I’m a slow and steady wins the race kind of chap. Well, that and incredibly impatient at the same time!
Kind of makes for a spot of inner conflict at times. I want to see quick progress while knowing that meaningful growth and deep change can take a long time.
This conflict has underpinned my relationship with songwriting and music for as long as I can remember. It’s a weird world to make sense of. There are so many competing demands, distractions, and potential goals to work towards.
Everyone has a different view of what success means and looks like.
The Big-Break Dreamers
For these folk success is “out there”. You just need to get noticed by the right person (gatekeeper), and get the all important break. Roll on the fame and fortune.
The “Keep it Pure(ists)”
Success is keeping the art pure and the money out of it. Do it for the love and don’t sell out (aka make any money).
The people who remind you to be realistic. Your chances of success are slim so make sure you have a viable “backup plan”. Concentrate on that.
Motives and Success
Making sense of my own motives, strategies and goals has always been a real struggle.
Over the years I’ve made a lot of music and had some fantastic opportunities. But I always find myself reined in by these competing narratives. The question of what success looks like to me and whether or not I’m on the right track:
What do I want to commit my creative energy to, and how does music fit with all of that?
When the pace picks up and things are going well these questions can preclude positive momentum. This provokes elements of self-sabotage (sending me backwards).
This has been the cause of no end of frustration for me. But I’ve realised that this is not the end of the story. I can work with myself, and with the tools and people around me in order to build things up, slow and steady, piece by piece.
The Train is Moving…again
As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, since the latter part of 2016 the beast has started moving again. I went back to Woodbine Street Studio in September with Ben, Luke, and Claire where we recorded a new Atlum Schema EP which will be released later in 2017. It’s the first new material since the beginning of 2014.
I had a photoshoot with Rob Bridge in October, and overhauled the website so that rather than trying to maintain different parts of myself on different urls I would have one site (andymort.com) under which everything would live.
I have made a commitment in 2017: to re-establish my focus on making, performing, and sharing my music in sync with my values as an artist and human.
I spent time reflecting on these core personal (and creative) values. What matters, and what defines creative success for me?
I choose to see money as an enabler (means) rather than a goal (end). I will find ways to fund my music that doesn’t restrict its ability to make an impact. Any business activity is a way of bringing freedom to my creative process and my personal family life. Money doesn’t need to be a dirty word.
Sustainability and Growth
Growth as an artist and the constant improvement of my craft underpin my process. I don’t want to settle for less than great, or seek out ‘proven formulas’ for “success” (as defined by others) which are attractive but not challenging or in sync with my own creative voice.
I will learn from others and seek the wisdom of those who have gone before so that I can produce work in a self-sustaining way, and improve the quality of my writing and sound production with each release.
I have always loved hearing from people who connect with my music. It is knowing what my songs have meant to others that brings an added level of meaning to the creation of it. Like hearing from someone who found one of my tracks became the soundtrack to their grief when a parent passed away.
It is such a privilege to be able to create stuff that finds its way into peoples’ lives, and maintaining ways to connect with people and hear these stories is very important to me.
I’ve realised that it’s important to me to not only subscribe to certain values, but to role model them and share how it’s working for me. I’ve always liked to share certain parts of my “process” and be open and honest about behind the scenes stuff so that other people who experience the same struggles as me can find a bit of encouragement and reassurance. You know, that hand on the shoulder that assures someone “it’s not just you”.
Put simply, I want to be able to explore different directions within my music and creativity. As a multipotentialite I want to cultivate the freedom to be able to write in different ways, explore a variety of styles and work with different people.
Things have changed a lot even since I started making and selling music. The internet as you will be aware has permanently altered the landscape of normality.
Rather than resenting this and lamenting any “good old days” I want to consider how I can work and roll with the changes to create a positive and sustainable future for my work. Through reflecting on my values and asking myself questions about what success looks and feels like for me, there is one place that provides the opportunity to build something good…
I’ve been using Bandcamp for years to sell my music directly to my audience and I’ve always loved it. But a couple of years ago they introduced the option to “subscribe” to your favourite artists. This was a feature that appealed to me so I added it to my page, but have never really done much with it. It came at a time when I wasn’t creating much, and life sort of took over.
I’ve spent some time grappling with its potential and considering how it could really help support my 2017 commitment to setting a more deliberate pace, producing more music, and building a sustainable approach to creativity.
So I’ve begun building the “Backstage” area of Bandcamp, where for just £3 a month you can become a member and get all sorts of exciting rewards, both now and into the future. So here we go…
Become a backstage member and get:
- The FULL Back(stage) catalogue: downloads of all 4 of my previous albums
- A Backstage Pass to subscriber-only Online Hangout Gigs once a month where I (and special guests) play songs old and new + time to chat after the gig (catchup recordings are also available)
- My Backstage Playlist: the ever-evolving playlist of songs that are inspiring me
- The Backstage Community area: updates, videos, and photos (and community with fellow supporters)
- Backstage Noodlings: exclusive access to rough demos I’m working on and first-listen to brand new tracks (+ subscriber-only releases)
I’ve made a little video which explains things further. Watch it here.