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Finding Comfort in Music, Autumn and a Virtual Record Shop




Hello Dear Ones,


It's such a stressful time. Where are you finding comfort these days? Ordinarily, the autumn months are when I'm joyfully wrapped up in entertaining and travel plans. In my family, that would typically mean time for back-to-school festivities and hosting a string of parties both at our home and in my hometown of San Diego for our twin sons' birthdays and el Dia de los Muertos. Plus we usually make our own Halloween costumes and host some sort of Halloween gathering. Then there are fun, vintage loving activities with the Los Angeles Art Deco Society and CalArts Weekend and there's Dapper Day and a weekend at Disneyland. After that, we host a gathering for loved ones for our favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, before launching into the Christmas season.


Needless to say, like all of you, we're missing everyone and everything so much. But we're healthy and we're together and we're committed to safely distancing for the greater good and for the sake of protecting each other. We're relying on Zoom & FaceTime to connect with loved ones. We enjoy preparing fine food at home; taking dog walks with Winston; working in our modern day victory garden; continuing to clean and organize around the house; occasionally binging on our favorite shows; and watching our favorite live-stream concerts and programs. And to combat political anxiety, we've been working on postcard writing campaigns for different local candidates and I've also volunteered on "get out the vote" card writing efforts for women and Spanish speakers. All these things have helped soothe the soul.


Personally, I always find comfort and escape in music; whether I'm singing, or listening, it can change my demeanor in no time at all. Professionally, there's also been a big shift these past four months: I've gone from spending years in research , development mode, and in the recording studio with these fabulous musicians, to actually having the music mastered and ready to share! - - Which is a strangely fortuitous turn of fate given the sheltering at home situation. In case you've forgotten the timing, I'm releasing monthly singles corresponding with the full moon. The next one comes out on Saturday, October 3rd. (I'll send a little email flyer just before.) And in partnership with my husband, Paul, we're shooting and producing music videos about every 6- 8 weeks.


Here's something else that's been filling my free time in a uniquely satisfying way: learning new business skills. As you may recall, I joined a music business mentoring/mastermind group at the start of the summer. When joining, we were each given a quiz to see where we should focus our attention, and mine was in setting up business systems to support my music. Focusing on administrative matters has turned out to be the perfect task to do during these unusual circumstances that we're living through. It's comforting to have daily work goals, which have an eye towards better times. I love the energy of my group and I'm learning new skills and creating content and finding different ways to share my music. Rolling up the sleeves and learning how to build pages on these various digital sites is also very rewarding because there are visible results.


This last month, I set up my music on two different online platforms (or sites) where music fans congregate. You may wonder why it's important to be on all these different platforms, when I have my own website. It's because it enables me to introduce my music in places where there is digital traffic; where people are browsing for music and artists. Music labels have people and budgets to promote their artists and spread the word and that means they hold greater sway over what gets seen in the search engines. So, platforms like these, enable indie artists like me, to find and connect with their niche audience in a very direct way.


Do you love exploring record stores? I do. I love finding an artist and an album I've never heard of before and I love sharing what I've found. Some of you may remember the days of finding a new artist/song you loved and inviting friends over to listen to your record collection. Well, Bandcamp translates that into a digital experience. It's kind of like a virtual record store, where you can go through the racks and look at the records, explore the albums, and have a listen before buying. You retain that sense of discovery and have a social opportunity to share your music collection. It's fun discovering different artists and I'm looking forward to adding to my own music collection.


I'm a huge Etsy fan. I like how it feels to visit unique vendor booths at a virtual flea market/craft fair. I like how I can buy directly from the seller and support their small business. Ethan Diamond, the founder of Bandcamp has likened its business model to being "The Etsy of Music". Etsy tends to focus on vintage and handmade items, so this Bandcamp comparison really resonates with me. As an indie singer, I am a both "maker" and small business owner, who puts a lot of love into crafting a vintage nouveau music experience for my audience. I've discovered that Bandcamp offers a rich and robust way to interact with fans and with people searching for new music. For example, personally, I love liner notes. What I love about having a page here is that it really offers ways to share detailed information about the individual songs with music enthusiasts. It's sort of like a digital version of liner notes. For someone like me who sings historic music, I'm able to give the context of each piece, plus the credits, and I can tag each individual song with important details and even add the music videos, links, and a merchandise page. Look here and here and here, to see what I mean.


It's also an artist-first business model, where the artists keep a much higher percentage of the sales revenue. So much so, that at the start of the pandemic, they even started "Bandcamp Fridays," where on the first Friday of each month, the artist keeps 100% of the receipts for any purchases you make. No other platform does that. (Well, actually, if you buy my music from my website, then I also keep 100%). The Guardian puts it this way: "... if people are willing to empty their wallets when their favourite artists are struggling, they’re probably also enthusiastic about supporting record shops. If they choose to spend £5 on a Bandcamp download that they could have for nothing, then those fans aren’t just a market – they’re a community." I'm all about community, so this really resonates with me. I'm still learning and adding new information, but I'm keen on getting into the more social aspects of the site.


Speaking about community, I've also created a musician page on the All About Jazz platform. Jazz is such a broad genre, but there is a place for me within a certain niche. My music meets at the intersection of vintage nouveau jazz and cabaret. What I really love about this website is it's dedication to Jazz in all it's forms. It's a fine site that presents well-written articles about the artists and the music. If you love Jazz, I encourage you to support this platform.


As an artist, it offers a wonderful opportunity for me to share my music in a place frequented by jazz lovers and musicians. The publisher is so amiable. Truly, I cannot remember ever having this level of customer service on any platform before, or since the pandemic. They're so dedicated to helping to promote artists, livestream concerts and venues. Hosting a page here is another way to create community, and through this site, I'm able to present an elegant electronic press kit, where aficionados, visitors and members of the press (and eventually booking agents) may familiarize themselves with my music.


I hope you are able to find comfort in the autumn season and its traditions and in music.

I hope my music brings you joy and transports you to a happier place.

Xoj


As always, I'm grateful for your support and all the online love you're sharing with me on the different sites. It makes a huge difference! I'd love it if you'd follow me on Bandcamp.

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