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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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

 

Fanswell!


uke in mountainsSo there’s this great new tool out there for musicians.  I know, I know- there are a million tools.  But Fanswell is super helpful because it takes the music straight from the artist directly to the people wanting to hear it on tour!  Graham Colton, one of my earliest musical loves, created this for artists.  He saw a need for many independent artists trying to do their own tour booking.  He realized we get stuck when there are only so many venues and a huge amount of people clamoring to play the same venues.  I love that it can help me manage my own touring and booking directly with my fans as I begin managing my own tour logistics.

So here is the page if you’re interested in me coming to your home, your porch or somewhere else near where you live.

Leah’s Fanswell Page

Feel free to share this with others through social media outlets.  This fall, I’ll set out to come play for all of you lovely listeners eager to hear some earthy music.  We are starting with surrounding states and also those surrounding my home state of Texas.  Thanks Graham for creating this and thanks to all who are supporting me on this exciting entrepreneurial and creative journey 🙂

~lme

 

 

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…

Welcome Spring and New Endeavors!


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So many great things to share with you friends…

First, I wanted to let you know about a few gigs coming up…

I will be playing this Saturday at the Nashville Art Crawl May 3rd downtown from 6-9 with a talented guitarist, Alec Vinsant.  Feel free to check out his music here!  I will also be playing at Historic Rock Castle on August 2 at 8 pm for anyone who wants to come north 🙂

If you’re interested in hosting a house show or have ideas for venues in your area, feel free to shoot me an email with dates and places at leahemusic@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for reading, and come out and see us this Saturday!

~lme

My musical journey thus far: Why I play music but try to separate myself from the music industry


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Photo Credit: New York Public Library photostream

They tell you good things take time.  I can see the beauty in waiting for the right time in my life.

I began writing songs at the close of my college career in my one-bedroom apartment in east Texas.  I still remember my first open mic, shaking hands and the honest statement before I sat down saying “I am not a professional.”  But I began to write and play and create in a way I never had before.  Shortly after college, I moved to Austin, the live music capitol of the world.  At 23, I wanted a music career.  And at 24 and 25 and 26 and so on.  I wanted to find the person who would help me launch my career.  I wanted to go, move, meet everyone I could.  Someone once told me “I had the fever.”  It was funny, but it was true.  I observed an industry guy at South by Southwest one year with my business card, wanting to drop it into his briefcase at his side, hoping it would be discovered and appreciated later.  But I now wonder whether my fever rested in the actual love of music or the pursuit of fame and fortune.  I confess at times, I really became stary-eyed for the hopes and dreams and pursuit of being something wonderful to the world.  In those early twenties, I had an innate desire to prove myself to a world that I believed did not understand me, family included.

Since that time, I have grown to realize some things about myself and the industry as a whole that have shaped me.  I’m not totally jaded and walking away, but that’s probably because I haven’t gone deep into the recesses of the music industry abyss.  I always thought dancing on the sidelines would hold me back.  And in a way it did.  I was never willing to sacrifice my faith, my dignity, my conviction or my vision for what others were willing to sell it for.  I respected myself, my conviction and my art.  And I wanted my music to sell itself.  And I knew that those who sacrifice more and faster would get farther down that career road faster than myself.  But I still refused to follow the path of least resistance.

Throughout my stint in Austin, I began to meet various musicians, booking managers and mentors in the field.   Flaky musicians, waiting for producers who never showed at coffeeshops and disappointing recording experiences were all the continual existence of my world.  The music industry and its people began to manifest themselves as saturated with addiction and selfishness.  I saw people who had fallen into difficult times.  I also saw good families falling at the feet of the music god while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their children.  My heart hurt when I lost friends or felt rejected.  Most importantly, God began to open my eyes to an existence that began to look empty and fruitless.  But in my heart, I felt pulled by a passion that I could not deny.  I knew I had this gift of writing songs, connecting to people and inspiring others on a daily basis.  I will always remember my continued grappling with my talents while questioning who I was supposed to be in God’s kingdom.  I also remember struggling with why others were living my dreams and the near tears I held back once when leaving a show for wanting it so badly.  In my heart, I longed to be doing what I loved and what I knew I was good at.

Somewhere around 26 or 27, I arrived at a monumental conclusion.  If I was ever to make a career of this music thing, I would not be able to follow the same path the others had followed.  I didn’t feel comfortable playing in certain atmospheres, so I was picky about where my performances occurred.  I was highly selective about band members, because I knew that people you spend copious amounts of time with will undoubtedly affect and change you.  I never wanted a manager who didn’t understand my vision and direction.  I also began to realize that trying to get recognized by a record label might not be my best course of action unless it was an an ideal label that respected its artists.  Rather, I decided to become an independent artist.  I would self-produce an EP and create my own “cabinet” or network of trusted designers, printers, booking people, photographers, artists and videographers.  I would be able to control what I created and the image I would ultimately project into the world.  This would force me to become creative in both revenue generation as well as promotion.  I realized after a conversation with a band manager that I would be viewed as either a pioneer or a purist who was holding onto the way she believed about certain things.  Though challenges were undeniable, I still felt compelled to try.  I had grit, and I knew with some hard work, something could be achieved.

I have often felt that even if I did fail at this, I would still be happier than never having tried.  With a father who started his own business and a grandfather who was a gifted salesman, I felt like it was in my blood to pursue an entrepreneurial path.  Now thinking about business plans for my music, I am challenging myself to see things as truly beneficial or not.  I have both 3-5 year goals as well as short-term goals.  My current goal is to complete my first EP by the end of August and have it mixed, mastered, packaged and ready for all of you by mid-September.  I am blessed to have Michael Estok and Vibe Dial Studios for this.  After the release of the EP, my next goal is to play 4-6 shows in various cities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia to begin this train down the track.  All aboard.

I want to create something meaningful and relatable.  I believe in my vision of a career of writing, playing and singing music while involving great people along the way.  But I guess the larger theme of what I’d like to do is to change the musician stereotype of self-centeredness.  Throughout my endeavors, I want to incorporate the aspect of service into my character and my business model.  By spreading revenue to positive organizations as well as helping with benefit shows and selecting service venues to play, I believe this will help keep me grounded and give back to communities small and large.  I believe in the need for more musicians to perpetuate a healthy perspective by viewing our gifts as something we’ve been given.   And they are gifts we are forever indebted to share with the world for good.  May we never forget that God bestowed us with gifts to enjoy for ourselves and for others.

So now, here I am at 28.  Five years after I began writing my first songs.  I hope at this point, I have a better head on my shoulders than once was there and a little more savvy in the way things work.  I know I have much to learn and will always be learning.  But here’s to future goals, projects and endeavors.  Let’s all work to have the best attitude and be both thankful and effective with the gifts we’ve been given J

Not Fans but Friends


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Photo Credit:  Library of Congress photostream

So, they tell you if you can procure 1000 true blue fans as a musician that you will be able to make a little living for yourself.  Perhaps it would help to not focus on fans (people who adore you or your music) but rather try to meet and develop real relationships with people who believe in more of a mission than just a face or sound.  There are concepts larger than ourselves and maybe it’s time we focused on that instead of ourselves as musicians.  I haven’t obtained this selfless sense as a musician, but it would be a good goal to stay grounded as we grow as artists.  Though, I’m not exactly sure what my fans turned friends would look like, I do know some characteristics I imagine they would possess and characters they would be.

  1. Genuine-ness- whatever they do, they do it heartily and sincerely.  They try their best to live every day with some purpose and include others in the process.  They don’t pretend to be something they are not and they don’t speak loftily to make themselves sound like more of a big deal than they are.  They accept who they are, what they do and are accepting of their strengths, flaws and those who have helped them get to where they are.  They appreciate art, music, and action of any kind with substance and meaning.
  2. Givers- they believe in the art of contribution, giving back and even in small ways making the world a better place each day.  They know change isn’t easy and sometimes it takes more than one to get something off the ground.
  3. Dreamers- those who are a little different, who people deem as strange or too idealistic.  They know that ultimately others’ opinions are merely just opinions and letting themselves be swayed by them is often unprofitable.
  4. Believers- they believe in things beyond themselves and Someone higher than they.  A spiritual nature is something that is manifest in their everyday life as well as something that touches everything they do, say and think.
  5. Innovators- those who are pioneers and believe in things that have not yet been created.  They ask why not more often than not.  They live in a realm of hopefulness rather than pessimism.

All of that being said, I should like to announce that I am currently in the studio working on my first EP.  My goal for the end of 2013 and all of 2014 is to begin sharing music, stories and a vision larger than myself with others through shows, service and relationships.  I have some great people who are eager to help, so if you’d like to hear the EP once it is out and possibly book a house show, please feel free to drop me a line in the contact form below.

And if you feel like hearing some demos as a pre-cursor to the EP, feel free to visit www.facebook.com/leahemusic

Thanks for being supportive and keep living creatively and thankfully! ~lme

Scene it?


The people begin to slowly amble inside, mingling with newcomers and hugging old friends.  There is food on the table and smiles appear on faces as they pass through the entrance.  The sound guy is checking the gear and there are various instruments pleasantly poised around the room anticipating their moment to be played and appreciated.  The once average living room has now been transformed for the anticipated music event, complete with couch and chairs facing the same direction, lights strung in organized direction above the stage area, and a backdrop to highlight the performer.  Musicians are casually chatting with other performers as well as audience members.  As a newcomer, I am initially invited into conversation by another newcomer and we discuss our musical endeavors while living in Music City.  A love of creativity and awe for the production of music and song fills the room with a warmth unmatched at small downtown venues and big arenas.  As the time draws near, the jovial audience is quieted, the performer properly introduced and a group of music lovers partake in a feast for hungry ears.

I recently attended my first house show in the greater Nashville area, and honestly, it was one of the best musical experiences of which I have been a part in Music City so far.  As opposed to a show at a downtown venue or an open-air park, the house scene had a much more intimate and organic vibe.  More intimate and focused on active listening by the audience, there was an undeniable sense of respect for those performing.  The people who attended were incredibly friendly and welcoming, what everyone would like when flying solo, as I did that night, to this show.  I was actually invited to sit with several girls I had not previously known, but they quickly made me feel like part of their group.  I was pretty excited when local talents, the Vespers, entered from the backdoor and were also listening and enjoying the great local music.   And to brag on them a little, Callie, a member of local musical group, the Vespers, was a complete delight when I suddenly engaged her in conversation.  She even went out of her way to introduce me to Larry Kloess, the creative founder behind Cause a Scene house shows, as a gesture of helping a musician make a good music connection.  On this particular night, the lineup included Marc Scibilia (http://marcscibilia.com), Kevin Heider (www.kevinheider.com), and Afterlife Parade, all three very talented songwriters and performers. The genre of music at these shows spans from Americana to Indie pop and even some country, bluegrass and folk tinged with blues, hip-hop and soul.  I am sure as time goes on, a variety of music will grace the stage.

Cause a Scene House Shows is a new venture in which Kloess has revamped a typical house show scene into a legitimate venue in his living room, fashioning his own style of house show.  In an effort to create an even more comfortable experience, volunteers contribute food to share with the listening party and performing artists.  As a musician myself, I realized the great opportunity for networking at such an intimate and relaxed environment.  Since I moved to Nashville in August, it has been difficult to meet and connect with musicians that aren’t necessarily playing a specific type of music in the Nashville scene.  The open mic scene is nice, but it doesn’t always deliver the results of connection, networking and fostering of local music colleagues that most independent artists and fans want.  Hence, the beauty of Cause a Scene music. This is where the house show scene has begun to change the live music arena.  This house show I attended was not only an enjoyable but also a beneficial experience for me as well as everyone involved.  It felt more like a group gathering, a meet and greet and even a place to connect with old friends as well as create new friendships.

The benefits of Cause a Scene Music in regards to those in the music industry are obvious.  Musicians who perform benefit in a small atmosphere where people are genuinely interested in listening to music and later purchasing music from the performers they hear.  Musicians attending benefit through networking and gaining prospective gigs with those who organize the shows as well as those who have other connections in such a musically-saturated city.  Networking occurs at various levels depending on what fields and organizations may be represented on any given night at any given show.  Thinking you should maybe attend one of these?  I concur.  But not only is it great from a networking perspective, it is an all around enjoyable way to spend one of your very precious weekday or weekend evenings.

In a day when technology and life seem to continually be disengaged and increasingly moving away from interpersonal connection, the house show scene seems to have breathed new life into listening to live music.  Kloess has stepped actively onto the house venue scene, and I think he may just be carving his own niche in it as well.  In connection to creating a performance space, he is now fostering a creative community.  It is one which attracts welcoming people as well as creatives who possess a love for things beyond the here and now.  I was struck by the character that exuded from the souls I met that night.  I recently watched a video interview/blog with Keith Posehn, Zorz president, in which he stated, “Find a small market- and then take it over.”  This made me think a lot about what Kloess is trying to do.  He is in a specific niche, the house market, but he is also fostering local talent as well as providing a place for that to become a musical community of creators, appreciators and dream-instigators. If you haven’t been to one of these shows, I would encourage you to come out and see for yourself.  Even more commendable is the fact that Kloess charges anywhere from 5-10 depending on the show, and then turns around and gives it right back to the performers.  His love of music and those who create it is evident in the way he gives back and respects his performers.

Check out the summer lineups at Larry’s blog, www.causeascenemusic.com and for up-to-dates, add Cause a Scene house shows on Facebook.  The next show is scheduled for this Thursday, June 7, featuring Act of Congress and The Westbound Rangers. If you haven’t experienced this yet, you should definitely check this out.