on the other side as stronger beings.  It made me realize there are people in the world who are working hard for something they believe in and not just following the status quo whatever that may be.  I think the human spirit loves to know there are still people willing to hurt for something and to work super hard to strive for it.  In true entrepreneur fashion, the audience got to witness 10 startups present over the course of 2 days time and the winner, an innovative clothing company called Umano, started by two brothers and based out of Georgia, received a grand prize to help fund more of their endeavors in the world of many clamoring entrepreneurs. Congrats guys!!

One of the greatest talks for me personally was by Ryan Leslie, Musician and Entrepreneur.  I love that he has created a way to interact with his fans directly and has not just dumped all of his marketing faith into various platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I appreciate someone who is willing to interact directly with his fans and actually gives his email and his number out at conferences for people to contact him.  Might it get out of hand in the future, sure.  But I think there is something about him that makes you relate to his bootstrap effort to get out in the music industry and think of it in terms of business rather than in terms of fame.  He is really working hard to marry his skills with his business savvy to see some career longevity in a difficult industry.

Overall, the conference was wonderfully organized, and Sarah Lacy is absolutely the best host of Pandoland.  I absorbed so much useful information, and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to attend and learn.  Check out their site here for helpful articles and more information!  Did any of you attend this great conference or are there other entrepreneur/music conferences you recommend for independent artists?? Feel free to share in the comment form below!

~lme